Ilocos Norte | Still, the Philippines’ Northern Star
Ilocos Norte is much more than just the iconic “pinakbet” and the Marcoses. It’s also about other beautiful excesses. And this abundance is also what keeps me coming back here since I first visited it in the 90s.
In Ilocos Norte, there’s plenty of sunlight to play under & an overload of food to satisfy cravings. In Ilocos Norte, there’s a glut of ancestral monuments to remind heritage pride & a wealth of Ilocano handicrafts to bring home.
Ilocos Norte: Amianan’s Endless Surprises
From romantic to extreme, from savory to history & from the exotic to the usual, Ilocos Norte is a region of endless surprises. And for over 2 decades of visiting it, there’s always something new to discover.
But even with the new stuff mushrooming around, this coastal province never goes without its well-loved destinations. Check out these timeless sights, fun activities & must-try food spots around the true Star of the North.
Beaches & Sand Dunes
Most sought-after for its uncrowded white sand coast, the beaches in Pagudpod are truly prized getaways.
This side of Ilocos Norte is a haven for beach lovers who love quiet escapes & gallery-designed resorts.
Experience the hoopla of sand boarding in an all-natural sand dune escapade in Paoay & La Paz. Read here for more.
Completed in 1710, the Baroque church of San Agustin in Paoay is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
The Augustinian friars built St. William’s Cathedral in 1612. It is the seat of the Diocese of Laoag.
Built in Romanesque architectural style, this 1587 church of the Immaculate Conception in Batac is one of the oldest churches in the country.
The La Virgen Milagrosa shrine in Badoc is a 1714 church. Juan Luna, the famous revolutionary painter was baptized here.
Constructed in 1902 in honor of its 1st Obispo Maximo, Gregorio Aglipay. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente is also colloquially called Aglipayan Church.
Stomped by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 1983, the bell tower of St. Andrew’s Church in Bacarra now lies in ruins.
The bell tower of St. William’s Cathedral used to be the tallest “campanario” but a forceful earthquake in 1706 sunk it.
Lit in 1892, Cape Boajeador stands as one of the oldest working lighthouses in the Philippines. Read here for more.
The Tobacco Monopoly Monument in Laoag City is an 1881 landmark of the lifting of tobacco monopoly of Spain.
Kapurpurawan Rock Formations is a natural assembly of limestone outcrops sculpted by oceanic forces & harsh weather.
Currimao Rock Garden is a spread of short coralline rocks & shallow tidal pools.
Museums & Other Landmarks
Museo Ilocos Norte used to be the Tabacalera building in 1878. It was the center of tobacco trade during the colonial Spanish time.
The Marcos Mausoleum used to keep the body of former President, Ferdinand E. Marcos for viewing inside a highly controlled temperature casket.
Also called Malacanang ti Amianan, it is the former Presidential House in the north.
Bangui Wind Farm is one of the most visited sites in Ilocos Norte for its awesome giant windmills that make a fantastic photo backdrop.
Beautiful Resorts & Hotels
Sitio Remedios in Currimao is the prettiest resort in Ilocandia with real heritage homes from all over Ilocos & reassembled into a Spanish colonial townscape.
Perfect for a quiet escape, Palayupoy is a resort designed after farmhouses in Ilocos Norte.
Playa Tropical is beachside Balinese themed resort along the coast of Currimao Beach. Click here to book a room at Playa Tropical.
Java Hotel is one of the iconic resort-hotel in Laoag City. Taking its design inspiration from Javanese homes, this one’s a standout in this side of Ilocos Norte. Find hotel deals here.
Quaint, quiet & pretty, Balay da Blas is more than just a hotel. It reminds you of a sense of place — that quintessential Ilocos feel. Check hotel rates here now.
Fort Ilocandia’s charm reminds everyone of the opulence of the Ilocos Norte & the Marcoses. Although it’s old, it is still sparkling with rich feel. Click here to check room deals.
Ilocano Cuisine, Arts & Handicrafts
Its porcine-happy, veggie-rich & salt-sprinkled culinary culture make it one of the most remembered regional cuisines in the Philippines. While good food is everywhere, Saramsam as well as Herencia Café are the most notable ones.
As old as its history, Ilocos Norte is abundant with all sorts of folk handicrafts such as pottery, handloomed tapestry & basketry. Click here to know more.
While there are many festivals around Ilocos Norte, Tan-ok Festival held every 1st week of February gathers all the towns in one showcase of art, music & heritage.
I love Ilocos Norte because it has everything that tickle my travel fancies. It’s always a delightful experience being here. No, it’s addictive. Since there are still more to discover here, it gives me more reasons too to come back.
Special thanks to the Northern Philippines Visitors Bureau via Martin San Diego for some photos used in this article.