Heritage Walking Tour in Vigan

To complete our Ilocandia Adventure, we headed to the City of Vigan, the second greatest architectural legacy of the Spaniards, next to Intramuros in Manila.

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Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. It is a World Heritage Site in that it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines.

why vigan

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Along cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages clip-clop through beautifully weathered mansions finished with terracotta roofs, capiz shell windows and wrought-iron grillwork. No other town in the Philippines evokes old-world allure better than the provincial capital of Vigan in Ilocos Sur.

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Even commercial buildings of popular Philippine brands have been constructed to blend Vigan’s traditional architecture.

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Walking Tour Around Vigan

If there’s a destination in the Philippines where going for a tour is easier than easy, then it is in Vigan.

You can start at any point. For us we started at the Saint Paul Cathedral, also known as the Vigan Cathedral.

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Vigan Cathedral

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St. Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. It follows a Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes. This is now known as earthquake Baroque. Testament to the style’s effectivity is the fact that the structure’s original interior walls have remained complete. Facing the cathedral, visitors are greeted by the statue of St. Paul above the main opening.

Vigan Cathedral (4)

Vigan Cathedral (2)

Vigan Cathedral (1)

Plaza Salcedo and Other Landmarks

Right in front of the Saint Paul Cathedral is the Plaza Salcedo, named after the Spanish conqueror, Juan de Salcedo who subdued the early native settlement in Vigan and established upon it Villa Fernandina for the monarchs of Spain in 1572. It is also important to note that Plaza Salcedo was the site of the execution of Gabriela Silang in September of 1763. The first woman leader of the Philippine revolution was publicly hanged there to serve as a warning to the restive populace.

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Next to Plaza Salcedo are the administrative buildings—the Casa Real or provincial administrative office, and the municipio (municipal hall). A stone’s throw away are the religious buildings—the seminary of the archdiocese and the Arzobispado (Archbishop’s Palace).

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Arzobispado (Archbishop’s Palace)

The Arzobispo is the only Spanish-period Archbishop’s residence in the Philippines that’s still in use.

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Vigan walking tour (8)

Plaza Burgos

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Vigan Museums

Vigan Museum

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Simbaan a Bassit

Not far you could find the Simbaan a Bassit, which means “small church” in Ilocano. It is a cemetery chapel built in the 1850’s.

Simbaan a Bassit

Other popular places tourists visit when in Vigan are the Baluarte and the Hidden Garden, both are just a tricycle or kalesa ride away.


The Baluarte or fortress is a must-see attraction for first time visitors, and even for those who have visited Vigan before.

The reasons for its being on the list of places to visit are two. First is that it has a mini zoo with animals from other countries and others endemic to the Philippines. It is a private collection and is therefore continuously being improved. The second reason is that it is owned by Mr. Chavit Singson, a well-loved son of Vigan and well-known to most Filipinos and foreigners who follow the Philippine political scene.

It is also dedicated to facilitate education, conservation and protection of endangered species and wildlife. Children and those who are young at heart will rediscover life amongst the animals in unique and entertaining ways specifically through first-hand experience.

Baluarte photo (2)

Baluarte photo (1)

Hidden Garden

Hidden Garden is located in Bulala (a barrio known for its making of bricks, pots, and other objects made of clay), it is a wonderland of greenery, with a mini-snack bar nestled somewhere in the middle. It is a vast landscape of nurtured lush gardens of bromeliads, ferns, palms, bamboo and bonsai. It boasts of large potted bird’s nest ferns, bromeliads girding a miniature waterfall or providing ground cover for a clump of bamboo, air plants growing on driftwood, and bonsai and ornamental stones dividing a pathway.

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Hidden Garden (3)

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Strolling around it is truly a relaxing and refreshing experience. We also discover this indoor plant said to removes toxins.

The Sansevieria Bacularis – the new variety of indoor plant has microscopic pores that absorbs floating substances and toxins in the air. This plant is also called ‘Air Purifier’

Hidden Garden (1)

Strolling Around Calle Crisologo

And of course, one is said not to have visited Vigan if he/she haven’t strolled around Calle Crisologo.

Calle Crisologo will bring you back to the period in Philippine Spanish colonial time with its cobblestone streets, the gorgeous backdrop of the old houses against the shadows of each houses, and of course the clacking noise of horse driven carriage, kalesa.

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Though a trip to Calle Crisologo is enjoyable during the day especially because of the opportunity to shop for Vigan’s best products (antiques, abel woven products, bags, basi wine, burnay and dimili products, chicharon, jewelry, sweets, Vigan vinegar and woodcrafts) in the inobtrusive shops located in the ground floor of some of the grand houses, a walk through it is magical at night.

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Adventuroj Meets Edmaration #thetownexplorer

Apart from the Vigan Tour, that night Adventuroj also met a fellow Pinoy Travel Blogger who happens to be an Registered Nurse also, and a true blooded resident of Vigan, Edmar from www.Edmaration.com.

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Vigan walking tour (1)

He warmly accommodated us to their house for the night since we were running out of budget for our tour. hehe. Talk about Filipino hospitality. Thanks a lot Edmar!

People in Vigan

If there’s another thing that made me adore Vigan, that is its people.  The people here are probably among the kindest I’ve met in all my travels. For one they do not take advantage of tourists / travelers, unlike the many others who will definitely empty your pocket of their sky high prices, particularly of overpriced transportation fares.

It is only here in Vigan where I met a tricycle driver who after bringing us into our destination and asked how much we need to pay him, answered, “Kayo na po ang bahala Maam”.

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Ciudad ti Bigan, I will truly miss you…

 – – –

And yes, I also spotted this signage while strolling around , do you know that in Vigan, Forbes Park is only a Purok? haha 😀

Vigan Signage

How to go to Vigan?

Vigan is 7 to 8 hours from Manila by bus. Popular bus lines are Partas (PHP 605) and Dominion (PHP 580), which depart from Cubao, Quezon City. The cheapest ride is Aniceto Trans at Sampaloc, Manila for only PHP 420, but they don’t have frequent trips, so call them at +632 7315180 for the schedule. The bus from Vigan to Manila leaves once daily at 9:00 PM along Liberation Blvd, near Simbaan a Bassit.”

Cheap Accommodations in Vigan?

Henady Inn

For those looking for basic accommodation, check out the newly-opened Henady Inn, located along the National Highway in Bantay, next to the Caltex Station and just right across the Vigan City Arch. The town center is just 15 minutes walk away, or you can take a short tricycle ride.

  • Tel. +63 77 7228001 or +63 9175158001
  • Rates start at PHP 200/person/night for a fan dorm room. Private double rooms are great value at PHP 600 with A/C, CATV and toilet.

Grandpa’s Inn

A cheaper option that doesn’t sacrifice on rustic ambience is Grandpa’s Inn.

It is a Spanish ancestral home converted into a cozy hotel with rustic ambiance, great customer service and delicious food. And starting at PHP 650 for a double fan room (common T&B), it’s one of the best value in town!

  • Tel. +63 77 7222118

Ilocos Adventure: Laoag Vigan Pagudpud Budget Itinerary

Know your limits, but never stop trying to exceed them.

After resting for almost a month, these itchy feet will now be on the go again. This time Adventuroj will be heading way up north. Guess where?

Clue: Have you watched the kilig movie of Erich Gonzales & Mario Maurer Suddenly It’s Magic?

Yep! That’s where we’ll be heading. Not in Bangkok (but I’ll be there soon as well. hehe) but this time it will be in Ilocos!

My chance to trace back my roots and see where my ancestors came from. Yes, I’m an ilocana by blood. *I just wished I knew how to speak the language fluently.

So enough with my ratting, here’s a pre planned budget friendly itinerary of the Laoag Vigan Pagudpud tour catered to fit backpackers like me. Feel free to use it and share the adventure with me!

The Ultimate Ilocandia Adventure Itinerary!

Day & Time Activity Est. Expenses
Wed Nov 28    
2:30pm Dvo-MNL 200
7pm MNL-Laoag 200
  Get out of Laoag Airport to the City proper – There is a jeepney that brings passengers from the airport terminal to the city proper, Fare is 60 pesos. 60
  Texicano Hotel, Laoag City
Address: J. P. Rizal Street, Laoag Ilocos Norte
Room Rate: Starts at 310 pesos for a single fan room
Contact Details: (6377) 7705776
Notes: Do not expect too much as this is a budget hotel
Thurs Nov 29    
6am Sand Boarding and 4×4 Ride in La Paz Sand Dunes 1000
  Rate: 2,500 pesos per group of four
Contact Details: 09088853669 look for Glenn Guererro
Notes: Package is for 1-hour sand boarding lessons, good for four persons. It also includes the 4×4 jeepney transportation to and from the sand dunes. Make an arrangement if you will be doing it solo.
  How to get to Paoay from Laoag – rent a tricycle for 250 pesos at Loaog City proper. It is more economical since some destinations in Paoay is not on the national road  
  Rent a tricycle in the city proper for 250 pesos, going to and from Paoay to visit the Church and Malacañang of the North, which are both located in the town of Paoay. Travel time is around 30 minutes. 130
  Another alternative is to take a Batac-Paoay jeepney. Fare is around 30 pesos.  
  Arrive at Paoay Church  
8am Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site  
  The St. Augustine Church or popularly known as Paoay Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.
10am Malacañang of the North and Paoay Lake  
  Entrance Malacañang of the North 40
  Depart for Laoag  
12nn Arrive at Laoag, have lunch 80
  Lunch at Dap-ayan Ti Ilocos. It is like a food court / fast food where there are stalls offering a variety of food choices. Here, you’ll find the famous Laoag empanada and inihaw na longanisa.  
1pm A Walking Tour Around the City of Laoag  
  Laoag City tour – Ilocos Norte provincial capitol – Located in front of the Capitol building, the Aurora Park is where the statue of the maiden Pamulinawen – where the Tobacco Monopoly Monument was erected in 1882 – left of the park is the Laoag City Hall  
2pm St William’s Cathedral & the Sinking bell tower  
  Walking towards the street on the right side of the park will bring you to the St. William’s Cathedral –
  A few steps away to the left of the Capitol Building is the Museo Ilocos Norte.  
  Entrance to Museo Ilocos Norte 30
  Back to the hotel and check-out  
4pm Trip to Pagudpud Beach, “The Boracay of the North”  
  Tricycle to Van Terminal 10
  Arrive at van/bus terminal for Pagudpud 2.5-3 hrs travel to Pagudpud  
  Fare, Laoag-Pagudpud (van) 70
  How to get to Pagudpud from Laoag – Take a bus or van bound for Claveria Cagayan, it will pass by the town of Pagudpud, which is the last town before reaching Claveria Cagayan. Travel time is 1.5 hours.  
  Homestay in Pagudpud (for 1 night) 800
  Arrive at Pagudpud, check-in at Cathy’s Home Stay  
  Cathy’s Home Stay, Pagudpud
Address: Brgy. Saud, Pagudpud Ilocos Norte
Room Rate: 800 pesos, good for 4 persons for an air conditioned room.
Contact Details: 09195716680
Notes: One of the cheapest accommodations in Saud Beach, Pagudpud.
  Explore the beach  
  Dinner by the beach 65
Fri Nov 30    
  Here is the list of the activities you can do to appreciate Pagudpud.
Swim and surf in the breathtaking Saud Beach
Traysi tour of Pagudpud for P600.00
Thirty minutes trek to majestic Kabigan Falls
Stopover at Patapat Viaduct with blue skies and blue sea waters as backdraft
See Bantay Abot cave, where waves hit the cliffs
Drop by Agua Paraiso, where waves hit the rocks
Enjoy huge wave and white sand in pristine Blue Lagoon (Maira-ira beach)
Witness Pagudpud sunset
Visit Bangui Wind Mills, Bojeador (Burgos) Lighthouse, Curimao, Laoag, Paoay and Vigan
  Wake up and early morning walk by the beach 100
  Tricycle to and from Pagudpud town proper  
  Brunch 80
  Check out of the home stay  
8am The Windmills, Rock Formation, Lighthouse and the Church  
  South and North Pagudpud Tour (Tricycle)
Rate: 600 pesos per tour
Contact Details: 09208532047 look for Kuya Rene
  South Tour includes Bangui windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and the Cape Bojeador Light House.
North Tour usually includes Kabigan Falls, Bantay Abot Cave, Blue Lagoon Beach, Patapat Viaduct, Paraiso ni Anton and Aqua Grande. The town of Adams is also worth a visit if you have more time.
  South Pagudpud tour (tricycle) 300
9am Arrive at Bangui Windmills  
  Officially referred to as the North Wind Bangui Bay Project, it is a major source of renewable energy amounting to 40% of the power requirement of the province. Boasts to be the first wind farm in the Philippines and biggest in Southeast Asia, it is consisted of 20 wind turbines on-shore facing the South China Sea.
  Off to Burgos  
10am Arrive at Kapurpurawan  
  In Ilocano, “Kapurpurawan” means “white” – which describes the radiant and sparkling shade of this rock formation. It is a hill of white limestone rock created by forces of the wind, water and waves coming from the ocean – truly, an amazing work of nature. Adjacent to the rock formation is the ocean, which added to the breathtaking sight.
  The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos Ilocos Norte really really Rocks!!!  
  Arrive at Cape Bojeador  
11am Cape Bojeador or the Burgos Lighthouse  
  A cultural heritage structure built during the Spanish Colonial period. Octagonal in shape, it is set high on Vigi de Nagparitan hill overlooking the picturesque Cape Bojeador.
  Fare Burgos-Bacarra (bus) 40
  Fare to Bacarra Church (tricycle) 15
  Arrive at Bacarra Church  
  Fare to Bacarra Hi-way (tricycle) 15
  Fare Bacarra to Laoag (jeepney) 10
  Lunch 50
1pm Off to Vigan  
  Check in at Casa Teofilo Loge  
  Casa Teofile Lodge
Contact Numbers :
Mobile – 09326740438
Landline – (077) 7226482 / (077) 7222547
Aircon Rooms with private cr, cable tv and free wi-fi.
  Night Strolling at Crisologo Street  
  Start strolling at Crisologo Street. This major attraction of Vigan is its mestizo district which is filled with Spanish-style houses that evoke a bygone era when its people lived prosperously because of the Manila-Acapulco maritime trade.
  Though a trip to Calle Crisologo is enjoyable during the day especially because of the opportunity to shop for Vigan’s best products (antiques, abel woven products, bags, basi wine, burnay and dimili products, chicharon, jewelry, sweets, Vigan vinegar and woodcrafts) in the inobtrusive shops located in the ground floor of some of the grand houses, a walk through it is magical at night.
  try some of the local food like bagnet mixed with pinakbet and their famous longganisa  
  Café Leona Dinner  
Sat Dec 1    
6am Café Uno Bfast  
  see Crisologo Street,Hidden Garden and Baluarte plus the Vigan old church.  
  Crisologo Street – Crisologo Museum – Syquia Mansion – Plaza Salcedo – Burgos Museum – Pagburnayan Jar – Hidden Garden – Baluarte ni Chavit – Bantay Tower – Casa Teofila Lodge  
  Hidden Garden  
7am ViganBaluarte ni Chavit  
  It’s an 80 hectares of terrains, hills and mountain sides that serves as natural habitat for Gov Chavit Singson’s personal collection of wild animals
8am Vigan River Cruise  
  So, I headed out to my second destination via one of these tricycles. I left Baluarte at 10:28 am and arrived at the site of “Vigan River Cruise” 10:39 am. Fare from Baluarte to Mestizo River, the site of the river cruise, is Php 60. Ticket in the boat ride of Vigan River Cruise costs Php 100. Boats used in the cruise are like those small wooden fishing vessels used by many ordinary Filipino fishermen called “bangka” in Tagalog. Each boat has outriggers for stability and safety of riders, which is good for rough river. But don’t worry, the Mestizo River is calm all the way.  
9am Vigan Heritage Village  
  After enjoying the cruise which finished at 11:23 am, it’s time to get to the “Vigan Heritage Village”, the only colonial town in the Philippines and for which Vigan is known. I had made an arrangement with the tricycle I’d ridden from Baluarte to wait for me. Actually, he offered the service to the Heritage Village. I just accepted it for the reason of time management.
  At around 1:30 pm, I thought it’s time to go to bus terminal to be in Laoag before dusk. So, I just took a tricycle for Php 15 to reach terminal of Partas Bus. You just plug down a motorized tricycle and ask the driver to take you to Partas which is near. Wait for bus with “Laoag” sign.  
10am Vigan to Laoag 1.5hrs  
2pm Laoag-MNL  

You could also download the file here. Laoag Itinerary

Happy Adventures!

The above blog post is part of my Ilokandia Ultimate Adventure – Laoag – Pagudpud – Vigan tour series of posts in the Ilocos Region, Philippines that happened last November 28 – December 2, 2012. | Ilocos Adventure: Laoag Vigan Pagudpud Budget Itinerary | Laoag City Walking Tour: Places, Food, and Fun Treats | Ilocandia Sand Boarding and 4×4 Ride in La Paz Sand Dunes | Paoay Tour: Paoay Church, Malacanang of the North and the Paoay Lake