Help! Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan, Ilocos, etc. – Any bright ideas???

We were hoping to do an ambitious road trip up North, driving through Nueva Vizcaya up to Tuguegarao, further North to Pagudpud, down to Laoag, Vigan, and back to Manila. Problem is, we have never been this way before except on the way to Baguio or to Banaue, Bontoc and Sagada which we have visited several times. I have downloaded some great tips from Anton over at Our Awesome Planet and Ivan at Ivan About Town, but we are still unsure about our final itinerary. If you hail from these parts, or grew up in a town or province along this route, we would love to hear your suggestions if you are willing to share them… what are the must sees, which markets are worth spending some serious time at, what local delicacies are definitely a must try… I realize we may only have a day or less (since there is so much driving involved)in each major stop but we would like to make the most of it…

We haven’t the foggiest idea where to make the first stop on the way up – should we stay in Solano or Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya (and what hotel is the best in town?) to break a very long drive? Then the following night where can we stay in Tuguegarao? Once we get to Pagudpud, should we stay a night there or take in the scenery and keep on driving to Laoag? Should we stay at the tourist infested, but relatively reasonably priced 5 star (daw?) Fort Ilocandia Resort, or the newer, quainter and much pricier, Sitio Remedios outside Laoag. Do we spend a night at Villa Angela in a Cuarto de las Hijas (why that is nicer than los Hijos’ one is beyond me) in Vigan or keep driving to somewhere in La Union for the night? We wanted to do all of this in 5 nights and 6 days total and if we are crazy, please let us know… Any of your useful insights into this potential trip would be greatly appreciated. Markets, food and delicacies, restaurants, interesting things to see, hotels, insider tips, wickedly unsafe roads, neat things for The Kid to do, etc. Of course, if we push through with the trip, we will try to have a post for every major destination along the way… Thank you so much in advance for your help!


37 Responses

  1. Hi Market Man,

    I truly enjoy your posts, and i hope i could be of some help on your trip. I recently went on a 4 day tript to Cagayan and Pagudpud two weeks ago, and it was such a memorable experience. Please visit the Virtual Tourist website which will provide much needed info hopefully. Look out for local posts, esp. posts by bike_packer (a native of Claveria), i-s-a, monina_c and pres (my trip companions), who have hopefully uploaded new posts.
    In Nueva Viscaya, there are the game meat (endangered?) you might want to try. In Cagayan, try their famed Pansit Batil Patong. Of course, Ilocos has the sinful Bagnet and other delicacies. I’m looking forward to the wonderful posts on this, sana matuloy kayo!
    Enjoy your trip!


  2. really enjoyed your running commentary & photos of your recent trip to coron, palawan. can’t wait for same on this northern roadtrip..bon voyage!

  3. We stayed at the Vigan Plaza Hotel. It was very nice, quite new and centrally located. Walking distance to the plaza where the empanada’s are sold. It is also right by Crisologo Street, the famous Vigan Street. They furnished it in old Filipino style. I believe this hotel is owned and run by Chavit Singsons son. Here are their contact numbers: +63(77)7228552/53.

    We also stayed at Fort Ilocandia in Laoag. It wasn’t too bad, the bathrooms were not gross naman, just alright though. The Taiwanese group that took it over refurbished it.
    I expected worse.

    I am not familiar with the other places you mentioned. I hope this helps.

  4. Unfortunately, Nueva Vizcaya and Tuguegarao were quite forgettable on my roadtrip scale, apart from the scorching heat and dusty roads. I do rememeber that Villa Margarita Mountain resort was along the highway and is not a bad place for the Kid to take a swim after a long day at the Caves (if you decide to take their cave adventure)Also try the nueva vizcaya oranges which are great globes of citrus heaven. In Tuguegarao, Do take the standard Callao caves and underground river tour and be amazed at the bat spectacle at dusk.

    Further down, stop over at the beaches of Claveria and look for their bibingka royale with coconut and cheese set in glutinous rice. Yummyness guaranteed. In Pagudpud, i suggest you stay the night at either Villa Del Mar or Polaris and take a tricycle tour of the town for Php 600 the following day, a trip to the waterfalls included.You can ask them to cook food that you can readily buy from passing fishermen in the area.

    On the way to Laoag,buy breakfast for the watchman at the Burgos Lighthouse and cheer him up out of his solitary confinement :) And then of course, what’a a trip down north without passing by the windmills of bangui?Pose all you want and take sand samples from that part-amazing sand-stone particles if i may add.

    In Pasuquin, buy their specialty tinapay the name of which escapes me, but ask around and they will know.If the time is right, scour through their market for the freshest catch of the day. Bring a coleman, you never know what interesting food picks you might find down north.

    If interesting churches are your thing, get down in Bacarra and take photos pronto! In Laoag, the places to eat out on are la preciosa, ivan dominic, dawang’s (open only for breakfast and brunch apparently to ensure the freshness of the meat being served) and the never fail empanadaan. Do try Batac’s miki simply because it is MIKI deconstructed into “orange” goodness. Of course, bagnet and longganiza are must trys as well- but a little secret that they don’t usually tell you is that their Binagis is quite special as well. Binagis is spiced intestines dipped in ilocano suka and sili.

    When you go to the Laoag market on a Sunday,do it in the morning-the colors, the produce and the people are amazing.

    In Vigan, try Cafe Uno. Also, Buy an extra battery pack for your camera.

    Having said all that, is there room for one other passenger on that road trip? hahaha!

  5. enjoy the trip shall wait for exciting stories to share…like bamboo shoot.. is there a room for me on this trip? ;-)
    am easy… i will do the photography for you ;-)

  6. Hi MarketMan. Nueva Vizcaya is orange country. If I’m not mistaken, July or August is the start of the harvest season. Look for “pirante” oranges and the giant suha (pomelo). These pomelos are similar to the ones from China where the stuff under the rind (we call them clouds) are white. And they are really huge. The pulp is also white and very juicy. The pirantes are good for juice. They also have navel oranges.

    I don’t know much about Ilocos but my sister is now there conducting a study (for the Univ. of Nebraska) in the town of Cabugao. She’ll be staying in Vigan and is booked at the Cordillera Inn. She was telling me of some beach resort but I can’t remember the name.

  7. on the way to tuguegarao, stop by tumauini and ride the small banca to cross cagayan river and you can find TJ resort in aga delfin albano, isabela.

  8. When you go to Pagudpud, get a guide and trek to the hidden waterfalls which is just an hour of leisurely walk. Do bring an extra pair of clothes for that if you plan to bathe at the falls. Also visit the less developed but more pristine shoreline in Pagudpud that’s aptly called the Blue Lagoon.

    For the food, aside from bagnet, empanada, ilocano longganisa.. Try the ilocano pakbet, dinengdeng, dinardaraan ( a yummier, dry type of dinuguan. in fact it’s the only way i’d eat my dinuguan), binagis (if you like ehem intestines), Igado (my fave ilocos ulam), and kilawing kambing.

    And for the yummiest chichacorn, go to Nana Rosa’s chichacorn factory in Paoay. Hands down the best chichacorn in Ilocos.
    Oh and the miki! yum yum. It’s Ilocos’ version of lomi— miki noodles with lots of garlic in an orangey chicken broth, the orange color taken from the chicken having been sauteed in atsuete infused oil. Also have a taste of basi,and the dark, plum colored Ilocos vinegar.

    Also since it’s the tail-end of the summer don’t forget to try out the sineguelas and lomboys (duhat) and balimbings abundant in the markets.


  9. we took a very brief road trip over holy week and went up from manila to tuguegerao, pagudpud, laoag, la union and back. the trip up was really long and the roads are not as good as the manila ilocos route. we took the trip overnight so all i recall is many stalls selling walis and bawang. in tuguerao, stay in hotel’s the best hotel in the region and you will want that after the drive. there’s not much to see in the city. the only reason we stopped there was to visit family. the alcala (carabao)milk candy is a favorite of my kids.

    some friends took us to see callao caves which was pretty cool. we hired a boat and look a ride on the lake.

    we planned to stop in claveria en route to pagudpud but being good friday, everything was closed. we did see the beaches of claveria from above and they are magnificent. locals swear they are some of the best beaches in the philippines. we heard that san praxides and santa ana are also popular in the area. they are the northernmost beaches.

    we stopped in pagudpud and stayed on the maraira beach for most of the day. it’s a beautiful beach but still undeveloped (read: no toilet or facilities and bring your own food).the water and scenery are stunning but the beach is pebbley and the waves strong; water cold. we had to watch our little ones closely.reminded me of the US beaches.

    we had merienda in our friend’s rest house on the main pagudpud beach. also nice.

    laoag is a great city but i can’t recommend any good places to eat. we spent too little time there and the places we ate were nothing special.

    vigan was lovely. we only had a couple of hours there but we definitely want to go back. cafe leona was excellent. best meal we had on our whirlwind trip. it’s across from max’s chicken in the square.

    be sure to pick up longganiza, bagnet, bibingka royale and my husband’s favorite, honey camote chips from Marsha’s along the road towards manila. ilocos is amazing and sadly, we had far too little time to explore.

  10. have travelled up north quite a few times…tuguegarao is quite forgettable, with some unpaved roads, it’s quite flat, and dusty. there’s one hotel there which was quite decent as compared to the hotels in nueva vizcaya. i only like nueva vizcaya because of the Dutch Pancake resto that we stumbled upon a few years back. It’s in Solano, owned by a dutch married to a filipina. the pancakes and their steaks were quite good considering you’re in the rurals. not sure if they’re still around but no harm in asking.
    Loag is great and the hotel (ilocandia) is so so. i like their longganisa better than vigan’s, and nothing beats ilocos empanada in batac… but the Vigan Hotel located right in the middle of the town proper is nice…very classy, amenities are great if you’re very particular like me ..:) overall, the roads up north are far more superior and make sure you load up on good driving music!

  11. MM, I heartily recommend Villa Angela in Vigan. Been there twice. Not only does this converted bed and breakfast look like it was frozen in time (btw, girls’ rooms are always prettier), but they serve a nice and hearty breakfast that always includes a plate of local longganisa. I cant remember its name, but we were served a beef soup, not unlike batchoy but without all the extra stuff in it, for breakfast once and i still remember it to this day… With fried garlic rice, it was something worth waking up for everyday :)

    My two cents: You can see most of Vigan in one day and one night. Skip Laoag City to save time. Head up to Pagudpud and the surrounding beaches, you’ll be glad you didnt waste your time anywhere else. On our drive from Laoag to Pagudpud, our driver stopped at a roadside “restaurant” that seemed to be where all the jeepneys stopped to eat. This shack in the middle of nowhere has some adventurous turo-turo eating inside if you happen to passby around mealtime.

    Too bad there isnt a bridge to Batanes. Now that is a place worth seeing and eating your way around. If you ever need advice for Batanes, let me know.

  12. don’t forget to try the empanada fried in the evenings right on the the stalls along the plazas in vigan and laoag.

  13. We did this kind of trip twice a year ago since some in-laws are from Solano and another from La Union. I dont know if it’s such a really good idea to travel this long for 5-6 straight days. After a while body aches may take its toil since some roads arent quite good.
    I suggest you do stay in a hotel in Solano since it is a commercial district of Nueva Viscaya. There are Governor’s Garden Hotel or Raphael Inn, nothing fancy but it was good enough for a brief stay. Do try to visit Solano Market and there is Dutch Pancake HOuse in Solano too. Cut-flowers are available here, so you might get lucky with really nice varieties.Some handicrafts can be found too.Restaurants are abundant along National Highway, there is also this jam/jelly an in-law got which was served to us during one of our breakfast. I didn’t get to know where it came from but it was nice. And do visit the several falls in NUeva Viscaya.
    Going to Pagudpod and enjoying what it has to offer may just take one day. When we got there, we didnt stay for a night, we headed to Fort Ilocandia which is kid-friendly. The kids we had in tow liked the place that we stayed for 2 days while we roam around Vigan. In Vigan or La Union, you’ll get to try the usual Ilocano treats.There is Royal Bibingka and visit Plaza Burgos, some food finds there (empanada). Then you can also visit Baluarte, where the Kid may like to see a mini zoo with some exotic animals.
    I really suggest bring along a tour guide or at least someone who have been there to truly enjoy the trip.

  14. Hi MM. If you’re looking for a hotel in Tuguegarao, I think Hotel Roma is the top choice right now. It is in the center of town and that is where most VIPs stay. (I’m not related in any way to the owners, just to be clear, hehe)

    Anton Carag organizes river rafting trips to Pinacanauan River (the river that flows in front of Callao Caves and the cave where the bats emerge at dusk) and to Chico River (near the town of Piat, where the basilica of our lady of piat is located.)

    If you’re into deep sea fishing, you can check out the town of Claveria or Sta Ana in the northern part of cagayan.

    Try the milk candy, either alcala brand or cagayan brand. Although I’m not really into it, most order it for pasalubong.

    Try the garlic sausages too, cook them slowly in relatively deep fat until it is crisp, then dip in spicy vinegar, Yum! be warned though, you’ll get garlic breath the whole day.

    Sorry can’t be of more help, I grew up in cagayan and I’ve never been a “tourist” there so i am quite clueless about the “in” places.

  15. I have to say though, driving through the northern luzon loop in 5 days is a little crazy! If you’re into road trips, that’s fine I guess. Maybe you can select just 3 towns you want to concentrate on at most, instead of trying to see a little of a lot of towns.

  16. our best man lives in claveria and last year we were invited to spend the Holy week with them.

    we hit almost all the tourist spots along the way…first stop was Paoay Church…then off to Malacanang of the North…then Windmills…then Vigan(love the place!!!)

    then lunch at their lola’s house in Pasoquin. typical ilocano fare but all new to me–ginisang bunga ng malunggay, ginulay na sili(pansigang), kambing, sinigang(pero nde maasim), dinengdeng and pinakbet.

    bambooshoot is correct, their specialty is a type of bread that has this anise-like flavor while hot and looks like spanish bread in shape. They really must be good cause we had to wait in line.

    we also went to the Burgos Lighthouse. It seems that the caretaker/watchman has been doing it for years. as with his father and his father before him.

    then straight on to Claveria, Cagayan. That is were we stayed.

    The seafood was unfamiliar but is very good. Got to taste a crab-like one they call Curacha. another one was served but I forgot the name.

    We went to the Claveria beach with some friends to try and surf but due to the waves being so big, I just stuck to the shore(yeah, I’m scared) and just watched them. Everybody has Dream cable since no local channel signals can be received. On the radio, we even got some Chinese stations.

    Though a bit out of the way, we also went to Makatel Falls. This seems to be a local destination here. Afterwards, we went to Maira-ira beach. Also called Blue lagoon, it is within Pagudpud but not as developed as the other. I like this better as it has lesser crowds.

    As for the food, these are the must try’s:

    Pasoquin bread
    bawang flakes
    Cassava bibingka
    And those little cupcake sized bibingkas in red boxes.

  17. BTW, cagayan has a version of budbod cabog. Its called Nanna (pronounced nan-na, double consonants are always pronounced twice, ex. Callao is cal-lao, not kalaw or kalyaw)

  18. yeah Laoag can be skipped, you can just pass by and drive around, Villa Angela is beside our house and infront of our family house, rooms are cheap and they serve lutong bahay ilocano food as per request but if you choose a more classy hotel, then Vigan Plaza Hotel is good, and has very reasonable rates

  19. Hello Marketman,

    Can you tell me when is this? Because I’m going home and should be home the 10th of June and will be in Sta. Rosa till the 2nd of August. How much is it? I hop I can afford it. Just wondering.

  20. My suggestion naman is to check out the Ilocos jars called burnay. I bought some of them and they’re really sturdy containers for salt as well as fermenting home-made vinegar, bagoong, etc. It also is so interesting how the Ilocanos make their pottery. I saw several kilns in Vigan and Laoag.

  21. Go to AGOO, LA UNION! :)

    Had to plug my home away from home. It’s one of the oldest towns in the PI and my ancestral homeland so I MUST plug it.

    The beach is easily accessible and there’s a lot of history surrounding the town. Aside from that there’s a nice resort where you and your family can stay I believe called the Villa Remix (sp?). Oh and a nice old lady (my apong/lola) who runs a little sari-sari. :)

    Have fun!

  22. first of all, is this crazy? yes it is but it’s really fun, considering it’s your first time in most of these towns. good thing that these are peaceful parts.

    it’s been eons since i last went on a similar trip. i barely remember the drive up north, except for the santa fe zigzag (prepare the kid for this leg, bonamine or a barf bag) if you’re passing this route. think ‘chicken intestine’ and ‘long and winding road’ dancing the twist.

    in tuguegarao, as chris suggests, try the garlic sausages. have it cooked till the outer parts are a bit ark and crispy. serve with spicy ilocano vinegar and if a tad adventurous, ask for a tablespoon of the oil it was cooked in and mix in with your sinangag rice. orange rice heaven. in their market, they sell crispy fried field locusts, a fitting snack on this trip, rather than western chips. of course, the alcala carabao milk candies. callao caves is a must really, if only up to the first dome where the chapel is located, and experiencing the bat river in the sky at 6pm sharp (of course i exaggerate). plus the long climb up is a natural stairmaster.

    don’t skip laoag, just don’t stay overnight (sa vigan na lang, a few hours away). in laoag there’s the sand dunes in fpj’s panday movie (as if! hehehe). i suggest you try the beef longganisa instead of the pork as their pork will pale against the vigan one you will have later on in this trip. a local suggested this to us and i don’t know if restaurants have this in their menus by now, but we bought it in the market and just had it cooked in a nearby eatery. have it with their pinakbet and for pork, the sinful bagnet. try to watch how a bagnet is cooked, it’s like pork palitaw. of course, there’s the assembled-and-cooked-on-the-spot empanada at the park. some vendors may ask if you like it with egg, trust me just say yes.

    vigan is the really preserved ooold town, like taal. beautiful on a lazy afternoon calesa ride along crisologo’s cobblestone(?) road. food? all i remember is their famous longganisa and again, assembled-and-cooked-on-the-spot empanada, although smaller and i think no meat, where else but in the park. and vigan is where i suggest that you buy a jug of vinegar to take home (or was it laoag??? hmmmm…)

    lastly, i suggest you make a post on the old churches of northern luzon, the best buys on the towns along the way, like dried fish, nuts, and handicrafts (there’s a lot).

  23. I wish I could remember those caves we went to in Tuguegarao, I want to say it was Calao, but I’m not completely sure. We went with some friends who were local there and a guide. You have to be a bit flexible to go through the cracks and crevices, but deep inside the caves were water falls, so worth the claustrophobia. Food is fairly forgettable in Tuguegarao, Vigan is where you want to save your appetite.
    Anyhoo, if you could and like beach outings, spend more time in Ilocos, from Pagudpud, to Laoag, to Vigan, all the way to La Union, along that entire stretch of hi-way the beaches are just simply amazing. You can basically pull-over and swim, LOL. When in Vigan, don’t forget to visit the plaza and try the fried empanadas and the ukoys, try the royal bibingka as well. Ask a local though for the best bibingka. From the plaza you could take a short walk to look at the old houses, some homeowners and/or their caretakers are actually hospitable enough to let you look inside. Most of the houses are still in their original conditions with original furnishings, and they take great pride of that. Also check the local museum, a tricyle ride north of the plaza, it’s very tiny but quite interesting. Of course don’t forget to visit the church and the bishop’s palace next to it, all of this in the plaza. I remember a barbecue place in there as well, that serve some real good pork barbercue, They are big on potteries too, so check them out. Again, I can’t remember the best burnay pottery places, just went with friends who lived in the area all their life. This was about 10 years ago too. When picking for a burnay, the darker the pottery, the better, afterall, that’s what they are famous for, the dark coloured clay. Also check the local palengke for Vigan longganisa and bagnet. Check out the selection of hand-weaved blankets, which I can’t remember what the locals calls them. If you like local, native stuff, the weaves are amazing, think of Mexican blankets, only the patterns are more varied.
    FYI, if you want to go up the Bantay Tower, some locals have taken the opportunity to make it their personal toilets. A picture atop with the bell on the background is great, but if you are squeamish, a picture with the whole tower at the background will suffice.
    As you drive back to Manila, buy assortments of dried fish in either La Union or Pangasinan. I especially like the dried espadas.I have never eaten espadas in their undried form, hehe, but, I do love them dried. Pangasinan also have the best bagoong isda, if in the future you want to try making dinendeng.
    Some of the best beaches near Vigan I could recommend are in Cabugao (North of Vigan) and in Narvacan (South of Vigan). Our hosts hired a bangkero to take us to this small but a paradise of an island in Cabugao. Also after crossing the Narvacan bridge, when you see the grotto on the rocks to your right (driving south), for a bit of adventure, pull over and I suggest walking the rocky beach leading to the grotto, proper foot wear suggested, if in tsinelas, just rought it out, and watch your steps, that is if it is low tide. We were actually able to go all the way to the top of the groto when it was low tide, it so cool! Driving through Narvacan always leaves me in awe, you have mountains on the other side and wondefrul beaches on the other side.
    When up north, most definitely don’t pass Pagudpud, one of the best, it’s so calming at night, if you are up for some late night or early morning swim.

  24. I love Vigan for the old houses, the cobblestone streets, good food (empanadas with the sukang ilocos; bagnet; bibingka royale to name a few), and the fun furniture finds and woven goods.
    For beaches, I prefer the cold water/hot sand of Pagudpud to Boracay. It’s clean, not noisy with commercial interests, nobody forcing you to buy stuff. Strong tides, so stay close to the shore.
    Historically, the old stone churches in Ilocos remind me of the mission trail in California. They’ve got character in the old heavy bullwarks and eaves.
    Have a great vacation!

  25. hey mr marketman!!!!! if you’re going north, stock up on longganisa, suka and tuba! i love tuba!

  26. Hi MM!

    Ilocos Norte – the Empanada is a must! The Norte version is definitely better than their Ilocos Sur counterparts. 2 of these wonderful Empanadas, dipped in sukang Ilocos and washed down with ice cold Coke. Heaven :D

    Ilocos Sur – Cafe Leona is the best restaurant if you want to sample Ilocos fare. Crunchy Bagnet with the signature tomato-onion and bagoong balayan dip, the delicious Vigan Longganizas, and the Dinengdeng is top notch :D Cafe Leona is located near the Plaza, near the street that leads to the old Spanish houses. After having your fill of food, you can take a stroll down this lovely street.

    Darn…I’m getting hungry….

  27. Ilocos is not a popular tourist destination compared to other sites, and let’s leave it that way. This way it remains bucolic and unhurried. By car, have some snacks/drinks ready to stop by anytime under a camachile or acacia tree in any of the side roads and catch farmers harvest their garlic,onions, vegetables etc. Good way to make tawad too! Don’t forget to share your merienda hehe.

    By bus from Manila, get the window seat behind the driver and get the 10 pm trip. You will get a great sunrise morning somewhere just before Vigan. Galing sunrise and sea together.The bus stops over soon at a carinderia after this for breakfast. The coffee and sinangag are worth the long night’s travel. The bus i took was Partas. The driver was a kind manong who answered all my questions ( free tour guide hehe), the bus clean and comfortable.

  28. In Vigan be wary of buying stuff from the heritage area. There are some finds there like the Abel but you have to know your price. Speaking of price, I saw this gorgeous capiz tray set with napkins and shells as napkin holders. It was by itself (or maybe they were just hiding the rest) and the owner said I could have it for P750. I almost bought it but I remembered I was going to check out Greenhills in San Juan. I saw the same thing at Greenhills for half the price. You might also wanna check out the “antique” furniture shops for sightseeing. As numerous tipsters have pointed out do try out the empanada. There’s this one stall where they mix everything, shape, and fry in front of you. Anyway have fun!

  29. Hi Everyone, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of these tips so far… hmmm, I don’t know, we may re-think this and just go up the Ilocos coast all the way to Pagudpud instead of the Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan side… And I wonder what fraction of all the food I will get a chance to try! Oh, and Danney, sorry, this is a private family trip… THANK YOU AGAIN!

  30. my hubby’s dad is from la union, and whenever we’re there we are served kilawing kambing which is the crisp ears and other parts of a goat charcoal grilled then tossed in vinegar. YUM! I also tasted these tiny fingernail-sized clams thatt were a joy to eat. I forget what they’re called though but they are similar to the clams in miso soups served in Japan.

  31. Thanks Marketman, I thought you are organizing a tour for us bloggers of yours and since I’m leaving Los Angeles today 06/08/07 and will be arriving in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on the 10th, I thought I could join the tour. Well then I will have a taste of the rural food and local dishes again. Enjoy the tour.

  32. Definately try the Bagnet and local Langonisa in vigan! The langonisa is so nice garlicy and vinegary. You can buy it at a rest stop right before you aproach the city. Bagnet is sold at the local markets.

    My mother’s side of the family is Ilocano and they take great pride in Bagnet and the Langonisang Illoco.

  33. Hi Marketman, I hail from Vigan. Do stop by our small town. The well-preserved old spanish houses are worth visiting. Don’t miss to eat empanada and okoy at the plaza. Visit the market to buy bagnet, longganiza and other stuff. Try also my dinuguan we call in ilocano ‘dinar-daraan’. so yumyum. Yah, the Vigan Plaza Hotel is where I always book my guests.

  34. I hope you get to pass thru the windmills in Bangui town. We once went all the way up to Pagudpud, but at that time, the windmills were not yet there. I saw them in many articles and I think it may be worth the picture. Also, if you have time, do drop by the lighthouses in Ilocos, there are many websites referring to these lighthouses, especially the one in Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

  35. Hi! I”m based in Angeles and cover North Luzon for work, so this is my backyard. Pretty much everything is covered but would just like to add that the the best empanada is from Batac, Ilocos Norte. It puts Vigan and Laoag’s to shame. Their longanisa are also especially tasty. As you drive down through Urdaneta, pass by Matutina’s for the seafood (this is a branch of the original in Dagupan). On the eastern side of Luzon in nueva vizcaya (Solano), try their buko pie – not your usual colette’s pie as its more creamy- sort of like a buko creme brulee.

    My hometown of Angeles is a completely different beast altogether. DO drop by Zapata’s for the best Mexican food in the country. Cottage Kitchen Cafe has exquisite ribs. C Italian Reso has this dish called a Panizza which is definitely a must try (paper thin herbed crust, great toppings, – trick is to roll up strips of the panizza with fresh arugula). Yat’s Wine Club in Clark is the most pretentious resto with a P1.0mio bottle of wine on offer but the food is yummy and you can actually ask the chef for a tasting menu.

    For local fare do drop by Susie’s Cuisine for everything and the desserts. Mila’s on McArthur Highway tops the sisig race but Aling Lucing’s should be had just for the experience. The karinderia in Nepo Mart should be had for the hard core Kapampangan food and Everybody’s Cafe in Angeles and San Fernando remains an institution. Speaking of San Fernando, drop by JayJay’s for the pork barbeque, similar to Ineng’s in manila – but have bias for JayJay’s since its been around for decades.

    have a great trip!

  36. When you get to Vigan, stay at Gordion Inn! They have clean reasonably priced rooms (with complimentary breakfast) , very accomodating staff who can assist you with your trip to the most visited places in the province (they are affiliated with Gordion Travel and Tours who make great Ilocos adventure packages). You should try their fruit shakes and european sausages…no other shakes and sausages in Vigan can be better than what they have!! And one of my most favorites at Gordion Inn is the Ruins where we had our breakfasts… Around us were their pots of basil, chilli, lemongrass, calamansi, etc. The scent of the sampaguita, the unrestored exposed brick walls, just makes the place so perfect and very VIGAN! Telling you about this makes me want to go back there again. The owners are very accomodating as well, I got to meet most of them who are managing the hotel. I have their number just in case you would want to reserve now– 246-1502 (that’s a manila line, so if you’re in manila you can just dial that number) or if you prefer to contact them through text, 0917-5680840. How i got to know about the place? I read this write up about Gordion Inn in Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Magazine and that moment I knew i just had to book my family right away. Of course we got to visit other hotels too but hey, no regrets! I hope this helps, have fun!!
    If you are fond of buying stuff, try…/
    1. Bibingka, Chichacorn- Tongson’s (take note, there a a lot of other bibingkas who seem to have a bigger market but Tongson’s, being the first, is still the best)
    2. Longaniza, Gourmet Tuyo, Alamang- Gordion Inn
    3. Bagnet- at the market



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