Ilocos Sur - Ilocos Norte Road Trip 2017

After 7 long years, my wife and I finally got a chance to revisit Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte last December 2017. What makes this trip special for me is that for this road trip, we already have a daughter along with us. Aside from that, this road trip is also my first with my wife's family. It was safe to say that it was a special year-ender trip for me.

Ilocos Sur - Ilocos Norte Road Trip 2017

Here's how our Ilocos Sur-Ilocos Norte Road Trip 2017 turned out:

December 25 (Day 1)

Our adventure started in my brother-in-law's house in Cavite. Our two-car convoy left at around 7AM. The trip was quite fast thanks to the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway or TPLEX. By 12NN we were already having lunch at Casantaan Bulaluhan at Kambingan Eatery in the town of Sto. Tomas in La Union.

Lunch at Casantaan Bulaluhan at Kambingan Eatery

Yummy bulalo

After lunch, we drove straight to Ilocos Sur and reached the Ilocos Sur Arch a few hours later. As expected, we had our compulsory group photo with it as our backdrop. We also had some other compulsory group photos at the following places:

Ilocos Sur Arch

Sta. Maria Church at Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur

Quirino Bridge AKA Banaoang Bridge at Santa, Ilocos Sur

Heritage Resort of Caoayan

We reached Vigan City in the afternoon but instead of touring this historic place, we drove straight to Heritage Resort of Caoayan in the town of the same name to check in our reserved rooms. We spent a few hours freshening up and resting before we headed back to Vigan City to watch the Dancing Fountain of Plaza Salcedo. we arrived quite early so we decided to have our dinner already. Some of us wanted to try out an authentic Vigan Empanada, so some went to line up at Vigan Empanadahan but the younger ones preferred the usual fast food so they went to the nearby Greenwich. Both places had a very long queue, so while they were waiting in line, I went to Calle Crisologo to take a quick look at how it was during nighttime. 

Let's watch how they make empanadas

Calle Crisologo at night

Vigan Cathedral at night

We managed to eat about an hour later which means we have already missed out on the Dancing Fountain presentation. A bit disappointed, we explored the vicinity of Vigan Cathedral instead before heading back to the resort and calling it a day.

December 26 (Day 2)

We check out at around 9AM, after letting the kids swim a bit at the resort's pool and after we had our breakfast. We proceeded to do our planned activities in the following places in Vigan City:

Swimming time for the kids

Brave Ella during the animal show at Baluarte

Lunchtime at Hidden Garden

Ilocos Norte Arch

Juan and Antonio Luna Ancestral House

Finally! We reached our home in Badoc, Ilocos Norte!

At around noon, we proceeded to my mother-in-law's ancestral house in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. However, we had some side trips along the way like the Ilocos Norte Arch and the Juan and Antonio Luna Ancestral House in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. It was already afternoon when we reached the Villarazo house in Badoc. We spent the remaining daylight to clean the house and unload our stuff. When darkness fell, the millennials of the group (including me) had the unique experience of bathing provincial style at an open area at the back of the house. When I said provincial style, we had to take turns operating the old hand water pump of the house to get water. We then ate the delicious Ilokano dishes courtesy of a relative living in the neighborhood. Before we called it a night, I decided to give a little scare to the millennials by telling them some creepy stories but it seems like it backfired on me as I had a hard time sleeping due to the fact that my imagination went overboard and scared me instead.

December 27 (Day 3)

For our third day, we originally planned to go to Pagudpud which is the northernmost town of Ilocos Norte but due to some changes in the plan, we ended up visiting other places north of Badoc instead. Each place gave us some memorable experiences which became the topics of our conversations during the return trip home the next day. These are the following places that we visited on our 3rd day:

Bangui Wind Farm
Check out the souvenirs

Bangui Wind Farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte: During our visit, the wind was so strong that it was like having a sandpaper facial scrub. There's nothing much to do here though so we just bought some souvenirs and took some photos before heading to our next destination.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

The Backpack Adventures visits Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, Ilocos Norte: It was also windy when we reached the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations. There were also a lot of visitors during our visit. This did not stop us from exploring the place though. We managed to have some photoshoot in different areas of this place perfect for posting in our Instagram accounts.

Paoay Sand Dunes

The Backpack Adventures visits Paoay Sand Dunes

Paoay Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte: Probably the place that we enjoyed the most. The 4x4 ride and sand sledding experience here were really amazing. 

We ended our 3rd day back at the Villarazo home. We started to pack up our stuff in preparation for our trip back home the next day. Overall, it was a very tiring yet fruitful day.

December 28 (Day 4)

Every trip has its end. We had to head back home today. Before we left, we were given by the relative of my wife a box full of recently harvested and cleaned onions. They gave us so much that we'd have a supply of onions until March. We spent 12 hours inside the van either sleeping or munching on snacks. We finally arrived back home at around 10PM.

Overall, one would never fail to enjoy a road trip when he/ she is with the family. I'm looking forward to more of this kind of road trip in the future. I hope someday it would be in Mindanao.


  1. It was in a year 2015 when I visited Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte and it was one of those trips that brought me back to the past. I just love all the beautiful tourist spots and the unending scenery that flaunt before my eyes. I should have tried the thrilling adventure in Sand dunes. I only drop by and have a photo last time. I hope to go back next time. Thank you so much for sharing this Neil.

    1. Hi Laiariel. =) A lot has changed in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. =) You should go visit again. You'd surely fall in love with the place.

  2. The rock formations are worth a shot! I would love to go to this place when have the chance. Thanks for the idea.

    1. You're welcome Ann. =) Hope you visit Kapurpurawan soon.

  3. You had such a wonderful trip with your family. I love taking road trips with mine too, particularly when the group is big. Because a road trip always gives so much flexibility. Ilocos looks like a beautiful place for a family trip, no wonder you enjoyed the trip so much

    1. I agree Neha, a family trip is enjoyable as there are a lot of people in the group which contributes to the fond memories of the travel. That's true. Ilocos is a great province to visit on a road trip. =)

  4. What I see from your blog is that you philipines are so gruppie guys! it is really nice to see people wanting to share experience! Love the photo on the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation.

    1. Hahahaha that's true. We Filipinos love to pose for the cameras. You should visit the Philippines by the way. There are plenty of adventures waiting for you.


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