If you’re headed to the North, then make sure you check out these museums, churches, and natural wonders. Here are the top 10 Ilocos Norte tourist spots that you shouldn’t miss:
The Riverside Empanadahan is a local and tourist favorite that sells food products, souvenirs and more. But obviously – the best selling items are the varieties of Empanada and miki. The latter is a thick soup made up of chicken stock and meat. It has flat noodles topped with a boiled egg, chicharon and garlic longganisa.
On the other hand, the Batac Empanadas are orange pastries filled with papaya, bean sprouts, longganisa and egg. If you order the “special” Batac Empanadas, you’d notice bites full of chorizo.
Operated by the NorthWind Power Development Corporation, the Bangui Wind Farm was commissioned by then-governor Ferdinand “Bonbbong” Marcos, Jr.. The windmills have long been a must-see in the Ilocos Norte region, with more than 20 turbines set up along the coast of Bangui Bay.
There is no entrance fee to see them and you can take as many photographs as you want. You can also have a horse ride if you get tired walking from one turbine to another. A horse ride is P100.
As the fourth longest bridge in the Philippines, the Patapat Viaduct snakes along the North Cordillera mountain range. It offers a breathtaking view of the West Philippine Sea and Pasaleng Bay. Along the way, you pass by the Mabugabog Falls, the Kalbario Natural Park and a shipwreck just beneath the waters that dates all the way back to the Japanese occupation.
The Suba Sand Dunes were once made famous as the shooting locations for the 1982 award-winning movie Himala (Miracle) starring Nora Aunor and the 1980 film Panday starring “King of Philippine Movies” Fernando Poe Jr. It’s current claim to fame is that of it being the shooting site for Bagani, a teleserye starring Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil.
In fact, the sand dunes offers a group package that includes a “4×4 ride with uphill-down trails, sand dune tour, beach stroll, unlimited sand boarding plus photo session at the Himala sa Buhangin Sculpture Park, several drop-off stations and BAGANI Shooting Site”.
Just an hour outside of Laoag city is the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, which gets its name for the Ilocano term “puraw” which means “white”. The natural wonder fronts Bangui Bay and is the result of thousands of years of particles deposited ashore by sea waves and wind.
Open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, the museum once served as the official residence of the Marcos family when Ferdinand E. Marcos was president. The sprawling property has a gorgeous view overlooking manicured lawns and Paoay Lake, and was a a gift from the former First Lady Imelda Marcos to her late husband.
Bongbong Marcos’ room is located on the ground floor along with three other rooms and the second master’s bedroom – this is where the late president stayed when he could no longer climb the stairs. On the second floor is the original master’s bedroom and Imee and Irene’s room, too.
One of the top tourist spots in Ilocos Norte is Kabigan Falls. From the entrance, it’s a 30-minute trek to the 87-foot waterfall. If you don’t want to hike though, you can opt to rent a vehicle to take you to Kabigan. After the hike, you will be rewarded with a refreshing dip and swim. Be warned though, the water is really cold which can prove to be refreshing.
Built in 1612, the Laoag Sinking Bell Tower got its name from the fact that the bell tower is literally sinking. Instead of having been built on firm foundation, the structure was built on soft, sandy foundation during the Spanish occupation. Hence, year by year, the bell tower sinks lower and lower into the ground. It was rumored that individuals used to be able to enter horseback, now you’d have to crouch down to pass through the front entrance.
First lit in 1892, Cape Bojeador is one of the top tourist sites in Ilocos Norte. The lighthouse is made up of bricks, a bronze cupola and the viewing gallery is surrounded by iron grill works. Established during the Spanish occupation, it continues to light up the northwestern- point of Luzon, welcoming ships from the north and guiding them along the rocky cliffs of Burgos. Cape Bojeador was dubbed a National Historical Landmark in 2004 and then a National Cultural Treasure in 2005.
With it’s gothic, oriental and baroque architecture, Paoay Church (aka San Agustin Church) is considered of the oldest and most beautiful churches in the country. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a National Cultural Treasure. With its 24 carved buttresses, the church was able to withstand several natural calamities and continues to stand strong even after 300 years.
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