The Ilocos Region may be famed for the beautiful surfing beaches of La Union and the majestic historical city of Vigan, but Laoag still ranks pretty high on the list of places to visit, when in the northern region of Ilocos. From sand dunes to national parks, Laoag is a force to be reckoned with for any traveler who has the soul for adventure. Check out these 9 best things to do while in Laoag!
1. Paoay Church or the Church of St. Augustine
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the stunning architecture of Paoay Church. Known as an example of Earthquake Baroque architecture and lauded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paoay Church is famed all over Laoag and the world for its amazing architecture and attention to detail. The Paoay Church is also one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, allowing Spanish colonial influences to speak through its gothic design. Its walls are made of coral stone and bricks, and the church features a three-story bell tower, beside it.
Paoay Church or the Church of St. Augustine
Address: Marcos Ave, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
2. Museo Ilocos Norte or Gameng Museo
Museo Ilocos Norte is a humble museum located in a refurbished warehouse, showcasing architectural gems from the Spanish era. This museum hosts a wide variety of artifacts, from the household to art to cultural items. It also showcases traditional Ilocano clothing, as well as tools used for agriculture and farming.
For history and culture buffs, Museo Ilocos Norte also gives a tour through the rich history of Ilocos, a story that constantly awes the museum’s patrons. The museum is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm and on Sundays from 10 am - 5 pm.
Museo Ilocos Norte or Gameng Museo
Address: General Antonio Luna St, Laoag, Luzon 2900, Philippines
Website: Museo Ilocos Norte
3. Paoay Lake National Park
A national park may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one speaks of “adventure,” but active bodies need some good rest too. And if you’re looking for a place to just sit back and relax, check out Paoay Lake National Park. Located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the sea, Paoay Lake National Park features a peaceful lake where you can go boating and plays host to more than 70 different species of common, endangered and nomadic birds. It’s also near Fort Ilocandia Golf and Country Club and has several hotels and resorts nearby for anyone who may want to extend their stay in such a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
Paoay Lake National Park
Address: Paoay, Luzon, Philippines
4. La Paz Sand Dunes
Open as early as 5:30 am until 6:30 pm, La Paz Sand Dunes are probably one of the most famous attractions here in Laoag - and that’s because aside from getting a thrilling ride on a 4x4, over sandy terrain, you can get a breathtaking view of the sunrise or sunset while you’re at it. You can also go sand boarding and sand surfing, as well as get a tour of the sand dunes while riding a 4x4 - all at only 50 USD per ride.
La Paz Sand Dunes
Address: Brgy. 33 La Paz, Laoag, Luzon 2900, Philippines
Facebook: La Paz Sand Dunes
5. Try out the food
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
If there’s one thing you must do before you leave Laoag, it’s to try the food! In particular, make sure you try their own version of the Ilocos Empanada - the Laoag Empanada: a baked or fried pastry turnover, filled with savory ingredients. Try out their bagnet, or crispy fried pork belly, pinakbet, meaning mixed vegetables in fish or shrimp sauce and the Laoag longganisa, which is unique for its herb-filled and sour taste and is best paired with vinegar.
Also try out the dinakdakan, a tasty dish of boiled and grilled pig parts and the puqui-puqui, or eggplant salad. You can try these out at two restaurants: Saramsam Ylocano, which serves authentic Ilocano cuisine, from Chorizo pasta to pinakbet pizza, and La Preciosa, which serves puqui-puqui.
Address: Corner P. Gomez & Giron St. Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Facebook: Saramsam Yloacno
Address: J. P. Rizal Street, Laoag City, 2900 Ilocos Norte
Facebook: La Preciosa Ilocos
6. St. William's Cathedral
Another must-see architectural Gem, the St. William’s Cathedral is one of the iconic churches in Laoag that exhibits old Spanish-influenced architectural styles. Here, you can reflect and pray in peace and quiet, hear mass, and explore the Sinking Bell tower right beside the Cathedral. St. William’s Cathedral also hosts a mass every hour on Sundays, so feel free to drop by and join.
St. William's Cathedral
Address: A. Bonifacio Street, Laoag, Luzon, Philippines
7. The Sinking Bell Tower
For travelers with an affinity for travel photography, the Sinking Bell Tower is an absolute must-visit. Although entering the tower is not allowed, tourists flock to this attraction for its photogenic qualities - your photo will look just like a postcard. This historical site has been standing strong since the Spanish era, and, as such, is famed for being the most solid and tallest bell tower in the Philippines. To make the most out of your picture-taking spree, visit the tower at night when it is said to look the most enchanting.
Sinking Bell Tower
Address: A. Bonifacio Street, Laoag, Luzon, Philippines
8. Malacañang Ti Amianan
The Malacañang Ti Amianan, more formally known as the Malacañang of the North, is one of the rest houses of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. It was given to him as a gift from then-first lady Imelda Marcos and is a stunning residence, overlooking Paoay Lake. This two-storey mansion is occupied by everything and anything grand - each room looks like a work of art, from the mansion’s living room to the guestrooms to the grand staircase.
The home also contains memorabilia from the Marcos family, as well as a tour of Imelda Marcos’ walk-in closet. The mansion is open from Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm and the entrance fee is 1 USD.
Malacañang Ti Amianan
Address: Suba, Luzon, Philippines
9. Pagudpud Town
The quaint town of Pagudpud may look unassuming at first glance, but it is actually a historical landmark, dating back to the 18th century. The ambiance of Pagudpud’s ancestral roots still resonates today and you can see this in the architecture of several structures, such as St. William Cathedral (where you can also hear Mass in English, Filipino or Ilocano).
The town features nearby establishments as well, like grocery stores, drug stores, food stalls and a market. It also features amazing beaches, as the town is close to the northernmost coastline of Luzon.
Address: Pagudpud Town, Ilocos Norte
Website: Pagudpud Town
10. Taoid Museum
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Spend an hour or two at Taoid Museum located La Tabacalera Lifestyle Center. This two-story museum showcases the pre-colonial side of Ilocandia and the province’s Cordilleran roots. Some of the notable items in the collection are human skulls, coffins for storing the bones of ancestors and replicas of the indigenous people of the region. Other artifacts to be seen here are traditional clothing, wooden utensils and carved figures that are usually displayed in Cordilleran homes. Moreover, this museum allows you to touch and inspect some artifacts, making your experience more interactive. So if you want to know the ancient culture of the Cordillera people, a visit to this museum must be included in your itinerary.
Address: Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Website: Taoid Museum
Opening hours: Tues - Sun: 9:30am - 5:30pm
11. Swim at Blue Lagoon
Locally known as Maira-Ira Beach, Blue Lagoon earned its other name due to its bluish water. This small cove is hidden at Mairaira Point yet famous among local tourists being one of the most beautiful beaches in the northern part of the Philippines. This bay offers a view of stunning blue and crystal clear water with a perfect backdrop of the sky. This place allows you to slow down as it has lesser tourists with no noisy jet skis and no strip of bars. The water here can be calm or wavy but rest assured that certain parts are consistently swimmable all year round. Should you want to have a longer stay here, there are a couple of large resorts and even plenty of homestay options that are either facing the sea or just within walking distance.
Hannah’s Beach Resort
Address: Barangay Balaio, Malingay Pagudpud. Ilocos
Website: Hannah’s Beach Resort
12. Kabigan Falls
Kabigan Falls is one of the most sought-after spots in Ilocos. Its name was derived from the word “kaibigan” or “magkaibigan” which means friend. The waterfall is easily accessible and just about 1.5 kilometers from the national highway. As you approach the entrance, you may have the option to rent an off-road vehicle or walk along the trail for 40-minutes. If you are an adventure-lover and opts to walk, you’ll enjoy crossing a bridge, hiking across several small streams and passing along scenic vistas of green farmland, rice paddies, vegetation, and even carabaos. After the trek, be awed by the 87-feet-high waterfall that stands tall where its cool waters cascade into a natural concave basin. Don’t miss the chance to swim on the cool water and have fun exploring the surroundings of the basin as it offers tall green trees and lush virgin rainforest.
Experience Adventure in Laoag
Laoag has many sites to see and travelers who love to sample a variety of experiences will definitely find enjoyment here. From historical landmarks to beaches and sand dunes, Laoag makes for an ideal getaway for any kind of adventurer.
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