He asked me for The Top 10 List of Places to Visit in Ilocos Before You Die. It is, actually, a very difficult task — shortening my own list of the choicest places because there is so much to discover in my homeland. I won’t include Ilocos Sur anymore. I assume he was talking about Ilocos Norte, but nevertheless, I’m reminding him of a must do in Vigan — not to forget to try Vigan longaniza at Café Leona and Vigan empanada which is a lot different from Laoag empanada and Batac empanada, my fave. Bone appetit!
Now, here’s my Top 10 List from south to north
- Paoay Church
- Masintoc Beach, Paoay
- Laoag Sand Dunes
- Sta. Monica Church, Sarrat
- Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Burgos
- Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Burgos
- Bangui Windmills
- Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud
- Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud
The extras: Try the pinakbet pizza at Herencia Cafe in front of Paoay Church. On your way to Laoag from Masintoc, you won’t miss the legendary Paoay Lake. If you’re a foodie, the no-frills Dawang’s Place in San Nicolas is the place for authentic Ilocano paksiw, crispy dinardaraan (blood meat, much like dinuguan, but drier) and tinuno (grilled pork). Bistro 51 and Saramsam specialize in great fusion dishes. Pasalubong like chicharon (bagnet) and longaniza (either by Gagarin’s or Tayamen’s) can be bought at the Laoag Supermarket. For a quick peek into the rich cultural heritage of the Ilocanos, the Museo Ilocos Norte is conveniently located in the heart of the city.
You’ll be passing by Pasuquin Bakery in Pasuquin on your way to Burgos, so why not buy both the crispy and soft biscochos, which you can munch on till you reach Blue Lagoon? You’ll need one whole day for Adams; a trek to one of the mountains is highly recommended if you have more time to spare.