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Ilocos Tour - Guerilla Style » 5 Interesting Places to Visit On Your Way Out of Ilocos

If there is one lesson I have discovered over my travel experiences is that you need to be very creative when coordinating your gigs in order to cover and experience what a place can offer. For instance, a place like Ilocos offers lots of interesting spots to visit so if you are there for a quick weekend getaway you need to apply guerilla tactics to truly enjoy Ilocandia’s chopsuey of travel destinations.

So we’ve already successfully visited Ilocos Norte’s major tourist destinations starting from Laoag to Pagudpud going to Batac. Based on our Ilocos Tour Itinerary, our final destination before heading back to Manila is the famous Calle Crisologo in Vigan City – yep, we saved the best for last.
Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur (Laoag - Vigan) Tourist Map - CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW LARGER MAP
However, we found out that there are other interesting places in Ilocos that we can quickly visit on our way to the famous Vigan Heritage Village.

Here are the five interesting places in Ilocos that you can quickly visit on your way out going to Manila:      

1. ILOCOS NORTE SAND DUNES – The Desert of the North 

La Paz Sand Dunes in Ilocos
The Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes, also called the La Paz sand dunes, is unique on this part of the Philippines. It stretches from the municipality of Currimao in the north and winds it’s way to La Paz, Laoag City, then to Suba, Paoay and finally in Pasuquin in the south with a total of 52 square miles.
Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes
This is also the favorite shooting location for local as well as international films such as the Nora Aunor’s “Walang Himala” flick, Fernado Poe’s “Panday” and Tom Cruise’s “Born on the Fourth of July.” The area is now famous for sandboarding and other eco-adventure activities.

We got lost looking for this place and when we saw some sandy hills, we just took pictures and immediately leave because we can’t stand the heat.


Along the lazy shores of Paoay Lake stands an imposing structure that remains true to the old-rich Spanish architecture of the province — the Malacañang of the North, also known in the local dialect as Malacañang ti Amianan.
Back Entrance of the Malacañang of the North
It romantically overlooks serene Paoay Lake and was the residence of former President Marcos and his family while they were in the North. It reflects the grandeur of the Marcos family - the power they once held, the wealth that they possess, and the love and reverence of the Ilocanos for the Marcoses. The Malacanang of the North is actually a "birthday gift" of then First Lady Imelda Marcos to her husband on his 60th birthday.When it was built in 1977, Malacanang of the North became the venue of the trendiest high society settings.


Potter showing his skills
For a quaint Ilocandia travel experience and interaction with the craftsmen, a visit to the Pagburnayan (pottery making) in Vigan City is a nice option. We quickly visited this place and was treated with a show of Ilocano craftsmanship in pottery making using old school manual potter’s wheel method. 
Finished clay pots ready for shipment
The root word “burnay” is an earthenware jar crafted by a potter’s hands with the aid of a potter’s wheel. It uses fine sand (anay) as a tempering material and fired at a high temperature in a huge brick-and-clay ground kiln that makes it is harder and more durable than other terra cotta.
Curio items outside the pottery
This is also the place where you can buy clay pots, statues, home accents and other curio items at give-away prices. 

4. BALUARTE – Chavit Singson’s Zoo

Baluarte ni Chavit - Main Ground
I am always against zoos and caged animals, but since we are at the area, we took a peek at Chavit’s expensive hobby – his famous Baluarte located in Salindeg, Vigan.
Showy Rare White Peacock is the favorite among the animals
It is a large chunk of Vigan set in rolling terrains, hills and mountain sides with structures and facilities that tries to imitate, without success, the natural habitat of wild and exotic animals  - really entertaining for children.

5. The HIDDEN GARDEN in Vigan

Beautiful ornamental plants at the Hidden Garden
Hidden Garden is Located in Bulala (a barrio known for its making of bricks, pots, and other objects made of clay). It is a wonderland of greenery, with a mini-snack bar nestled somewhere in the middle. The whole garden is full of decorative flowering plants, bonsai, and other shrubs set in garden pots, appropriately accented by garden statues and decorations.
Hidden Garden Cafe and Restaurant serving Ilocos cuisine
Hidden Garden definitely has a relaxing ambiance. Hence, dining experience at their restaurant would be awesome but we are in a hurry so we just took some pictures. 


There are other interesting places you can visit in Vigan City, such as the Father Jose Burgos Museum, Mirra Hills and St. Paul Cathedral if you have time. But if you are on a two-day guerilla tour like us, you might want to trim the list down. Of course you wouldn’t want to miss Calle Crisologo which is the most famous (and overrated) tourist spot in Vigan.

On my next post, I will be sharing my memory lane walk at Calle Crisologo, which will be the last post on this Ilocos Tour series. Stay tuned! 

Planning an Ilocos Tour? 
You might want to check out my detailed account of our Ilocandia Time Travel Series
» Laoag Vigan Tourist map courtesy of EZMaps

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