Biyaheng Pinas : Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Known for its Filipino old world charm,  the City of Vigan has already become one of the most desired local tourist spot to visit here in the Philippines. A recognized Unesco World Heritage treasure, strolling around the old city’s cobblestone pavements and  well preserved Spanish Era Architecture is such a nostalgic experience, giving visitors a feel of how days and nights were during the old days. In addition to that, Vigan is also the destination to enjoy authentic Ilocano cuisine , with restaurants and street side eateries serving Vigan longganisa, bagnet and empanada , to name a few specialties.  In all honesty, Vigan is indeed a must visit for Filipinos; A “must experience”, at least once in our lives.

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Vigan is a relatively small city around 8 hours away from Metro Manila by Bus. I stayed there for 2 days before heading to Laoag, which is around 2 hours further up North. With no particular and strict itinerary, I lazily roamed around the city by myself and spent late afternoon sipping coffee along Calle Crisologo. Travel is best spent when you really don’t have to rush time to see everything there is. A lazy walk on streets and local markets gives us travelers better chance to experience the vibe of the place more. =)

I will be uploading a separate post on recommended Ilocos backpacking budget , but for now , here are some of the highlights and the must do’s, inspired by my recent visit to Vigan:

Exploring the Famous Calle Crisologo – the center and the most well preserved part of Vigan’s Unesco World Heritage Protected Area

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Calle Crisologo , Vigan

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Sample of Antique Displays along the road

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Museum Visits and roaming around the rest of Vigan City Center on Foot. The city is relatively small and easy to navigate. However, the most interesting mode to see Vigan is on a Kalesa ( Horse Drawn Carriage ). The Kucheros are much willing to be a guide for P 150 per hour . Renting a bike is also a cute idea , any hotel can assist you on where to get one =)

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The tower at the center Plaza Salcedo is somewhat historic , as this has been used to publicly execute criminals and rebels during the Spanish Era ; Gabriela Silang was among them. Today , this tower has become the centerpiece of the lively fountain park of the Plaza.

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Some interesting installments along the streets of Vigan

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This is what Tricycles / tuktuks look like in Vigan . Almost all of Vigan Tricycles were made to be artsy . =)

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The Unesco World Heritage Monument

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A corner Cafe serving fried chicken since 1956. Chicken is delicious ! =)

Visit nearby town of Bantay to see the Old Church and Bell Tower. Bantay is just around 10 minutes tricycle ride from Calle Crisologo .  I even managed to just walk from Bantay Church all the way back to Calle Crisologo for around 30 minutes. That was a leisurely late afternoon walk , and I got to cross the bridge on foot . =)

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Centuries Old Bantay Church

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The Bantay Bell Tower, which folks say, is slowly sinking down . This structure is relatively unrepaired for centuries now.

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A leisurely walk from Bantay Church to Vigan City Center

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Lighting of incense at Bantay Church as an offering to the departed loved ones.

Sample staple ilocano noodle specialties such as this Pancit Batil Patung. A mix of fine noodles topped with deep fried pork meat (Bagnet), vegetables, bean sprouts , chicharon and a sweet specialty sauce that has a mild but recognizable “patis” (Fish Sauce) taste in it . It also comes with a sunny side up on top. A nice garden restaurant just outside Bantay Church serves such good noodle dish for only 60 to 65 pesos.

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Pancit Batil Patung for only 65 pesos

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The Garden Restaurant serving pancit specialties, which is located just outside Bantay Church. This should not be missed.

Quest to find the best Vigan Empanada ( .. Or just my humble excuse to eat more empanada. haha ) Vigan Empanada is famous for its staple ilocano style filling of seasoned Vigan Longanisa (skinned) carrots, cabbage , and whole egg. I tried several empanadas and found the best one on an eatery in fron of Plaza Burgos, which was way better than the most publicized one along Calle Crisologo.

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The best Empanada for me is found at an eatery fronting Plaza Burgos, prepared by Aling Peng. This one was more flavourful than other empanadas i tried .

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This is the Empanada at Irene’s along Calle Crisologo . Its just ” so-so ” , but the store location is good; As such, this one sells better .

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Another Sampling of Empanada just along the Park, this one is more meaty and it does not have an egg in it. The ones prepared by Aling Peng at Plaza Burgos is still better.

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Empanadas are fried fresh , basically everywhere in Vigan

Sample some Ilocano Pakbet, Sinanglaw ( Beef Innards in Clear soup ) and other local viands at the eateries along Plaza Burgos.

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If I am not mistaken, Ilocano Pakbet is a bit oily, more of like stir fried but ma sarsa … unlike pakbet in Bisaya which is a bit saucy. Plus, Ilocano Pakbet always has crispy pork in it. =)

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Sinanglaw Beef Soup

Witness the Fountain Show at Plaza Salcedo every 7 pm in the evening.

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Stroll around Calle Crisologo once more, and this time, in the evening . =)

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Recommended Affordable Stay : Vigan Hotel  , which is just behind Vigan Cathedral and the School . a few steps away from Calle Crisologo. A non air room costs only 400 pesos per night.  This affordable option was recommended to me by Nik of Pinoyontheroad.com

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Backpacking Laoag and the rest of Ilocos Norte is up next. Stay tuned =)

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