Ilocos Norte is a province rich in history and culture. It is home to the most beautiful heritage sites and natural attractions. One cannot simply visit Ilocos Norte without stopping by its most well-known tourist spots. I cannot put into words how beautiful the province is! I really hope my photos can suffice how wonderful our trip has been.
I divided this post into two because trying to put everything in a single post may result to a veeeery long one. You may click this link to go to my second post. So, I dumped all my favorite images from the trip in these posts. I’m sorry if they’re both photo-heavy, I just cannot help it. There are just too much beautiful memories worth sharing! Now if you don’t mind spending a few minutes on a post (or shall I say two posts) filled with like a hundred photos, read along. Come see Ilocos Norte through my mediocre snapshots and crappy narration.
Paoay Sand Dunes
Our first stop was the famous Sand Dunes of Laoag. It is basically a wide stretch of well, sand, but of course. To make the most out of the experience, you need to rent 4×4 jeep and ride through the vast sand dunes. It was a thrilling experience. Imagine riding a roller coaster in standing position with no safety belts! Yes, you just gotta hold on to your dear life, honey.
It was a good thing that we went first thing in the morning when the heat was still bearable. I cannot imagine walking along the sand dunes at high noon.
Sandboarding is also a must-try. It is already included in the package. You can slide or surf your way down the hill of a sand unlimited times. In case you are heading north sometime soon, you cannot afford to miss the Sand Dunes!
Malacañang of the North
The Malacañang of the North is a presidential museum in Paoay. It was the residence of the Marcos family when Ferdinand Marcos when was the President of the Philippines. It is a two-storey mansion overlooking the Paoay Lake. The lake was beautiful. Um. No further subjective comments, Your Honor. Next!
Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church)
Paoay Church is famous for its distinct architecture. It has enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building. It is declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines. The facade took my breathe away. Ang ganda talaga!
Batac Church (Immaculate Conception Church)
From Paoay Church, we headed over to Batac to grab a bite of the famous empanada! (I was so excited to try it!!!) Anyway, the store is located near the church so I took a few photos before munching on my empanada espesyal (sobrang sarap by the way).
Laoag Cathedral (St. William’s Cathedral)
After filling our bellies with Ilocos’ famous empanada, we went straight to the capitol for more sight-seeing. Our first stop was the cathedral. St. William’s Cathedral, or more commonly known as Laoag Cathedral, serves as the seat or central church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag.
Sinking Bell Tower
Laoag Cathedral is also famous for its Sinking Bell Tower. It is said that the belfry sinks into the ground at the rate of an inch every year. According to my quick research, it has survived several minor earthquakes since its construction, causing scholars to label it an Earthquake Baroque style structure.
Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol
The sun had set before we even finish touring but that did not stop us from taking photos. We took a few shots of the Provincial Capitol, then went to stroll around the plaza before heading back to our hotel.
Tobacco Monopoly Monument
The Tobacco Monopoly Monument commemorates the lifting of tobacco monopoly in the Philippines in accordance to the royal decree of King Alfonso XIII in 1881.
Bacarra Church (St. Andrew Parish)
The church was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.
Domeless Bell Tower
Bacarra Church is also known for its centuries-old, domeless, leaning bell tower. I did a little research and here’s what I got: Along with the church, the beautiful belfry was destroyed by the in tensity 7.8 earthquake on August 17, 1983. It destroyed the dome and that’s how it gained its title Dignified Domeless Belltower in Asia.
We stopped by the famous Dragon Fruit Farm of Ilocos Norte before proceeding to our next destination. One kilo of dragon fruit for only fifty pesos plus the sight of their dragon fruit plantation! And the dragon fruit ice cream is a definite must-try!
Our second day of the tour was kinda jam-packed. So, after a swift break (a.k.a. buying pasalubong), we headed to our next destination.
Read part two of my post! Just click here.