Located in the northern part of Luzon within Ilocos Norte territory, Laoag serves as the capital city. The name “Laoag” is derived from the word “light,” fitting for a region known as one of the sunniest areas in the country. This abundant sunshine is advantageous, as Laoag offers a plethora of outdoor activities, both natural and manmade, for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
You will discover a wealth of outdoor pursuits to engage in, whether on the beach, in the water, or amidst the sand dunes. The city boasts numerous museums, a wide range of restaurants, and, of course, ample shopping opportunities through malls and handicraft markets.
For those traveling from Manila, you can reach Laoag by bus in approximately 10 hours. Alternatively, a one-hour plane journey is faster but somewhat more expensive. The choice is yours! Upon your arrival in Laoag, consider renting a car to maximize your exploration, or opt for Jeepneys for convenient local transportation.
La Paz Sand Dunes
Laoag offers a vast expanse of 85 square kilometers of stunning sand dunes, just waiting to be explored by adventurous travelers like yourself.
Embark on an exhilarating adventure by hopping into a dune buggy or a 4×4 sand cruiser and experience the thrill of speeding up and down the sandy hills. At the summit, you can immerse yourself in captivating vistas of the ocean and gaze upon the varied terrain where the sandy dunes seamlessly transition into lush grasslands, resembling a picturesque masterpiece.
Additionally, while exploring the dunes, you have the chance to experience the thrill of sandboarding. It is just like exploring exotic beaches or sandboarding down sandy slopes. The tour guides will provide you with a brief orientation and then allow you to explore on your own.
Santa Monica Parish Church
Constructed in 1779, the Santa Monica Parish Church stands as a significant cultural and historical landmark in Laoag. Notably, it has been the venue for numerous momentous weddings, including that of the daughter of President Marcos. Recognizing its importance, the government designated this church as a national treasure and bestowed upon it the title of “Important Cultural Property,” ensuring its inclusion in the National Museum of the Philippines. If it is suitable for the President’s daughter, it will certainly be worth adding to your travel itinerary.
Take a guided tour of the church property and its surroundings, admire the striking red brick exterior, and listen for the resonant chimes of the grand clock tower that marks time every half-hour.
Santa Monica Parish Church stands as the largest church in Ilocos
Immerse yourself in the rich history of Ilocandia and its people at the captivating Taoid Museum. Discover the vibrant heritage of this ancient civilization, as you explore the museum’s exhibits that showcase the pre-colonial roots of the region.
While exploring the museum, you will embark on a captivating travel experience through the ages, immersing yourself in the rich history of the indigenous people of the region. Delve into the past as you encounter a fascinating array of artifacts, traditional clothing, ancient tools, and meticulously crafted replicas.
There are two fascinating destinations waiting to be explored, so it’s advisable to allocate a generous hour of your time to fully immerse yourself in their rich history. This way, you can savor every moment without feeling rushed!
Embark on a day trip to the nearby Pagudpud to savor an afternoon on the most exquisite beach in the Laoag region. Maira-ira Beach, often referred to as the Blue Lagoon, boasts pristine waters that seem to emit a radiant glow.
This coastal landscape is characterized by its unique features, including white sandy shores, small mangrove trees, and the sudden appearance of distinctive coral islands.
You’ll find a variety of cozy beachfront restaurants where you can enjoy a meal accompanied by a refreshing beer. Additionally, there’s a volleyball net available and ample shaded areas for when you seek respite from the sun.
Sinking Bell Tower
The Sinking Bell Tower is quite the spectacle – it is actually gradually sinking into the ground! Constructed on sandy soil in 1612 by the Augustinians, this weathered tower has been steadily subsiding into the earth over the years. Remarkably, it continues to ring its bell every Sunday for mass.
Like many bell towers, this one is part of a church complex, and in this case, it’s associated with St. William’s Cathedral, which interestingly stands at a significant distance from the bell tower, about 85 meters away. After you’ve marveled at this ancient wonder for a while, take a leisurely stroll to explore its counterpart.
In the eastern part of Barangay Balaoi, you’ll encounter the enchanting Kabigan Falls. This 80-foot-tall waterfall, nestled amidst lush jungle surroundings, epitomizes the unspoiled beauty of nature. The refreshing pool at its base is entirely ensconced by luxuriant forests, reminiscent of scenes from an idyllic novel.
To reach this natural wonder, hire a tricycle until you arrive at the well-trodden trail. From there, embark on a leisurely hike, perfect even for those wearing flip-flops, leading you to this paradisiacal spot. Along the way, you can savor the small streams, as the journey to the falls is an integral part of the overall experience.
Rizal Amusement Park
Before you raise your expectations, let me gently clarify that this amusement park isn’t equipped with circus rides or Ferris wheels. Nonetheless, it does offer daily amusement of a more relaxed nature.
Local residents frequent this park to unwind, either by lounging in the grass or on benches, observing the bustling parades of passersby. The vicinity hosts several government buildings and a splendid fountain that illuminates the night. You’ll also find a multitude of excellent local restaurants and food stalls nearby. Do not hesitate to sample homemade Empanadas or, if you’re feeling adventurous, give Sinanglaw (intestine soup) a try.
Never underestimate the joy that can be derived from a carefree day in the Philippines.
Aurora Park is a must-visit destination that truly encapsulates the vibrant spirit of Laoag city.
Located in the heart of Ilocos Norte, the Capitol building stands as a magnificent testament to architectural brilliance. Adorned with intricate traditional archways and charming old-fashioned window fixtures, this stunning structure is a sight to behold. In the midst of your travels, you’ll come across a captivating dancing fountain, adorned with exquisite design. This enchanting sight is embraced by majestic palm trees and vintage lampposts, creating a picturesque scene.
While exploring the town, make sure to visit the iconic Tobacco Monopoly Monument and the Marcos Hall of Justice. These landmarks are must-see attractions for travelers. It all embodies the rich history and captivating allure that locals take great pride in.
Museo Ilocos Norte
Museo Ilocos Norte is a museum thoughtfully created to instill pride in the youth of Ilcos Norte. Its diverse exhibits and galleries are dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the local people and celebrating the numerous industries that define the region.
The museum’s exhibitions and galleries are dynamic and ever evolving. During your visit, you might have the opportunity to observe the intricate craft of hand weaving, explore the history of traditional drums unique to this area, or immerse yourself in a captivating photo series narrating the tale of Spanish-era Churches.
The museum’s commitment to its mission is so heartfelt and sincere that it’s impossible not to become fully engrossed in the experience.
The trek to Maligligay Falls, also known as Pablo Falls, will lead you on one of the most breathtaking journeys you’ve ever experienced. It’s not a quick, leisurely stroll; this 45-minute hike requires steady footing, agility, and coordination as you traverse riverbeds, descend steep banks, and navigate rocky paths. However, the effort will be well-rewarded.
Following your scenic adventure, you will reach the falls. The water cascades rapidly from the mountain, creating a mist that fills the air. The pool at the bottom is perfect for dipping your feet, and the landscape is a photographer’s dream.
Q: When is the best time to visit Laoag?
A: The best time to visit Laoag is during the dry season, which typically occurs from November to April. This period offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Q: What is the local cuisine like in Laoag?
A: Laoag’s local cuisine is a delightful mix of flavors, with dishes like bagnet, dinardaraan, and pinakbet being popular choices. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor these unique culinary delights.
Q: Are there any accommodations in Laoag?
A: Yes, Laoag offers a range of accommodations to suit various budgets, from luxury hotels to guesthouses and budget-friendly options. You’ll find plenty of choices for a comfortable stay.
Q: Is it safe to travel to Laoag, Philippines?
A: Laoag is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. However, as with any travel, it’s important to take common-sense precautions and stay informed about local conditions.
Q: What are some other nearby attractions to explore in Ilocos Norte?
A: In addition to Laoag, Ilocos Norte offers several other attractions, including the historic town of Vigan, the sand dunes of Paoay, and the Bangui Windmills. Exploring the entire province can be a rewarding experience for travelers.