Road trips are one of the most fun ways to see and do a lot on a vacation. I love a road trip, mostly because I like to discover new things while I’m traveling and sometimes it takes a car to be able to do that. You see something out a bus window and you can’t exactly stop and check it out. But on a road trip, you’ve got the flexibility to do whatever you want!
Chevrolet Spark Dashboard (photo by Michael Sagaran)
I was given the opportunity to test drive a Chevrolet Spark and together with Gay Emami (our navigator) and Michael Sagaran (our team pilot), we decided to go on an Ilocos road trip. Part of what made this so tempting is the great gas mileage of the new Spark. Road trips can be more expensive if you’re in a gas guzzler, but thanks to the Spark it was way more affordable.
The Road Trippers
Because it wasn’t going to be a long trip (like a week), I didn’t do a ton of planning. I wanted to cover some ground and give the Spark a real test, but I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with things to do and see. So we kept it simple, we just continued traveling until we found ourselves in San Juan La Union looking for a place to stay for the night. The next day, the beautiful sunrise greeted us while having breakfast at our beach front resort. After eating breakfast, we decided to go to Vigan, Laoag and all the way to Batac Ilocos Norte.
Ilocos Road trip with Chevrolet Spark
The Ilocos Road Trip
Table of Contents
Day 1: The fun began in Manila. Kilometer Zero at noon. The first planned stop was at Villasis Pangasinan, where we had some Tupig. This is one of my favorite road (okay, anytime) snacks, a specialty of Pangasinan made with glutinous rice and coconut, wrapped in banana leaf and cooked over charcoal.
Stopover in Villasis Pangasinan
Tupig Time in Villasis Pangasinan
But we didn’t eat too much because our plan was to have a late lunch at Urdaneta, also in Pangasinan, for sisig, pancit palabok, and Pigar-pigar.
Sisig for Merienda
Because I’ve traveled enough in the Philippines, I knew that we’d find just what I wanted, but I must admit that I was tempted many times along the way to change the plan.
Lesson one – make a plan and have planned stops, but also make sure you’ve got time to totally change your mind and do something not planned!
Beautiful Sunset in La Union
That night, we had dinner at Urbiztondo Grill House and stayed at Sebay Surf Resort in San Juan, La Union. We covered a lot of ground for a half day, but it was pretty relaxed. Sebay Surf Resort is super affordable and a nice place to stay, thanks to super friendly and helpful staff and their great location.
Tocino Breakfast before leaving the resort in La Union
Surfing Lessons anyone?
Day 2: The second day we drove to the Heritage City of Vigan.
Our Yellow Chevrolet Spark in front of Vigan Heritage Mansion (photo by Michael Sagaran)
We decided to take a slight back route just for variety, but then changed our minds as our stomachs grumbled for lunch.
Carrot Cake for dessert
Grandpa’s Inn was our lunch stop, where the Bagnet, Warek-warek, and Pakbet were top notch. Then we checked out Calle Crisologo.
The Pinay Travel Junkie and The Out of Town Freak in Vigan (photo by Michael Sagaran)
We Love Vigan
Group Selfie in Crisologo Street
Parking wasn’t too tough, especially with the compact size of the Spark, and we got to walk around a bit and do some window shopping.
Garlic and Vinegar Store in Ilocos Norte Highway
We then headed to Laoag with a quick stopover for “Sukang lloko” (Ilocos Vinegar) in Pinili Ilocos Norte.
Kaway Kaway sa Paoay!
We also took a driving break to see the Paoay Church and learn a bit about the history of the Unesco World Heritage Site. It was nice to sit in the coolness of the church before heading back on the road.
Our Empanada Ilocos stop was in Batac Ilocos Norte – I wouldn’t miss eating an Empanada Ilocos while here and it was absolutely up to expectations.
Stopover in Batac Ilocos Norte for Empanada
Super Super Special Empanada
Chevrolet Spark in front of Paoay Church: Ilocos Road Trip Challenge
Finally, we drove back to Manila. Of course, you can’t have a road trip without getting lost at least once, and this is when it happened. Maybe we weren’t really ready to head home.
Lesson learned: make the next road trip a much longer one! But because I downloaded the Waze App and I have a super reliable SMART LTE connection, we found the way to NLEX and made it home. Getting lost is getting harder and harder. haha!
Group Selfie in Paoay Church
The Chevrolet Spark: How’d It Fair?
The Chevrolet Spark was new and zippy. Overall, Michael (our team pilot) was really having fun driving all over and enjoying stopping at the places we wanted to see. Road trips are best when you can take the scenic route (intentionally or not) and of course it helps to have a plan.
Playing with GoPro Hero3+ inside the car
I didn’t bring a paper map, because I knew we had Waze to guide us, but it’s really a good idea to bring one. You never know when you’ll end up somewhere without a connection. Paper maps also make a great memento of the trip.
Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte
The Spark made it possible for us to have a great time exploring some local cuisine and visiting places I wanted to see. Although it’s a little car on the outside, I was surprised at how much cargo space it has in the back.
Quezon Street in Vigan City
For its size, Im impressed on how Chevrolet maximized the space inside the car. It has enough storage like cup holders and other compartments so you can have some of your important documents or gadgets handy. Before we ended the trip, I realized that our gadgets are all over… thanks to the small but useful dashboard compartments.
The Road trippers in San Juan La Union
And I’m not a small dude, but I was totally comfortable sitting at the passenger seat for multiple days in a row. Nothing cramped about this tight little car – it fits up to 5 adults, which is pretty amazing if you’re looking at it from the outside. Having four doors is really key, so I can imagine bringing a crowd without feeling crowded.
Hastag #WitWew #ShareASpark
The Spark is really designed for road trips and you can tell. The seats can be folded down and in a pinch you could sleep in the car. Better to put the tent and gear in the back and take it camping, though!
Road Trip is More Fun in Ilocos
It was also super handy in the cities, because it’s small and handles well with a great turning radius. It’s inexpensive but has the technology of a more expensive car (Standard keyless entry with anti-theft alarm and electronic immobilizer add to your vehicle’s safety and security) which makes it feel like a great deal.
7 Tips to Spark Up your Road Trips
- Take the scenic route to maximize your roadtrip – the view of the beautiful coast or the mountainous slope are truly relaxing to the eye.
- Download Waze Application for your iPhone or Android Phone – Just make sure you are using a reliable mobile internet connection for this Mobile App to work, I know you are SMART enough to know this:)
- Make a list of places you want to visit – Goal setting works on everything.
- Bring Health and Safety Items – Dont forget your Personal Medications, Sunscreen, Insect repellant, First aid kit, Disinfectant wipes etc.
- Enjoy Local Food – It can be adventurous but Its a shame of you didnt try one.
- Always bring a Paper Map – A crampled map can be a great souvenir too:)
- Take pictures.. lots of Pictures – Who can survive without taking a Selfie?
Get on the Road!
This opportunity was a reminder of how much fun it is to go on a road trip. I’m inspired. While some adventures can be truly fun by public transport, sometimes a road trip is best. There are upsides and downsides to both – for example, on a bus you might meet some locals and end up going home with new friend to see how people live. But when you want to go on a road trip, you get to do just what you want – and sometimes that is the best feeling.