Lakbay Norte: 11 Things to Do and See in Ilocos Norte

Aurora Park and Tobacco Monopoly Monument photo by Martin San Diego : NPVB
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Things to Do and See in Ilocos Norte

Historical sights, windmills, and lighthouses that look like scenes from a storybook, sand dunes, and quaint buildings.

Our Victory Liner Lakbay Norte 7 Bus at La Paz Sand Dunes
Our Victory Liner Lakbay Norte 7 Bus at La Paz Sand Dunes

If you imagined all those pictures in your head, then you will probably get an idea of what Ilocos Norte looks like. The province, a famous tourist destination, is located on the northwestern tip of mainland Luzon. It takes so much time to get there from Manila, but when we visited this place as part of our 5-day Lakbay Norte Tour courtesy of North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB), I could only resist the urge to inhale and scream how much I loved the place at the top of my lungs.

Here are some of the sights that you should visit in Ilocos Norte:

Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel and Casino (8.9 km from central Laoag)

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Fort Ilocandia
Fort Ilocandia

Known for being the only 5-star hotel in the area, Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel (hotel info) stands at a massive 77-hectare property that offers the perfect combination of comfort, privacy, and convenience.

Malacañang of the North (9.2 km from central Laoag)

Malacañang of the North
Malacañang of the North By Howard the Duck – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

This bahay na bato, built in 1977, was constructed for former president Ferdinand Marcos’ 60th birthday, and now serves as a tourist destination. Aptly called Malacañang of the North, this two-storey mansion has seven rooms which are each designed to symbolize agriculture, culture, diplomacy, education, family, nation-building, and overseas Filipino workers during Marcos’ reign.

Paoay Church (16.7 km from central Laoag)

Paoay Church
Paoay Church

San Agustin Church, more commonly known as Paoay Church, is at least three centuries old, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1973. The construction of the church started in 1694, and the church’s baroque architecture has withstood time ever since.

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum (16 km from central Laoag)

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum by Wayne S. Grazio via Flickr
Marcos Museum and Mausoleum by Wayne S. Grazio via Flickr

Before it became the largest Marcos museum in the country, this two-storey building had been the ancestral home of the Marcoses. The museum showcases artifacts that tell the life of the late president in snippets. The highlight of this destination, however, is visiting the mausoleum, which houses the remains of the former leader.

Museo Ilocos Norte (Located in central Laoag)

Museo Ilocos Norte photo by Ilocos Norte Flickr
Museo Ilocos Norte photo by Ilocos Norte Flickr

If you are staying in a hotel that is within central Laoag, then Museo Ilocos Norte should be the first destination to go to. With just an entrance fee of Php 30, guests can get a glimpse of the museum’s detailed ethnography on Ilocano, Igorot, and Itneg culture.

City Hall/Ilocos Norte Capitol (Located in central Laoag)

Ilocos Norte Capitol by Martin San Diego : NPVB
Ilocos Norte Capitol by Martin San Diego : NPVB

The Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol is located in the center of the city, so it is impossible to miss. This government building, which was built in 1917, has seen generations of politicians and employees.

Aurora Park and Tobacco Monopoly Monument (Located in central Laoag)

Lakbay Norte 7 Team at Aurora Park and Tobacco Monopoly Monument photo by Martin San Diego : NPVB
Lakbay Norte 7 Team at Aurora Park and Tobacco Monopoly Monument photo by Martin San Diego : NPVB

Go a little down south from the Capitol and you will enter Aurora Park. Amongst the fountains and well-maintained gardens is the Tobacco Monopoly Monument, which stands proudly in the middle of the park. The monument was erected in 1882 in celebration of the abolition of the unforgiving Spanish-controlled tobacco industry in the country.

Sinking Bell Tower (Located in central Laoag)

The Sinking Bell Tower by Wayne S. Grazio via Flickr
The Sinking Bell Tower by Wayne S. Grazio via Flickr

A short walk from the City Hall or Aurora Park is the famous Sinking Bell Tower, which is a famous sight because of, well, the fact that it is slowly sinking. There is a widespread belief that the centuries-old bell tower has been sinking deeper into the earth an inch a year supposedly because of the 1707 earthquake.

St. William’s Cathedral (Located in central Laoag)

St. William’s Cathedral in Laoag
St. William’s Cathedral in Laoag By Oloapsaziracav – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The famous St. William’s Church was built in 1612, but the groundbreaking of the very first structure was in 1580. Since its completion, it has faced many disasters and has been restored a couple of times. It continues to stand today.

Laoag City Public Market (Located in central Laoag)

Of course, a trip without haggling in the market whilst in search for the perfect and cheapest souvenir is not considered a trip at all. Ilocos Norte’s capital city Laoag is known for longganisa and the quintessential Filipino breakfast food bagnet, so, shop away!

La Paz Sand Dunes (6.2 km from central Laoag)

La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag
La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag

Most people’s typical idea of a beach is a coastal strip of sand with coconut trees and sunshine. But in Ilocos Norte, things are different. La Paz Sand Dunes, which are collectively a protected coastal desert and a beach, attracts tourist because of the countless, non-beach activities that guests can do, such as: road trips.

Lakbay Norte is an annual program by the NPVB that invites travel bloggers, print media and other personalities to the wonderful province of Ilocos Norte. We have also explored Bulacan, Tarlac, La Union, and Ilocos Sur as part of this wonderful adventure this year.

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