Backpacking in Ilocos, Philippines

Ilocos Norte, Philippines

It was another productive weekend. We initially planned hiking Mt. Pinatubo but due to some reasons, plan A wasn't pushed through, we then proceeded to plan B which is backpacking in Ilocos.

We made it from South to North of Ilocos, Vigan - Paoay - Bangui - Laoag in one day. It was a fun day along with a good friend where the night bus was our home for 2 nights. A great experience and an amazing memory worth keeping for. I always felt so excited whenever I have a backpacking trip like this. We knew it was a very short trip considering llocos is such a big place and a lot of spots to visit. But due to some reason, we can't extend our trip. We decided to explore it in one day and chose those specific tourist spots we would like to visit. So our main target was to visit Kalye Crisologo in Vigan (South) and Sand Dunes in Paoay (North), along the way were just side trips. As we ended our trip, we both felt that we had visited a lot of places in Ilocos and proved that it's possible to explore it in one day as long as you have a planned itinerary in advance. Happy and fulfilling, a big check marked for our bucket list! Let's go!

  1. If you planned to commute, I recommend Partas or Florida bus, the bus terminal is at Cubao or Pasay. I am not sure of the other bus companies going to Ilocos.
  2. Booking in advance is highly recommended especially when you have schedules to follow. You can check rates and schedule for advance booking online booking here.
  3. If you'd prefer a sleeper bus overnight, you can book the Florida sleeper bus in advance. Reservations should be done here or contact their FB page here , 4 days in advance prior to the date of departure. Sleeper buses will let you get some sleep during your travel. But take note the space is so small and narrow, I am not sure but I think approximately 16 inches wide, just enough for normal Filipino body size.
  4. Pack light and prepare yourself for 8-10 hours of travel depending on the traffic. We left Cubao terminal at 8pm and arrived Vigan at 4am, just in time to explore Kalye Crisologo when the shops were not yet open, people were still sleeping and the sun was about to rise.
  5. It's better to hire a tricycle if you're in a hurry to take you to places you've wanted to visit. We hired one for 6 hours at Php400.
  6. There are shower rooms in Vigan that you can pay for 50 pesos. You can ask your driver to take you to Hidden Garden, which serves breakfast and a paid shower to freshen up.
  7. After exploring Vigan, we then headed back to Vigan bus terminal to catch a bus going to Ilocos Sur. The next stop was Paoay Sand dunes. Take a bus going to Laoag and alight at Batac Crossing.
  8. Hire a tricycle that will take you to Paoay Sand dunes plus other destinations nearby. We hired one for Php2500 from 11am until 7pm.
  9. We failed to book the sleeper bus 4 days in advance, so we asked the driver to drop us in the terminal to secure a slot for a night trip before proceeding to our next destination. There's only 1 schedule for sleeper bus daily, departure at 9pm and estimated arrival at 6am in Sampaloc, Manila.
  10. I recommend booking your trip to Biyaheroes because of their good service. They will SMS you to remind you what are the necessary things that need to be done before departure. During our scheduled trip my friend was not able to catch our reserved seat, I asked the Biyaheroes' staff of the possibility to move our schedule for the next trip, they won't allow us, instead, they asked me to just wait for my friend and come back to them if she'd arrived before our time of departure. I'd come to the window, again and again, to update them that my friend was still on the way and was stuck in heavy traffic but still they won't allow me to move our time. Almost 2 hours of waiting, we missed our trip. I'm worried to pay double because we already missed it. I'd come back to the window when my friend arrived and they let us took the next trip without any charges. I felt so blessed and thankful. Indeed, biyaheroes are heroes!

Budget and Itinerary :

Day 0
6pm - Arrival, Partas Bus Terminal Cubao
7pm - dinner (Php 100)
8pm to 4 am - travel time from Cubao to Vigan (Php 665)

Day 1 AM

4am - Vigan bus terminal to Kalye Crisologo (Php 20/head)
4:15am to 9am - exploring Vigan by tricycle (Php 400 for 6 hours)

Places visited in Ilocos Sur:(Vigan)

- Kalye Crisologo
- Vigan Fountain
- Bantay Church and Sinking Bell Tower
- Hidden Garden (Php 50 shower, foods are available but are more expensive )
- Local Food Place (Breakfast, Php 150)
- Baluarte (Entrance, Free)

Must-try local food:

- Bagnet (1/4kg = Php380)
- longanisa

9am - back in Vigan bus terminal

10am - depart to Ilocos Norte, alight at Batac Crossing (Php 110)
11am - hired tricycle to explore Ilocos Sur (Php2500)

Day 1 PM

Places visited in Ilocos Norte:
- Paoay Church, lunch along the way (Php100)
- Ilocos Norte Municipality plaza
- Paoay Sand Dunes (4X4 Ride for 1 hour at Php 2500/car includes unlimited sand
boarding along the way)
- Bangui Wind Mills (more than an hour each trip, to and from)
- Kapurpurawan Lake Formation (Php15 entrance fee)
- Lighthouse

7pm - end of the day trip. Back to Florida bus terminal for our night bus trip to

Sampaloc Manila
- Florida sleeper bus (Php 800), secure slot ahead. We booked the ticket around
2 pm before our trip to Bangui that day.
9pm - bus departure, Florida bus station, Ilocos Sur
6:30am - bus arrival, Sampaloc Manila

Must-try local food:

- Empanada (Php50)

Budget breakdown/head for a group of 2. Other expenses are optional
Php 300 - food, Php100/meal,3 meals
Php 665 - fare from Cubao to Vigan, Partas bus
Php 50 - shower

Php 220 - tricycle fare while exploring Ilocos

Php 110 - fare from Vigan to Batac Crossing

Php 1250 - tricycle fare while exploring Ilocos Norte. An option of Php800/tricycle,

day tour for places within the city not including Bangui Windmills

Php 30 - Rock Formation, entrance fee

Php 800 - sleeper bus from Laoag to Sampaloc

Total budget - at least Php 3500 per pax

A few words from my Guest Blogger:

Hi, my name is Ahdy, a civil engineer by profession, an aspiring full-time stock trader in the future, a mountaineer, a marathoner & a backpacker by passion. I love to travel- taking new experiences and life adventures. My ultimate goal in life is to be happy and worry-free - living life to the fullest. Wishing everybody to have a healthy & happy life. Follow your passion whatever it is. Cheers!!!

Read more of her travels:
Check out her Online StoreAll images by Ahdy

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?
I have here a list of all the extreme adventures for the past yearsMaybe this year take a look at your bucket list and make some effort on doing it.

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  1. Calle Crisologo at night is wonderful :-)

    1. HelloHenry, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for dropping by. Cheers!