As one of the best preserved Spanish colonial towns in the world, Vigan has a unique charm that anyone would be attracted to. You might not see much of its classic architecture and matching cobblestoned streets elsewhere in the country. Plus, there are food and points of interest in and around the province that surely make the 8- to 10-hour road trip worth it.
A trip to Vigan won’t be complete without walking along the iconic Calle Crisologo. The Spanish houses erected here by the affluent families have been so well-maintained over the years. Tourists can ride a calesa or simply get their feet busy and take a tour of the four blocks to see the marvelous heritage houses.Continue reading below ↓
Syquia Mansion MuseumSituated in Quirino Boulevard, the Syquia Mansion Museum has been decorated with antique furniture, paintings, and exhibits from the time of Elpidio Quirino, the sixth president of the Philippines and a native of Vigan. The elaborate house was owned by Quirino’s wife, who belonged to the wealthy Syquia family.
Crisologo MuseumAlong Liberation Boulevard, you’ll spot Crisologo Museum, which is a tribute to former congressman Floro S. Crisologo. Among his notable accomplishments were the establishment of the first state university in the north and the beginnings of the country’s Social Security System. He and his family lived a colorful life, and the museum exhibits their mementos and prized possessions alike.
RG Jar Factory
If you’re looking for a unique bonding activity as a couple or as a family, you can visit RG Jar Factory and try your hand at pottery. The jar makers can demo how it’s done and let you create your own clay pot or jar. If you don’t have the patience and creative juices for it, you can try the less graceful but possibly equally satisfying alternative: smashing jars to make clay beds for fishponds.Continue reading below ↓
Bantay Church Bell Tower
The Bantay Church Bell Tower served as the town’s watchtower when it was built way back in 1591. Technically, it’s not within Vigan but in the adjacent town of Bantay, and it looks over both boundaries. The stunning view may have been the reason why it was supposedly “Diego and Gabriela Silang’s favorite date spot during the 17th century."Continue reading below ↓
Chapel by the Ruins
Aside from the Bell Tower, you can spend some quiet time at the St. Augustine Church (a.k.a. Bantay Church) or the more serene and secluded Chapel by the Ruins. The outdoor prayer house is set amidst a walled courtyard with decorative plants everywhere. You’re bound to breathe easy and find enlightenment in your solitude while reflecting in this chapel.
When it comes to food, Vigan’s spicy and savory treats will surely keep your taste buds satisfied, and one delicacy you can’t miss out on when you’re there is the Vigan empanada. Head to the humble eatery called Irene’s Empanada along Calle Salcedo. There, you can even watch how the treat is prepared by the owner, who swears by a secret ingredient and the traditional way of cooking it. Try the original recipe with pork longganisa and bagnet!Continue reading below ↓
Vigan Heritage VillageJust a few steps away from Calle Crisologo is the Vigan Heritage Village. There, you’ll appreciate more well-preserved structures of the historic Spanish colonial town. Aside from the usual stone and dark wood, you’ll see some homes with a fusion of European and Asian architecture through materials like bamboo and nipa. It’s one of the main reasons why the City of Vigan has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mindoro Beach of Vigan
Now, if you’re in dire need of a break from all the heritage houses, take a side trip to Mindoro Beach. To set expectations, you’ll find dark yet fine sand and sizeable crowds in this famous retreat. The gentle waves and the gorgeous sunset view are enough reasons to make your way to the beach, though. If you’re commuting, just take a tricycle from the Vigan Heritage Village to reach the place.Continue reading below ↓
The establishment can’t be missed if you’re strolling along Crisologo Street at night. The home-cooked meals of Lampong’s Restaurant are both sumptuous and easy on your pocket. Among the crowd favorites you have to try is the Sinigang na Bagnet.
Another great place for an Ilocano food fix, Casa Jardin (or CJ’s) is an open-air restaurant just a few blocks away from Calle Crisologo. Try their own version of the Ilocos empanada, and if you’re up for some more crunch, order a serving of their okoy.Continue reading below ↓
Villa Angela Heritage HouseBuilt in the late 1800s, Villa Angela Heritage House allows you to stay at a classic mansion from that era. You can book one of their suites and sleep on a four-poster bed, which only prominent persons used to own back then. The grand dining hall and facade, as well as several IG-worthy corners in the mansion, make for great photos and hangout spots. Room rates start at P1,900 per night via Booking.com.
Hotel FelicidadLocated in the Heritage Village of Vigan, Hotel Felicidad gives you easy access to the nearby tourist spots and shopping centers. They have several spacious rooms and suites for all kinds of travelers, so it’s a great place to stay whether you’re enjoying on a solo trip, travelling as a couple, or having a group outing. Room rates start at P3,000 per night.
Hotel Veneto de Vigan
Hotel Veneto de Vigan is another hotel in the Heritage Village, and this 3-star establishment offers guests 24-hour services and security. The restored mansion lets you enjoy both the old world charm of its architecture and modern amenities (plus a great buffet breakfast selection). Room rates start at P3,000 for the Standard Room via Booking.com.Continue reading below ↓
Vigan Plaza HotelIf you’re looking for cozy rooms with that old world charm but with modern amenities, consider the VIgan Plaza Hotel. Some rooms have brick walls where the classic wooden beds are set against, while others are decorated with ornamental Capiz-shelled windows. The in-house Cafe Bigaa serves VIgan’s specialties. When you can’t decide on which specific dish you’ll eat, they have a sampler tray featuring Vigan longganisa, bagnet, igado, pinakbet, and sinanglao. Room rates start at P2,800 (single pax) and P3,000 (double occupancy) per night.
Unlike the other restaurants previously mentioned that offers classic Ilocano dishes the traditional way, Cafe Leona marries Vigan flavors with international cuisines. Imagine enjoying savory bagnet with a Japanese or Italian twist! The must-try dishes? The Bagnet-Bacon Maki and the Pinakbet Pizza.Continue reading below ↓
Plaza Burgos and Plaza SalcedoThese two major town parks can be found in front of and beside Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Plaza Burgos and Plaza Salcedo were, respectively, named after an illustrious priest from Vigan and a Spanish conquistador who established a Hispanic settlement in the town. Locals usually hang out at the place and enjoy the Dancing Fountain at night. Tourists can also mingle here and try the local street food like the Vigan okoy.
Just 10 minutes away from Calle Crisologo, Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo lets you get close to nature’s wonderful creatures. It’s dubbed a “Home of the Big Cats in Vigan,” as it shelters Bengal tigers, white lions, and leopards. Entrance to the animal sanctuary is free, but you can pay for a guided tour if you wish.Continue reading below ↓
Mestizo RiverThe long, winding Mestizo River is truly underrated—you might not have even heard of it while looking for tourist spots to explore to Vigan. Its history dates back to the pre-colonial period as the entry point of Chinese traders and Spaniards who eventually settled in the city. As part of the annual Raniag Twilight Festival held prior to All Saint’s Day, candle floaters are offered in the Mestizo River and turn it into a true spectacle.
What other Ilocos or Vigan itinerary essentials should we add to the list? Disclaimer: Prices quoted for hotel rooms are subject to change.
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