Ilocos Sur – a small province in Ilocos Region. But calling it small is underrated. Though tiny, the province boasts several wonderful spots – some even grabbed the attention of travelers around the world.
Ilocos Sur is one of the best places to have a quick escapade from the noise of Manila. Traveling Ilocos Sur from Manila via public bus will only take some hours (roughly, 7 to 10 hours). Two days and one night stay in Ilocos Sur is just enough to roam around the beautiful places. Hence, it is ideal for weekenders. But of course, it might take a week or more for you to understand life and culture in Ilocos Sur (after all, staying there for a while is never a bad idea).
The province of Ilocos Sur offers several historical spots. And the food, oh! They have a bunch of it. Local cuisines have always been so good in Ilocos Sur, as well as Filipino snacks and nibbles. The capital of Ilocos Sur is the Vigan City, one of the new 7 wonders cities as of May 2015. Henceforth, expect to try amazing things within the city. Enough beating around the bush, here are the 7 things you must do. And believe me, you will love doing these things.
Stroll in Calle Crisologo (Crisologo Street)
Calle Crislogo highlights cobblestone streets and ancestral Hispanic-designed houses. A walk in this street will take you back to the past (when everyone used to be so modest, prim, and moralistic and the houses were classic and archetypical). Calle Crisologo is famed because of the vintage ambiance it has. If you want to take a beautiful and serene shot of the street, better go in the dawn. The bright blue sky creates a splendid lighting in the street and an enchanting backdrop. The street turns to gold in the hours of twilight. Souvenir shops along with other antique stores open in the afternoon making the street crowded and busy.
Try Ilocos Empanada
Empanada is a stuffed folded dough and is a delicious Filipino merienda or snack. This snack is loved by all Filipinos and is also available all around the country. But Ilocos Sur has its own style and authentic taste of Empanada. The Vigan Empanada is stuffed with various vegetables, filled with meat, and is also flavored with the famous Vigan Longganisa. This snack is ideal for the health buffs or for the lovers of veggies. Stalls and kiosks for Vigan Empanada are almost present in the crowded parts of the city. But you might want to check out Evelyn’s Vigan Empanada and Okoy near Plaza Burgos.
Taste Vigan Longganisa
If Vigan has to brag for an indigenous chow, that would be Vigan Longganisa. Longganisa is a typical Filipino food – it is a pork sausage flavored with garlic and some “secret” spices. Longganisa comes in variety, and Vigan has its own style. Vigan Longganisa is best enjoyed with sunny side up egg and steamed rice. But I like it better with fried rice. It is also a common breakfast for Filipinos.
Near the Plaza Burgos is a restaurant that serves Vigan Longganisa along with other local cuisines – Café Leona. The restaurant has a vintage ambiance – the walls, ceiling, and furniture show antiquity. The food in Café Leona is scrumptious and totally worth a bite. They have a pizza topped with local ingredients such as Vigan Longganisa, Pinakbet (mixed veggies and pork meat, usually flavored with a bagoong, a Filipino condiment made from salted kilt), or Bagnet (deep fried pork belly).
Beside the restaurant is a kiosk that sells Vigan Longganisa by dozen or kilo. You should buy some as pasalubong or for personal stock.
Take a Selfie in Syquia Mansion
The Former President ElpidioQuirino once lived in Ilocos Sur in the ancestral home of his wife that has now become a museum for the public. As you wander the museum, you will see antique furniture, old cabinets, and hardwood flooring that create a musty smell – awakening the nostalgic feels in our soul. Aside from the old fixtures, the mansion is visited because of its unique beauty and relaxing ambiance. And of course, a selfie will always complete a tour. Arty people are most welcomed in the museum. Paintings by the Quirino along with another masterpiece of other artists such as Fernando Amorsolo will capture the eye of every artistic mind.
Go nostalgia in Father Burgos’ house
Father Jose Burgos is among the Gomburza trio that was executed by the Spaniards. Father Burgos along with Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora (who are also priests) were accused of rebelling the Spanish colony. The death of the three priests moved the heart of Dr. Jose Rizal to write the El Filibusterismo, a novel that talks about the courage, hope, and fight for freedom that is now considered as one of the most treasurable novels in the Philippine literature.
The stone house of Padre Burgos has now become a museum that displays a collection of antique furniture, old farming gears, and aged writing apparatus.
Cruise Mestizo River and learn about the Ilocos Sur Saga
While river cruising in other travel spots are all about winding up and sightseeing, the cruising the Mestizo River is not the typical water navigating – it is quite unique and educational. As you navigate straight the river, you will be stopped in five stations. Each station has a story to tell about the economy, culture, and livelihood of the Ilocanos(natives of Ilocos). You will also be edified about how the town became to what it is now.
As you cruise the river, you will be replenished by the lush of tall trees and mangroves that erect alongside the river. The green water (albeit unattractive) surely reflects the natural beauty of nature.
Taste the Malunggay Pan de Sal
Pan de Sal is a Filipino bread and is munched mostly for breakfast and merienda (time of the day for snacks, mostly 3 PM). The typical Pan de Sal is made from flour, eggs, yeast, and salt and is cooked in an oven (but it tastes a lot yummier when baked in a traditional brick oven). Pandesal is crunchy on the outside and heavenly soft on the inside. It is best when still hot.
Others make a healthy version of Pan de Sal by adding ingredients such as the healthful Malunggay leaves. Durong’s Malunggay Pandesal in Vigan City is frequented by bread lovers! Other bakeries in Vigan also serve Malunggay Pandesal.
We have listed only the 7 must do things (amazing things) in Ilocos Sur. But of course, there are a lot of stuff that will keep your itchy foot busy in the town. Before you leave the city of Vigan, selfless travelers (i.e., me) should buy pasalubong such as keychains, Vigan longganisa, t-shirts, etc., Some shops you can halt for souvenirs would be Calle Crisologo. For Vigan Longganisa, better go straight to wet market (there you can purchase the longganisa in a bargain).
We know there are a bunch of amazing, perhaps thrilling, things to do in Ilocos Sur, but we don’t want to ruin your Ilocos Sur experience by telling it all. Visit Ilocos Sur and tell us about your experience!
Want to add more things in our Ilocos Sur listicle? Share us your thoughts by commenting below.
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