Laoag

Sandboarding in Laoag (Photo: Alaric Yanos)

Where to stay

  • Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel, Brgy. 37, Calayab; +63 77 670 9101; www.fortilocandia.com.ph. A five-star resort that boasts a private two-kilometer beach.
  • Java Hotel, Brgy. 55-B Salet, Gen. Segundo Ave; +63 2 246 1010; www.javahotel.com.ph. Nestled in the city, this hotel has 50 rooms, recreational facilities, and a Balinese-Moroccon inspired design.
  • Kapuluan Vista Resort, Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud; +63 920 952 2528; kapuluanvistaresortandrestaurant.com. A beautiful ocean retreat offering both dorm-type rooms and luxury suites, with friendly staff and professional surf instructors.
  • Laoag Parklane Hotel, Brgy. Barit, General Segundo Ave; +63 77 677 1099; facebook.com/LPHofficial. A modern, clean, brightly-lit hotel, with both dormitories and private rooms. Breakfast is complimentary.
  • Rivermount Hotel & Resort, Brgy. 18, San Isidro, Sarrat; www.rivermountrh.com. A sleek four-star hotel with rooms that offer views of the mountains and the river. Located a twenty-minute drive away from Laoag City.

Where to eat

  • Café Bonita, Laoag Parklane Hotel, Brgy. Barit, General Segundo Ave; +63 77 677 1099. For affordable food and coffee within a pleasant, minimalist-chic space. We’d especially recommend the bagnet (deep-fried crispy pork belly) and pomelo salad.
  • Café Ilocandia, Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel, Brgy. 37, Calayab; www.fortilocandia.com.ph. There are buffet and a la carte options available at this restaurant, which offers both local and international fare.
  • City Cup Café, Ranada Building, Rizal St; +63 77 670 6820. A cozy café for cakes and coffee, as well as a range of savory meals like Vietnamese pho.
  • Herencia Café, McArthur St, Brgy. 14, Sangladan; +63 77 614 0214. Said to be the birthplace of pinakbet pizza – a thin crust pizza topped with mozzarella cheese and vegetables like eggplant, okra and tomatoes.
  • Kapuluan Vista Restaurant, Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud; +63 920 952 2528; kapuluanvistaresortandrestaurant.com. Healthy and affordable fare, with meals made from scratch using ingredients from the restaurant’s own organic garden.
  • La Preciosa Restaurant, J.P. Rizal St; +63 77 773 1162; facebook.com/LaPreciosaIlocosTuck into value-for-money Ilocano cuisine at this local foodie favorite. Don’t forget to end your meal with a slice of the restaurant’s bestselling carrot cake.
  • Macy’s Diner, Gen. Segundo Ave; +63 77 770 3551. This restaurant will instantly remind you of a 1950s diner, thanks to its old-school interiors (there’s even a jukebox). The Ilocos longganisa will not disappoint.
  • Mama Aket – Dawang’s Place Eatery, 137 National Rd; Brgy 1; +63 921 972 2925. Popular dishes here include the papaitan (soup comprising cow or goat innards), grilled pork belly, and the specialty of the house, Persko – fish and thinly sliced raw beef, with a dash of papait (bile).
  • Papa Pau’s Diner, Brgy. 6 San Agustin, J. P. Rizal St corner D. Castro St; +63 77 771 5185; facebook.com/papapausdiner. The binalot (food wrapped in banana leaves) and boodle (where food is spread on banana leaves and eaten with bare hands) meals here will satisfy the biggest appetites.
  • Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar, Gen. Giron St; +63 77 771 5825. The place to go for local eats, such as poqui-poqui, an Ilocano dish made with grilled eggplant and egg.

What to do

  • Bangui Windmills, Bangui. Windmills. These lofty windmills, which stand at a height of 50 meters, power 40 percent of the entire province. They’re also especially popular for photo ops.
  • Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Burgos. This lighthouse, which was established during the Spanish Colonial era, offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Burgos. Go horseback riding against a stunning backdrop of limestone formations and windmills.
  • La Paz Sand Dunes. Try sandboarding and riding a 4×4 vehicle in the sand dunes of Laoag. The best time to visit would be around sundown, as the vastness of the dunes will stage a dramatic sunset view. Arrange for sandboarding and other guided eco-adventure packages with LEAD Movement (+63 77 772 0538; www.leadmovement.wordpress.com).
  • Laoag Public Market, Adabilla. Here, you’ll find food of all kinds, as well as a plethora of local gifts and fine handicrafts.
  • Malacañang of the North, Paoay. A popular tourist attraction that used to be the holiday residence of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos.
  • Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, Valdez, Batac. Here, you’ll find the resting place of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, as well as plenty of memorabilia that highlight the eventful years of his reign.
  • Museo Ilocos Norte, General Antonio Lunas St; museoilocosnorte.com. Situated in the old Tabacalera warehouse, this ethnographic museum features a wide array of Ilocano, Igorot and Itneg traditional clothing, ceremonial objects and more.
  • Pagudpud. Relax and unwind at this coastal resort town studded with beach resorts. It’s located a little over an hour away from Laoag City.
  • Paoay Church, Paoay; +63 77 614 0214. This UNESCO-inscribed Roman Catholic church stands out from other churches in the area, thanks to its distinctive architecture — you’ll see enormous buttresses on the side and back of the building, which help fortify it against earthquakes.
  • Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud. Stroll along this 1.3-kilometer long, 31-meter high bridge for great views of the South China Sea.
  • Samtoy Books, General Luna St corner Llanes St; +63 905 505 1077. Support local literature at this homely bookshop. You can even hang out at the store and read books for just PHP5 an hour.
  • Sinking Bell Tower, Bonifacio St. This gradually sinking tower was built by Augustine friars in 1612, and is Laoag’s main architectural attraction.
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