If this was your first time to go on a long road trip to the North, this article will save you a lot of time in being prepared for your roadtrip. This also documents all my key learnings based on my experience to avoid frustrations and mis-adventures during your tip. Although, I must admit that its the mis-adventures which makes the trip fun and memorable.
If you have been to Pagudpud or Ilocos Norte already, I do hope you learn a thing or two from this guide. I would also sincerely appreciate it if you can contribute your own learnings and perspective by commenting on this.
The best part of going to Pagudpud and Ilocos Norte is the long road trip. I enjoy it very much and I encourage you to plan it very well to make it enjoyable. I won't be covering using public transportation to go to Pagudpud since I don't have a lot of experience on this.
Make sure that you make a beauty stop over hear at Suso Beach, Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. This will be the first beach you would see that is visible and near the national higway.
1. Stopover Strategy
It is certainly possible to drive straight from Manila to Pagudpud but you need to leave as early as 3am. The main reason is that you don't have to arrive in Pagudpud at night because there are no street lights. It would be dark and it would be difficult to find your way going to the resorts. I did this once already and it was tiring, and you cannot enjoy the road trip.
On the way to Pagudpud, I would suggest that you stopover and stay for a night and take advantage of exploring one city in the North. Here are my recommendations:
- You can either stay in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (3 hours away from Pagudpud), or
- Fort Ilocandia in Laoag, Ilocos Norte (1 hour away from Pagudpud), or
- Recently, I heard of this new place called Sitio Remedios in Currimao, Ilocos Norte. I have not stayed here yet but the pictures were great. You might want to check it out (mobile: +63917-3320217 or email: email@example.com).
On the way back, my favorite stopover is Baguio which is the half way point between Manila and Ilocos Norte. You can easily get accommodations in Baguio without prior reservation and you get to enjoy the city's beauty and its restaurants for a night. Most people would drive straight back to Manila since you are already familiar with the place even if you arrive at midnight.
2. Where is the best place to eat Breakfast and Lunch?
It would be sad if all you eat during your long trip would be fastfood from Jollibee, Mc Donalds or Max. I was surprised when I was in Vigan to find these fast food chain among the antique houses. You have to maximize you're long road trip and there are three places that I would recommend that you eat:
A). Breakfast/Lunch @ Isdaan in Gerona, Tarlac.
Isdaan is the home of the tacsiyapo wall. Where you buy stuff to throw and shout "TACSIYAPO" which is "shame on you" in the local dialect. It serves very good Filipino Food since they are a sister company or the same owner as Barrio Fiesta. It is a floating restaurant concept where you eat in huts floating in the fish pond. One other unique thing about Isdaan, is that you can cross the San Kilo bridge which is a narrow cement bridge while bringing one pail of water. If you are able to successfully cross the bridge and come back, you get a free 1 Kilo of Fish!
Check out my blog post on this place --> Tacsiyapo Wall @ Isdaan, Gerona Tarlac. This is just along the national highway, you'll never miss it once you are in Gerona Tarlac...
The old house ambiance was great and sets the mood for a good lunch. It serves good filipino food turo-turo style where the food is displayed buffet style and you have to point the food that you like. Prices are almost the same as in Manila restaurants but still eating in capiz style vigan houses is quite an experience.
Cafe Leona is very popular and right in the center of Vigan. Just ask around and it is near the Max Restaurant along Crisologo street. I don't have a full blog post on this but I have a more photos here --> Cafe Leona, Vigan Lunch.
C). Lunch/Dinner @ S.O.U.L Cafe in La Union
I have never been to this place but I'm hearing a lot of good things about this from different people. This is owned by Amboy Guevara, and located beside their family's Shell Gas Station. This is the first shell gas station in La Union and the first one before going up to Baguio via Kenon road. S.O.U.L means Spice of Urban Life and people rave about the food which are priced reasonably well below P200. ( Check it out --> S.O.U.L Café Camp One, Rosario, La Union. Tel: (072) 712-0852 )
3. Road Trip Final Reminders
- You need to make sure that you're car is well tuned up, have the right tire pressure with a good tire spare, and with the gas HALF FULL all the time.
- If you are going on convoy, I suggest that you agree on a meeting/ end point because it is useless to go on a convoy like a parade in this northern part of the Philippines.
- Cash is King so make sure that you withdraw enough money for your trip. P1,500/ day is a good rule of thumb.
- Buy an atlas so that you can follow your road trip in the map. It is interesting to see where you are in the North. Also, this gives you added confidence that you will not get lost.
- You should look at your trip as a two phase road trip: a 6 hour road trip to Baguio and another 6 hour road trip going to Ilocos Norte. Just follow the signs going to this places and you won't get lost.
- If you have short range two-way radio, bring them because this might be better for coordination between two cars or groups.
That's it for now. I do hope by now, you would have an idea on what your Road Trip itinerary would be. I'll update this entry from time to time based on readers inputs and as I remember them.
Other Places to Visit along the 14-hour Road Trip:
Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur - One of the Four Baroque Churches in the Philippines listed in the UN World Heritage Sites!
Do you have any other suggestions and comments?