Vigan is the third oldest city in the Philippines following Cebu and Manila. It is famed for the Philippines' most beautiful street Calle Crisologo, that brings back history which rivals Intramuros. The streets are cover with cobblestone lined with old Spanish houses from either side.
Calle Crisologo is the only World Heritage City in the Philippines inscribed by UNESCO. Because it perfectly preserves the livelihood of the Hispanic colonial era.
Watch this video: VIGAN: Food and Travel Guide to one of the 7 Wonder Cities of the World!
The best way to tour around Vigan is by foot or tricycle because it is such a small city, the sights are only a few minutes away from each other.
Here's our 24-hour itinerary that you can do on your own…
It is the only town during World War II that was saved from destruction because of a love story.
Legend has it that a Japanese General, who married a Filipina in Vigan, promised the parish priest that he would save the town from destruction from the retreating Japanese if he would agree to take care of his family.
The street is also known for shopping antiques, souvenirs, and food!
Where to Stay:
Hotel Luna, the first and only museum hotel in the Philippines managed by Artstream Hospitality Management Group Inc.
It is conveniently located at the at the heart of the Heritage Village in Vigan City, which is just a block away from Crisologo street.
The name Hotel Luna pays tribute to the great Filipino painter Juan Luna, who was an Ilocano. Like most accommodations in Vigan, it was a former Spanish colonial house built in 1882.
It houses to many great Filipino artists including , original masterpieces from BenCab, Amorsolo, Juan Luna, Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva and Arturo Luz to name a few.
Tour of the museum is free for passing visitors.
The hotel's centerpiece is the "La Mandolinera" (The Mandolin Player) 1883 Oil on Canvas by Juan Luna.
Juan Luna's painting from Madrid sits securely in the Art Sala of Hotel Luna together with other prized works by National Artists Napoleon Abueva, Ben Cab, Federico Alcuaz and Fernando Amorsolo among others.
Our room was an elegant double queen deluxe room good for four. (P7,500)
The rooms are quite luxurious with intricate designs and modern amenities.
It was quite spacious with a separate toilet and bath area. The toilets are state-of-the-art with advanced features.
Even the bars are beautifully designed with breathtaking ceiling and brick wall pillars adorned with art pieces and bronze sculptures,
Breakfast is complimentary. We liked the selection of longanisa, tinapa and pancake station part of the breakfast buffet.
Pair your dish with their refreshing pineapple rice.
And don't forget to pair your coffee with balicucha instead of sugar. An alternative natural coffee sweetener made from coco sugar.
For lunch, we tried their new menu highlighting fresh seafood and. local produce.
One should try Chef Robby Goco's of Green Pasture's Paella Negra topped with local clams, mussels, and crayfish from Canton City.
(Small: P350, Med: P1,050, Large: P1950)
The paella is best eaten as is. You can add aioli on the side for a much richer flavor.
We also liked the Luna Tarts the puff and light pastry is a good alternative to the pizza dough. (P650)
Gambas Luna tart with parmesan, cheese, olive oil, oregano, and rosemary.
Calamari Luna Tart has an aioli base topped with squid.
Shrimp Scampi (Solo P275, Sharing P500)
The kitchen manually scrapes the shrimp fat from the head to make the pasta's base.
Luna Street, 2300 Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Manila line: (+632) 584-4945 , (+632) 373-3333
Landline: (+077) 632-2222
Mobile: (0917) 564-0727
Where to Eat & Where to Buy Pasalubong (souvenirs):
A visit to Ilocos would not be complete without tasting its famed Vigan empanada.
Similar to a taco the popular Street food is filled with green papaya, monggo sprouts, garlicky longanisa and egg wrapped in thinly fried orange-colored rice flour dough. Best eaten when hot, add a dash of salt and Sukang Ilokano to complete this Vigan Delicacy.
Tip: One can have the healthier all vegetarian version or go double on the longganisa meat and the egg!
Also, try the Okoy, deep fried small shrimps formed like hot cakes mixed with beaten flour and egg. Also best paired with their spicy Sukang Iloko.
Where to get Empanada:
They say the stalls at the plaza are designed for tourists, but still it's convenient enough to get good empanada and ukoy. 🙂
Jacinto Street, Plaza Burgos, Vigan City
Open Hours: 2:00 PM to early evening
But if you opt to try the Empanadahan places where Ilokano's grew up eating go to Insiang's and Irene's.
Calle Salcedo corner Calle V. de los Reyes
(If you are coming from Cafe Leona, walk along Calle Crisologo and turn left at Calle Salcedo. You should see it on your right after the corner of Calle V. de los Reyes, with Gordion Hotel as the landmark.)
Calle Salcedo near the corner of Calle V. de los Reyes
(If you are coming from Cafe Leona, walk along Calle Crisologo and turn left at Calle Salcedo. You should see it on your left after the corner of Calle V. de los Reyes with Gordion Hotel as the landmark and after Insiang's empanadahan.)
Longganisa (flavored pork sausage) is one of Vigan's traditional home industries. It's pork meat and fat stuffed into an intestine wrap. Vigan's version is saltier and is best paired with Iloco Vinegar. (One Dozen P130)
The secret of this Vigan Longganisa is the ratio of 20 kilos of meat to 10 kilos of fat. The meat is mixed manually with Sinait Garlic crushed in San Esteban Almeres. Sugarcane vinegar is added along with Atsuete with soy sauce to give it color.
The mixture is then packed inside the small intestines and sealed with an Astra 20 thread.
Chichacorn is a generic brand of kornik. They come in different flavors like the regular garlic, spicy, sweet, adobo, barbeque and cheese flavor. (P55/pack)
Vigan's chichacorn is much easier to chew because the corn kernels are extra puffed.
Bagnet is the double-fried crispy pork specialty of Ilocos. It's a cross between chicharon and lechon kawali where the lean meat is crispy but not dry and the pork skin is fried to a crisp.
The secret to a good bagnet is its crispy skin, the crispier the skin the harder it is to resist.
Cafe Leona's Four Cheese Pizza with white sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzolla, parmesan and romano cheese. (P360)
The interiors will bring you back in time. 🙂
Landline: +63 (77) 722 2212
There are two types of bibingka, one is the bibingka that we all know that has a spongy texture similar to puto and the Royal bibingka made from glutinous rice flour which makes the texture very sticky and dense. (P80 small box)
The cake is made from glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, egg, sugar and topped with cheese that's baked until golden brown.
The flavors are sweet with a hint of coconut and quite savory from the cheese.
Tongson's Royal Bibingka
Ilocos Sur Crisologo St., Vigan City
Landline: (077) 722 2920
Mobile: 0917 821 9098
Pagburnayan, where traditional burnay jars of varied shapes and designs are made. If you're lucky enough you can get to feel the thrill of molding your own jar.
Brgy. VII, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Abel weavers at Barangay Camangaan, offers traditional art of handloom weaving. There are a variety of Abell Iloco woven materials for sale.
What to See:
Head to Vigan’s city plaza to see a show of dancing fountains and colorful lights, set to music.
Plaza Burgos, Florentino St, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
The light show is free. Here's the schedule:
Weekdays: 7:30 PM
Weekends: 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM encore
Baluarte, Gov. Chavit Singson's residence that features a mini zoo, butterfly garden, pony rides and animal encounters.
Entrance to the zoo is free for the public.
Take a 15-20 minute trike ride.
Brgy. Salindeg, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Landline: (077) 722-7186
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 7:00am – 6:00pm
15-minutes away from Crisologo street by trike or kalesa is the Bantay Bell Tower.
The Bantay Bell Tower of Ilocos Sur was a watchtower people used to guard the town against pirates—hence, the name “Bantay”, which means “to guard”.
Built in 1590, it is considered one of the oldest structures in the Ilocos region—notice the original brickwork. It was fascinating to see how everything was so well maintained, but we were disappointed to see how much vandalism the tower had endured.
A few meters away is Bantay Church, which is dedicated to St. Augustine of Hippo. The church features both Baroque and Gothic-influenced architecture.
St. Agustine Church, Manila-North Road
Opening Hours: 6:00am- 6:00pm
To complete your Vigan experience go on a kalesa ride around the city. (P150 per hour)
The best hours to see Calle Crisologo is late at night when the streets are empty and it feels like you are transported back in time. 🙂
Live an Awesome Life,
Abi, Boom & Sean of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our stay was courtesy of the Artstream Hospitality Management Group Inc, while everything else we paid ourselves. We wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. How to Get to Vigan:
Before, it would take us 12 hours to drive to Ilocos. But now, with the NLEX and SCTEX, we took roughly 6-8 hours to reach our destination with multiple layovers.
By Air: Domestic Flights Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific leaves Manila daily for Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, then take a 1.5-2 hour bus ride from Laog to Vigan City.
By Land: Vigan is 408 kilometers north of Manila. If you’re driving or taking the bus, that comes out to an eight-hour road trip along the scenic Manila -Ilocos Highway. Via air-conditioned buses Dominion Bus, Partas Bus, Aniceto Bsu Farinas Transportation and Viron Transit that ply the Manila-Vigan route regularly.
Tip: We used the Waze app all the way to the hotel! 🙂
Toll Expenses (Manila – Santiago, Ilocos Sur):
NLEX: Php 215 = Php 430 (2-way)
SCTEX (Dau to Tarlac) Php 104 : Php 208 (2-way)
Gas Breakdown (Fortuner): Php 2500 (2-way) = Php 5000