Timeless Vigan: An 8-Hour Itinerary Guide

It was already 9 P.M. and I was about to go to the bus station for my planned trip – ALONE.
 
It was the first time that I have ever travelled alone and honestly, I even thought of not going.
 
Well, I am glad I did!
 
I have already been to Vigan in 2012 with my friends but since I was looking for a side trip near La Union, where I really planned to go and learn how to surf, I chose Vigan. 
 
This beautifully vintage looking city with its cobblestone streets is located in the northwestern part of Luzon, Philippines and is the capital of the Ilocos Sur province. The architectural structures that this city boast of dates back from its Spanish and Asian settlers.
 
I was just there for roughly 8 hours but I can say I had visited most of the must- see places in this  UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
HOW TO GET THERE
 
 
By BUS
 
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It took me around 9 hours to get to Vigan from Cubao in Quezon City by bus. For such long trips, I opt to take the overnight bus so that I don’t waste the daytime travelling. Note that choosing this type of transportation takes a bit longer than by driving your own car because there are about 2-3 terminals, where the passengers are either being dropped off to or picked-up from. 
 
This, for me, is good news since I always need “to go to the loo.” Also, if you suddenly get hungry, day or night, the stores are always open in these pit stops. 
 
There are several bus lines that can take you to Vigan from Metro Manila and all go-to destinations in the North.
 
I chose Partas Bus Lines for this trip.
 
Here is a time and fare table from the said bus line that I grabbed from http://www.phbus.com for your reference: ​​
 
 
By Car
 
Since I don’t do long drives and prefer taking public transportations for my own comfort, here is Mr. Google showing us approximately how far and long the drive is to Vigan, should you plan to take your own car. 
 
 
ITINERARY
 
The sulit trip was made possible by a tricycle driver who introduced himself to me while I was looking at a vicinity map and planning how I could make the most out of my stay.
 
Kuya Raymond, who is a local in Vigan,  asked me if I would like to hire him as a tour guide for P400.00 and weighing my options – Kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) or Tricycle – I said ‘Yes!’ to the tricycle so I can maximize my time. Since I was more than satisfied with his service – he served not only as my tour guide that day but also as my photographer, which he voluntarily and patiently did – I highly recommend him for solo backpackers out there. Here is his contact number: (+63) 905 1767758. Should he not be available on your planned date, there are may other tricycle drivers scattered around town who can give you the same tours for the same price. Locals are equally friendly so no need to fret.
 
Here is my 8-hour Vigan experience listed in chronological order:
 
PAGBURNAYAN
no Entrance Fee
 
Pagburnayan is derived from the word burnay, which is an earthenware believed to be brought to Vigan by the pre-colonial Chinese settlers. You can experience the jar making first-hand for free but I gave the one who assisted me a decent tip for his service and time. Expect it to be messy but don’t worry because the clay can be washed-off easily with water.
 
 
HIDDEN GARDEN
no Entrance Fee
 
While asking around, I found out that they offer services like landscape design and waterfalls set-up just like in the photo below.  Apart from the plants and a big collection of bonsai inside this garden, they also have a restaurant inside where a lot of tourists stop over and have a taste of the sumptuous Vigan cuisine.
 

 

 
BALUARTE
no Entrance Fee
 
This attraction in Vigan is not your ordinary zoo. Some of the animals roam around freely and visitors can feed and pet them too. I personally just took a picture of the one below not because of time constraint but because I just felt that the activities are more for family or group of friends to enjoy.
 
 
ABEL WEAVING
no Entrance Fee
 
The abel is a colorful woven product of Vigan, which is made from strong colorful yarns. I was able to experience the meticulous way of weaving a table runner in progress. According to the lady who assisted me, these products are still being sold in the neighboring municipalities of Vigan and even in some stores in Manila ( – pardon my unkempt hair on the photo 😜).
 
 
CRISOLOGO MUSEUM
Donation in any amount
 
Museums are always on my must-go-to list when I travel.
 
Owned by the political clan of the assassinated Governor Floro Crisologo, this mansion turned museum exhibits their family’s well-maintained memorabilia. I highly recommend this museum to those who are curious as to how a house in the early 70s look like on the inside.
 
 
NATIONAL MUSEUM
no Entrance Fee
 
Another museum I got to visit without shelling a dime was a former provincial jail. The collection that can be found in this museum is that of the late Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, who was said to be born on the second floor of this jail, where his father was a warden. Aside from his own collection there were other art exhibits too. During my visit, I was able to see a photo exhibit of Philippine Waterfalls.
 
 
BANTAY BELL TOWER
Donation in any amount
 
There is no tour package to Vigan that does not include this sight. As its name suggests, it is not even in Vigan but in a municipality outside Vigan called Bantay. From the National Museum, it took me just about 5 minutes to get there and that’s all thanks to my tour guide on three wheels.
 
Bantay means “to guard” in Tagalog and that is exactly what this watch tower served as during the Spanish era.
 
 
CALLE CRISOLOGO – end of tour with Kuya Raymond
 
This picture perfect street may well be Vigan’s major attraction. With it’s Spanish-styled houses situated on a narrow cobblestone streets, every inch is a social media post worthy 😃.
 
Don’t forget to drop by the shops for some souvenirs for your loved ones.
 
 
Other sights to see on foot
 
The tour with my tour guide ended after a little less than 4 hours and it was exactly time for lunch. I was not able to munch on any Vigan cuisine because I was just plain tired and was not that hungry that I only opted for bland sandwich and treated myself with a dirty ice cream (it was really not dirty though – it is just how we, Filipinos, call it 😉).
 
The bus I was targeting to take bound to La Union was set to depart by 4:00 p.m. so I still had time to roam around on foot from Calle Crisologo.
 
Here are the other sights and impressions of Vigan that I soaked myself with while I wait for the set bus departure:
 
Kalesa Queue for tours around the city
Kalesa Queue for tours around the city
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After all the sightseeing, it was time to go. It was a short stay but I definitely was able to make the most out of it and I hope you do too. 😀
 
 
 

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