Bee Gan: Beautiful Shore
After spending a great evening the day before with a great traditional dinner at the house of my Philippine friend, we knew today would be a very busy packed day trying to see the most we can until the time to make the way back to Laoag airport for the evening flight back to Manila. Having so little time in each place on this trip has been one of the downsides, although in the other hand and coming from London so far away, that’s the less we could do. A very busy and tight agenda with almost no time to sleep. Definitely well worth it at the end. That’s the fun of travelling.
Vigan is the capital city of the province of Ilocos Sur. An UNESCO World Heritage Site in its full in the sense that it is one of the very few Spanish colonial cities in the Philippines left almost intact, keeping most of its charm and incredible Hispano-Philippine-Oriental fusion unique only to this part of the world. The best preserved colonial city in Asia.
Really small in size and well organised as it follows since its creation the usual grid pattern urban plan where the main streets meet at the central square; principal cultural, politic and religious part in the city, with the rest of the streets parallel and perpendicular between them.
One day visit is more than enough for Vigan, that’s why you can perfectly combine it with the visit of the brother city of Laoag, capital of the Ilocos Norte region, and Paoay in between them both. The sand dunes of La Paz are also a short distance, but including all this in just 1 day will be extremely tight. Consider at least 2 days and enjoy more time at each destination. There is really a lot to see around.
As a quick note about food and on the same way I mentioned in the guide I created for Laoag, Paoay and Santa Maria, you must try some of the local specialities such as longanisa or empanada. Don’t worry in thinking where you can get those, it is easy to spot the queues of people on those very small shops, specially near the beginning of Crisologo Street just behind Salcedo Square.
For more information about Vigan check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. The Philippine’s currency is the Peso (PHP, ₱). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Vigan
- Plaza de Salcedo Is the central square in the city. The administrative and religious centre since the colonial times.
-St. Paul’s Cathedral Built by Augustinians in the 1790s features an unique design as that seen in Paoay Church intended to minimize the impact of earthquakes. The bell tower is south of the cathedral, not attached to it, another of the earthquake measures taken in consideration so it would not topple into the church should it fail on an earthquake.
-Archbishop’s Palace Located next to the Cathedral, belong to the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia and is the oldest archbishop’s residence still in use in the Philippines. Built in 1793, nowadays houses a great collection of priceless ecclesiastical artefacts and relics from some Ilocos churches.
-Provincial Administrative Office Or Capitol, is a legacy of the American colonial period, it occupies the space of the former Casa Real which burnt down.
-Padre Jose Burgos House Just behind the Capitol, was the birthplace of Father Jose Burgos, one of the three martyred Filipino priests at Bagumbayan. It is currently the National Museum housing Ilocano artefacts and ethnic arts of the Tinggians.
-Dancing Fountain Located in the middle of the square is a remarkable addition of embellishment to the city specially at nights.
-Saint Paul’s College
- Plaza de Burgos Quite unusual for a Spanish colonial city is the existence of a second square which is right beside the cathedral. The streets leading to this square are filled with former upper class family houses which form part of the cultural heritage of the city. There are food stalls where you can sample Vigan’s famous empanada and sinanglao (traditional hotpot made with beef).
- Mestizo District Or Heritage Village, is the name that receives the historical streets part of the UNESCO Heritage Site, along Crisologo and Plaridel Streets where most of the famous colonial style buildings are found.
- Crisologo Museum Occupying the former home of the late Congressman governor of Ilocos Sur, Floro Crisologo and his wife Carmeling. Contains memorabilia of the late Congressman and original furnishings of a typical Vigan’s house.
- Syquia Mansion The former residence of President Elpidio Quirino. Now a small museum containing memorabilia of Quirino.
- Quema House Former residence of the Quema family is considered one of the most representative 18th century Philippine architectural style.
The size of the city does not make any need for you on taking public transportation. The best way is to walk along the streets and enjoy its beautiful architecture and sights.
Getting to Vigan from nearby cities is also very easy. Vigan is a key stop over for all bus routes to/from Manila. Nearby cities as Paoay or Laoag are directly connected by frequent buses, while other smaller villages can be easily reached by jeepneys.
The nearest airport is Laoag, some 80 kilometres to the north. Although there are no buses directly connecting with the airport, they do connect at Laoag city centre, few minutes away from the airport.
Unfortunately we cannot recommend any place in here as we stayed overnight in Paoay, 65 kilometres to the north of Vigan, as it was the perfect location not far from Laoag airport, quite convenient for our busy agenda. In any case, you should not have any troubles finding a nice place to stay, if either in Vigan, or around the neighbouring cities. The usual apply, a good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engines such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.