Ilocos Sur, a province in the northern part of the Philippines, is home to a rich cultural heritage and breathtaking natural wonders. With its picturesque landscapes and historical landmarks, it is no wonder that Ilocos Sur has become a popular destination for both local and international tourists alike. From the iconic cobblestone streets of Vigan City to the stunning beaches of Santa Maria, there is no shortage of tourist spots to explore in this beautiful province. Whether you are interested in history, or architecture, or simply want to unwind in the beauty of nature, Ilocos Sur has something to offer everyone.
In this article, we will delve deeper into some of the top tourist spots that you should not miss when visiting Ilocos Sur.
1. Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo – Vigan city
Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ilocos Sur, Philippines. Located in the city of Vigan, this sprawling complex covers 80 hectares of land and is home to a variety of exotic animals from around the world. The resort is owned by former Governor Chavit Singson, who established it as a sanctuary for animals and a place for visitors to appreciate the beauty of nature.
Visitors to Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo can take a leisurely stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens and observe the animals in their natural habitats. Among the species found in the zoo are Bengal tigers, zebras, ostriches, camels, and various species of birds. Guests can also interact with domesticated animals such as horses, cows, and goats. There are several feeding areas where visitors can feed some of the animals, making for a truly unforgettable experience.
Aside from the mini-zoo, Baluarte Resort also offers a variety of other activities for visitors. One of the most popular attractions is the Safari Gallery, which showcases various hunting trophies and memorabilia collected by Governor Singson from his travels around the world. The resort also features a butterfly garden, a botanical garden, and an aviary, which houses numerous species of colorful birds.
2. Plaza Burgos – Vigan City, ilocos sur
Plaza Burgos is a historical landmark located in the heart of Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. This bustling public plaza is named after Father Jose Burgos, one of the three martyred priests who fought for the rights and freedom of Filipinos during the Spanish colonial period. It has become a popular tourist destination, known for its charming colonial-era architecture and lively atmosphere.
The plaza is surrounded by various establishments, including local shops and restaurants, making it a great spot for both tourists and locals to relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Among the prominent structures in Plaza Burgos are St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the Provincial Capitol building, and the Burgos Museum. The plaza also features a towering monument dedicated to the three martyred priests.
Plaza Burgos is not only a historical landmark but also a hub of cultural activity. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture by sampling traditional Ilocano cuisine at the plaza’s famous food stalls, such as Vigan empanadas and bagnet, a deep-fried pork dish. The plaza is also home to various cultural events throughout the year, such as street dances and music festivals.
Overall, Plaza Burgos is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Ilocos Sur. Its rich history, cultural significance, and lively atmosphere make it a unique and unforgettable experience for all visitors.
3. Plaza Salcedo – Vigan city, ilocos sur
Plaza Salcedo is a historic public square located in the heart of Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. The plaza was named after the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo, who founded the city in 1572. It has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, known for its picturesque colonial-era architecture and important historical significance.
The plaza is surrounded by several prominent landmarks, including St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral and Archbishop’s Palace. One of the most recognizable structures in Plaza Salcedo is the monument of Juan de Salcedo, which stands proudly at the center of the square. The monument, which was created by the renowned Filipino sculptor Napoleon Abueva, depicts Salcedo holding a sword and a map of the city.
Aside from its historical and cultural significance, Plaza Salcedo is also a hub of activity. The plaza is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax and unwind, with its lush greenery and towering trees providing a refreshing respite from the heat. Visitors can also enjoy a stroll around the plaza, taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling city.
One of the most popular activities at Plaza Salcedo is the nightly fountain show. The plaza’s beautifully designed fountain, which features colorful lights and music, puts on a spectacular display every night, drawing crowds of visitors who gather to watch the mesmerizing show.
4. Bantay Bell Tower – bantay, ilocos sur
The Bantay Bell Tower is a well-known landmark located in the town of Bantay in Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It is considered one of the oldest and tallest bell towers in the country, with a height of approximately 33 meters. The tower was built in 1591, initially to serve as a watchtower to warn the locals of incoming raids from neighboring regions.
The Bantay Bell Tower is an impressive structure that features a unique combination of Gothic and Oriental architectural styles. It is made of bricks and coral stones, and its walls are 1.67 meters thick. The tower has a rectangular base with four levels, each level adorned with arches and intricate carvings.
Visitors can climb the steep stairs of the tower to reach the top, where they can enjoy a panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside. Inside the tower, visitors can also find a small museum that showcases artifacts related to the town’s history and culture.
5. Hidden Garden – Vigan City, ilocos sur
The Hidden Garden Restaurant is a popular dining destination located in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It is situated within the Hidden Garden tourist attraction, which is known for its beautiful gardens, pottery workshop, and souvenir shop. The restaurant is famous for its authentic Filipino cuisine, which is made using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The menu features a variety of traditional dishes such as sinigang, adobo, and kare-kare, as well as regional specialties like Vigan longganisa and bagnet.
The restaurant’s ambiance is relaxed and peaceful, with an open-air seating area that overlooks the lush gardens. Guests can enjoy their meals while surrounded by the beautiful foliage and vibrant flowers of the garden, creating a serene and tranquil dining experience. In addition to its delicious food and beautiful surroundings, the Hidden Garden Restaurant is also known for its excellent service. The staff is friendly and accommodating, always ready to assist guests with their needs and preferences.
6. Calle Crisologo – vigan city, ilocos sur
The well-known tourist destination of Calle Crisologo is situated in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. This cobbled street is bordered by beautiful heritage houses, which go back to the Spanish colonial era.
Its history goes back to the 16th century when Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines. The houses that adorn Calle Crisologo were constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries, blending Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino architectural styles. Today, Calle Crisologo is one of the Philippines’ best-preserved colonial streets and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can leisurely walk along the street, taking in the beauty of the old houses with their intricately designed windows and doors, and the antique lamps that illuminate the street at night.
In addition, the street has numerous shops, restaurants, and souvenir stores that offer local delicacies and handicrafts. Visitors can also hire horse-drawn carriages or kalesa, an exclusive and romantic way to explore the street. Overall, Calle Crisologo is a charming and historically significant attraction that is a must-visit in Ilocos Sur. It exemplifies the city’s rich history and cultural heritage, and its blend of architectural styles makes it a must-see destination for both architecture enthusiasts and history buffs.
7. Rg Jar Factory – vigan city, ilocos sur
The RG Jar Factory, located in Brgy. Bulag, Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Philippines, is a famous tourist spot. It is owned by a family who creates handmade clay jars, known as “burnay,” which are a local specialty. The tradition of making burnay is a valued practice in Ilocos Sur, passed on from one generation to another. These jars are made using a unique type of clay that can only be found in the region. The process involves molding the clay by hand and then firing it in a kiln.
Tourists visiting the RG Jar Factory can witness the entire process of creating burnay, starting from molding the clay to firing the jars in the kiln. They can also try their hand at making their jar and purchase one as a souvenir. The factory offers a wide range of burnay products, including decorative pieces like vases and pots. Apart from the main production facility, the RG Jar Factory has a showroom where visitors can appreciate the different burnay products on exhibit. The showroom is adorned with intricate designs that showcase the skill and craftsmanship of the local artisans.
8. Crisologo Museum – vigan city, ilocos sur
The Crisologo Museum, situated in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines, is a well-known tourist spot. The museum is dedicated to featuring the life and accomplishments of the Crisologo family, who are among the most influential political families in the province. The museum is housed in a heritage house that dates back to the Spanish colonial period. Visitors can admire the architecture of the house, which features a mixture of Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino designs.
The interior of the museum is filled with artifacts, memorabilia, and personal belongings of the Crisologo family, including photographs, documents, and antique furniture. The Crisologo family has a long and storied history in Ilocos Sur, and the museum offers visitors a glimpse into the family’s legacy. The exhibits detail the family’s involvement in politics, social activism, and cultural preservation.
Aside from the Crisologo family’s history, the museum also highlights Ilocos Sur’s rich cultural heritage. The exhibits include traditional clothing, handicrafts, and musical instruments, as well as other artifacts from the province’s past. The Crisologo Museum is an excellent destination for anyone interested in Philippine history, culture, and heritage. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the Crisologo family’s contributions to Ilocos Sur and to appreciate the province’s rich cultural heritage.
9. Santa Maria Church – Santa maria, Ilocos Sur
The Santa Maria Church is a well-known religious landmark located in the municipality of Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It is one of the four Baroque churches in the country that are collectively declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the title “Baroque Churches of the Philippines.” The church is a striking example of the Baroque architectural style, with its ornate facade and intricate details. The interior is equally impressive, with its grand altar, elaborately decorated ceiling, and intricate paintings and carvings. Built during the 18th century, the church has withstood the test of time, surviving multiple earthquakes and wars. It has undergone several renovations over the years to preserve its historical and cultural significance.
The Santa Maria Church is not only a place of worship but also a significant part of the town’s history and culture. It serves as a testament to the people’s deep religious faith and devotion to their heritage. Visitors can attend mass and explore the church’s rich history and architectural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Ilocos Sur.
10. Vigan Cathedral – vigan city, ilocos sur
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, also known as the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the heart of Mexico City’s historic center. It is considered one of the largest and oldest cathedrals in the Americas, and a prime example of Spanish colonial architecture. The construction of the cathedral began in 1573 and was completed in 1813, taking almost 240 years to complete. The cathedral is dedicated to the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle and is the seat of the Archbishop of Mexico.
The cathedral is a mixture of architectural styles, including Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance. It has five naves, 14 chapels, and a total of 16 altars. The interior of the cathedral is adorned with paintings, sculptures, and other artwork from the colonial period. One of the most notable features of the cathedral is its large organ, which was built in the 18th century and restored in the 20th century. The organ has four keyboards and more than 6,000 pipes, making it one of the largest in the world.
Another significant feature of the cathedral is the Altar of the Kings, located in the central nave. This Baroque-style altar was built in the 18th century and is made of marble and bronze. It features sculptures of the twelve apostles and is considered one of the most important works of Baroque art in Mexico. The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of visitors each year. It is an essential part of Mexico City’s cultural and religious heritage and a symbol of the country’s colonial past.
11. Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone
Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone is an outdoor adventure park located in the province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It offers a variety of thrilling activities for adventure seekers of all ages, making it a popular tourist destination in the region. The adventure zone features a zipline that spans over a kilometer, providing visitors with an adrenaline-pumping ride over the lush forests and beautiful landscapes of Ilocos Sur. For those who want a more challenging experience, there is also a high ropes course that tests your balance, strength, and coordination as you navigate through a series of obstacles.
Visitors can also try their hand at wall climbing, rappelling, and ATV rides. The wall climbing and rappelling activities take place on a 20-meter-high tower, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding areas. The ATV rides allow visitors to explore the beautiful landscapes of Ilocos Sur while riding through off-road trails and rough terrain. Safety is a top priority at Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone, and all activities are supervised by experienced guides and instructors. The adventure park also provides safety gear and equipment for all visitors, ensuring a fun and safe experience for everyone.
12. Padre Burgos House – vigan city, ilocos sur
Padre Burgos House is a historic residence located in the municipality of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It is considered one of the most well-preserved colonial-era houses in the province, and a popular tourist destination for those interested in Philippine history and architecture.
The house was built in the 18th century and was originally owned by Padre Jose Burgos, a Filipino priest, and nationalist who played an important role in the country’s struggle for independence. The house served as a sanctuary for Filipino revolutionaries during the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonization. Padre Burgos House is an excellent example of the “Bahay na Bato” or “Stone House” architectural style that was popular during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. The house features a combination of traditional Filipino and Spanish design elements, such as wooden balustrades, intricate ironworks, and terracotta roof tiles.
Today, the house has been converted into a museum, showcasing various artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia related to Padre Burgos and the Philippine Revolution. Visitors can explore the house’s various rooms, which have been carefully restored to their original state, and learn about the history and culture of the region. One of the most notable features of the house is its beautiful courtyard, which is adorned with ornate tiles and sculptures. The courtyard is surrounded by lush gardens and provides a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
13. Syquia Mansion Museum – vigan city
The Syquia Mansion Museum is a historic house museum located in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world who are interested in Philippine history and culture. The mansion was built in the early 19th century and served as the ancestral home of the Syquia family, one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the region.
The mansion is a prime example of the “Bahay na Bato” or “Stone House” architectural style that was popular during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. Today, the mansion has been converted into a museum, showcasing the history and culture of the Syquia family and the region. Visitors can explore the mansion’s various rooms, which have been carefully restored to their original state, and admire the exquisite woodwork, furniture, and art pieces.
The mansion museum also features a collection of antique furnishings, personal belongings, and memorabilia that provide insight into the lifestyle and culture of the Syquia family. Visitors can learn about the family’s history and their contributions to the economic, social, and political development of the region. One of the most notable features of the mansion is its beautiful garden, which features a collection of native plants and flowers, fountains, and sculptures. The garden provides a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city and is a popular spot for taking photos and relaxing.
In conclusion, Ilocos Sur is a great destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the rich culture and natural beauty of the Philippines. With its stunning landscapes, historic landmarks, and welcoming people, it is a place that will leave visitors with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the country’s past and present.