Must-Visit Places in Northern Luzon
Summer vacation is almost near, it’s time again to plan your next adventure. There are over 7,000 islands in the country, so you have plenty of wonderful places to choose from. And here, we try our best to provide you as much information as we can on some of the country’s beautiful destinations. Let’s go north first and get acquainted with the most popular tourist spots in Northern Luzon. Since visiting most of these place involves a lot of walking under the scorching sun, don’t forget to bring water to avoid dehydration, wear appropriate clothing, and protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunglasses and applying sunscreen.
Top Tourist Spots in Northern Luzon
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Batanes Islands, Batanes
If you’re one of the many who thought Aparri is the farthest part of the country because of a TV show song, you are wrong. Batanes is a small province in the northernmost part of the Philippines with a population of only 17,000. The province is actually composed of ten islands, but only three of it are inhabited, namely Itbayat, Sabtang, and Batan, the last one being the main island. It’s also the only place in the country where four seasons climate exists, unlike the rest of the country which has only two. The island has become one of the most famous tourist spots in Northern Luzon because if it’s unspoiled emerald hilly paradise. If you plan to visit the island, the best time of the year to go there is from January to March, when it’s cooler.
Where to stay: Troy’s Lodge, Marfel’s Lodge
Where to eat: Fundacion Pacita, Pension Ivatan Restaurant, Bunker’s Cafe
Another one of the must-visit tourist spots in Northern Luzon is the Pagudpod in Ilocos Norte. Pagudpod is known for its gorgeous beaches, perfect place to go during summer. The town is highly accessible as visitors can choose whether to go via plane or bus, depending on their place of origin. Even though Pagudpud is a small town, the place has a lot to offer.
Where to stay: Hannah’s Beach Resort and Convention Center, Kapuluan Vista Resort, Shallen Arron Homestay
Where to eat: BergBlick Deutsches Restaurant, Tartaruga’s Hotel and Restaurant, Kangkang Coffee Shop and Resto
Bangui Windmills in Bangui
Apart from the lovely beaches in Pagudpud, there’s another attraction in Ilocos Norte that’s worth your visit, the Bangui Windmills in Bangui town, the first in Southeast Asia. The wind farm is a project by the Ilocos Norte province in collaboration with Danish government in 1998. Towering at 60 meters high just a few meters away from the shoreline, it’s hard not to notice those large turbines while twirling slowly. Each of the 20 gigantic turbines, which stand 326 meters from each other, can generate at most 1.65 MW of power. It now provides 40 percent of the province’s electric supply, which leaves considerably low carbon footprints with 1.2 million tons of CO2 per year! Simply amazing!
Where to stay: Ace Guesthouse, Pagudpud Backpacker’s Beach House
Where to eat: Kang Kang Windmill Cafe, Isabel Eatery
Malacañang of the North, Paoay
Have you been to the President’s house before? If not yet, you have a chance now. This grand Filipino-Spanish structure in Ilocos Norte was once owned by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and it became the Marcos family’s official residence every time they visit the town, hence the name Malacañang of the North or Malacañang ti Amianan in the local dialect.
This vintage two-story mansion has two living rooms and nine bedrooms with the master bedroom facing the scenic Paoay Lake. Based on the existence of two spacious living rooms, grand ballrooms, and huge dining rooms, it’s probably where the former residents of the house welcome local and foreign VIPs. Also inside the magnificent estate are various antique and interesting pieces, even iconic memorabilia once owned by the Marcos family. When the Marcos regime ended in 1986, the property was sequestered by the new government and was left to rot for two decades until it was turned over to the local government of Ilocos Norte. The province’s governor, Ms. Imee Marcos, daughter of the former president spearheaded the restoration of the place, and in 2005, it’s been opened as a museum and public viewing has been allowed with 20 pesos entrance fee for upkeep.
Where to stay: Plaza Del Norte Hotel and Convention Center
Where to eat: Herencia Cafe Restaurant, Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant, La Preciosa Restaurant
Calle Crisologo, Vigan
Calle Crisologo is Vigan’s main attraction and is one of the famous tourist spots in Northern Luzon. It’s a must-visit place for those who appreciate history as this particular area of Vigan is full of Spanish-style structures that have been preserved for more than a century. For this reason, Calle Crisologo has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and voted as one of the New7Wonders cities. Restaurants, shops, and other establishments in the area have that Spanish-era ambiance that makes tourists want to travel back in time. Calle Crisologo is fascinating, especially at night. Perfect for a romantic walk.
Where to stay: Hotel Salcedo de Vigan, Vigan Plaza Hotel, Ciudad Fernandina Hotel
Where to eat: Cafe Leona, Cafe Uno, Irene’s Empanada
Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
The Hundred Islands in Pangasinan is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in North Luzon. The hundred tiny islets are scattered around Lingayen Gulf, but only four of them are developed. These four islets include the Governor Island, where you can see the Big Brother House built in 2006 for the popular reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition; Marcos Island where there is a cave called Imelda known for being a good cliff-jumping spot; Quezon Island, the biggest and the most developed among the islets; and the Children’s Island where the waters are calm, ideal for children swimming.
Where to stay: Vista de la Islas, Governor’s Island, Maxine by the Sea
Where to eat: Maxine by the Sea, Royal Restaurant, Ate V’s Bistro Grill and Eatery
Kiltepan View Point, Sagada
Kiltepan View Point in Sagada is practically unknown to many until it was featured in the movie That Thing Called Tadhana. Based on the movie, it’s a good place to heal a broken heart, but it does not necessarily mean in love and that inspired people can’t go there.
Where to stay: Sagada Guest House, Lodge Labanet, Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant
Where to eat: Sagada Lemon Pie House, Orange Farm, Yoghurt House, Best location to stay
Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao
The Banaue Rice Terraces are like stepping stones carved by early Filipino ancestors in the mountains of Ifugao and among the tourist spots in Northern Luzon that are visited by a lot of people. The terraces are testaments of how creative Filipinos are. The rice terraces are the result of the Ifugao people trying to farm in a mountainous area. Though not considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 2,000-year-old man-made terraces is a part of National Cultural Treasure. If you decide to visit the place, be there before harvest season in June to July as it’s the time when it’s in its greenest.
Where to stay: Banaue Hotel, Uyami’s Green View Lodge, People’s Lodge and Restaurant
Where to eat: Las Vegas Restaurant, People’s Lodge and Restaurant, Banaue Hotel Restaurant
Camp John Hay, Baguio
Camp John Hay is one of the famous tourist spots in Northern Luzon and the most visited place in Baguio. It used to be a recreation center for exclusive use of the U.S. Army and is complete with facilities such as restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping centers, golf course, and many more. It was turned over to the Philippine government after the RP-US Base Agreement ended in 1991.
Currently, Camp John Hay is leased by a private developer. The best time of the year to go? January, just in time for the Panagbenga Festival. Or you can go there for a summer getaway too!
Where to eat: Le Chef at the Manor, Tender Joe Steakhouse, Choco-late de Batirol