Paoay Church or Iglesia de San Agustin de Paoay is located at Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines which was completed in 1710. The baroque architecture church is declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1973 by the Philippine Government and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 along with the other baroque churches in the Philippines.
The church is made up of coral stone and bricks. There are 24 massive buttresses on the side of the church and at the back making the structure an earthquake baroque design.
The bell tower on the right side of the church is a three-story coral stone tower. It was said the bell tower played a major part during the Katipuneros revolution serving as an observation post.
Paoay Lake National Park
Paoay Lake is the largest lake in the province of Ilocos Norte. It is a freshwater lake with different resorts around the area.
The lake was called Lago de Nanguyudan was supposed to be a barangay. The barangay was called San Juan de Sahagun that sank after an earthquake.
Another place to see in Paoay is the Malacanang of the North, a presidential museum and the residence of the family of President Ferdinand Marcos during his term. The museum is around Paoay Lake.
Fort Ilocandia is located on the coastline of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. The only 5-star hotel in the northern Philippines in an over of 77 hectares of land in the sand dunes and pine forests. The 2-kilometer sandy beach bar is overlooking the West Philippines Sea.
There are 5 function rooms for gatherings, events, conventions and conferences. There are 5 restaurants inside: Café Ilocandia, Red and Asian Restaurant, Palms Bar, Sunset Lounge and Piano Lounge.
What are the things to do in Fort Ilocandia? Since it’s a little far from Laoag City, you could enjoy your stay here doing different things like paintball, basketball, beach volleyball driving range, horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage, archery, tennis, and others.
There are water activities like swimming, snorkeling, boating and beach bumming in the sand. A few kilometers near Fort Ilocandia is the Paoay Sand Dunes.
Laoag is the capital of Ilocos Norte. It is also known as the Sunshine City. It is the gateway to Pagudpod and Bangui Windmills.
One of the famous landmarks in Laoag is the Laoag Cathedral located after the bridge on the right side. It is also known as Saint William Cathedral that was built by Augustinian friars in 1612 which features Italian Renaissance design.
Sinking Bell Tower
Located near the church is the sinking bell tower. The tower sinks into the ground at a rate of an inch per year and used to have a big clock on the tower’s western face. Near the tower is a park named Aurora Park.
Museo Ilocos Norte
The museum was an old Tabacalera warehouse that showcased the cultural heritage of the Ilocos Region. It is located in V. Llanes Street, one block away from Aurora Park.
La Paz Sand Dunes
Another place to see in Laoag is the La Paz Sand Dunes, the original sandboarding in Ilocos Norte with an 85 sq. km. protected sandy coastal desert and beach.
The capital of Ilocos Sur is Vigan. Here are the other notable places of Ilocos Sur that I had been to. These are landmarks on the way to Vigan.
Sulvec Point is on the coastline of Narvacan, in which you can also see a grotto in a rock. The grotto can be viewed along the highways. it is also known as grotto by the sea and also called Paraiso ni Juan. The beach area is called Sulvec Beach with stunning rock formations and brown rock sands. A Spanish boat was shipwrecked in this coastline led by Captain Juan de Salcedo, hence the name of the place.
Narvacan Church of St. Lucy Parish Church
One of the famous places in Narvacan is the baroque church called St. Lucy Parish Church or Narvacan Church. It is established by the Augustinians and is also the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. There’s a belfry near the church.
Quirino Bridge is an iconic symbol of Ilocos Sur. When you reached the bridge, it also means that you are near the historical Vigan City. The bridge is traversing the Abra river. It is sandwiched between two mountains. The old bridge is preserved as a tourist attraction and is built in honor of President Elpidio Quirino.
The new bridge was a replacement for the typhoon stricken old bridge and was inaugurated in 2009.
The National Museum Vigan Branch or Padre Burgos House is located along Padre Burgos Street. It is one of the branches of the National Museum displaying archaeological artifacts from the Spanish era.
Padre Burgos House is included in the Vigan Heritage Tour. The entrance is also free and the museum is open from Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM. For weekends and holidays, the visit to the museum is by appointment.
The museum is the ancestral house and birthplace of Padre Jose Burgos. There are memorabilia of Padre Burgos and his family. There are artifacts from Iloco-Kankanay-Itneg material culture. Dioramas, old books and liturgical collections are displayed in the museum.
I’d been to Vigan for so many times and I was only looking at the famous heritage street and dining at their famous restaurant and enjoying street food like empanada and okoy in Plaza Burgos. We tried the one-day heritage tour in Vigan. We explored the Vigan heritage village while riding the calesa.
National Museum or Padre Burgos House
Our next stop was the National Museum or Padre Burgos House along the Padre Burgos Street.
Bantay Church Bell Tower and Saint Augustin Parish Church
Next destination is the Bantay Church Bell Tower in the nearby town of Bantay. The Belfry was a watchtower in the Spanish era. It is located in Rizal Street.
We also went up to the bell tower and found the view of the Quirino bridge and the cemetery. Then we went to the Saint Augustine Parish Church.
Our next stop is the Punta Baluarte, owned by Gov. Chavit Singson. It is a mini-zoo with a butterfly garden, a track for horse riding, and a skeet shooting range and open to the public.
It is located along Quirino Boulevard which houses different animals. The private area where the resort complex is located and the multi-story house of the former governor lies in hectares of lands that stretches in the plain towards the hills.
After which we went to the Hidden Garden. Located in Katipunan Street, Hidden Garden is a hidden gem with a restaurant called Lilong and Liliang, a beautifully landscaped garden and superb potteries. The restaurant offers the Ilocano specialty dishes like empanada, pinakbet, bagnet, warek-warek and many others.
One of the famous tourist destination in North Luzon is Vigan. It is owned by a prominent Versoza family of Vigan. The entrance of the heritage house is located along Quirino Boulevard but has a backdoor along De Los Reyes Street. It is a few blocks away from the Vigan Heritage Village.
The house was built in 1870 and was named for their matriarch Angela Versoza Villanueva. The house was a gallery of the mementos of the family which they displayed in the house and admired by the visitors and guests.
The house was restored by descendants in the eighties. It is also one of the locations of the famous movie Jose Rizal. Tom Cruise also stayed in the heritage house during his film shoot in 1989. A picture of him hangs in the walls along with the photos of the Versoza clan.
There are private rooms for the guests. I was able to stay in one of the rooms with a bathroom inside and another room without a bathroom. There is a common bathroom in the second floor outside the kitchen area. In the first floor is a dormitory for groups.
Breakfast is served in their antique dining area were we could see the antique kitchen objects like pots, porcelain and china wares. Guests enjoys the living room area with huge windows made of capiz. Old personal furniture of the Versoza clan are found in the house.
Vigan is said to be a living museum. The historic city of Vigan was announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 2, 1999. It is a vivid memory of the rich Spanish era in our country.
The Vigan Heritage Village is proof that we have a rich Spanish culture.
Century-old houses were built in the 1600s. Calle Crisologo is the major attraction in Vigan. It is four blocks of cobblestone streets lined up with heritage houses of prominent families. Different hotels, restaurants and stores lined up the heritage village.
The famous Plaza Burgos is where we eat street foods and the Vigan specialty empanada and okoy. The Church Bell Tower is also located here.
St. Paul’s Church
Across the Plaza is the old century church known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle or St. Paul’s Church. It is a baroque architectural style.
In front of the church is Plaza Salcedo, a monument dedicated to our national hero Jose Rizal, President Elpidio Quirino, Padre Burgos. Gabriela Silang was executed by public hanging in 1763.
At night there’s a fountain dance and colorful lights for the Philippine archipelago.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395, three years after the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty.
It was the main royal palace located at Jungno District in Seoul. The palace was the largest of the “Five Great Palaces.”
Mount Bukhan is seen as the backdrop of Gyeongbokgung Palace with Gwanghwamum Gate as the main entrance of the palace upfront.
There are 5 more different gates in the palace, different Ojeon or Outer courts, Naejeon or Inner Courts, Donggung of the palace of the Crown Prince, Pavillions and bridges.
Geuojeongjeon is the throne hall of the King where visitors and audiences come to the hall during the Joseon Dynasty.
One of the events that people would love to see is the changing of the guards in Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is done twice daily when the Sumunjang or royal guard watches over the Gwanghwamun Gate.
How to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace
From the Jongno-3-ga Station, use the Line 3. Tickets are available outside the palace gate.
Changdeokgong Palace and Huwon are located in Jongno-gu, Seoul It is listed as UNESCO World Heritage it is one of the “Five Great Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty.
It is also known as the East Palace. The palace was built between River Geumcheon in the front and Peak Maebong of Mount Bukhan at the back.
There are different places to see in the palace. The famous ones are the following:
Changdeokjong Injeongjeon or Changdeokjong Palace Complex is the main palace hall where the kings and officials would gather. In front of the hall are stone markers inscribed with the ranks of each court officials were.
Seonjeongjeon or King’s Council Hall was where the king and the high officials also use Seonjeongjeon to discuss state affairs.
Other places are Huijeongdang: King’s Residence and Daejeojon or Queen’s residence.
How to get to Changdeokgung Place and Huwon
Our hotel is in Hoehyeon using Line 4. We transferred to Seoul Station in Line 1 going to Jongno-3-ga Station and went to exit 6. Tickets are available outside the palace in Donhwamun or the Main Gate. There’s a separate ticket going to the Huwon or Secret Garden.
For other posts about South Korea, please check: Autumn in South Korea, Nami Island, Petite France, South Korea