If you are fond of antiques or anything vintage, Vigan City is a must-see.
About the City
Vigan is a city located at Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It is known for it’s unique architectures that is a fusion of Asian and Spanish influences. The streets, houses and establishments that you will see there will definitely give you an old-and-historic vibe. Also, their most famous food, the emapanada, is a must-try! The empanada is somewhat similar to a fried taco because of the vegetable and meat fillings and it is as tasty but it is often served with their very own Ilocos vinegar.
On the Way
Our group have decided to meet at around one o’clock in the morning because our estimate time of travel is 5 to 6 hours. (We are from Pampanga. Travelling time may vary depending on where you’re coming from.) If you are from Manila or Ninoy Aquino International Airport, you actually have two options: you can either ride a plane (landing at Laoag International Airport) or travel 7.5 hours by land.
As we reach upon Ilocos Sur, the group decided to take a stop first because it is still early for our hotel check-in. We killed our time at a beach in Santiago (a municipality in Ilocos Sur). The place is really simple and quiet. It is perfect for relaxation. We had our breakfast there (local cuisine is really good) and had some good time walking and playing down the beach. (Tip: Do not forget your sun block. The sun gets really hot in the North) While some of us chose that time to have a proper sleep. After like three hours, we decided to get going. Santiago is still an hour away from Vigan and we got there just in time.
First stop, of course, is the hotel. Our group checked-in at Hotel ni Among by around noon time. The hotel has a very cozy ambiance, staffs are accomodating and prices are really affordable (ranges from 800-1,200 pesos per night). The rooms are air conditioned and has enough space for everyone, the garden is wide and beautifully landscaped and most importantly, it has a swimming pool! Overall, I certainly recommend this hotel to all travellers that are planning to go to Vigan.
The Baluarte Zoo
Baluarte is one of the recommended tourist spots in Vigan. It is ten minutes away from our hotel and has free entrance but offers a ride to tour the vicinity that costs two hundred pesos only for eight persons. It’s open for everybody.
The place is not that big but it’s definitely competitive for a zoo that doesn’t charge people for their entrance. Aside from the variety of animals that you will see there, it also features the “Golden Building” and Safari Gallery of Mr. Chavit Singson (it’s owner).
The Golden Building is an establishment that is made of gold. It’s nothing much more than that but people keeps on talking about it because it is actually a mansion of a political figure (the owner). We also have the Safari Gallery. The gallery displays the head of real animals that is said to be captured by Mr. Singson himself. All the heads and other displayed animals are life-sized and all looks too real. The deer heads are displayed at the upper portion of the gallery while some big animals like the elephant, hippopotamus and tiger are displayed at the center of the gallery’s floor. They are all very big. You will also see there pictures of Mr. Singson holding a gun and the dead animal as a proof of him hunting them. It’s kind of creepy at first but after some time, you’ll learn to loosen up and actually enjoy the exhibition.
The Vigan Plaza
After the tiring, sticky and sweaty tour at the zoo, we decided to look for some refreshments at the Plaza Salcedo. Vigan is basically a very small city so the Plaza is just 12 minutes away from the zoo and just like everything in there, it is small and vintage.
At the plaza, you will see the Saint Paul Cathedral, a monument at the city square, and the City Hall. We went there at around three o’clock in the afternoon and the sun is blazing hot so we immediately went to the nearest air conditioned facility: the McDonald’s. Of course, along with all other establishments (banks, Watsons, drug stores, boutique shops, restaurants and banks), their McDonald’s has a vintage design too. It was definitely cool looking at all the picturesque establishments. When you’re used to living in a city, the surroundings in Vigan are new to the eyes.
The Dancing Fountains
During the night, after our siesta time, the group decided to watch the Dancing Fountains. The show starts at 7:30 in the evening and it lasts for thirty minutes. During the weekends, it has an additional schedule at 8:30 PM. It is held in the Plaza Salcedo Square. With the colorful lights and restless water all over the place dancing to the tune of some playful music, it is definitely a beautiful sight!
We found out that another highlight of the show is the people taking a shower in the middle of it! They are actually carrying their soaps and washes themselves with the water from the fountains. It’s fun watching them, though, because you can see that everyone’s just enjoying themselves.
Calle Crisologo is one of the — if not most — famous spot in Vigan. It’s a long street that looks very much Spanish. There are lots of heritage houses and red tiles that is perfect for photo shoots. The locals there offer a calesa ride (it is a horse-drawn ride used here in the Philippines) to tour the whole street for five hundred pesos only. It is actually a reasonable price considering the length of the whole street.
During the day, you can actually buy your pasalubongs here. There are many available items for you to choose from: keychains, food (vigan longganisa and empanada), tshirts, door mats, wooden crafts and many more antique goods.
During the night though, the feels are very romantic. Most restaurants there are playing some classic, soothing music. And it’s very tempting to greet everyone as Senyor or Senyorita.
Our trip in the place was short but definitely fun. So what are you waiting for? Go now and discover the beautiful city of Vigan.