VIGAN: A PRACTICAL TRAVEL GUIDE FOR DIY & BUDGET TRAVELERS [UPDATED as of 2021]

Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Vigan Tourism office at (077) 722-8771 to 75 local 104 or Ilocos Sur Provincial Tourism office at +63 927 918 8882 to know the latest update.

Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!

Traveling to Vigan for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended tours and transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!

START HERE!

VIGAN AT A GLANCE

Located in the northern part of Luzon in the Philippines, the UNESCO World Heritage city of VIGAN is arguably the finest illustration of a 16th-century Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its townscape is made up of well laid-out ancestral houses that are designed with red tile roofs, thick walls, huge wooden doors, high ceiling rooms and sliding capiz shell windows separated only by an intersecting pavements of broadly rectangular quarried stones in a grid street pattern that represents a coming together of the old European, Chinese and Filipino architecture.

While here, feel the city come alive at daylight with the busy flow of commerce in most of the lower floors of the houses and the clattering sounds of horse-drawn carriages called kalesa; then witness how it slows down in the evening and turn into a tranquil block of old houses where you can freely walk on its street of cobblestones with golden overhead lamps guiding your very steps.

Pagburnayan Pottery Making in Vigan
The Burnay jars. The making of these jars started as far back as pre-Spanish colonial times and has been sought-after by foreign and locals for how uniquely it is made, which only uses the skillful hands of the potter and a wheel.

The heritage city of Vigan uses the three-wheeled tricycle in getting around its areas with a P10 minimum fare, depending on its distance from the town. Tourists however, prefer to ride a kalesa as they go on tour to  better feel the old and Hispanic vibe of the place. Fare is P150 per hour per carriage.

WHERE TO STAY IN VIGAN

The best place to stay in Vigan is anywhere near Calle Crisologo where the action mostly happens, at day and night time. Here are some of the top-rated hotels and accommodations that are near the area. Click the photo for more details.

ZEN ROOMS HAPPY GREY
Rating: 8.7 | Price: P950 for a family room good for 3 persons
CIUDAD FERNANDINA HOTEL
Rating: 8.6 | Price: P2,552 for a room good for 2 adults and 2 kids
PARADORES DE VIGAN
Rating: 9.2 | Price: P3,555 for a room good for 3 adults and 2 kids
BALAY KAHEL
Rating: 9.2 | Price: P1,511 for a family room good for 3 persons
ZEN ROOMS CASA MARITA
Rating: 9.3 | Price: P1,805 for a family room good for 4 adults and 2 kids
HOTEL LAPIRA
Rating: 8.3 | Price: P2,185 for a room good for 3 adults and 2 kids

HOW TO GET TO VIGAN

Vigan can be reached both by air and land.

Getting to Vigan By Air

You may take the flight offered by Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific from Manila, Cebu and Davao which will get you to Laoag City. From Laoag airport, head out to the city proper on a tricycle. At the city proper, ride a bus to Vigan. Travel consumes 2 hours the most. Fare is P300. The buses to Vigan will only be up until 6:00 p.m. Past that, you will have to take a bus bound for Manila or Baguio. Tell the driver that you will head out to Vigan.

The ostrich of Baluarte Zoo
Behold the ostrich of Baluarte zoo. Don’t stare. Just don’t. 😀

Getting to Vigan By Land

Access to Vigan by land is possible from these areas in Luzon.

  • Manila to Vigan – travel time is 9 hours, depending on the traffic situation. From Manila, take a Partas, Florida or Farinas bus to Vigan. Lowest fare is P665. Bus stations are located in Cubao and Pasay. Bus trip will only be available until 10:00 p.m. (If you are looking for a travel guide for Manila, check this link: Manila Budget Travel Guide)
  • Clark to Vigan – From Clark airport, head out to the shuttle service or ride a taxi and drop off to Dau Bus terminal where you can take the bus for Vigan. Shuttle service is P100. Travel time to Vigan is 7-9 hours, bus fare is around P800.
  • Baguio to Vigan – Take the buses bound for Laoag and drop off in Vigan. Travel time from Baguio is 5 hours, depending on the traffic situation. Bus fare is P400.

TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN VIGAN

Here are top seven (7) tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour while in Vigan.

CALLE CRISOLOGO

Calle Crisologo

The very first image that will come up when you search for Vigan, Calle Crisologo is a charming piece of history at the heart of the town that cradles the ancestral houses that make Vigan the heritage site that it is. At daylight, the street is jam-packed with local shops selling the best products of Vigan  from antiques, woven products and woodcrafts to wine, jewelry and street eats. Stay up at night when the place returns to its stillness and marvel how Calle Crisologo becomes a romantic place; walk the street with someone significant and make memories. 😉

Rating: 4/5

SYQUIA MANSION MUSEUM

Syquia Mansion

Syquia Mansion Museum is one of the many ancestral houses in Vigan that showcase the beauty of colonial Spanish architecture. The mansion was home of the late Elpidio Quirino, the 6th President of the Philippines. Entrance fee is P20. The museum opens at 9:00 a.m.

Rating: 3/5

PAGBURNAYAN POTTERY

Pagburnayan Pottery

There are 2 pottery making factories in Vigan which are situated across each other; one is owned by Philippine National Artist in pottery Fidel Go. These factories serve as a blood pump to the dying art of pottery making. Both factories are welcoming to guests who want to try a hands-on pottery making for free. They also sell souvenir items made of clay for a reasonable amount. The factories open at 7:00 a.m.

Rating: 3/5

DANCING FOUNTAIN AT PLAZA SALCEDO

Dancing Fountain in Vigan

The dancing fountain is a daily spectacle held at Plaza Salcedo at exactly 7:30 p.m. (another at 8:30 p.m. on weekends) for 30 minutes. Witness the fountains dance in beautiful colors to the tune of good oldies and the sound of modern music.

Rating: 3/5

BANTAY BELL TOWER & CHURCH

Bantay Bell Tower

Located at Bantay, Ilocos Sur – the Bantay Bell Tower served as a watchtower for raiding pirates during the Spanish era. Climb up to the tower top and enjoy a breathtaking view of Ilocos Sur. There is no entrance fee but donations are greatly appreciated for the maintenance of this heritage site.

Rating: 3/5

BALUARTE ZOO

Baluarte Zoo

Baluarte zoological park in Vigan is owned by Chavit Singson, a politician and businessman. It features a number of live animals: ostrich, tigers, lions, ducks, camels, kangaroos, and deers among others. There is also a butterfly garden and a gallery which showcase the owner’s collection from his trip to Safari. There is no entrance fee. Operating hours is from 6:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Visit early in the morning to catch the animals as they are fed and released to a vast open field.

Rating: 3/5

ABEL LOOM WEAVING

Abel Loom Weaving

Marvel at the intricacy and appreciate how much labor is put into each woven fabric at Abel Loom weaving. The place is located at the town of Caoayan, southern part of Vigan city. Entrance is free.

Rating: 3/5

TOP THINGS TO DO IN VIGAN

Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in the city of Vigan.

  • Stroll the streets of Calle Crisologo during the blue hour and feel the wondrous delight it brings after a busy day.
  • Experience authentic Ilocano cuisine by pigging out on some of the local favorites such as bagnet, empanada and longganisa.
  • Try a hands-on pottery making experience on any of the Pagburnayan factories.
  • Ride a kalesa and feel the colonial Spanish vibe around Vigan.
Pagburnayan Pottery

VIGAN SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET

Vigan can be enjoyed from sunup to sundown, but it can also be stretched to an itinerary for 2 to 3 days.

The most popular way of getting around the top tourist spots of Vigan, and quite a recommended tour, is by riding the kalesa which will take you to 8-10 key places. Price per hour per carriage is P150. In an average, the tour to top destinations in Vigan will take for about 3 hours depending on your stay for each place. An alternative is by going around on a tricycle or a van which can be arranged with your hotel or with any available public vehicle driver outside Calle Crisologo.

Here is a suggested DIY itinerary for Vigan tour that is good for 1 day only. Estimated budget per person for a party of two is P900.00.

ActivityTimeBudget
Breakfast7:00AMP100
To Baluarte Zoo7:30AMP50
Baluarte Zoo8:00AM
Abel Loom Weaving9:30AMP10
Bantay Church and Bell Tower10:00AMP10
Pagburnayan Pottery11:00AMP10
Back to Calle Crisologo11:30AMP10
Lunch at Café Leona12:00PMP200
Kalesa Tour1:00PMP300
Calle Crisologo
Syquia MansionP20
Arce Mansion
Plaza Salcedo
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Snacks at Burgos Empanadahan3:00PMP50
Buy Souvenir Items4:00PM
Stroll Around Calle Crisologo5:00PM
Dinner at Café Uno6:00PMP200
Dancing Fountain7:30PM
Calle Crisologo at night
Calle Crisologo at night

USEFUL PHRASES

English is widely understood in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. But in case you want to speak the local tongue, here are phrases that proved to be useful.

English to Ilocano ( the most prevalent language among the locals in city of Vigan)

Thank You – Agyamanak
Good Morning – Naimbag a bigat
Good Afternoon – Naimbag a malem
Good Evening – Naimbag a rabii
How Much? – Sagmamano daytoy?
Where is… – Sadino ti…

Baluarte Zoo
A kangaroo in Baluarte zoo. “Hey, hooman.”

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

Complete your trip to the north by visiting Pagudpud and Laoag. Check out the budget travel guides below:

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Leaning on our boat at Punta Sibaring 1. This photo was taken during a high tide.

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