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Ultimate Guide to Vigan

Guide to Vigan

Where to work:

Our recommendation:

The Plaza Hotel offers a cozy co-working space with modern amenities, perfect for freelancers or remote workers seeking a productive environment. Alternatively, Coffee Break Vigan provides a vibrant atmosphere with great coffee and reliable Wi-Fi, making it an ideal spot for collaboration and focused work sessions.

Vigan, offers a delightful array of cafes and restaurants that are perfect for remote work or simply unwinding while enjoying delicious food and drinks. One highly recommended spot is Kusina Felicitas, located within the historic Felicitas Resort. This charming café offers a serene ambiance with its lush garden setting, making it an ideal place to focus on work tasks or simply relax. Their menu features a blend of local and international dishes, along with freshly brewed coffee that will surely keep you energized throughout the day. Another must-visit is Café Leona, situated in the heart of Vigan’s Heritage Village. This cozy café exudes colonial charm and provides ample seating both indoors and outdoors. While working, you can indulge in their delectable Vigan longganisa pasta or savory empanadas paired with a refreshing glass of their signature iced tea. Lastly, for a change of scenery, head to Kape Kesada Artisanal Coffee. Nestled in a quaint corner near Calle Crisologo, this artisanal coffee shop doubles as an art gallery, showcasing the works of local artists. Savor their specialty coffees sourced from local beans while immersing yourself in the vibrant art scene of Vigan. Whether you’re seeking a quiet retreat or a stimulating environment to work in, these cafes and restaurants in Vigan offer the perfect blend of productivity and relaxation.


Where to stay?

If you stay in Manila just for a night or two:

When planning a short stay of one or two nights in Vigan, Philippines, it’s recommended to opt for accommodations located within or near the city’s historic core. Calle Crisologo and its surrounding area, known as the Heritage Village, offer a quintessential Vigan experience with its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Staying in this area allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and cultural heritage, with easy access to iconic landmarks such as the Vigan Cathedral and Plaza Salcedo. Additionally, the convenience of being within walking distance to museums, shops, and restaurants adds to the appeal of lodging in this charming part of town. Whether you choose a boutique hotel, a heritage inn, or a guesthouse, staying in the heart of Vigan ensures a memorable and authentic experience of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For those visiting Vigan, for a short stay of a day or two, there are several charming accommodations that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. Casa Rica Hotel boasts a convenient location near Calle Crisologo, allowing guests easy access to the city’s iconic landmarks and attractions. For travelers seeking a boutique experience, Hotel Felicidad provides stylish rooms within a heritage building, blending modern amenities with timeless elegance, boasting a fusion of traditional architecture and modern comforts, with spacious rooms and a central location near major attractions.


Stay for a week or longer:

For an extended stay of a week or longer in Vigan, Philippines, Hotel Mercante stands out as an exceptional choice. With its prime location in the heart of Vigan’s historic center, guests are immersed in the charm and culture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hotel Mercante offers a range of comfortable and spacious rooms equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable stay. Guests can explore the nearby attractions such as Calle Crisologo and the Vigan Cathedral, and then retreat to the hotel’s rooftop terrace to unwind with panoramic views of the city. With its warm hospitality and convenient amenities, Hotel Mercante provides a memorable and authentic experience for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the rich history of Vigan during an extended stay. 

There are several affordable accommodations offer comfort and convenience without breaking the bank. Consider staying at guesthouses like Cordillera Inn, which offer clean and cozy rooms at reasonable rates. Alternatively, opt for homestays or transient houses scattered around the city, providing an authentic local experience at affordable prices. With strategic locations near Vigan’s historic center, budget travelers can immerse themselves in the city’s rich cultural heritage while enjoying budget-friendly accommodations. 


What to do?

Stay in town:

What Vigan is famous for is its Heritage Site where you can walk down the cobbled streets and see all the old houses. You’ll get to experience what it would’ve been like walking around Vigan back when it was still colonized by the Spaniards. You’ll also be able to find food places and shops to buy your souvenirs from in this area.

Another free activity while you’re in the area is to visit Baluarte Mini Zoo, established by a local politician-businessman. There are various animals to see from reptiles to tigers, they even have a safari gallery displaying various preserved animals.

Bantay Bell Tower is by Saint Augustine Parish Church, a tower with an interesting history and also a good picture spot. If there aren’t many people around when you visit, I would recommend going up the tower to see the refreshing view of Vigan and also get a chance to hit the bell that’s still intact there.

To end your night, I highly recommend going to Plaza Salcedo where they have a scheduled dancing fountain lights in the evening. This spectacle is free and I advise you to go slightly earlier than when it’s scheduled to start so you can secure a good sitting place instead of standing up for the duration of the show.

By Bus:

La Union: A 2.5hr ride south to the province capital San Fernando costing roughly 250 Pesos. If you go to San Juan you’ll be able to try out surfing, which is one of the things that La Union is known for, you’ll be able to find surf schools around the beaches and be catching waves in no time.

Pagudpud: A 4-5 hrs ride north, but you’ll have to do a short trip stopping in Laoag first that will take 2 hrs and cost around 100 Pesos. You then catch a bus from there to Pagudpud and that will add another 2 hrs to your trip with a fare of roughly 120 Pesos. Once you get there you’ll be able to visit the famous Bangui Windmills and Patapat Viaduct where you can take pictures


Where to eat?

Of course, that highly depends on where you stay.

The northern Part of Vigan City is where the main attraction is so that’s where I will be focusing on.

In the center of all the historical buildings is Plaza Burgos, beside Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The plaza is known for its ‘empanadahan’ – one of the local pastries that’s filled with meat and vegetables – and other local street foods. Okoy – shrimp patty – another local food that Ilocos is known for, can also be found around the plaza. However, if street food isn’t what you’re looking for. Plaza Burgos is also surrounded with famous and locally owned food franchises that you can choose from. It’s also a nice place to stroll around before and after meals to learn about some of the history of Vigan.

Xentro Mall is also a good place to go to if you’re looking for a place to eat. Malls tend to have a lot of food choices in one place so it’s an alternative to Plaza Burgos. You’ll find some international franchises in the mall but majority of them are local Filipino branded restaurants; they still provide a wide range of cuisine to choose from. It’s only a 7 mins walk from Plaza Burgos so if you change your mind, it will only be a short walk between the two locations.

For vegans / vegetarian diets:

Cafe Leona is a restaurant along the old streets of Vigan city, named after a famous Ilocano poet-playwright. They serve a wide variety of international and local dishes that can be enjoyed inside their cosy space and in the evening, out on the cobbled streets to enjoy the night breeze. With vegan and vegetarian options available for a mid range pricing, it is one of the places I recommend to try.

Like a local:

A place I recommend is Casa Jardin Empanada & Okoy which serves Ilocano cuisine located in the heart of Vigan. This is one of the go-to restaurants for not only visitors, but also the locals when it was only a small eatery; as their name suggests, their specialty is two of Ilocos’ main delicacies: empanada and okoy. You will get to enjoy your food in the open of their lush garden that will be paired with the famous Ilocos Vinegar for a very budget friendly price range.

For a date / with a view:

Lilong and Lilang is an Ilocano restaurant surrounded by beautiful greenery within Hidden Garden. This is one of the places you’ll pass if you decide to do a kalesa ride in Vigan to take pictures but I would recommend stopping by for some food as well. The pricing for the authentic cuisine is reasonably priced for big portions that’s good for 2-4 people.

How to get to Vigan from: MANILA!

  1. By Bus: The most common and economical way to reach Vigan from Manila is by bus. Several bus companies operate routes between Manila and Vigan, with terminals located in Pasay or Cubao. The journey typically takes around 8-10 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. Look for buses headed to Vigan or Laoag, as these usually pass through Vigan. Once you arrive at Vigan City, you can take a tricycle to reach your accommodation or other destinations within the city.

  2. By Car: If you prefer driving, you can rent a car and take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Manila to Tarlac, then continue on the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) until you reach the Ilocos Sur boundary. From there, follow the National Highway until you reach Vigan City. The journey by car takes approximately 7-8 hours, depending on traffic and driving conditions.

  3. By Plane: While there are no direct flights from Manila to Vigan, you can fly from Manila to Laoag International Airport, which is the nearest airport to Vigan. From Laoag, you can take a bus, van, or hired car to Vigan, which is about a 2-hour drive away.


How to get to Vigan from: CLARK!

  1. Land: Start by taking a bus or van from Clark to Tarlac City. You can find buses or vans bound for Tarlac City at the Dau Bus Terminal or SM City Clark Transport Terminal. The journey typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions. From Tarlac City, you have several options to get to Vigan:

    • Bus: Look for buses bound for Vigan at the Tarlac City bus terminals. These buses usually have direct routes to Vigan, but it’s recommended to confirm with the terminal staff or check the bus schedule in advance.
    • Transfer at Manaoag: Another option is to take a bus bound for Manaoag, Pangasinan, from Tarlac City. Once in Manaoag, you can transfer to a bus bound for Vigan. This route might take longer but could offer more flexibility depending on bus schedules.


How to get to Vigan from: CEBU!

  1. Flight from Cebu to Laoag: Start by booking a flight from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Laoag International Airport. There are several airlines that operate flights between Cebu and Laoag, but flight schedules may vary, so it’s best to check in advance.

  2. Transfer to Vigan from Laoag: Upon arriving at Laoag International Airport, you’ll need to travel to Vigan, which is approximately 80 kilometers away. You have a few options for transportation:

    • Private Transfer: You can arrange for a private car or van transfer from Laoag to Vigan. Many hotels and travel agencies offer this service, and it provides the most convenience and comfort, albeit at a higher cost.

    • Public Bus: Alternatively, you can take a bus from Laoag to Vigan. Several bus companies operate routes between the two cities, including Partas and Farinas. The journey takes around 2-3 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. Buses depart from Laoag’s bus terminals, so you may need to take a tricycle or taxi from the airport to the terminal.

    • Rental Car: If you prefer flexibility and independence, you can rent a car at Laoag Airport and drive to Vigan. Make sure you have a valid driver’s license and are familiar with Philippine traffic rules and regulations.


How to get to Vigan from: DAVAO!

  1. Air and Land: Start by booking a flight from Davao Airport (Francisco Bangoy International Airport) to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. Several airlines operate daily flights between these two airports. Upon arrival at NAIA in Manila, you’ll need to transfer from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. You can either take a taxi or use the airport shuttle service to reach the domestic terminal. Find your flight to Laoag International Airport (LAO) in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. Several airlines offer daily flights to Laoag from Manila. Once again, choose a flight that suits your itinerary. Upon landing at Laoag International Airport, you’ll need to take land transportation to Vigan. The most common option is to take a bus or van from Laoag to Vigan. The journey typically takes around 2 to 3 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.

  2. Air and Land: Alternatively, you can take a flight from Davao Airport to NAIA, Manila and then take a bus from Manila – we recommend Partas as there are plenty of schedules going to Vigan or making stops in Vigan or hire a private transfer. The travel from Manila to Vigan will take roughly 7 hours so a tip is to travel at night so you sleep through the journey. 

Once you arrive:

  1. Hotel Transfer: Whether by bus, private car, or other means, many hotels offer transfer services for their guests. If you’ve arranged for such a service, look for a representative holding a sign with your name or the hotel’s name near the arrival area. Alternatively, you can inquire about transfer services when making your hotel reservation or contact the hotel directly beforehand to arrange transportation.
  2. Tricycles/motorcycle taxis: They are readily available throughout Vigan. You can easily hail one outside the bus terminal or other arrival points. Negotiate the fare with the driver before starting your journey, as rates may vary depending on the distance and your destination within Vigan.
  3. Public transportation: Jeepneys and tricycles are the primary modes of travel within the city. Jeepneys operate along designated routes and are an affordable option for getting around Vigan and nearby areas. Tricycles, on the other hand, offer more flexibility as they can navigate narrower streets and take you directly to your destination.

Whichever mode of transportation you choose, Vigan’s compact size makes it easy to explore on foot as well. Many of the city’s attractions, including Calle Crisologo and the Vigan Cathedral, are within walking distance of each other, allowing you to immerse yourself in the charm and history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site at your own pace.