VIGAN CITY Travel Guide – The Heritage City of the North
Vigan is the capital city of Ilocos Sur. It is part of the New7Wonders Cities and UNESCO World Heritage Sites for being one of the remaining cities that were able to preserve the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines.
My visit here is a totally a different experience for me. I like walking along the streets of Vigan, particularly at Calle Crisologo it made me feel like I am on a movie set – those ancestral houses, different old structures, horse-drawn carriages called “calesa“, and its cobblestone streets. Wow! It is indeed the Heritage City of the North.
Although Vigan City can be toured in one whole day, I would still suggest staying 2 to 3 more days here just so you could take your time exploring the area without being in a rush.
VIGAN CITY SHORT HISTORY
Even before the Spaniards came, Vigan was already a trading port. Chinese traders sailing from the South China Sea usually came to Isla de Vigan (Island of Vigan) by the Mestizo River that surrounded the island. They used to trade with the local settlers gold, beeswax, and other mountain products.
Between 1645 to 1660, Vigan was divided into 21 “Cabezas de Barrio” (Town Mayors) as mentioned in the Libro de Casamiento (Book of Marriage); from the records of the parish house of Vigan found in its Archives. Separated from the indigenous population, the Chinese migrants were residents in a neighborhood called El Pariancillo, los Sangleyes del Parian (The Sangleyes of the Parian), and the Spanish settlers were residents in a town called Los Españoles de la Villa (The Town´ Spaniards).
During the Philippine Revolution of 1896 to 1898, Philippine Revolutionary forces, supported by the Ilocano rebels, attacked and defeated the Spanish Colonial forces and captured the city in the Siege of Vigan. Starting from the Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1901, American Colonial troops occupied the city. Forces led by Col. James Parker occupied the Cathedral. (source: Philippine Cities)
Vigan Tourist Spots Map
HOW TO GET TO VIGAN CITY
From Manila, we took a night trip bus and we arrived in Vigan City early the next morning. The trip takes about eight to ten hours long.
The most common way to go to Vigan City is by taking a bus. Buses are the cheapest way to travel to Vigan. There are many bus lines to choose from, but their prices do not differ that much from one another.
FARINAS (Passby) – Manila (02) 731-4507 | Aircon WiFi
● GV FLORIDA (Passby) – Manila (02) 781-5849 | Aircon WiFi
● MARIA DE LEON (Passby) – Manila (0916) 717-2545 & (0909) 344-9661 | Aircon WiFi
● PARTAS (Direct) – Manila (02) 743-3242 | Pasay (02) 852-8194 | Cubao (02) 727-8275 | Aircon WiFi
● RCJ BUS LINES (Passby) – Manila (02) 741-2994 | Aircon
● VIRON TRANSIT (Direct) – Manila (02) 741-6588 & (02) 731-8620 & (02) 726-7409 | Aircon WiFi
You can also get to Vigan from Baguio and Pampanga. Just go to the bus terminal and look for a bus that will go to Vigan.
►BOOK YOUR BUS TICKET HERE VIA 12GoAsia. or BOOK via Klook
By Private Car/Van
From Manila, the ride will take roughly 8 to 10 hours. You can also hire private van tours that will take you directly to Vigan from destinations in Luzon.
There is no direct flight from Manila to Vigan. Another option is to take a plane going to Laoag City, and from there, take a two-hour bus ride to Vigan. ►CHECK HERE FOR THE CHEAPEST FLIGHT TO LAOAG
HOW TO GET AROUND VIGAN CITY
The main mode of transportation in Vigan City is Tricycles and Calesa (horse-drawn carriages). The minimum fare is ₱15.00 per person, rising up to ₱20.00 or more as one gets farther out.
VIGAN ORGANIZED / PACKAGED TOURS
When we arrived at Vigan City, tricycle drivers, and Calesa Cutsero approached us offering a tour. We opt for Calesa since we haven’t tried it before. It cost us ₱200.00 each.
Tours around Vigan City can either be availed via tricycles or karitela. While I prefer the latter for a more complete old-world experience, the former can be convenient especially if you’re pressed for time. Tour fees are computed at ₱150.00 per hour, per vehicle. A karitela can comfortably seat four individuals, so the more you are within the coach, the cheaper it is.
Alternatively, you can book a tour online. My most trusted platform for booing tours is via Klook.
WHERE TO STAY IN VIGAN CITY
There are different options for places to stay while in Vigan City depending on your budget. My advice is to find a place near the Meztizo District where Calle Crisologo is located since most of the tourist spots and restaurants are only a hop away from there.
First, if you have a budget try Hotel Luna but if you don’t like here are some of my recommendations.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN VIGAN CITY
Vigan City thrives because of its history, so expect a lot of historical walks and museums in the area. From old colonial churches, cobblestone street, to restored ancestral houses; history buffs would have a field day roaming around town. But besides these, the city also offers other attractions; it has a black sand beach, a free-roaming zoo, pottery shops and abel textile workstations.►BOOK DISCOUNTED TOURS IN VIGAN
TOURIST SPOTS ATTRACTIONS IN VIGAN
I had a great time in Vigan. Here are the tourist spots we visited.
Whenever I search for Vigan on the internet the first thing that comes out is Calle Crisologo. Me and my friends enjoyed our stroll here. There are a lot of old structure houses that for some reason bring charm to the city. It is beautiful during day time but more lively during nighttime. It was our first time here so we did a local tour in a calesa.
SYQUIA MANSION MUSEUM
Syquia Mansion Museum was home to the late Elpidio Quirino, the 6th President of the Philippines. This ancestral house is a great place to look back at how rich people lived in the past. The entrance fee is P20. The museum opens at 9:00 a.m and closes at 5:00 pm.
If you want to try hands-on pottery visit Pagburnayan Pottery. There is also another one just across this that you could check out. They are open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This shop is owned by the Philippine National Artist in pottery Fidel Go.
Plaza Salcedo is just a walking distance from Calle Crisologo. At night there’s a dancing fountain held daily at exactly 7:30 p.m. (another at 8:30 p.m. on weekends) for 30 minutes.
BANTAY BELL TOWER & CHURCH
Bantay Bell Tower served as a watchtower for raiding pirates during the Spanish era. There is no entrance fee here but they accept donations. There is a church nearby for those who wanted to visit.
Baluarte zoological park in Vigan is owned by the politician businessman – Chavit Singson. Operating hours are from 6:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
VIGAN ONE DAY ITINERARY / DAY TOUR / DAYTRIP
₱1,500.00 PER PERSON excluding transportation going from Vigan and back to Manila.
• Early morning arrival
• Breakfast – ₱150.00 | AVERAGE BREAKFAST MEAL WITH DRINKS
• Avail of Calesa Tour
₱300.00 | ₱150.00/HOUR RATE, WILL TAKE ABOUT 3-4HOURS
• Lunch – ₱200.00 | AVERAGE BREAKFAST MEAL WITH DRINKS
• Continue Calesa Tour
• Finish tour at Calle Crisologo, buy souvenirs
• Visit Burgos Plaza and Vigan Cathedral
• Afternoon snack at Plaza Burgos Empanadahan
₱100.00 | AVERAGE MEAL WITH DRINKS
• Watch the Dancing Fountain show at Plaza Salcedo
• Dinner – ₱200.00 | AVERAGE MEAL WITH DRINKS
• Depart Vigan
We actually extend our trip to the north by going to Pagudpud, Paoay and Laoag. Check out the budget travel guides below:
WHAT ARE THE THINGS TO PACK
- Sarong for Beach
- Naturehike Canvas Camping Blanket
- Waterproof bag
- Camera / Action Cam
- Snorkeling Gear
- Phone waterproof case
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