There are a number of hotels plus B&B’s and inns in Vigan, some of which were former ancestral homes, offering reasonably-priced accommodations. Below are some of them:
Visit Vigan and travel through time as you take a calesa ride through the charming cobblestoned streets, dine under the stars surrounded by quaint and historical brick structures and steep yourself in the unique Ilocano culture and heritage.
Vigan is the capital of Ilocos Sur, an island separated from the mainland by the Abra, Mestizo and Govantes Rivers. Long before the Spaniards arrived, Vigan was a seaside trading post with Chinese merchants sailing in from the South China Sea to trade Asian goods in exchange for gold, beeswax and other mountain products.
It was captured by the Spanish in 1572 and developed as a center of Spanish political and religious authority in Northern Luzon. It is also the birthplace of many Philippine heroes and was headquarters to anti-Spanish movements.
Today, Vigan is a World Heritage Site, well-known for its cobblestone streets, Philippine building design fused with European architecture and old-world charm.
A few airlines fly to Laoag International Airport, such as Cebu Pacific (three times a week) and Philippine Airlines (daily). From there it is a 2 ½-hour bus ride to Vigan.
There are air-conditioned buses that leave Manila from their terminals for Vigan on scheduled runs. Travel usually takes between 8 to 9 hours with stopovers for refreshments along the way. Passengers are required to reserve their seats in advance and in person.
Aside from private transportation (car rentals offer self-driven or chauffeur-driven options), there are two novel ways for tourists to get around in Vigan:
- Tricycles: for a minimum fare within city limits, tricycles are a fun way to get around and visit all the must-see destinations in Vigan.
- Calesa rides: these are horse-drawn buggy rides that are a throwback to colonial days and are the recommended mode of getting around in order to maximize the experience offered by the narrow cobblestoned roads and the antiquated town.
Things to See and Do
The Plaza Salcedo features a 17th century monument to Juan de Salcedo and was also the site of resistance leader Gabriela Silang’s 1763 public hanging.
Magnificent ancestral houses paint the portrait of Philippines’ colonial past in the Mestizo District, most notably, in Calle Crisologo. To add to its reputation, the movie Born on the Fourth of July was filmed here.
Originally the residence of Father Jose Burgos, the structure is now a museum that houses Ilocano artifacts, weapons, kitchen utensils, basketry, costumes, jewelry and Burgos’ own mementos. Several dioramas depicting the significant events in Ilocos Sur as well as a mini library can also be found in the Ayala Museum.
Located in Salindeng, Baluarte is a mini zoo where a variety of animals can be viewed, including tigers, ostriches and camels.
A Vigan barrio, this is where tourists can see how the Vigan jars called “burnay” are made.
St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral
Built around 1790 by the Augustinians, it was designed to minimize damage caused by earthquakes. This design is now known as “earthquake baroque”. It became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. The great Ilocano poet Leona Florentino was also buried in the cathedral.
Located adjacent to St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral, it is now the only Archbishop Residence that is still in use dating back to the Spanish era.
Syquia Mansion is the house of former President Elpidio Quirino, the sixth president of the Philippines. It houses President Quirino’s extensive memorabilia and was the venue of some of the President’s functions during his administration.
Other must-see destinations include Plaza Burgos, Crisologo Museum, Hidden Garden, Mindoro Beach Resort, St. Augustine Church and many more.
Eat, Drink and Shop
A range of eateries can be found in Vigan, Below are just some of them:
Café Leona – an homage to Ilocano poet Leona Florentino, this restaurant offers a relaxing ambiance and wide-ranging menu including Filipino, Italian and Japanese. Al fresco dining in the evenings adds to the charm as you dine surrounded by quaint scenery under the stars in Vigan.
Caferia en la Veranda – American-style coffee shop serving coffee, pastries and cakes.
Los Majito’s Street Dining
Viviente’s Pizza House
There are also a few fast foods in the area. But the real treat comes from sampling Vigan’s local snacks, such as Vigan Longganisa, the local sausage; Sinanglao, a soup made from beef innards; Arroz Caldo, rice soup with chicken; Miki, flat noodles in thick soup with meat and eggs; Empanada (must-try!), turnover with filling consisting of eggs, Vigan longganisa/sausage, and vegetables wrapped in a rice flour shell; Okoy, pancake made with shrimp; Tinubong, sticky sweet rice cake in bamboo tubes and Basi, a local wine made from sugarcane, among others.
Vigan City has plenty of antique and souvenir shops, Crisologo and Plaridel Streets in the Mestizo District in particular.