Ilocos Sur Province

Situated in the northern region of the Philippines, Ilocos Sur boasts a vibrant history that dates back to pre-colonial times. 

The province flourished as an early trading hub between locals and foreign merchants, eventually becoming a prominent Spanish colony in the 16th century. 

Today, the relics of its storied past seamlessly blend with the contemporary aspects of Ilocano life, creating a unique and captivating atmosphere.

The Captivating Geography and Climate of Ilocos Sur

Ilocos Sur, nestled along the western coast of Luzon, enchants visitors with its diverse landscapes. 

The province features picturesque shorelines along the West Philippine Sea, while the rugged Cordillera Mountain Range frames its eastern side. 

Blessed with a tropical climate, Ilocos Sur experiences abundant sunshine and rainfall, nurturing a lush environment and a wealth of natural attractions.

Ilocos Sur: A Cornerstone of Philippine History and Culture

As a crucible of cultural exchange, Ilocos Sur played a crucial role in shaping Philippine history. 

The province witnessed pivotal moments, from Spanish colonization to the Philippine Revolution and the birth of the Philippine Republic. 

Home to revered national heroes and a well-preserved colonial city, Ilocos Sur stands as a testament to the resilience and rich heritage of the Filipino people.

The Alluring Beauty of Ilocos Sur

Marvelous Natural Wonders

  1. The Blue Lagoon of Cabugao Nestled in the coastal town of Cabugao, it enchants visitors with its crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine white sand. Often compared to a hidden paradise, the lagoon invites travelers to bask in the sun, swim in the refreshing waters, or unwind in the serene surroundings.
  2. Pinsal Falls Located in Santa Maria, Pinsal Falls stands as the largest waterfall in Ilocos Sur. With its awe-inspiring cascades surrounded by lush foliage, Pinsal Falls offers a refreshing retreat for nature lovers. Visitors can enjoy a rejuvenating swim or explore the ancient footprints etched into the rocks, believed to be left by legendary giants.
  3. The Quirino Bridge and Banaoang View Deck The Quirino Bridge, an engineering marvel, spans the Abra River and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. A visit to the nearby Banaoang View Deck allows travelers to capture the breathtaking panorama of Ilocos Sur’s landscape, leaving a lasting impression of the province’s natural beauty.

Timeless Historical Landmarks

  1. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan Vigan, the provincial capital, is a living testament to Ilocos Sur’s rich colonial past. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city showcases preserved Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic structures. A stroll along Calle Crisologo transports visitors back in time, offering a unique glimpse into the Philippines’ colonial era.
  2. Bantay Church Bell Tower The Bantay Church Bell Tower, built in the 16th century, is an iconic landmark in Ilocos Sur. Initially serving as a watchtower to warn locals of impending danger, it now offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The historic church beside the tower features intricate Baroque architecture and is a testament to the region’s deep-rooted faith.
  3. Baluarte Zoo and Interactive Wildlife Sanctuary Owned by former Governor Chavit Singson, Baluarte Zoo serves as a haven for a diverse range of local and exotic animal species. The sanctuary promotes wildlife conservation and environmental education, offering visitors an immersive experience through close encounters with the animals and interactive exhibits.

A Taste of Authentic Ilocano Cuisine

  1. Bagnet, Empanada, and Longganisa Ilocos Sur’s culinary delights are as rich and diverse as their history. Savor the crispy, deep-fried pork goodness of Bagnet, a local delicacy best paired with Ilocano vinegar. Experience the flavorful Empanada, a stuffed pastry filled with vegetables, egg, and Longganisa, the province’s distinctively garlicky and savory sausage.
  2. Pinakbet and Sinanglao Pinakbet, a flavorful vegetable stew, combines local produce like eggplant, okra, and bitter gourd with fermented shrimp paste, creating a uniquely Ilocano taste sensation. Sinanglao, a sour and savory beef soup, features tender beef and innards simmered in a tangy tamarind broth, perfect for warming the soul.
  3. The Delightful Local Dessert, “Tupig” Complete your Ilocano gastronomic journey with a taste of Tupig, a local dessert made from glutinous rice flour, coconut, and molasses. Wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over an open flame, this sweet and chewy treat embodies the flavors and warmth of Ilocos Sur.

Exploring Ilocos Sur’s Rich Culture and Traditions

Captivating Festivals and Events

  1. Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts Held annually in May, the Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts showcases the rich heritage of Ilocos Sur’s historic city. The festival features a week-long celebration with vibrant street parades, traditional dance performances, and various cultural activities. This lively event brings the city’s history to life, drawing visitors worldwide to experience the essence of Vigan.
  2. Kannawidan Ylocos Festival, The Kannawidan Ylocos Festival, is a grand celebration of Ilocos Sur’s foundation as a separate province. The festival highlights the province’s unique culture, traditions, and agricultural bounty every February. Expect an unforgettable display of colorful parades, agricultural trade fairs, and exciting street dance competitions during this joyous event.
  3. Semana Santa in Ilocos Sur Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a profoundly spiritual event observed throughout the Philippines, and Ilocos Sur is no exception. The province honors this significant occasion with solemn processions, dramatic reenactments of the Passion of Christ, and age-old rituals. Witnessing the devotion and faith of the Ilocano people during Semana Santa is an experience that will leave a lasting impression on any traveler.

Exquisite Handicrafts and Local Industries

  1. Abel Iloko Weaving, The art of Abel Iloko weaving has been passed down through generations of Ilocano artisans. This traditional craft transforms locally-sourced cotton threads into beautiful textiles with intricate patterns. From vibrant garments to elegant home furnishings, Abel Iloko products are cherished for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship.
  2. Burnay Pottery, The town of Vigan is famous for its Burnay pottery, an ancient art form characterized by earthenware jars crafted from local clay. Expert potters shape these vessels using traditional methods, firing them in dragon kilns to produce unique and sturdy jars. Burnay pottery is functional and a testament to Ilocano’s ingenuity and artistry.
  3. Ilocano Woodcraft and Furniture Ilocos Sur’s abundance of fine hardwoods has led to a thriving woodcraft and furniture industry. Ilocano artisans expertly carve and assemble these materials into intricate sculptures, elegant furniture, and stunning architectural elements. The craftsmanship and attention to detail found in Ilocano woodcraft make each piece a valuable and timeless work of art.

Unforgettable Experiences in Ilocos Sur

Heritage and Eco-Tourism Activities

  1. Vigan’s Kalesa Tour and Calle Crisologo Night Walk Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Vigan as you embark on a Kalesa tour. This traditional horse-drawn carriage will transport you along the charming cobblestone streets, allowing you to explore the city’s Spanish-era architecture. As twilight descends, stroll along Calle Crisologo, where the illuminated heritage buildings cast a magical glow, creating an unforgettable evening experience.
  2. Exploring the Saguday River and Cabugao Adventure Zone Embark on a thrilling eco-adventure as you explore the pristine Saguday River and Cabugao Adventure Zone. Navigate the river’s crystal-clear waters aboard a kayak, or try stand-up paddleboarding. If you prefer adrenaline-pumping activities, the Cabugao Adventure Zone offers exhilarating zipline rides and exciting rope courses.
  3. Visiting Ancestral Houses and Museums Discover Ilocos Sur’s rich history by visiting ancestral houses and museums throughout the province. These beautifully preserved structures offer insights into the lives of prominent Filipino families during the colonial period. Among the must-visit destinations are Syquia Mansion, which houses a collection of memorabilia belonging to former President Elpidio Quirino, and Crisologo Museum, which honors the legacy of the region’s political leaders.

Outdoor Adventures

  1. Trekking and Hiking in Bessang Pass National Park Bessang Pass National Park, nestled within the Cordillera Mountain Range, offers picturesque trails for novice and experienced trekkers. Traverse lush forests, ascend rolling hills, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape as you explore this stunning natural gem.
  2. Surfing in La Union Although La Union is situated in the neighboring province of Ilocos Norte, its proximity to Ilocos Sur makes it an ideal destination for a day trip. Renowned as the surfing capital of Northern Luzon, La Union lures both amateur and experienced surfers to its world-class waves. Take a surf lesson, ride the swells, or soak in the vibrant beach culture.
  3. Sandboarding and 4×4 Off-Roading in the La Paz Sand Dunes Get your heart racing with an adrenaline-packed adventure in the La Paz Sand Dunes. Hop aboard a 4×4 vehicle for an exhilarating off-road experience across the vast desert landscape. For an added thrill, strap on a sandboard and glide down the towering dunes, creating unforgettable memories of your Ilocos Sur adventure.

Tips for Traveling to Ilocos Sur

Choosing the Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Ilocos Sur is during the dry season, which runs from November to May. 

These months offer the most favorable weather conditions, with sunny days and minimal rainfall, perfect for exploring the province’s diverse attractions. 

Be mindful that the peak tourist season is from December to February and around significant festivals, so plan your trip accordingly to avoid large crowds.

Navigating Transportation Options and Travel Routes

Several transportation options are available for reaching Ilocos Sur. By land, travelers can take a comfortable bus ride from Manila, which takes approximately 8 to 10 hours. 

Daily flights are available from Manila to Laoag International Airport in neighboring Ilocos Norte for a quicker journey. From Laoag, a 2-hour drive will bring you to the heart of Ilocos Sur. 

Within the province, tricycles, jeepneys, and buses provide efficient and affordable means of transportation for getting around.

Discovering Accommodation Choices and Recommendations

Ilocos Sur offers various accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. 

Some top choices include Hotel Luna, a charming boutique hotel with antique furnishings, and Casa Caridad, a cozy traditional home with a welcoming atmosphere. 

In Vigan, consider staying at heritage hotels and ancestral house-turned-lodgings for an authentic experience. 

For budget-conscious travelers, numerous affordable guesthouses and homestays are available throughout the province. 

Remember to check online reviews and make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.


A visit to Ilocos Sur promises an unforgettable journey that captivates your senses and enriches your soul. 

From the awe-inspiring natural wonders to enduring historical landmarks, the province weaves a tapestry of beauty, heritage, and adventure long after you’ve left its shores. 

Travelers will leave with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for the warmth and resilience of the Ilocano people.

The rich cultural heritage of Ilocos Sur serves as a testament to the enduring spirit and ingenuity of the Filipino people. 

As a living museum, the province is crucial in preserving and promoting its unique history, art, and traditions. 

Visitors, locals, and government bodies must work hand in hand to ensure the continued preservation and appreciation of Ilocos Sur’s heritage for future generations to enjoy.

The enchanting beauty and charm of Ilocos Sur continue to captivate the hearts of both locals and tourists alike. 

With each visit, the province unveils new facets of its allure, beckoning travelers to return repeatedly. 

Whether it’s your first encounter with Ilocos Sur or you’re a seasoned visitor, the province’s timeless appeal and diverse offerings ensure a truly memorable and enriching experience.