Northbound – Ilocos, Ph on a budget

My sister and I decided to spend our December 2016 holidays in the Philippines with our family. Upon researching for a considerable amount of time, we decided to visit Ilocos which is approximately a 6 – 8 hour drive from our place. my family do not own a car and we don’t have plans of buying anytime soon because  nobody is going to use it anyway since both me and my sister including our brother are away from home and my parents don’t need one since they have a tricycle which they use for short distance travels.
Ilocos is accessible by land or air. By land it takes around 10 – 12 hours from Manila (Capital City of the Phils.) to Laoag and from Manila to Vigan it is approximately 8 – 10 hours. If you take a plane it will only be more or less an hour flight.
I scourged online looking for tour packages going to Ilocos to avoid all the hassles of car renting and street navigating  because when I compute all the expenses, it’s almost the same price so might as well leave the planning to experts to save us all the troubles. I got a cheap package from  A&A Express Travel & Tours good for 7 persons. There are other cheap packages online but upon checking them one by one, I figured that this was the best option because aside from its cheap, the accommodation is small but nice and we only need to pay a small down payment; the rest is paid upon arrival (I prefer this type to avoid fraud because there are a lot of news about many people being dupe to book online and pay via credit card or bank deposits  for a cheap vacation package but then the travel agency suddenly disappears).The call time for our trip was 8am at Vigan City so my family decided to go to Vigan a day earlier to have a relaxed time since the journey is relatively long. It is more or less a 6 hour drive from our point of origin.
1st Day
My family stayed in Baguio to attend an event and decided to make it our point of origin going to Ilocos. We booked the 4am bus trip to Vigan thru Partas. We arrived in Vigan groggy, sleepy, and hungry at around 10 am. We decided to leave our stuff in the lodge which I booked beforehand via Agoda.com. The  Escolta Homey Lodge where we stayed is nice and has an old charm however because the standard check-in time is 2:00pm they were asking for an additional charge for early check-in which about 250 – 500 an hour. I don’t really remember how much because we did not avail it and we just decided to leave our bags again with the extra charge of 15 pesos per bag. At first we were annoyed and dismayed because of the extra fees but we later found out that most hotels in Vigan  also collect extra fees for early luggage check-in.
The best thing about our hotel is that it is directly inside the famous Calle Crisologo also known as the heritage village in the Philippines. It is also listed as a World Heritage site of UNESCO and was also recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities together with Beirut, Doha, Durban, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and La Paz. It was established in the 16th century and is considered as the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. It is filled with old Spanish houses where the rich people lived during the Spanish era in the Philippines.
We decided to leisurely visit the heritage village’s surroundings since we have a scheduled tour of Vigan the next day. Vigan is relatively small and you can visit the entire city including most if not all of its wonders in one day.
2nd Day,
Our driver/tour guide arrived on time and he was nice and accommodating. Here are little snippets from our Vigan Tour.
We finished the tour around 2pm in the afternoon and from Vigan, we head towards Laoag City for the second leg of our tour.
3rd Day.
We visited different parts of Laoag and Pagudpud. The downside of this trip is that December is the rainy season in Pagudpud. We left Laoag under a hot and humid weather and reach Pagudpud under a gloomy weather and slight rain. Despite the case, it did not stop us from having a good time though.
4th Day.
This was the last day of our trip and was also a free day so we decided to leave before lunch so that we can arrive home a bit earlier since Laoag to Pangasinan is approximately an 8 hour trip.
Despite the long hour drive and hectic schedule of the tour, my family had a blast. As for expenses, I’m pretty sure it did not drain our wallets LOL.
For the entire trip’s cost, we spend around 32,000 pesos for 7 people or 4,571 per pax for our 4 day trip to Ilocos.
Fare: 5,453 (Baguio to Vigan; Laoag to Sn. Fernando, La Union to Pangasinan) Accommodation: 78.39 USD (via agoda or 3,841 php + 45(luggage fee: 3 bags) = 3,886), Lunch & dinner and miscellaneous such as souvenirs, bottled water snacks etc:  approx. 9,000
Here’s the breakdown of the package we had:
I hope you enjoy reading and this post inspire you to travel 🙂
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