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These 10 Capital Cities Make Great Vacation Destinations

travel essay about vigan city

Tour the scenic United States and learn some history along the way by stopping in state capitals throughout the country. Read on to learn more about which state capitals are can’t-miss vacation destinations.

Phoenix, Arizona

Enjoy time in the Arizona desert with a trip to Phoenix. You can check out the local art scene and see incredible views from vantage points throughout the city.

Sacramento, California

Most people think of L.A. or San Francisco when they consider a trip to California, but the capital city of Sacramento has much to offer too. Visit for a history tour of the city and learn about how the Gold Rush brought a boom of industry to the West Coast.

travel essay about vigan city

Denver, Colorado

The Mile-High City is a popular destination for those who want to visit the Rockies. You can view breathtaking landscapes or take in the city living by attending an art exhibit or show.

travel essay about vigan city

Honolulu, Hawaii

Who says you have to stay on the continent to view the majesty of the 50 states? Honolulu is the perfect destination for those who want a tropical vacation without needing to update their passports.

travel essay about vigan city

Annapolis, Maryland

Check out one of the oldest towns in Maryland and learn about how the Chesapeake Bay brought industry to the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. With charming historic buildings and plenty of water activities, Annapolis is a city the whole family can enjoy.

travel essay about vigan city

Boston, Massachusetts

Visit one of the most historic cities in the country with a trip to Boston. You can try delicious seafood, take a tour of historic sites or cheer on a top-notch team during a sporting event during your Boston visit.

travel essay about vigan city

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is lovely Southwest destination that’s chock full of history and arts just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy phenomenal foods and unparalleled desert scenery with a trip to the New Mexico capital.

travel essay about vigan city

Columbia, South Carolina

Enjoy palm trees and tasty treats in the city of Columbia. You can tour gorgeous historic buildings, taste delicacies like shrimp and grits and bask in the glow of old-fashioned Southern hospitality.

travel essay about vigan city

Nashville, Tennessee

Interested in music, history or unforgettable eats? Nashville is a city that has all of these attractions and so much more. It’s the ideal trip for the whole family or a romantic getaway you won’t soon forget.

travel essay about vigan city

Austin, Texas

Austin is a city that marches to the beat of its own drum and invites you to get in on the fun. Check out the quirky charm of the Austin arts scene or tour historic buildings with stories you won’t soon forget.

travel essay about vigan city


travel essay about vigan city

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Oaxaca City

Travel guide.

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Side Trips in Oaxaca City

The countryside around Oaxaca is dotted with small archaeological sites and villages, and the most important are easy to reach. The landmark ruins in the region are Monte Albán (30 min.) and Mitla (1 hr.). If you're heading toward Mitla, you can make some interesting stops. A number of interesting villages in other directions make good day trips from Oaxaca. The Tourism Office will give you a map that shows nearby villages where beautiful handicrafts are made. The visits are fun excursions by car or bus. If you would like a guided tour of archaeological ruins or crafts villages, contact Juan Montes Lara. He is the thinking person's guide to this area, as well as to most of southern Mexico. He speaks English and conducts tours for small groups throughout Oaxaca and Chiapas. He stays pretty busy, so contact him well in advance -- the best way is by e-mail (tel. 951/515-7731; [email protected]).

Many villages have fine small municipal museums. San José El Mogote, site of one of the earliest pre-Hispanic village-dweller groups, has a display of carvings and statues found in and around the town, and a display model of an old hacienda. Teotitlán del Valle also has a municipal museum; it features displays on the weaving process. Ask at the State Tourism Office for more information.

Had I been the priest-king of a large Indian nation in search of the perfect site on which to build a ceremonial center, this would have been it. Monte Albán sits on a mountain that rises from the middle of the valley floor -- or, rather, divides two valleys. From here you can see all that lies between you and the distant mountains.

Starting around 2000 B.C., village-dwelling peoples of unknown origin inhabited the Oaxaca valleys. Between 800 and 500 B.C., a new ceramic style appeared, indicating an influx of new peoples, now called Zapotec. Around 500 B.C., these peoples began the monumental exercise of leveling the top of a mountain, where they would build Monte Albán ( Mohn -teh Ahl- bahn ).

As you enter the site, you'll see a museum, a shop with guidebooks to the ruins, a cafe, and a craft shop. Video camera permits cost 50 pesos. The site is open daily from 8am to 6pm. Admission to the ruins is 51 pesos. Licensed guides charge 200 pesos per person for a walking tour.

Very little of the original structures remain; they've either been obscured beneath newer construction or had their stones reused for other buildings. A center of Zapotec culture, Monte Albán was also influenced by contemporary cultures outside the valley of Mexico. You can see Olmec influence in the early sculptures; more recent masks and sculptures reflect contact with the Maya. When Monte Albán was at its zenith in A.D. 300, it borrowed architectural ideas from Teotihuacán. By around A.D. 800, the significance of Monte Albán in Zapotec society began to wane. Although most likely never completely abandoned, it became a shadow of its former grandeur. At the beginning of the 13th century, the Mixtec appropriated Monte Albán. The Mixtec, who had long coexisted in the area with the Zapotec, began expanding their territory. At Monte Albán, they added little to the existing architecture; however, they seem to have considered it an appropriate burial ground for their royalty. They left many tombs, including Tomb 7, with its famous treasure.

Monte Albán centers on the Gran Plaza, a man-made area created by flattening the mountaintop. From this plaza, aligned north to south, you can survey the Oaxacan valley. The excavations at Monte Albán have revealed more than 170 tombs, numerous ceremonial altars, stelae, pyramids, and palaces.

Begin your tour of the ruins on the eastern side of the Great Plaza at the I-shaped ball court. This ball court differs slightly from Maya and Toltec ball courts, in that there are no goal rings, and the sides of the court slope. Also on the east side of the plaza are several altars and pyramids that were once covered with stucco. Note the sloping walls, wide stairs, and ramps; all are typical of Zapotec architecture and reminiscent of the architecture of Teotihuacán. The building, slightly out of line with the plaza (not on the north-south axis), is thought by some to have been an observatory; it was probably aligned with heavenly bodies rather than with points of the compass.

The south side of the plaza has a large platform that bore several stelae, most of which are now in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. A good view of the surrounding area can be had from the top of this platform.

The west side has more ceremonial platforms and pyramids. Atop the pyramid substructure are four columns that likely supported the roof of the temple at one time.

The famous building of Los Danzantes (The Dancers), on the west side of the plaza, is the earliest known structure at Monte Albán. This building is covered with large stone slabs that have distorted naked figures carved into them (the ones you see are copies; the originals are protected in the site museum). There is speculation about who carved these figures and what they represent, although there is a distinct resemblance to the Olmec baby faces at La Venta, in Tabasco state. The distorted bodies and pained expressions might connote disease. Clear examples of figures representing childbirth, dwarfism, and infantilism are visible. Because of the fluid movement represented in the figures, they became known as Los Danzantes -- merely a modern label for these ancient and mysterious carvings.

The Northern Platform is a maze of temples and palaces interwoven with subterranean tunnels and sanctuaries. Take time to wander among the reliefs, glyphs, paintings, and friezes along the lintels and jambs, as well as the walls. In this section of the ruins, you are likely to see vendors discreetly selling "original" artifacts found at the site. These guys come from the nearby town of Arrazola, where the fabrication of "antiquities" is a long-standing cottage industry. I like to buy a piece occasionally and pretend I'm getting the real thing just to get an opportunity to talk with them.

Leaving the Great Plaza, head north to the cemetery and tombs. If you have a day to spend at Monte Albán, be sure to visit some of the tombs, which contain magnificent glyphs, paintings, and stone carvings of gods, goddesses, birds, and serpents. Lately, the tombs have been closed to the public, but check anyway. Of the excavated tombs, the most famous is Tomb 7, next to the parking lot. It yielded some 500 pieces of gold, amber, and turquoise jewelry, as well as silver, alabaster, and bone art objects. This amazing collection is on display at the Museo Regional de Oaxaca.

To get to Monte Albán, take a bus from the Hotel Rivera del Angel, at Mina 518 between Mier y Terán and Díaz Ordaz. Transportadora Turística, Arqueología e Historia (tel. 951/516-0666 ) makes hourly runs to the ruins. A round-trip ticket costs 40 pesos. Additional buses usually run during high season. If this company isn't running vans, you can buy a ticket with the competition, Autobuses Turisticos (tel. 951/516-5327 ), at Mina 505, just down the block. They use buses and charge the same for a round-trip ticket. If you're driving from Oaxaca, take Calle Trujano out of town. It becomes the road to Monte Albán, which is about 10km (6 1/4 miles) away.

The Road to Mitla: Ruins & Rug Weavers

East of Oaxaca, the Pan American Highway (Hwy. 190) leads to Mitla and passes several important archaeological sites, markets, and craft villages.

Many little stops dot this route, and some are a bit off the highway, so I recommend hiring a taxi, renting a car, or signing up with a small tour rather than using local bus transportation. If you take a tour, ask which sites it includes. To get to the highway, go north from downtown to Calzada Niños Héroes and turn right. This feeds directly on to the highway. All the sites are listed in order, from west (Oaxaca) to east (Mitla).

Santa María Del Tule's 2,000-Year-Old Tree -- Santa María del Tule is a small town 8km (5 miles) outside Oaxaca. It's famous for the immense El Tule Tree, an ahuehuete (Montezuma cypress, akin to the bald cypress) standing in a churchyard just off the main road. Now over 2,000 years old, it looks every bit its age, the way large cypresses do. However, this one is the most impressive tree I've ever seen for the sheer width of its trunk and canopy. It is said to have the broadest trunk of any tree in the world. When the tree was younger, the entire region around Santa María del Tule was marshland; in fact, the word tule means "reed." Now the water table has dropped, so to protect the tree, a private foundation waters and takes care of it. The admission fee of 5 pesos goes toward these efforts.

Iglesia De San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya -- Six kilometers (3 3/4 miles) farther along, you'll see a sign pointing right; go less than another kilometer (about a half-mile) into town. This church is the next stop. Inside the church are an elaborately carved altar and a crucifix fashioned out of a ground paste made from the corn plant. The murals decorating the walls were the work of local artists of the 18th century and are a sweet mix of Spanish and Indian aesthetics. Make a point of seeing the beautifully painted baroque organ in the choir loft. The church is usually open daily from 10am to 2pm and 4 to 8pm.

Dainzú's Zapotec Ruins -- Three kilometers (1 3/4 miles) farther, visible from the highway (26km/16 miles from Oaxaca), you'll see a sign pointing to the right. It's less than 1km (2/3 mile) to the ruins, which were first excavated in the 1960s. Dainzú is a pre-Classic site that dates from between 700 and 600 B.C. Increasingly sophisticated building continued until about A.D. 300. The site occupies the western face of a hill, presumably for defense. The main building is a platform structure, its walls decorated with carvings resembling Monte Albán's Danzantes. These carvings are now in a protective shed; a caretaker will unlock it for interested parties. These figures show Olmec influence but differ from the Danzantes because they wear the trappings of the "ballgame," which likely make them the earliest representations of the ballgame in Mexico. A partially reconstructed ball court sits below the main structure. The site provides an outstanding view of the valley. Admission is 31 pesos.

Teotitlán Del Valle's Beautiful Rugs -- The next major turnoff you come to is 2km (1 1/4 miles) farther along, 3km (1 3/4 miles) from the highway. This is Teotitlán, famous for weaving and now an obviously prosperous town, to judge by all the current development. This is where you'll want to go for rugs, and you'll find no shortage of weavers and stores. Most weavers sell out of their homes and give demonstrations. The prices are considerably lower than in Oaxaca City.

The church in town is well worth a visit. The early friars used pre-Hispanic stones to build the church and then covered them with adobe. When the townspeople renovated the church, they rediscovered these stones with carved figures and now proudly display them. You'll see them in odd places in the walls of the church and sacristy. Teotitlán also has a small community museum, opposite the artisans' market and adjacent to the church. The museum has an interesting exhibit on natural dye-making, using herbs, plants, and cochineal (a red dye derived from insects).

For a bite to eat, consider the Restaurant Tlamanalli, Av. Juárez 39 (tel. 951/524-4006 ), run by three Zapotec sisters who serve Oaxacan cuisine. Its reputation attracts lots of foreigners. It's on the right on the main street as you approach the main part of town, in a red brick building with black wrought-iron window covers. It's open Monday through Friday from 1 to 4pm. A bit farther on, there's another nice restaurant on the left where the main street intersects with the town center.

Lambityeco's Rain God -- Getting back to the highway and continuing eastward, in 3km (1 3/4 miles), you'll see a turnoff on the right for the small archaeological site of Lambityeco. Of particular interest are the two beautifully executed and preserved stucco masks of the rain god Cocijo. At Lambityeco, a major product was salt, distilled from saline groundwater nearby. Admission is 31 pesos.

Tlacolula's Fine Market & Unique Chapel -- Located 30km (19 miles) from Oaxaca (1.5km/1 mile past Lambityeco), Tlacolula is in mezcal country, and along the road from here to Mitla, you'll see a couple of small distilleries and distillery outlets advertising their product. Stop by any one to taste their wares. Mezcal is distilled from a species of agave different from that of tequila. Most mezcal has a very strong smell and may or may not come with a worm in the bottle. Many of these small distilleries flavor their mezcal in much the same way that Russians flavor vodka.

Sunday is market day in Tlacolula, with rows of textiles fluttering in the breeze and aisle after aisle of pottery and baskets. If you don't go on market day, you won't have to compete with crowds. The Capilla del Mártir of the parochial church is a stunning display of virtuosity in wrought iron. The doorway, choir screen, and pulpit, with their baroque convolutions, have no equals in Mexico's religious architecture. Also eye-catching (to say the least) are the graphic, almost life-size sculptures of the Twelve Apostles in their various manners of martyrdom. A few years ago, a secret passage was found in the church, leading to a room that contained valuable silver religious pieces. The silver was hidden during the Mexican Revolution in 1910; the articles are now back in the church.

Yagul's Zapotec Fortress -- Yagul, a fortress city on a hill overlooking the valley, is 2km (about 1 1/2 miles) farther on down the highway. You'll see the turnoff to the left; it's less than 1km (about 2/3 mile) off the road. The setting is spectacular, and, because the ruins are not as fully reconstructed as those at Monte Albán, you're likely to have the place to yourself. Bring a picnic.

The city was divided into two sections: the fortress at the top of the hill and the palaces lower down. The center of the palace complex is the plaza, surrounded by four temples. In the center is a ceremonial platform, under which is the Triple Tomb. The door of the tomb is a large stone slab decorated on both sides with beautiful hieroglyphs. The tomb may be open for viewing; if there are two guards, one can leave the entrance to escort visitors.

Look for the beautifully restored, typically Zapotec ball court. North of the plaza is the palace structure built for the chiefs of the city. It's a maze of rooms and patios decorated with painted stucco and stone mosaics. Visible here and there are ceremonial mounds and tombs decorated in the same geometric patterns found in Mitla. The panoramic view of the valley from the fortress is worth the rather exhausting climb.

Admission is 31 pesos. Still cameras are free, but use of a video camera costs 35 pesos. The site is open daily from 8am to 5:30pm. It's just a few kilometers farther southeast to Mitla. The turnoff comes at a very obvious fork in the road.

Mitla's Large Zapotec & Mixtec Site -- Mitla is 4km (2 1/2 miles) from the highway; the turnoff terminates at the ruins by the church. If you've come here by bus, it's less than 1km (about 2/3 mile) up the road from the dusty town square to the ruins; if you want to hire a cab, there are some in the square.

The Zapotec settled Mitla around 600 B.C., and it became a Mixtec bastion in the late 10th century. This city was still flourishing at the time of the Spanish Conquest, and many of the buildings were used through the 16th century.

Tour groups often bypass the town of Mitla, but it is worth a visit. The University of the Americas maintains the Museum of Zapotec Art (previously known as the Frissell collection). It contains some outstanding Zapotec and Mixtec relics. Admission is 35 pesos and includes admission to the ruins. Be sure to look at the Leigh collection, which contains some real treasures. The museum is in a beautiful old hacienda.

You can easily see the most important buildings in an hour. Mixtec architecture is based on a quadrangle surrounded on three or four sides by patios and chambers, usually rectangular. The chambers are under a low roof, which is excellent for defense but makes the rooms dark and close. The stone buildings are inlaid with small cut stones to form geometric patterns.

There are five groups of buildings, divided by the Mitla River. The most important buildings are on the east side of the ravine. The Group of the Columns consists of two quadrangles, connected at the corners with palaces. The building to the north has a long chamber with six columns and many rooms decorated with geometric designs. The most common motif is the zigzag pattern, the same one seen repeatedly on Mitla blankets. Human and animal images are rare in Mixtec art. In fact, only one frieze has been found (in the Group of the Church, on the north patio). Here you'll see a series of figures painted with their name glyphs.

Admission to the site is 37 pesos. Use of a video camera costs 35 pesos. Entrance to the museum is included in the price. It's open daily from 8am to 5pm.

Outside the ruins, vendors will hound you. The moment you step out of a car, every able-bodied woman and child for miles around will come charging over with shrill cries and a basket full of bargains -- heavily embroidered belts, small pieces of pottery, fake archaeological relics, and cheap earrings. Offer to pay half the price the vendors ask. A modern handicrafts market is near the ruins, but prices are lower in town.

South of Monte Albán: Arrazola, Cuilapan & Zaachila

Though the two roads to these towns are unnumbered, they are clearly signposted along the way.

Arrazola: Woodcarving Capital -- Arrazola lies in the foothills of Monte Albán, about 24km (15 miles) southwest of Oaxaca. The tiny town's most famous resident is Manuel Jiménez, the septuagenarian grandfather of the resurgence in woodcarving as folk art. Jiménez's polar bears, anteaters, and rabbits carved from copal wood are shown in galleries throughout the world; his home is a magnet for folk-art collectors. Now the town is full of other carvers, all making fanciful creatures painted in bright, festive colors. Little boys will greet you at the outskirts offering to guide you to individual homes for a small tip. Following them is a good way to get to know the town, and after a bit you can take your leave of them.

If you're driving to Arrazola, take the road out of Oaxaca City that goes to Monte Albán, then take the left fork after crossing the Atoyac River and follow the signs for Zaachila. Turn right after the town of Xoxo and you will soon reach Arrazola. You can also take a bus from the second-class station near the Abastos Market.

Cuilapan's Dominican Monastery -- Cuilapan (Kwi- lah -pan) is about 15km (9 1/4 miles) southwest of Oaxaca. The Dominican friars inaugurated their second monastery here in 1550. Parts of the convent and church were never completed due to political complications in the late 16th century. The roof of the monastery has fallen in, but the cloister and the church remain. The church, which is still in use, is being restored. There are three naves with lofty arches, large stone columns, and many frescoes. It is open daily from 10am to 6pm; entry is 31 pesos, with an additional cost of 35 pesos for use of a video camera. The monastery is visible on the right a short distance from the main road to Zaachila, and there's a sign as well. The bus from the second-class station stops within a few hundred feet of the church.

Zaachila: Market Towns With Mixtec Tombs -- Farther on from Cuilapan, 24km (15 miles) southwest of Oaxaca, Zaachila (Sah- chee -lah) has a Thursday market; baskets and pottery are sold for local household use, and the produce market is always full. Also take note of the interesting livestock section and a mercado de madera (wood market) just as you enter town.

Behind the church is the entrance to a small archaeological site containing several mounds and platforms and two interesting tombs. The artifacts found here now reside in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, but Tomb 1 contains carvings that are worth checking out.

At the time of the Spanish Conquest, Zaachila was the last surviving city of the Zapotec rulers. When Cortez marched on the city, the Zapotec offered no resistance, and he formed an alliance with them. This outraged the Mixtec, who invaded Zaachila shortly afterward. The site and tombs are open daily from 9am till 4pm, and the entrance fee is 31 pesos.

In Zaachila is a great outdoor restaurant called La Capilla (tel. 951/528-6115 ). It's large and set up to handle lots of people, but often there will be only a few tables occupied. It's a peaceful, attractive setting, and the cooking is delicious. You can enjoy all manner of regional specialties, including moles, tlayudas, special roasted chicken, and barbacoa on Sundays. You also get handmade tortillas and fresh fruit drinks (made with filtered water and ice). La Capilla is open daily 10am to 7pm. It's located just off the highway at Km 14.5.

To return to Oaxaca, your best option is to line up with locals to take one of the colectivos on the main street across from the market. If you're driving, see the directions for Arrazola, above.

South Along Highway 175

San Bartolo Coyotepec's Pottery -- San Bartolo is the home of the famous black pottery sold all over Oaxaca. It's also one of several little villages named Coyotepec in the area. Buses frequently operate between Oaxaca and this village, about 15km (9 1/4 miles) south on Hwy. 175. In 1953, a native woman named Doña Rosa invented the technique of smoking the pottery during firing to make it black and rubbing the fired pieces with a piece of quartz to produce a sheen. Doña Rosa died in 1979, and her son, Valente Nieto Real, carries on the tradition. Watching Valente change a lump of coarse clay into a work of art with only two crude plates (used as a potter's wheel) is an almost magical experience. The family's home and factory is a few blocks off the main road; you'll see the sign as you enter town. It's open daily from 9am to 5:30pm.

You can buy black pottery at many shops on the little plaza or in the artists' homes. Villagers who make pottery often place a piece of their work near their front door, by the gate, or on the street. It's their way of inviting prospective buyers to come in.

San Martín Tilcajete: Woodcarving Village -- San Martín Tilcajete, about 15km (9 1/4 miles) past San Bartolo, is home to woodcarvers who produce alebrijes -- fantastical, brightly painted animals and imaginary beasts -- much like those produced in Arrazola. You can wander from house to house viewing the amazing collections of hot-pink rabbits, bright-blue twisting snakes, and two-headed Dalmatians.

Santo Thomás Jalietza -- About 2km (1 1/4 miles) beyond San Martín, you'll see a sign on the left for this village of weavers who use backstrap looms. The village cooperative runs a market in the middle of town. Prices are fixed; you'll find the greatest variety of goods on Friday.

Ocotlán -- Twenty minutes farther on Hwy. 175 brings you to this fairly large market town. This city is notable for a few reasons: One is the Aguilar sisters (Josefina, Guillermina, Irene, and Concepción) and their families, who produce red clay pottery figures that are colorful, sometimes humorous, and prized by collectors. You'll see their row of home-workshops on the right as you enter, with pottery figures on the fence and roof. (Don't go around town asking for the Aguilar family. Most of the town's inhabitants are named Aguilar.)

Ocotlán is also the home of Rodolfo Morales, a painter who, upon becoming rich and famous, took an active role in aiding his hometown with renovation projects. Two projects worth visiting are the parish church and former convent. Inside the convent, you can see some of the original decorations of the Dominicans. The noticeable sheen of the stucco walls is produced using the viscous innards of the nopal cactus. The convent is now a community museum.

Friday is market day in Ocotlán, and the town fills with people and goods. It's a very good market where you can find a variety of things at reasonable prices.

North of Oaxaca

Guelatao: Birthplace Of Benito Juárez -- High in the mountains north of Oaxaca, this lovely town has become a living monument to its favorite son, Benito Juárez. Although usually peaceful, the town comes to life on Juárez's birthday (Mar 21). The museum, statues, and plaza all attest to the town's obvious devotion to the patriot. A second-class bus departs from Oaxaca's first-class station six times daily. There are also several departures from the second-class station. The trip takes at least 2 hours, through gorgeous mountain scenery. Buses return to Oaxaca every 2 hours until 8pm.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Frommer's EasyGuide to Cancun and the Caribbean Coast of Mexico

A Look Around Vigan, Ilocos Sur [Photo Essay]

written on March 6th, 2017 by Kristiana Rule

Ilocos offers many delights, especially to newbie travelers like us. There were windmills and forts, sand dunes and the preserved corpse of a dictator. But none of it prepared us for the idyllic beauty of Vigan. Calle Crisologo is a long strip of road where you can find the centuries-old houses, the little shops, rustic museums and calesa rides. It shocked us to know that you can also find hotels and even a night club within the houses.

What fascinated me was how the local people lived. To me, a tourist, Vigan was magical. But if you’ve lived there all your life, was it still as charming? I tried to capture it in my photos. I might never know the answer but one thing is for sure: what we experienced was truly one for the books.

*Want to learn more about Vigan, Ilocos Sur? Click here .

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11 – st. bernardine of siena, vigan, ilocos sur travelogue.


Architecture of old times, the deep culture, cobblestoned streets are the thing I’m looking forward to. My family and I have planned a trip to Vigan this upcoming summer and this is something I’ve wanted to experience for so long. Just a nice and relaxing trip with family and friends. It’s great to just see all those hard work payoff after a long challenging school year and forget all of the stress and problems that keeps you from living life to just enjoy, so it’s nice to just sit back and relax for once.

This 3 day trip to Vigan, Ilocos Sur at the west coast of Luzon got me so excited! I can’t wait to see the small city of Vigan and feel its well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture it’s well-known for, and just feel like I’m stepping onto another era! I’ve always wanted to experience the deep culture it has with family and friends.

First things first, to get there you could either just drive or ride a bus to go there. My family planned on to drive in our van which is also exciting since I would get to see different places we pass through while on our way to Vigan, but it was also a 6 hour drive I expect it to be very exhausting but for the thrill of the adventure it’s all worth it!


Hotel Luna during the night.

When we got there we went straight to Hotel Luna which was one of the most respected hotels in Vigan, located at the heart of heritage village it is also listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Hotel Luna is also known to be the only museum hotel in the Philippines which is something to be experienced!


Double Queen Deluxe Rooms

So the room we plan on staying in looked super luxurious and classy. Its elegant and spacious perfect for a family trip, gives more space ideal for family and group bookings. Room is well-designed to allow maximum of four persons, with a separate, Toilet, Bath and Lavatory to allow multiple users of each space.


Explore Museum: Hotel Luna showcases the finest in Philippine Art, boasting of rare and vintage artworks and dynamic modern pieces from modern painters, comporary artis, to national artists including Juan Luna masterpiesces.


1. Explore Calle Crisologo during dawn


Calle Crisologo during dawn

Calle Crisologo is the ultimate place in Vigan! You can’t go to Vigan and not go to this place. The yellow streetlights, the cobblestoned street. The ambiance of Calle Crisologo during the night time is something to experience, just walking through it must feel so romantic, also like you’re in a vintage photograph or film! You can’t help but feel you’re like in the outskirts of Barcelona.

2. Climb up Bantay Bell Tower


Bantay Bell Tower is a magnificent brick tower standing lonely on a green hill, it has witnessed so much history of Ilocos Sur since the Spanish revolt. The bell tower stands beside the St Augustine Parish, also known as the Sanctuary of the Nuestra Señora de La Caridad. It is one of the oldest churches in Ilocos Sur You can then climb the winding staircase up to the top of the tower where the enormous main bell which dates back to World War II hangs. It just looks so majestic and dreamy we would be sure to go there!

3. Have Vigan longganisa for breakfast


One of the pleasures that you could have in traveling is discovering all the different food in different places. In Vigan it has its famous longganisa you can’t leave the city without trying it! One of the places to find this is Café Leona near Plaza Burgos so we better drop by when we go there.

4. Visit Father Burgos’ house


Next stop is the Vigan Museum which was also the birth place of Father Jose Burgos, one of the 3 priests of GOMBURZA. It well-known as bahay na bato, near the Ilocos Sur Provincial Hall. Today, this bahay na bato the home of Padre Burgos is a museum for all things Vigan. Here you’ll find old farming and weaving implements, photos of prominent Bigueños and more. Standing in Padre Burgos’ bedroom and I’d imagine him writing letters on his desk, complete with antique writing implements to see during the trip.

5. Take a bite of empanada


Some will suggest Evelyn’s stall near Plaza Burgos, others will insist it’s Irene’s on Calle Salcedo. The main difference between the two is their empanada dough. Irene’s is soft and chewy while Evelyn’s is crunchy. Some of the best empanada and okoy delicacies are found in the cluster of stalls near Plaza Burgos knowing myself I would probably try both!

6. Hunt for antiques and furniture


Where to look for souvenirs? I’m sure Vigan miniature furniture is found in almost all souvenir shops along Calle Crisologo so I’m sure I’d find something to remember this adventure by or something to take home and give as a gift to my friends or family. With pages and pages of Vigan history, no doubt people out there will be able to dig up treasures from the antiques and curio shops scattered all over the city.

It must be really hard to leave such a lovely place like Vigan. Once we go there we would sure to bring home with lots of goodies, new  tales to tell , captivating photos to show and a whole bunch of experiences and memories to cherish, and we would come back never the same.

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Vigan Guide: Visit A Colonial City In Philippines

Our travel guide will allow you to travel back to the colonial Philippines in Vigan and visit this UNESCO town a budget.

Immerse yourself in a colonial time and travel to Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur in the Philippines. Our travel guide includes best things to do, what to see and tips on where to stay.

Vigan, the UNESCO colonial city, the capital of Ilocos Sur province located on the western coast of the island of Luzon in the Philippines features well-preserved Spanish-era architecture and every year attracts more than a million of local and foreign visitors.

Vigan is a small city charmingly combining the colonial and peaceful atmosphere you will unlikely find anywhere else in the Philippines with traditional noise and buzz of Asian cities.

There are at least three main reasons why you should consider to visit Vigan. Firstly, Vigan is the best-preserved planned Spanish colonial city in Asia and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List; secondly, the cobblestone streets of well-restored Calle Crisologo are traffic free which is such a relief when traveling in Asia so you can focus only on sightseeing and do not worry about your life all the time;and thirdly, fresh empanadas on the night market are too good to give Vigan a miss.

In a nutshell, if you're traveling north of Manila and want to explore the Philippines from a different perspective, Vigan is a right place where to start as the country is not only about beaches and rice terraces.

what to see and do in vigan luzon | ilocos sur province in philippines guide by laidbacktrip


Vigan City used to be a peninsula when Mestizo River had separated city from the mainland but after the river's mouth have silted up, Vigan is part of the Luzon's island mainland.

Because of its coastal position, the settlement was well-known among Chinese traders and merchants and become an important trading post. The busy port and the strategic location, of course, did not go unnoticed so in the late 16th century the city was "officially" discovered by Spanish explorers who quickly took possession of Vigan.

what to see and do in vigan luzon | ilocos sur province in philippines guide by laidbacktrip

Since then, Spanish took the lead in Vigan.

Augustinian missionaries arrived in the region to spread evangelization, new inhabitants started to build houses in colonial style and overall, the way of life and the atmosphere in the city changed significantly. Vigan grew under the Spanish control and became a political, cultural, commercial and religious center of the north.

Since the mid-18th century, indigenous people were attempting to free themselves from Spanish influence, but all attempts were unsuccessful. In 1941, at the beginning of WWII Vigan was invaded by Japanese and was liberated only till 1945 when Ilocano resistance fighters defeated the Japanese Imperial forces.


In Vigan, you can for sure follow the list of must-see places, but what we found to be the best, was to walk around and observe the way how the city was formed as it also reflects history and demography of Vigan.

It is interesting to watch how streets and architecture slowly change from the colonial, European-like to the Chinese and Filipino-like buildings in the rest of the town.


If you want to get an idea of how cities in the Philippines or Asia overall looked like during the Spanish invasion, you won't find a better example then the Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Spanish-style buildings line the cobblestone street, and with no vehicular traffic, you will be accompanied only by fellow visitors and horse-drawn carriages. Houses along the Calle has undergone a restoration, and most of them now serve as souvenir shops, hotels or restaurants, but they still keep the middle-age atmosphere thanks to the preservation of red-tiled roofs, thick walls, ornated doors and staircases leading to rooms of high ceilings and sliding capiz shell windows.

The best time to walk Calle Crisologo is before dusk when lamps lit, and the street gets savor of sentiment.

calle crisologo in vigan | what to see and do in vigan guide by laidbacktrip


The church sits right on the main square of Vigan city and is also part of UNESCO World Heritage Site declaration.

Since the foundation in the 17th century, the church has gone through many disasters and was destroyed by earthquakes and fires. Because of that, cathedral must've been restored many times already, and the present-day resemblance is from the 18th century.

st. paul metropolitan cathedral in vigan | what to see and do in vigan guide by laidbacktrip


Vigan's main square serves as a gathering point and a place, where everyone meets before going to church. Plaza Salcedo has the typical urban Spanish design with a statue of the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo right in the middle.

A picturesque lagoon in the center was added to the city plans in the seventies not only because it creates beautiful reflections and makes the plaza more charming, but it can also serve as a water reservoir in case of fire.

plaza salcedo in vigan luzon | what to see and do in vigan guide by laidbacktrip


No need to hide it, we are market freaks. Public markets in Asia are so photogenic that we can easily spend there a ridiculous amount of time, and the extensive market in Vigan was no exception. Also, the best meals we've had usually came from no-name food stalls with a questionable appearance.

You can find here a great mix of all food from fruits, veggie, seafood, meat, and herbs and you shouldn't leave Vigan before you try empanadas.

Travel Insurance

We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover our expenses if something goes wrong during the trip.

World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers to cover your trip essentials.

Travel smarter and safer!

vigan luzon public market | a philippines travel guide by laidbacktrip

Sagada Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors Comprehensive Guide to Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces A Practical Guide to Island Hopping Tour A in El Nido, Palawan


The Philippines is a vibrant country, and Filipino people love to celebrate whatever and whenever they can. All festivities have one in common. Good food, music, lively atmosphere, and dance. We visited Vigan on January 25 when The Vigan City Fiesta takes place, and it was an unforgettable experience.

If you're visiting Luzon in January, try to move things around and visit Vigan on that day. Also, Filipinos are known as huge fans of beauty competitions so we could watch all preparations and photo shootings of their own local Miss which was taken more than seriously.

filipino festivities in vigan luzon | what to see and do in vigan guide by laidbacktrip


Vigan is a small city, but you can find here an accommodation to suit every budget. Here are our top picks:

Budget | EA Apartelle - Metro Vigan - This well rated hotel is a little bit out of the center, but the service, good wi-fi, terrace, and the good breakfast compensates it all.

Mid-range | Hotel Felicidad - A centrally located hotel features wi-fi, breakfast, air condition, and bathroom toiletries. It is in a beautiful colonial heritage house, and it's one of the most stylish places.

Luxury | Hotel Luna - Hotel Luna is the best accommodation in Vigan not only because of amenities and service but also ranks the highest on Tripadvisor. The locations and rooms are perfect, plus you can use an outdoor pool.


Even though Vigan has the best-preserved colonial architecture and in 2015 the city was recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities, you might still hesitate and think over if it is worth to visit it.

After all, Vigan is 8 - 10 hours drive by bus from Manila, flight tickets can get pricey, and the city center is considerably small.

how to get to vigan luzon | a philippines travel guide by laidbacktrip

We wanted to travel and explore Luzon island anyway, so the one day stop in Vigan came in handy. We also took an overnight bus which is a great way how to save time and money for accommodation. In that case, it was definitely worth it to visit Vigan.

On the other hand, if you're short on time, you don't have anything else planned in Luzon island, or you come from Europe (where the architecture is similar), you might want to skip this place and focus more on other beautiful areas the Philippines has to offer.

Travel Resources

Here you can find links to all the travel resources we use and which you might find helpful when planning your next holiday.

Accommodation : When looking for accommodation, we usually search hotels via Booking.com or Hostelworld .

Tours : Although we love to travel independently, some places are better to visit with a guided tour.

We prefer GetYourGuide for its easy-to-use interface and solid reputation. Another great alternative is Viator .

Rental Cars : When going on a road trip, we always use Rentalcars.com , a reliable site for booking a rental car in advance.

Flight Tickets : When looking for flight tickets, you can search Skyscanner to find the best price.

Travel Insurance : World Nomads Travel Insurance covers against risks of travel.

Vigan in the Philippines

My Vigan Experience: A Travel In Time - Vigan River Cruise

Honestly, could the operators of this so called "Cruise" make any less effort if they tried? Piped... read more

travel essay about vigan city

You get on the one boat they have that's working, they turn on the audio recorded voice over... read more

travel essay about vigan city

My Vigan Experience: A Travel In Time

This is not about the River Cruise, or any other specific activities being offered in the city: it is about the cluster of old structures in what is called "The Heritage". I normally just stay in my room when I travel, most of which are professional speaking engagements. i'd rather read brochures about the place and that is enough for me: I know the place already, without the hassles, risks of travel required, and yes, the costs. I didn't have enough money for leisure, and time. Coffee, online poker, and cigarets complete my free time. A few destinations would catch my attention, of course. that means I have the time. Last August it was Vigan up North. The place caught my mood to take a look to see and feel its ambience. I was, and still is, fascinated by what I saw and felt. Perhaps the free A-con bus shuttle from the Laoag City Airport was a humdinger, a real good sign of things to come. Vigan City was home to Spanish settlers, conquistadores, if you may. The cobble-stoned old streets are lined up with old structures (residences before) depicting the era when they were built. Walls were, or are, of bricks; windows, of wood and capiz shells. Doors are huge and are of sturdy mahogany. I have stayed in one of the house there more than twenty years ago and I am sure their interiors are still more of the same: thick slabs of wood darkened by time and but shiny with dedicated and committed polishing. Since these types of houses are used in so many local horror movies, I can still remember the shivers and images I felt and imagined during quiet evenings lit only by a faint moon and kerosene lamps during the first trip I mentioned earlier. It is different now. The souvenir shops are still a joy to tourists. The old grandeur still pulsates but there is something new: a lot of the houses are now hotels that still flash the old home feeling. There is another: fast foods and Restos have crept into the place. Renovated and painted with pastel colors, these cafes and diners breathed in a certain youth, a feeling of freshness, a motion through time. The same architecture was maintained, a very successful effort as it provided a time travel - back to when they were newly-built but existing in the present time. But not all structures are lucky. Some were left to, and for, time to take its natural course of rise and fall - a pitiful sight, but would be a joy to those looking for the authentic "old" feeling. These are decaying, abandoned, interspersed with the "lucky" ones. One may feel, when face-to-face with them, like standing in from of battle-scarred veterans of many wars, waiting for the final trip to where everything came from. Then your emotion may still catch a "tickle" which for me is another beautiful dimension of the "The Heritage" as it is called. These unkempt veterans lend a captivating contrast, and build a silent, unseen stage with a daily bill of the struggle between the spirits of the past echoing, narrating its stories, and a very careful, graceful, deliberate monologue of the touch of modern living. A well-chose time, matched with an "open soul", will be gifted with that discovered sensation, which I had the luck to behold and receive. It was an evening walk and a very early stroll that provided the best seat to watch and experience that "stage", the perfect moment. The streets are lit with a brilliance that is also cozy, and lends a happy, fiesta, a festive mood sans the usual crowd tired and sleeping. The wee-hour walk was a contrast. The streets were quiet, empty, and look tired and weary as in most morning-after moments. The lights were still there but the sky slowly turning blue painted a greyish spectacle. The old spirits were back, resting for another evening. I felt the sighs, the moans of the place. While the The Heritage ought to stay, like people growing old and tired of the long years of facing the burden of time, the struggles of existence - they also must be put to rest. It seemed that that will never happen. Not with the entrepreneurial encroachment. The great business opportunities will prolong their agony. Like grandchildren taking care of their Lolas and Lolas (grandparents), like replacing their old worn-out legs and other parts of their weary bodies, like suspending their death, and like giving them a certain degree of immortality. That is what I saw and felt. A bridge between the past and the present. A lucky stroke of fate to a place also built from a blending of two different cultures. One built a bridge to cross harshly over the other. You may also experience these in those old streets of the great heritage of Vigan City.

travel essay about vigan city

This tour was so bad, my husband and I couldn't stop laughing. Led by a silent, stone-faced guide who let the poorly recorded audio tour do the crackling, err, talking, we were taken down a dirty channel with concrete banks and little to see, save the odd hastily erected statue or plaque, so obviously in place just for this purpose. It was indeed the worst tour of our lives but we love Filipinos so much, there's no way we could begrudge them!

Very beautiful and the my children love it, the city proper it self it's like you are Cadiz, Spain. They preserve the old building and house structure.

beautiful north....... especially the town of vigan and also Baluarte and some of the churches its just so nice to go too. next trip that i wanted to go is the Virgen milagrosa.... they said its so miraculous.....

Been to Loboc river cruise in Bohol. Very clean river, good food, superb entertainment, great value for money. The mangrove eco-tour in Palawan and that of Bais were both enriching. The Day-asan floating village boat cruise was adventure-filled while the Suyac Island mangrove experience was relaxing. The Mekong Delta tour in Vietnam and the river cruise in Cambodia were both interesting and educational. The Kampong Ayer river cruise in Brunei was exhilarating. Vigan River Cruise on the one hand was very disappointing. The lady in-charged of the tour was polite and apologetic for any short-coming. There were just so many concerns that need improvement. First, the berthing place was a makeshift way below tourism standards. There was a resto-bar that looked abandoned, comfort room had no water. There were about 4-5 boats docked but only one was working. It took a while before the boatmen can start the motor of our boat; there was no 'music' they say; it was the audio recording that interprets the meaning of stations along the river. Poorly maintained. The tour goes along the Mestizo River, an important trade route (they say) during the Spanish era, hence its historical significance. I wonder how wide and deep the river then was considering that galleon trade used to ply along this line. The river now is shallow and narrow, water was dirty, especially at the downstream side where fish pens are plentiful in complete disarray. People living along the river banks contribute to what the Mestizo River has become. It saddened me to see a river this bad! This is something tourists should not see. The upstream side is a little better, with protection dike being constructed on the one side. There is a road, although not yet fully develop, I hope will prevent future settlements along the river banks. Dredging is on going but it would take some time before we see improvements. For now, the river cruise was a total waste of time and money. Not worth a penny.

travel essay about vigan city

At first I thought upon seeing that there is such a thing as a river cruise I thought Vigan was surrounded by a river. Then again even if it was obviously the heritage places won’t be within sight of it. Then I thought floating restaurant or river shores filled with local wild life and vegetation. Let’s just say my imagination got too far ahead. The Vigan River Cruise is no better than those train rides you see in the Malls for children. Better if you walk and actually shop; for the river cruise it is better if you walk and actually touch those old houses, walk those ancient roads. The River Cruise tries to give a historical flair with an audio playback of Vigan’s history. Sadly the surroundings are not conducive for one to think history. Sure there are statues highlighting important points all throughout the course of the tour but they don’t have that much impact. Going through a stack of old pictures while playing the tape would be much better. All throughout the ride you will see fish pens, small houses, (at the time) cranes, and what seems to newly constructed dikes and or various flood mitigating systems. All in all just stay on the ground.

travel essay about vigan city

Althea's Adventures

travel essay about vigan city

Experience Vigan


And since the event was held in Vigan, what better way to spend our free time? Of course, explore! I’ve listed the top 10 things to do in Vigan, Ilocos Sur for your guide.


Here are the estimated expenses:

Vigan Expenses.jpg

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Published by altheasadventures

Mom of two. Account Manager. Interior Designer. Travel Blogger View all posts by altheasadventures

4 Replies to “Experience Vigan”

Wow!!! Very informative!!! Daghang Salamat!!!

Awww you’re welcome😊

Nice list! I will go back to Ph this New Year and I’m planning to visit Vigan on my first 2 days. Thank you for sharing!

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Is it worth visiting Vigan?

The Old Town of Vigan in the Philippines is a World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. But I’m not sure if it’s worth the visit.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

Updated: February 2, 2023

Old Town, Vigan, The Philippines

By Philippines standards, Vigan is a unique example of a European colonial city. If you’re going to compare it to others around the world, though, you may be disappointed.

And so here is the conundrum I face – would I say it’s worth the visit?

Vigan was established in the 16th century, when the Spanish arrived on the islands of the Philippines and began to colonise it. Much like they had done in other places – most notably Central and South America – they built their cities in the way they were accustomed to. The European way.

So that meant a grid-like structure with main plazas and the most important public buildings around them.

Even 500 years since its founding, that’s what you still find in Vigan today. It, in fact, has two main plazas – Plaza Salcedo and Plaza Burgos. One of the city’s most prominent buildings, St Paul’s Cathedral, separates the two.

Whenever I walk through the plazas, they seem to be full of kids. It’s either little ones playing with toys under the occasional watchful eyes of their parents or teenagers having a game of basketball.

The city stretches out from here. Straight roads hit others perpendicularly. It’s hard to get lost here and, no matter how much I wander, I always seem to end up back at something I recognise.

It helps that the main street through the most historic part, Calle Crisologo, is cobbled and closed to traffic. It stands out and makes for a perfect navigation tool.

Most of the buildings in Vigan aren’t from the original 16th century period. The majority were built in the 1700s or 1800s. There are some beautiful pieces of architecture among them and these offer some of the most interesting sights in the old city.

Although it may have been the Spanish who set up the city, they didn’t really live here. It was actually mainly people of Chinese origin who filled the city of Vigan in the earlier years and their influence can be seen in this architecture.

The facades on the ground floor appear European – but when you tilt your head upwards, you’ll realise the upper levels look different.

Up there, the Chinese influence comes through. It looks like the classic Oriental roof, the top of a pagoda perhaps.

This, as I say, I find interesting. Beyond that, I’m unsure exactly what I think.

Vigan is a World Heritage Site and is described by UNESCO as “the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia”.

There’s not a huge amount of competition really. Outside of the Philippines, I think the only other places Spain had in Asia during the colonial centuries were Guam, Micronesia, a bit of Taiwan and a bit of Indonesia.

Vigan was also chosen as one of the cities for the ‘New 7 Wonders’ cities campaign and it’s a fact proudly displayed here.

Let’s be clear, though. This title is awarded by a marketing company that charges countries to be involved and for the right to use the title in promotions.

It is also based mainly on an online voting system, not any kind of independent assessment – and we all know how active the Filipinos can be on social media.

Personally, I place absolutely no weight at all on a ‘competition’ like this. However, if you really think Vigan is one of the 7 best cities in the world, then we can have a discussion about how authentic this campaign is.

So let’s have a look at Vigan on face value.

As I’ve already mentioned, there are quite a few older buildings here that have wonderful architecture and design. Most of the ones along the main street are now being used for tourist services (hotels, restaurants, shops) but you can easily just go a block or two away and find ones still being used as homes or for local businesses.

What you’ll also find in the side streets, though, are buildings in various states of disrepair. Some have been abandoned, some just neglected. For every few grand old houses, there’ll be one fenced off with broken windows and no inhabitants.

Perhaps we shouldn’t compare Vigan to other Spanish colonial cities in Latin America. Some might suggest it is better to compare it to other trading cities of the same era in Asia. So, ok, let’s compare it to Hoi An in Vietnam .

There are quite a lot of similarities in the design and the architecture, so I think it’s a fair comparison. However, the big differences that I see are in the preservation and the atmosphere.

Hoi An has been much better preserved and the city has a consistent level of authenticity, unlike Vigan which is a little bit piecemeal.

And in terms of atmosphere, Hoi An is a much more pleasant place to spend a few days, to sit in the restaurants and cafes, do some shopping, and watch a bit of life go by. There are no fast food chains in Hoi An – compare that to Vigan where most of the major chains are directly on the plazas.

I posed the question at the start of the article – would I say Vigan is worth the visit?

Well, I know that it’s a popular destination with domestic tourists and for them (and tourists from other Asian countries), it probably is worth it because a European-styled city is quite unique and different in this part of the world. There really isn’t anywhere else in the Philippines like this and that makes it worthwhile.

However, for international tourists, I think there are much more interesting and beautiful options for things to do in Philippines. It’s a wonderful country with 7000 islands and your time would be better spent elsewhere.

If you are travelling through this area, definitely stop for a night and see it for yourself because it is certainly not without merit. But I don’t think it is worth any special effort to go out of your way to visit.

For the nicest hotel in Vigan, you should try Hotel Luna .

This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List ! I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

9 thoughts on “Is it worth visiting Vigan?”

I’m a bit of a fan of out-of-place sites like the Seville-inspired Plaza of Kansas City so I’d definitely give Vigan a go!

Vigan looks like a very interesting city to visit. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this unique city.

Thanks for your honest review. I wanted to go here, but due to time restraints have taken it off my visit list. I no longer feel like I will be missing out on too much though,

You really help me choose the right place to visit! I am heading there in 2 weeks. Looking forward to discover Vigan when I go there! Thanks a lot for sharing!

Awesome! I’ve been to Vigan twice and it’s still the same feeling like it was the first visiting the place. You should try visiting Pagudpod and Laoag, these are the places near Vigan and they have a great places to offer as well.

Thanks so much for the post…very helpful. Think I can give it a miss and spend my time elsewhere!

I just got back from the Philippines and was unsure whether or not we should go to Vigan. We eventually decided that we wouldn’t and now that I’ve found your post I think that was the right decision. My partner loved Hoi An previously, but I didn’t – it felt like it had lost some of its soul to tourism I thought – so if that is even more so in Vigan I’m glad we didn’t go out of our way to get there.

I think if Vigan was much closer to Manila it would be more attractive for tourists to travel. It’s just very far from Manila and it isn’t near the popular beautiful beaches or natural sites. I wish the city does more restoration and tries to improve it’s quality because even if it isn’t the best old city it arguably has the best collection even in the Philippines, though Manila probably has a better case.

I did visit city in December 2019 it a quiet and clean streets made of cobblestones, would to visit again.

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Kalesa at the cobblestone street known as Calle Crisologo in Vigan

Vigan Ilocos Sur Travel Guide: What to Do + Hotels + COVID-19 Travel Requirements

Myjel Alinea Guevarra

1. Who are allowed to go to Vigan?

2. what are the entry points in vigan, 3. what travel requirements do you need to prepare.

5. What activities can you do in Vigan during quarantine?

Best time to go to vigan city, dry and summer season | november to may, longganisa festival | january, vigan town fiesta | january.

By Private Car/Van

Getting around vigan, where to stay in vigan, types of accommodations, neighborhoods and areas, accommodation highlights in vigan city.

Watch the Fountain Show at Plaza Salcedo

Attend mass at vigan cathedral, visit the bantay bell tower, try pottery and weaving at pagburnayan, go museum hopping, visit animals at the baluarte zoo.

Local Cuisine

Practical Information and Tips

Where to shop, sample itinerary in vigan city.

Day 2: Bantay Bell Tower + Weaving + Museums + Vigan Cathedral + Calle Crisologo

Day 3: calle crisologo + heritage river cruise.

Several kalesa parked in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Discover Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New7Wonders Cities. Find out the best time to go, top tourist spots and activities you shouldn’t miss, must-try food, best hotels to stay in, and how to plan your itinerary with this guide.

Vigan City is a UNESCO World Heritage site  and one of the  New7Wonders Cities . It is  one of the best-preserved planned Spanish colonial town remaining in Asia today.

Though it followed the Renaissance grid plan for cities of the Spanish Empire, it is also highly influenced by the various architectural designs such as those from China and Europe. It is also recognized as one of the

See our popular Vigan Tours and Activities

Ilocos sur vigan city heritage & sightseeing tour with horse-drawn carriage ride & transfers, vigan historical sightseeing city day tour with transfers, ilocos sur local produce, weaving & empanada-making tour with transfers from vigan.

Established way back in the 16th century, Vigan was once a stop on the Silk Route that made it a relevant trading post. In 1572, conquistador Juan de Salcedo took over the city and became the lieutenant governor of the Ilocos region.

It then became the center of political, religious, and commercial activities of the North of Luzon.

The famous Calle Crisologo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Aside from its historical and architectural significance, a trip to Vigan can also be packed with gastronomic adventures where you can feast on Ilocano food.

Plan a Vigan tour to experience this unique city’s old-world charm and cuisine. Here is everything you need to know for a complete Vigan experience. 

See our popular Ilocos Vacation Packages

3d2n ilocos laoag tour package with airfare from manila | hotel + tour + transfers, 4d3n ilocos laoag & pagudpud tour package with airfare from manila | hotel + tours + transfers, 3d2n ilocos vacation package | vitalis villas resort + daily meals, vigan travel requirements & guidelines | covid-19 new normal.

Travelers of all ages from the Philippines can once again discover Vigan’s cobblestoned streets and heritage sites. But with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the local government unit has announced a set of guidelines and tourist requirements that needs to be followed before you make your trip to the Heritage City of the Philippines.

Vigan in Ilocos Sur is open to fully vaccinated individuals or those who have received the last dose of their COVID-19 vaccination at least two weeks prior to their arrival in Ilocos Sur. They must present a vaccination card that shows their fully vaccinated status. Children 11 years old and below may be allowed entry, provided they are accompanied by a fully-vaccinated parent or guardian.

All travelers must also present a valid identification card and booking confirmation from any of the DOT-accredited Vigan hotels or travel agents. Those from areas under Alert Levels 4 and 5 will not be allowed entry.

Domestic tourists can only enter Ilocos Sur via Tagudin Border and Sinait Border. Guests shall present the complete requirements at the border.

Here are the requirements that you need to prepare before going to Vigan: 

Prepare your vaccination card 

Fully vaccinated individuals are exempted from presenting a negative COVID-19 test result provided they can present a valid vaccination card that shows their fully vaccinated status.

Confirmed booking with DOT-accredited hotel 

Guests are also allowed to stay at DOT-accredited Vigan hotels only. Tourists are also not allowed to stay at the private residences of family or friends.

4. What are the guidelines and protocols to follow when you're in Vigan?

Once you're in Vigan, make sure you follow these safety protocols:

Minimum health standards

All residents and domestic tourists from selected areas must wear face masks, wash hands regularly, and practice social distancing, especially in public places. This is to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 disease.

Dining protocols

There are restaurants and dining establishments in Vigan that provide dine-in facilities. Food establishments and restaurants must now follow detailed written protocols, and guests are expected to follow dining procedures such as proper usage of face masks, face shields, and social distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19 disease.

Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy the tourist spots of Vigan , which include heritage sites and cultural landmarks like Calle Criosologo, Syquia Mansion, Baluarte Zoo, and Ilocos Sur Dancing Fountain. Residents and domestic tourists must comply with health protocols such as wearing masks and face shields and practicing social distancing in these tourist landmarks

Clock at the Vigan Cathedral in Ilocos Sur

The majority of tourist spots in Vigan City are best explored when it's dry and sunny. Plan your Ilocos itinerary around the months when there is little to no rain so you can maximize your time. Here is a detailed guide on when to go to Vigan City:

Vigan can be explored at any time of the year, but it's highly recommended to do your Vigan tour visit between November to May, the dry months. It is also when some of the city's distinct festivals are held.

December to February is having lower temperatures but still dry months in Vigan. Plan your trip during this time if you don't like the intense summer heat.

Every January 22, the locals of Vigan celebrate a longganisa-themed festival. Longganisa is a local sausage with a creamy garlic flavor and a breakfast staple in the country.

Eating Vigan longganisa (or buying bags of it for souvenirs) is a must when in this city. During the Longganisa Festival, stalls are installed around the streets selling the delicacy.

Just a few days after Longganisa Festival is the Vigan Town Fiesta. It is a week-long celebration in honor of St. Paul the Apostle that starts on January 25. This festival fills the streets of Vigan with colorful exhibits, carnivals, and locals performing street dances.

Viva Vigan Festival of Arts | May 

This festival during the first week of May celebrates and promotes Vigan City's cultural and historical heritage. The highlight of the festival is during May 3 (Tres de Mayo) where the celebration starts with a mass at the cemetery chapel and follows by dancing in Calle Crisologo and a parade of their local kalesa.

Climate and Weather 

Vigan has two climates, dry and wet, like other destinations in the Philippines. The dry months are from November to May, with the hottest from April to May. The wet months are from June to October, with August receiving the most rain.

Vigan City’s average temperature is  26 °C, with the average warmest 30.9°C and an average lowest at 21.1 °C. Here’s a graph showing Vigan’s temperature and rainfall for the whole year: 

Average monthly temperature in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Source: NOAA

What to Wear 

Exploring Vigan will require a lot of walking around the streets of Calle Crisologo. Wear breathable clothes that are perfect for the summer season, especially if you’re traveling there during the peak dry months.

Wear a hat or bring an umbrella, wear sunglasses, and choose comfortable shoes or sandals that are good for walking around. If your trip is during the cooler months of December to February, bring a light jacket, especially at night. 

How to Get to Vigan

Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) in North Luzon

By 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.

However, expect the more premium rides like that from  Partas Bus in Cubao and  Fariñas Transit in Pasay that come with Wi-Fi, TV, and the toilet to be on a higher tier. Tickets can be booked in advance.

Partas , Dominion Bus Lines , Viron Transit , and St. Joseph/Aniceto Transit have direct trips to Vigan daily, while Philippine Rabbit Bus Line , Fariñas , Maria de Leon , Florida , Baliwag , and RCJ Transit have regular trips that pass by Vigan via the Manila-Laoag route.

If you want to save more time and money, go for an overnight ride. There’s less road congestion, and you won’t need accommodation for the night. 

For those coming from the following locations in North Luzon, here are some suggested ways to get to Vigan:

From Clark International Airport in Pampanga – Take the shuttle service or a taxi to Dau Bus Terminal where you can ride a bus for Vigan. Travel will take 7 to 9 hours.

From Baguio – Take buses to Laoag and get off in Vigan. The travel time is around 5 hours.

From Abra/Tuguegarao – GMW and Florida Liner bus lines have trips that stop in Vigan.

From Manila, Vigan-bound vehicles, both public buses, and private cars should take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) route.

These highways also serve passengers going to other provinces in Northern Luzon. Going to Vigan from Manila 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. 

Air travel to Vigan is a quick solution if you’re short on time but willing to shell out more. There are no direct flights, but you can fly from Manila to Laoag Airport and ride a bus to Vigan. The entire trip will take around 3 hours. If you’re coming from Visayas or Mindanao, fly to Manila first then to Vigan.

Vigan used to have a community airport named Mindoro Airport that served the whole province of Ilocos Sur, with InterIsland Airline and Sea Air having regular flights. However, operations had to be canceled due to low traffic, though the airport still serves chartered flights.

Kalesa at Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Other attractions will need to be explored by riding different public and private transportation options, depending on your preference and budget. Here are your options when discovering the tourist spots of Vigan City: 


These horse-drawn carriages are a staple in the Calle Crisologo area and are perfect for short-distance travel for a unique cultural experience.

These are the only public transportation allowed inside the old street of Calle Crisologo. It’s a great option if you don’t want to walk under the heat. They are paid every hour and can be taken to tourist spots within Vigan City. 

For short to long distances within Vigan City that cannot be traveled by foot, you can ride a tricycle (auto-rickshaw). These can accommodate up to 4 passengers. You can also hire these for a day tour around Vigan City if you’re up for a rugged style of transportation with the open air.

Private Cars or Van 

You can bring your car or hire a private tourist van for a more comfortable and convenient way to see the tourist spots in Vigan City. These are perfect for exploring other destinations in the Ilocos region like Laoag, Paoay, and Pagudpud . All you need to do is sit back and relax while your driver and guide navigate the roads of Vigan City and Ilocos region. 

See our popular Ilocos Tours and Activities

Ilocos norte laoag & pagudpud historical attractions day tour with transfers.

Lobby of Hotel Luna in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Being a well-known destination, Vigan City is teeming with hotels, hostels or inns, and other accommodations for tourists who want to stay for a night or longer. However, it understandably gets fully booked quickly during peak seasons, especially for the hotels located in the City Center or near Calle Crisologo.

An alternative is to book accommodations somewhere away from the main tourist attractions. You may even be in luck as these places are no doubt cheaper. 

There are different hotels that tourists can stay in Vigan City depending on your needs, size of the group, and budget. Find out which type of accommodation is perfect for your trip to Vigan with these choices:


There are numerous hotels in Vigan City that are centralized in the City Center or near Calle Crisologo. Most of these hotels are in the mid- to luxury-range prices.

They offer complete amenities like cable TV, hot and cold shower, Wi-Fi, and some even have their restaurants and bars. These are your best options if you want the most comfortable stay in Vigan and are willing to pay for convenience.

Hostels/Inns/Transient Houses

For budget travelers, there are some options for hostels, inns, or transient houses in Vigan. These are usually located outside the City Center. They offer basic accommodations but without the luxuries provided by hotels. You will also need to ride public transportation to the City Center if you're staying in these.

Vacation Rentals 

There are multiple privately-owned houses by locals that are listed for rental. These vary in location, with the pricier ones located in or near the City Center. These are good for families or big groups who want to cut costs on food because these have fully-equipped kitchens.

When booking a hotel in Vigan City, you only have two areas to choose from: the City Center and the neighboring barangays. It's critical to learn where you're hotel is located since it will affect how you get around Vigan City. Here is more information on where the accommodations in Vigan City are located.

City Center (Poblacion)

The premier tourist and hotel spot in Vigan City is in the City Center (Poblacion) where you can find the streets that surround Calle Crisologo.

Most of the hotels located here are in the mid- to luxury-range since you're paying for the best location. Booking accommodation here means you only need to walk to go to the top tourist attractions and restaurants in Vigan City.

Neighboring Barangays 

Vigan City has 39 barrios and barangays, which also cover the City Center (Poblacion). The other hotels outside of the City Center are cheaper.

However, you will need to travel by tricycle or private car/van to go to the tourist spots. If you don't mind the extra commute, then you can book a hotel in the neighboring barangays instead.

Now that you know the type of accommodations and the best places to book your hotel, let us help you choose where to book based on the budget. Here are a few highly recommended Vigan hotels and accommodations depending on amenities and the prices. 

Luxury Accommodations

These accommodations are close to the City Center and offer the best amenities and services in Vigan, thus the higher price point. If you’re highly meticulous in your choice of accommodation, these will not let you down. 

Hotel Luna has been touted as the best in Vigan thanks to its variety of quality rooms, amenities, and services. Their most affordable room can accommodate two adults with its queen-sized bed and a separate tub and shower.

It also comes with Wi-Fi and cable TV. You can even take a dip in their outdoor pool if you feel like taking a break from walking around Vigan.

Paradores de Vigan

Paradores de Vigan is also the right choice if you have some cash to spare. Their rooms boast of a kitchen and dining area, while some even have a balcony. Guests get to enjoy an Asian breakfast too.

West Loch Park Hotel - Vigan

It is the branch of West Loch Park Hotel located in Gen. Luna St, near Calle Crisologo. All rooms come with air-conditioning, sofa, toilet with a bidet, and television to help you relax. 

Mid-range Accommodations

If you're not keen on walking too far from the main attractions, you can choose to book a hotel or inn located near or within the Vigan City Center. These accommodations are priced in the middle of the budget to luxury due to their convenient location.

Hotel Salcedo De Vigan

Hotel Salcedo De Vigan's rooms are very spacious. The hotel has a restaurant known for its superb local and international cuisine menu. You can also make an accessibility request like a bathroom in advance if you or your companion has special needs.

Ciudad Fernandina Hotel

At Ciudad Fernandina Hotel, you have everything you need after a long day of traveling. All rooms come with cable television, air-conditioning, electronic door lock, and hot and cold shower. It even has a restaurant and bar for your unwinding needs.

Gordion Hotel

Another short walk away from Calle Crisologo is Gordion Hotel. Its interiors also adapt the Spanish colonial style of the city with four-post beds and antique decors. Guests can enjoy a filling breakfast of either Filipino or Continental.

Budget Accommodations 

For those who are keeping an eye on their expenses, Vigan City is filled with lodges and inns. These offer inexpensive rooms but ideal places to rest their weary bodies after a long day of exploring. These are highly recommended not just for the affordable price but because of their convenient location. 

Escolta’s Homey Lodge

Escolta’s Homey Lodge is a basic accommodation without many amenities (though they have free Wi-Fi!). It’s located right in the heart of Calle Crisologo, so you pretty much have everything you need.

Metro Vigan Inn

This pet-friendly budget hotel has two locations, with the closest one to the City Center just across Plaza Salcedo. All rooms come with air-conditioning and are inclusive of breakfast. There's also full and secured parking space for those who would be driving to Vigan.

Cordillera Inn

The rooms at Cordillera Inn are clean and straightforward. They offer both air-conditioned and fan-cooled rooms. A night's stay comes with a breakfast of Vigan longganisa, tapa (cured beef), or daing (dried fish).

What to See and Do in Vigan 

Vigan has successfully preserved its long history by maintaining the look it had during the colonial years. It also conserved important sites, practices, and items that date back to the Spanish era.

With that, here are some of the  activities and tourist spots that you should add in your Vigan tour Ilocos itinerary  to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Vigan.  

Revisit History at Calle Crisologo 

Calle Crisologo at night

Walking is a great way to explore Calle Crisologo, as there is little to no vehicular traffic (except for the kalesas that are allowed). You can go inside some of the houses, which have been restored or turned into souvenir shops, hotels, or restaurants.

Most of them still maintain the old-world charm through red-tiled roofs, decorative doors, high ceilings, and capiz windows. Do stay until nighttime when the lamps along the street are lit, and tables are set up for dining, as it gets more charming and a tad romantic.

If you want an extra flair of colonial style, visit the Ilocos Sur Provincial Tourism Office. Here you can rent a filipiniana or barong (traditional Filipino costumes) to authentically exude that era’s style as you walk through Calle Crisologo.

See our popular Calle Crisologo Tours

Plaza Salcedo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Nearby Calle Crisologo is Plaza Salcedo, Vigan's main square and gathering point. At night, it's an audio-visual spectacle thanks to a dancing fountain light show.

Be at the Plaza Salcedo before 7:00 P.M. on weekdays to witness this 30-minute show that synchronizes the spouting of the water fountain to colorful lights and infectious music. On weekends, there is a second show at 8:30 P.M.

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

It is located in the main square of the city. Also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul, it was founded in the 17th century, and is one of the oldest Augustinian churches in the Philippines.

It boasts of a modified Baroque architecture, made by the Ilocanos to withstand earthquakes. The church has also gone through many disasters but has been restored.

Bantay Bell Tower in Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Bantay Bell Tower serves the nearby Saint Augustine Parish Church. It was established in 1950, making it one of the oldest in the Ilocos region, and was used during the colonial era as a watchtower against pirates, thus the name bantay or "to guard."

Climb up and enjoy an awe-inspiring view of neighboring towns.

Traveler getting a hand at pottery making in RG Jar, Ilocos Sur

Along Liberation Boulevard are factories and stores of handmade earthenware. The area is more commonly known as Pagburnayan from the root word burnay or clay pot.

Here, you can try cultural activities like pottery and weaving. The pots or jars are made from bantog clays that are dug from the western side of the city.

They are primarily useful in the fermentation of sugar cane into basí (sugarcane wine) and in making bagoong (fish paste).

Choose from any of the potteries in the area and get your hands muddy on pottery making. Or, you can watch the pros and buy souvenirs instead.

A local hand-weaver at Abel Iloco Weaving in Caoayan, Ilocos

In Brgy. Camanggaan, you can marvel at the intricacies of the hand-weavers at Rowilda’s Weaving Factory or Cristy's Loom Weaving.

There is no shortage of history lessons here in Vigan thanks to its many museums. As a city that prides itself on its historical and cultural significance in the Philippines, there are several museums that best explain Vigan's past.

Go museum hopping at these tourist spots when you’re in Vigan: 

Crisologo Museum

Preserved clothing of late Cong. Crisologo with his nameplate

Syquia Mansion

It is the ancestral home owned by former President Elpidio Quirino’s wife, Doña Alicia Syquia Quirino. The former president was born in this city, and the Syquia Mansion houses his extensive memorabilia. 

Father Burgos Museum

Street sign to Father Burgos Museum or the Vigan Conservation Complex

Museo San Pablo

Museo San Pablo houses photographs of Vigan in the 19th century by a German photographer and old religious statues.

Museo Nueva Segovia

In 1758, Vigan was the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, making it the position of power of Roman Catholicism up North.

Museo Nueva Segovia is the museum of the Arzobispado and where the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia resides. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and his men used it as headquarters when they were in Vigan in 1898.

Baluarte Zoo houses both native and exotic animals like lions, tigers, monkeys, camels, deer, ostrich, ducks, kangaroos, and a variety of birds.

It also houses a butterfly sanctuary. It's ideal for visiting early in the morning to watch the animals being fed and released in the open field.

What to Eat and Drink in Vigan 

A trip to this historical city is not complete without tasting what food Vigan is known for. A big part of your Ilocos itinerary  will involve a lot of eating because Vigan has several delicacies that you should never miss trying.

Here's what you need to know when planning a food trip in Vigan City: 

As a part of the Ilocos Region, Vigan City's main food offerings are Ilokano cuisine. Ilocanos, the locals of the Ilocos region, are known great cooks in the Philippines. Their dishes are cooked and served in Filipino homes and restaurants all over the country.

Ilokano dishes are usually cooked with bagoong (fermented/salted fish or small shrimps), fresh seafood, and vegetables. Here is some must-try local cuisine when in Vigan that are served in most Filipino restaurants:

Ilocos Empanada with vinegar

Ilocos Empanada

This delicacy is made with a mixture of grated green papaya, mung bean sprouts, shredded carrots, whole egg, and skinless Vigan longganisa. All wrapped in a dough of rice flour that is then deep-fried to get a crusty shell.

Irene's Empanada in Plaza Burgos is one of the go-to places for this sinful but heavenly and cheap delicacy.

Chunks of Ilocos Bagnet

Bagnet - Deep-fried crispy pork belly cooked in its fat. Best eaten with Sukang Iloko (local vinegar).

Pinakbet or Pakbet in Ilocos

Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism

Pinakbet or pakbet - A staple Ilokano dish cooked with fresh vegetables and bagoong (fermented/salted fish or small shrimps). Bits of bagnet (deep-fried pork belly) is sometimes added to this dish.

Sinanglao – Beef or carabao innards boiled in beef soup stock that is served with vinegar and kamias. You can add leeks and onion rings if you want to add more flavor.

Okoy – A pancake-like dish made with tiny local shrimps and usually eaten as an afternoon snack.

Tinubong – A sticky sweet rice cake cooked in coconut milk and sugar with strips of young coconut. It is sold in bamboo tubes.

Chichacorn or chichapop – A variation of Cornick or a corn snack. These are excellent food souvenir (pasalubong) items since it's easy to snack on.

Sukang Iloko – Vinegar made from fermented sugar cane, mixed with chili pepper and Samak leaves.

Royal Bibingka – A chewy rice cake topped with cheese and margarine and resembles a mamon (Filipino sponge cake), but with chewy texture like that of cassava cake.

Recommended Restaurants and Bars 

Check out these top restaurants while exploring the historic cobbled streets of Vigan. Most of these are located in or near Calle Crisologo. The majority offer Filipino or Ilokano cuisine with some international foods.

Café Leona

It is perhaps the most well-known restaurant in Vigan. Because it is named after the Vigan native, poet Leona Florentino, who is often considered as the mother of Philippine women's literature.

Aside from serving traditional Ilocano and Filipino cuisine, Café Leona also offers an eclectic fusion of Italian, Chinese, and Japanese dishes. And nothing highlights this better than their pinakbet pizza.

Lilong and Lilang Restaurant

Lush gardens may surround the hidden Lilong and Lilang, but it offers some of the best meat dishes like empanadas, warek-warek (pork innards with mayo), and bagnet. They do offer healthier choices like pinakbet and poqui-poqui (roasted eggplant).

Cafe Uno/Uno Grille

Uno Grille is the dining area surrounded by a garden, while Cafe Uno is the indoor area with cool interiors and soft lighting. Both are restaurants in Grandpa’s Inn.

Do try their take on Ilocano favorites longganisa, bagnet, poqui-poqui (roasted eggplant), and dinengdeng (a pinakbet-like dish with squash and a bagoong monamon soup base).

For the adventurous palate, try their nga abuos (mountain ants) or tokak (frog). Both restaurants offer pastries and pasta, and it’s been said that their white tea goes well with the chocolate pancake, buko pandan (a dessert made with coconut meat and screwpine leaves), and sans rival (cake made with buttercream and meringue layers).

Excited to hop on a bus or a plane to Vigan? It’s better to be prepared up to the smallest details! Read on to know about the mode of payment, language, and souvenir shopping tips to help you have a hassle-free trip. 


The primary payment mode in Vigan City is cash in Philippine Peso (PHP). The majority of establishments (except in small food stalls) in the City Center accept credit cards, but it's recommended to have enough cash with you all the time. There are ATMs in the City Center in case you need to withdraw some money. 

Locals speak Ilokano (their native language) and Filipino. The majority of locals, especially in the City Center, can speak and understand basic to intermediate English as well so communication will not be a problem here. 

Calle Crisologo is teeming with shops. You can do your souvenir shopping there. Grab some local snacks and delicacies as you explore like bagnet (deep-fried pork belly) and Vigan longganisa. Some shops also sell antiques, woven products, woodcrafts, and jewelry, to name a few.

Horse-drawn carriage, locally known as kalesa in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Day 1: Calle Crisologo + Museums + Pottery + Plaza Salcedo

6:00 A.M. - ETA in Vigan. Check-in at hotel and eat breakfast

7:00 A.M. - Join walking or kalesa-riding  Calle Crisologo tours  

11:00 A.M. - Join  Crisologo Museum tours

12:00 NN - Lunch. Try out Ilokano dishes like bagnet or pakbet

1:00 P.M. - Try pottery at Pagburnayan

3:00 P.M. - Go to Plaza Burgos to try Ilocos Empanada

4:00 P.M. - Visit the Syquia Mansion

5:00 P.M. - Dinner

7:30 P.M. - Watch the dancing fountain at Plaza Salcedo

6:00 A.M. - Breakfast

8:00 A.M. - Go to Bantay Bell Tower

10:00 A.M. - Try weaving at Abel Loom Weaving

12:00 NN - Lunch

2:00 P.M. - Museum hopping at Museo Nueva Segovia and Museo San Pablo

4:00 P.M. - Snacks

5:00 P.M. - Go to Vigan Cathedral

6:00 P.M. - Dinner 

8:00 A.M. - Souvenir shopping at Calle Crisologo

11:00 A.M. - Lunch

1:00 P.M. - ETD to Manila

Travel to the Past in Vigan 

Kalesa at the cobblestone street known as Calle Crisologo in Vigan

There may be remnants of the Spanish colonial past in this city, but Vigan cherishes those to motivate itself to be better for the future. And that's one lesson tourists can learn from exploring the city.

Vigan is always packed with visitors all year round. Make sure to plan your trip as thoroughly as possible (and in advance!) with help from this travel guide. Vigan City awaits those who wish to look back to move forward. 

Ready to plan your trip to Vigan, you should explore the various Vigan  Ilocos tours and activities that you can add in your itinerary to fully experience the old Philippines.

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travel essay about vigan city

Must-see Vigan tourist spots, Ilocos Sur

by Noel | | Travel Photography , Historic sites , Museums and art venues , Philippines , Unesco World Heritage sites | 28 comments

Calle Crisologo in Vigan City

Must-see Vigan tourist spots, Ilocos Sur – top places to visit

Vigan city in Ilocos Sur is located in the northwest region of Luzon in the Philippines is a beautiful Spanish colonial city. The city takes pride in its colonial past while mixing in some quirky, new and fascinating places to visit in the city and region.  If you are looking for something with more history and culture in your visit to the Philippines, check out these must see tourist spots in Vigan city, Ilocos Sur.

We have some fantastic food recommendations to also check out below on your visit here.

Must-see Vigan tourist spots, Ilocos Sur

Why visit Vigan city, Ilocos Sur?

One of the few remaining historic colonial capitals of the Philippines that is authentic to its Spanish Colonial days, Vigan city is a wonderful historic and Unesco World Heritage site that is worthy of a visit especially if you stay in any of the beautiful hotels that have been remodeled from an old historic home. Walking around the entire city to visit living museums, specialty shops and markets, cobblestone streets and eating the delicious local foods, snacks and comfort foods of the area is really special and unique for the Philippines which does not retain enough of it’s own historic past and references.

With so much beautiful and historic present and well preserved architecture in the historic district, it is worthwhile to visit Vigan in Illocos Sud area.

Calle Crisologo in Vigan City

Vigan City, FAQ

Should you visit vigan.

Visitors that love Unesco cities and historic Spanish Colonial cities will love Vigan. A rare Colonial Spanish city in the Philippines that is well intact and easy to explore, Vigan has retained many beautiful, old buildings, streets and large squares to explore in Ilocos Sud in Luzon island.

Where is Vigan city, Illocos sur located?

Unlike the ugly urban sprawl and development of Manila and Cebu City, Vigan city maintains its unique character as a authentic Spanish colonial city, in a very compact space. Designated as a Unesco World Heritage site, the entire city has many traditional homes, converted mansions and beautiful architectural zones that make this a unique travel destination in the Philippines. For those interested in Philippine culture and history from the Spanish colonial times, this city encapsulates the look and vibe of those early days but with modern conveniences to make it a pleasant visit.

The easiest way to get to vigan city is to fly to Laoag and take a short bus ride back down to Vigan. You can also catch a bus from Manila and that will be about a nine and 1/2 hour to the city.

Best time to visit Vigan City, Illocos Sur?

The best time to visit this Spanish Colonial city is during the dry season and cooler months of December to March when the weather is pleasant with less rain and humidity in the area. During the winter time you can also experience the holidays and festivities in the city to include Holy Week and Viva Vigan, New Year’s celebrations and the Vigan City Festival. A perfect time to enjoy the outdoors, festivals and activities and also touring around the city and the historic attractions around the region.

What makes Vigan city famous?

Vigan City is famous for its intact Spanish Colonial city, architecture, squares and historic sites that you can visit. This Unesco World Heritage site has retained many of its Spanish roots with a fantastic look at a historic colonial city that is well preserved and worth visiting.

Top activities and places to see and do around Vigan City, Illocos Sur

Bantay Bell tower in Vigan City

Top attractions to visit in Vigan city and surrounding area

Calle Crisologo in Vigan City

Calle Crisologo

Running over five blocks in the historic center of Vigan City, Calle Crisologo is the popular tourist destination with many of the Spanish colonial homes in the street converted into shops, restaurants, inns and other tourist attractions that give you a taste of what this colonial city looks like with cobble stone streets and kalesa horse buggies ply through the main thoroughfare.

Here’s a fun night time visit and tour of this historic street to visit in Vigan

Calesa rides Calle Crisologo in Vigan City

Kalesa ride through the historic districts of Vigan City

One of the best ways to slow down to the colonial lifestyle and pace of Vigan is to travel by kalesa or a horse drawn carriage with a driver. Kalesa drivers ply the main tourist areas of the city to show you the best parts of the colonial capital depending on how far you want to go and see around the city.  Most drivers will offer you a highlight tour of the important sections and attractions around the city

Tip  – Make sure you negotiate a good price up front before you step into the kalesa and what places you want to explore from the drivers highlights of places to see.

Kalesa rides through Vigan city

Here’s a fun Calesa tour highlight in visiting Vigan city below

St. Paul Metropolitan cathedral

St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

The main church of St. Pauls sits directly in front of Plaza Salcedo – the main square of the city with the dancing fountains. St. Paul’s Cathedral is part of the Unesco Heritage sites of the city and has been rebuilt many times from earthquakes, fires and other damages. The Spanish colonial style church is Neo-Gothic and Romanesque in style with the archbishop’s palace located next to the cathedral.

Plaza Salcedo In Vigan City

Plaza Salcedo

The large plaza fronting St. Paul Cathedral is known as Plaza Salcedo which is named after Spanish conqueror Juan de Salcedo who founded the city and region. The plaza is a very popular spot to hang out and relax in the main square of Vigan City with large monuments to check out around the square include the bronze statue of Jose Rizal (Philippine national hero), the water dancing fountains with the obelisk in the center (to honor Salcedo) and the city hall fronting the fountains. Night time is a popular time to visit with the colorful water dancing show which happens daily.

Father Burgos museum In Vigan City

Father Burgos Museum and Home

The city has so many heritage homes and sites and this includes the Father Burgos Museum which used to be his home.  Now managed by the Philippine National museum, rotating exhibits, art collections and a visit to the home and personal collection of Father Burgos gives you an insight to the daily life, memorabilia and Spanish colonial lifestyle to living in Vigan city.

Sysquia mansion in historic Vigan city

Syquia Mansion of President Elpidio Quirino

Home to the Philippine’s sixth president, Syquia mansion is the birthplace of Elpidio Quirino who brought back the Philippines economic growth after World War II. You can take a self tour of the mansion with signage describing the elaborate rooms that are all open to visit in this colonial home.  The ancestral home has many of the personal effects, fine furnishings, antiques and memorabilia of this affluent family that made their fortune building trade in the Vigan area. The exquisite home, furnishings and beautiful details are perfectly preserved for you to see how the wealthy entertained and lived during this time frame.

Baluarte Zoo in historic Vigan city

Baluarte Zoo

Part zoo and then a strange collection of the owners hunting prowess with a museum on the top of the hill with his trophy wildlife collection. This private collection gifted to the city, Baluarte is a fun distraction to visit outside of the city with a beautiful view from the top hill to the ocean with some free range animals roaming around and some other caged or fenced animals that you can view from a distance. This free zoo is open to the public, but there is a charge for the tram and visit to the wildlife museum if you’re in the mood to see his trophy collection of prized heads and taxidermy.

Bizarre museum of taxidermy and prized hunts at Baluarte

Baluarte museum collection in Vigan city

Explore Vigan City Public Market

The expansive Vigan public market is a fun place to explore to see where the locals shop for their perishables, meats, seafood and other take away foods. Housed in two large indoor buildings the top floors are the actual markets for fruits and vegetables on one side and meat, poultry and seafood with a large section of cafes, bakeries and other take away foods. The downstairs have crafts and souvenir shops, clothing and other daily sundry items worth walking around and finding some real cheap deals or gifts to take home. This is also a great market to photograph with not so shy locals also posing and hamming it up with you when you walk around the aisles.

Poultry section at the Vigan public market

Here’s a tour of the huge public market area of Vigan

The traditional craft of Abel Iloco in Vigan City

Traditional woven craft products are still hand-made in Vigan city and Ilocos Sur. There are traditional craft centers or coops that you can visit personally and pic up some wonderful and inexpensive hand-made woven crafts. Also, if you visit the Vigan public market, there is a large souvenir area that you can find many of the local fabrics turned into linens, clothing and other souvenirs at cheap prices.

Here’s a video showing the craft of Abel Iloco below

Bantay Belfry in Vigan City

Bantay Belfry

The Bantay Belfry is in another section far from the historic district – you can catch a tricycle to get to this destination. The entrance to the tower requires you to sign in and give an optional donation to visit the tower. Once you enter, you climb up a nicely landscaped area and then enter the door where you climb two sets of stairs to two observation areas, but the top deck has great views and a nice cool breeze flowing through which made me want to stay longer to enjoy the great views from the top. The name Bantay means to watch and was used as a lookout for raiders coming close to the town.

Poultry section at the Vigan public market

I head back down the tower and enjoy a nice last view and spot the wedding couple again taking pictures in the garden. Just outside the gate are a few more vendors selling crafts and snacks and I stop again to try another savory empanadas and fried shrimp okoy with a spicy vinegar sauce. When the temperatures are hot I usually just stick to small snack foods to keep me going instead of the typical heavy meals served in the restaurants. There are also a few cafes and small eateries just outside of the church if you are looking for a bigger meal.

Bantay church in Vigan City

Bantay Church

The church is quite elaborate with a beautiful exterior and interior – a wedding photo shoot was in progress which made it fun to also take photos with a wedding couple. I checked out the lovely outside garden and chapel before heading out to climb the massive bell tower.

Interior details of Bantay Church in Vigan City

Bantay church gardens and outdoor chapel

outdoor gardens of Bantay Church in Vigan City

Here’s a view of Bantay Church and the belfry from a drone view above

Plaza Burgos in Vigan City

Located in the historic district, Plaza Burgos is the starting point of the cobbled streets of Calle Crisologo along with a variety of fast food, take out eateries and the popular empanada shacks that Vigan city is known for its famous snack – the empanada. Old colonial structures line the square along with very well established restaurants serving a variety of Ilocano specialties from the region. If you’re looking for food venues, take a walk around the square and then to Calle Crisologo and check out the menus and daily specials to the various places you pass through.

Plaza Burgos in Vigan City

Old colonial buildings around Plaza Burgos

Plaza Burgos in Vigan City

What to eat in Vigan city and where

There are many must eat types of specialty foods to try here in Vigan that are local, authentic and delicious to try. Here’s what we recommend

Vigan empanadas

By far the most popular snack food or side dish in Vigan is empanadas. You will find empanada stands almost anywhere within the crowded plazas of Vigan, Empanada is something Vigan takes pride in.

Made with a combination of ingredients including Longganisang Iloko, beans, shredded cabbages, grated unripe papayas, onion, garlic and egg makes up the core of orange-colored Empanada.

It’s good to visit the many stands where sellers make it right before your very eyes which is also another interesting sight.

Pinakbet or Pakbet called locally is a delicious vegetable dish made with eggplants, okra, string beans, chili peppers, and bitter gourd. If you’re feeling a bit conscious about your health, this is the perfect meal to try out in Vigan and a very popular local favorite dish to enjoy.

This popular Vigan style sausage is all the rage around the Philippines with the popular pork belly styled meat dish. Made traditionally and dried under the sun, marinated then deep-fried to make it super crispy with tender meat on the inside.  Bagnet is recognized as the region’s delicacy symbol and is delicious and crunchy on the outside in fried perfection and so cholesterol-rich but oh so good to eat as a local delicacy.

Longganisang Iloko

A favorite local sausage, the Longganisang Iloko is known as Vigan Longganisa and a must try local sausage made and sold in the various markets around town. Very aromatic, plump, full of garlic, tatty and seen as a bit yellowish compared to usual sausages but one will convince you of the amazing flavors and aromas that is so well loved for this iconic sausage.

Filipinos cook them in a pan with a bit of water. After the water evaporates, the longganisa is fried using its own fat and is further fried until it turns slightly brown. It brings out its best flavor when dipped in vinegar and eaten with a plate of rice and eggs.

Royal Bibingka

For any sweet tooth, this is a must-try local dessert. The royal bibingka one of Vigan’s specialties of a spongy rice cake dessert. The crusty top and the sticky but soft cupcaked-sized body makes up the crowd favorite bibingka. Topped with cheese and butter, you can never go wrong with a Royal Bibingka.

Empanada food stalls plaza Burgos

Empanada food stalls

Located on the far end of Plaza Burgos, you’ll find the empanada food stalls where all the fried specialties including empanadas, okoy, grilled barbeques and soups are made fast and are an inexpensive snack or quick meal.  Around the square are a variety of shops and small malls selling a variety of souvenirs, t-shirts and clothing and other local made crafts and food items.

 Here’s a video of the famous Vigan Empanadas

eating out vigan city at Sitio food park

Sitio Food Park

Just outside of Vigan city is the cool new venue called Sitio Food Park which are old containers refashioned into a hip new dining, bar and hangout space with live music. Popular all day, the scene is really active at night time with live bands, neon and spotlights to create a fun vibe with many food choices to choose from snacks, desserts to local traditional food or even fusion food.  Come to Sitio if you’re looking for something different and lively at night time in Vigan City.

Traditional to fusion at Sitio Food Park

eating out vigan city at Sitio food park

Where to eat around Vigan city

With fantastic food from the Illocano region, you’ll love eating out and trying out all the delicious local food and specialties from the area. Check out this video of places to eat around the city now and the best street food venues in town.

Here’s another Vigan inspired food visit below

Where to stay in Vigan City

  There are plenty of fantastic accommodations, but the best stays are in some of the beautiful homes repurposed into inns or hotels. Here are some of the wonderful choices for inns to add to your stay and visit to Vigan City below.

Hotel Luna – nicely restored with a swimming pool, the comfortable rooms and modern amenities make this stay and close proximity to Calle Crisologo ideal in the historic district.

Hotel Salcedo de Vigan – Beautifully restored colonial home in the heart of the historic district with spacious rooms, fantastic buffet breakfast and friendly front desk service.

Vigan Plaza Hotel – A grand colonial home restored with beautiful antiques, large rooms with historic details and features in the rooms and main room. In the historic district with comfortable sized rooms.

Check out these other listing reviews with Trip Advisor here for current prices and availability.

More details about visiting Vigan City, Illocos Sur

It’s relatively easy to get around the city by taxi or tricycle, you can also hire a Kalesa ride to take you to any of the historic places around the city.

Try some of the local Ilocano specialty dishes like empanadas or okoy, loggonnisa (local sausages), and popular main dishes like pinakbet, bagnet (fried pork belly)

There are quite a few spas around Vigan City which are a fantastic and inexpensive way to wind down after touring around the city. You can check out the various spas here for more details

Stay in the historic district so it is easier to just walk around and see some of the main attractions and take taxis to the outlying areas..

How to get to Vigan city in Ilolos Sud

Located in the Northwest sector of the Philippines on Luzon Island, the city is very far to get to in the Ilocos Sud Region. The main way to get there is by plane, bus or private transportation. The distance from Manila to Vigan is about 264 miles and average time to get there is from 5.5 to 6 hours or quicker by plane.

Getting there by plane

The easiest way to get to Vigan City is by flying from Manila to the closest airport at Laoag and taking a bus or hired car to Vigan City. There are about 4 main bus lines from Laoag to Vigan City and the best schedule is with Partas Bus lines and you can check out their availability here .

Getting to Vigan by Bus

Getting to Vigan from Manila by bus takes about 9 hours but is the cheapest option to getting to Vigan City. If you are ready for the long ride from Manila to Vigan city there are many bus lines from Manila that cover this route. You can check out the many bus routes here for more information and current prices.

Getting to Vigan by taxi or private car

You can go by private car or taxi to Vigan for more privacy and even stop at various places of interest along the way. Or you can easily rent a car and do the trip yourself, if you want to explore many attractions and other historic sites to visit along the way.

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Vigan City, Philippines

Conclusion on visiting Vigan City, Ilocos Sur region

You’ll enjoy your visit and stay around Vigan to explore this wonderful Unesco site and walk around this city of restored homes, public buildings and shopping venues around the regional capital city of Ilocos Sud.

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Visiting the public market in Ilocos Norte


SirangLente by DDalisay

Planning to do a backpacking in Ilocos Norte and Sur to discover the new destinations. Crossing my fingers to visit all within 24-48 hours.


Enjoy,hope you get to these must see Vigan tourist spots in Ilocos Sur

Anita Hendrieka

I never knew this place existed! I would love to take a visit to the watchtower and the markets. It sounds like there is lots of great stuff to do in Vigan!

Vigan City is one of those rare colonial cities in the Philippines that remained relatively intact and is definitely worth a visit


Whenever I think of Philippines, I think about beaches and never the colonial city. But the Vigan city in Ilcos Sur looks quite impressive and interesting. Riding by Kalesa horse buggies to experience the colonial lifestyle will be on top of my list. Plaza Salcedo and Abel illoco is another attraction I would love to hang and shop around. Great pictures and thanks for sharing.

Most people think of the Philippines as beaches and islands, but there are some cultural gems worth visiting like Vigan city in Ilocos Sud

Anneklien Meanne

I was born and bred here, its so nice reading articles about my home town Vigan City…. you missed going to PAGBURNAYAN a local pottery neighbourhood. Did you try to visit places making the VIGAN longanisa (local sausage)

Oh yes I visiting some of those places that do make and sell Longonissa, the Vigan Sausage specialty. Thanks for suggesting this.


I am nostalgic abut our tour of Ilocos. I can never forget how we were overtaken by the cyclone and reached Manila after a delay of many hours. Your photos are just too good Nathan. Especially the street photos :).

It looks like its back to normal and Vigan city is shining with beautiful architecture, food and places to explore


I had never heard of Vigan city. A little bit of Spain in Philippines! 🙂 Loved the quirky, rustic charm on the streets with colonial architecture and an authentic character of it’s own! Calle Crisologo looks like a superb place for street shots and people watching. Loved the architecture of St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral and the vintage charm of Father Burgos Museum and Home! I’d love to visit the traditional raft centres of Abel Iloco! Thanks for such an insightful post!

It’s well preserved and well worth the Unesco designation, a must visit to Vigan City


Vigan City looks like a great place to explore. I still haven’t made it to the Philippines, but I hope to fix that next year. I would certainly head for that food market, and climb up Bantay Belfry to get a view of the town. I had no idea this would be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I do try to get to as many of those as I can.

Vigan city is very compact and easy to explore with all the interesting monuments, public squares and architecture – very unique for the Philippines


I still need to see more of the Philippines and Vigan will definitely make it to my itinerary next year.

It is beautiful in Ilocos Sud and Vigan City

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Yet another place in the Philippines we need to visit. We spent in the Philippines back in 2014 but I think you could spend YEARS there exploring. So many amazing places.

If you like Unesco sites then you would definitely enjoy exploring Vigan City Hannah


Vigan City looks so different to my perception of The Philippines. I guess I just imagined great beaches and didn’t realise there were such fabulous historic districts. Really eye opening.

This is unique for the Philippines, it really is a special city.

Melanie Klien

I want to see the Philippines so badly and I think this place looks much more attractive than Manila (although I am not very aware of things to do in Manila). I loved to read you enjoyed the empanadas and now I am hungry 🙂 Bantay Belfry looks really cool. I think I wouldn’t enjoy the market with all the dead animals and I am a bit worried that the horses have to work a lot with carrying people around. The place looks really cool and I hope I can visit one day.

Vigan city is very unique to the Philippines and not like the busy metropolis of Manila

alison abbott (@GreenWithRenvy)

What a beautiful Unesco site. I spend many years in and out of Manila in the 80’s, but never had the opportunity to visit other pieces of the country. clearly I missed a lot. Vigan City reminds me a bit of Cuba with all the colonial influences. Thanks for the visit, your photos really tell a story.

Vigan city is very different than the rest of the country and really maintains its heritage, hence the Unesco status, thanks for visiting.

McCool Travel

This is quite a comprehensive look at Vigan and Ilocos Sur. Those food stalls are calling my name. Mmmmmmm, empanadas.

Vigan City is very historic, cool and fun at the same time.

Rhonda Albom

I love the architecture and style of this city. While I enjoy seeing all the church interiors, there is so much more to this city. I would definitely visit the Sitio food park.

Vigan City is definitely a beautiful Unesco city in Ilocos Sur, I think you would definitely enjoy touring the entire region Rhonda


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Hi, I'm Noel, a writer and photographer based in San Francisco and Hawaii. I write about delicious food and wine indulgences, thoughtful luxury, and adventure travel. I share camera tips and techniques while exploring new and unusual places around the world. My site explores culture and history, art and architecture, world heritage sites, exotic locals, along with nature tours and natural landscapes worldwide. Quite a mixed bag of curiosities and quirky interests, just like myself.

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One of the oldest towns in the Philippines, Vigan is a Spanish Colonial fairy tale of dark-wood mansions, cobblestone streets and clattering kalesa (horse-drawn carriages). In fact, it is the finest surviving example of a Spanish Colonial town in Asia and a Unesco World Heritage site. But outside of well-restored Crisologo St (closed to vehicular traffic) and a few surrounding blocks, it’s also a noisy Filipino town like many others. In the places where history feels alive, you can smell the aroma of freshly baked empanadas wafting past antique shops, explore pottery collectives and watch sunlight flicker off capiz-shell windows.

Explore Vigan

Top Attractions

The Mestizo District, or Kasanglayan ('where the Chinese live'), is a grid of streets hemmed in between Plaza Burgos and Liberation Blvd and bisected by…

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, Chinese settlers pioneered a still-active pottery industry. You can visit a couple of pottery factories on Gomez St…

A Unesco World Heritage Site 38km south of Vigan, this massive baroque structure built in 1769 is unique. It has an imposing brick facade and sits alone…

This church was built in ‘earthquake baroque’ style (ie thick-walled and massive) after an earlier incarnation was damaged by quakes in 1619 and 1627. The…

Built in 1788, this museum is in the ancestral home of Father José Burgos, one of the three martyr priests executed by the Spanish in 1872. It houses an…

This branch of Vigan's Padre José Burgos National Museum, located 11km north of Vigan in Magsingal, displays an absorbing collection of Ilocano relics. An…

It's worth stopping in Badoc, halfway between Vigan and Laoag (about an hour by bus), for a peek inside the restored ancestral home of Juan Luna, arguably…

Every night at 7.30pm during peak tourist season, the fountain in the middle of Plaza Salcedo bursts into a music and light show. It gets crowded and is…

In barangay Camanggaan, just a 10-minute tricycle ride southeast of Vigan, you can watch abel hand-weavers in action at Rowilda’s Weaving Factory, which…

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Vigan .

Mestizo District

Pottery factories, la nuestra señora de la asuncion parish church, st paul cathedral, padre josé burgos national museum, magsingal museum, juan luna shrine, magic fountain, rowilda's weaving factory, learn more about vigan.

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.

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vigan city

Vigan City is a World Heritage Site in that it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines, and is well known for its cobblestone streets, and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial European architecture.

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 golds, beeswax, and other mountain products.

travel essay about vigan city

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 neighbourhood 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.

Population/ Language/ Area

Vigan City’s 2,511 hectares of land consists mostly of plains with gentle hills. Its boundaries on the north, east, south, and west are the municipalities of Bantay, Santa, Caoayan, and Sta. Catalina, respectively. The South China Sea is on its southwest portion.

Majority of its land, 60 percent of it, is used for agriculture. Around 32 percent is made up of residential area, nearly three percent are for commercial and industrial use, and around one percent is for institutional purposes. There are also forest reserves and fishponds included in Vigan’s land area.

Products and Services

The city is the trading hub of the province but agriculture is still the mainstay of the local economy. Main farm products include rice, tobacco, rootcrops, vegetables, livestock and poultry. Fishing is an important source of income especially in the coastal area. Fishponds are also sources of fish supply for the city. Vigan is well-known for its jars called burnay. It has a long tradition of making bricks called Damili. These materials were used to build the colonial houses and churches not only in the city but also in the region. Another popular cottage industry is the Abel-weaving from which fine fabrics are produced. Prominent personalities in the city and province are helping in the revival of this industry. With much help from the government, tourism is now playing an increasing role in the economy of the city.

Business Opportunity

The city offers much potential to attract small, medium and large enterprises. The processing of agriproducts hold as much promise as a viable enterprise in the city. Manufacturing construction materials can also be profitable consideraing the central location of the city in the region. The establishment of world-class tourist facilities is very much encouraged. Vigan hotels and accommodation are growing in the area to accommodate such tourist and visitors in the city.

Tourist Spots

Vigan City itself is already a tourist destination. You can see anywhere, the Spanish-time houses and streets. There are also calesas (horse-drawn buggy) which offer you a ride anywhere in the city. Lots of stores selling souvenirs are also in the street of the city.

Vigan Heritage Village

This place is known as Mestizo District, where the streets are lined with Spanish Era ancestral houses (all with Spanish time tile roofs, massive hardwood flooring, balustrades and other in varying Spanish, Mexican, and Chinese architectural styles). There are also cobble-stoned streets, which led to Vigan’s inscription in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

travel essay about vigan city

Vigan City Baluarte

A zoo located in Salindeng. There are variety of animals (including tigers and ostriches).

Vigan City Baluarte

Plaza Salcedo

Dedicated to the memory of th great conquistador Juan de Salcedo. This place is also the site of Gabriela Silang’s public hanging in 1763.

travel essay about vigan city


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