Heritage houses, cobblestone streets, kalesas, historic attractions, and delicious cuisine—these spell out Vigan City. 

As one of the best preserved Spanish colonial towns in the world, Vigan City has a unique charm that anyone would be attracted to. In fact, you might not see much of its classic architecture and matching cobblestoned streets elsewhere in the Philippines. Plus, there are food and attractions of interest in and around the city that surely make the 8 to 10-hour road trip so worth it.

Best Places to Visit in Vigan

Vigan is an amazing place to travel to. Here are the best places to include in your Vigan Tourist Spots itinerary:

  1. Calle Crisologo
  2. Syquia Mansion Museum
  3. RG Jar Factory
  4. Bantay Church Bell Tower
  5. Baluarte Resort

What’s inside this blog?

To get to know more Vigan City, let’s take a look at this Vigan tour guide and travel back in time!

History of Vigan City

a view of the old houses in calle crisologo in vigan

Vigan was an important coastal trading post in pre-colonial times. 

Long before the Spanish galleons came, it was the Chinese junks who sailed first to Isla de Bigan through the Mestizo River. They came to barter exotic goods from Asian kingdoms in exchange for gold, beeswax and other mountain products from the Cordilleras. Most Chinese settled in Vigan, intermarried with the natives and started the multi-cultural bloodline of the Bigueños.

In 1572, King Philip II sent Captain Juan de Salcedo with about 80 soldiers to explore the coast of Los Ilocano that sailed from Manila to Vigan.

After the successful expedition and exploration of the North, Captain Juan de Salcedo founded “Villa Fernandina de Vigan” in honor of King Philip II’s son, Prince Ferdinand who died at the age of four. Because of this, he was rewarded by the King with the old province of Ylocos which then composed of the Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union and some parts of the Mountain Province as his Encomienda and was accorded the title as Justicia Mayor de esta Provincia de Ylocos.

It was believed that when Salcedo asked a native what the name of the place is in Spanish, the native could not understand a word he was saying. Salcedo then pointed on the ground and the native thought that he was actually asking for the name of the vegetation planted on the ground. So the native said “bigaa apo, bigaa apo”, referring to a tuber plant from the “gabi” or taro family. From then on the Spaniards named the place Bigan.

In the 17th century, Vigan City witnessed one of the bloodiest wars in Philippine history—the revolt by Diego and Gabriela Silang against the Spaniards.

During World War II, Vigan came close to destruction at the hands of the Japanese, if not for a priest taking in the Filipino wife and child of the city’s Japanese military commander, on the condition that Vigan be spared.

But the battles didn’t stop there because after the war, in the 1970s, the town became a battleground again but this time, between political clans vying for control of Ilocos.

The state of Vigan City then was far from the tourist destination that it is now.


Vigan City: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Vigan heritage village has never failed to catch attention in the tourism scene. Because Vigan has maintained its authenticity in its grid street pattern, historic urban layout, and use of open spaces, UNESCO has inscribed it in the list of World Heritage Sites.

According to UNESCO, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.


Places to visit in Vigan

One of the most beautiful places in the Philippines is Vigan so when you’re in town, make sure to check out these places for an amazing trip! From Vigan houses to jar factories, we’ve rounded up all the best places you must see in the historic city of Vigan.

a local woan passing through a colorful souvenir shop in vigan

Address: Crisologo, Vigan Philippines

A trip to Vigan Philippines won’t be complete without walking along the iconic Calle Crisologo. The Spanish houses erected here by the wealthy families have been so well-maintained over the years. Tourists can ride a kalesa or simply take a fun walking Vigan tour to see the marvelous heritage houses.

2. Syquia Mansion Museum

the exquisite dining hall of the syquia mansion

Photo credits to Dan Lundberg / Flickr

Address: Quirino Boulevard, Vigan Ilocos Sur

Located in Quirino Boulevard, the Syquia Mansion Museum has been decorated with antique furniture, paintings, and exhibits from the time of President Elpidio Quirino, a native of Vigan. The stunning house was owned by Quirino’s wife, who belonged to the affluent Syquia family.

3. RG Jar Factory

different vases and pots in rg jar factory

Address: Gomez St, Vigan Ilocos Sur

After you’re done exploring the Vigan heritage village, go for a unique couple or family bonding activity in RG Jar Factory where you can make your own pot and jar. The jar makers can demo how it’s done and let you create your own clay pot or jar. The place does not have any entrance fees whatsoever but you could donate any amount, it’s up to you. 

4. Bantay Church Bell Tower

tourists climbing the bantay church bell tower

Address: Bantay, Ilocos Sur

If you can’t get enough of the Vigan heritage village and want to get a taste of the city’s old-world charm, go to Bantay Bell Tower. The Bantay Church Bell Tower served as the town’s watchtower in 1591. The magnificent view may have been the reason why it was supposedly “Diego and Gabriela Silang’s favorite date spot during the 17th century.”

5. Baluarte Resort

antrance at the balaurte park and zoo

Address: Quirino Boulevard, Tamag, Vigan City, 2700 Ilocos Sur

Just 10 minutes away from Calle Crisologo, Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo lets you get close to nature’s wonderful creatures from cute little birds to big cats a.k.a. tigers. It’s also dubbed as the “Home of the Big Cats in Vigan,” as it shelters Bengal tigers, white lions, and leopards.


Things to do in Vigan

Here are some of the most fun activities you must try in Vigan City:

1. Food trip

a kalesa passing through a vigan restaurant

Vigan Ilocos Sur is a haven for foodies! Wherever you look, you’ll find a grand restaurant, hole-in-the-wall cafes, or quaint eateries that serve oh-so-delicious food! You must try their famous Vigan longganisa and empanada! What’s even better is that the food here isn’t expensive unlike in other touristy places. 

2. Go on a weaving tour

a guy weaving abel cloth

Abel cloth is a traditional woven product in Vigan known for its unique beauty and durability. Many families hand abel cloth down to younger generations as heirlooms as this is something that represents their culture. Places you can visit are: Cristy’s Loomweaving, Rowilda’s Loomweaving, Vigan Public Market, and Calle Crisologo.

3. Make your own pot

a newly formed beautiful vase at rg jar factory

Another fun activity you can try in Vigan Ilocos Sur is pottery making! If you love planting, this might come in handy for you! You can visit RG Jar Factory and test your hand skills at pottery. If you don’t have the patience and creative “skill” for it, you can try the less graceful but possibly equally satisfying alternative: smashing jars to make clay beds for fishponds.

4. Visit the Vigan Cathedral

facade of the manila cathedral

The Vigan Cathedral, also known as the St. Paul’s Cathedral is considered a major religious landmark not only of northern Luzon but the country as well. The original structure was built in 1574 with wood and thatch. It was just a mere chapel then. It was only in 1641 when it was turned into a church and was completed in 1800. 

The St. Paul’s Cathedral follows a Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes which is known as “Earthquake Baroque.”

5. Discover the Hidden Garden Vigan

Contrary to its name, Hidden Garden Vigan is not actually hidden. In fact, it’s found at the heart of Vigan City and is frequented by tourists and locals alike. Here you can shop souvenirs, clothes, and plants or dine at their garden restaurant that serve fresh food everyday after a tiring Vigan tour at the Vigan heritage village!


Must-try food in Vigan

One of the main reasons travelers go to Vigan is the food! More than the Vigan longganisa and empanada, there’s more that this charming town offers. Make sure to try these when in Vigan:

1. Vigan longganisa

different vigan longganisa in the market

Oh dear, trust us! You can’t leave Vigan without tasting the city’s famous longganisa! Unlike the usual longganisa that’s sweet and juicy, Vigan longganisa is rich in flavor kicking your taste buds with garlic, salt, paper, and special herbs and spices! It’s kind of dry and saltier when eaten. Tourists never leave Vigan without buying this delectable treat for their family and friends back home.

2. Empanada 

vigan empanada

Photo credits to Jose Nicdao / Flickr

Another treat you shouldn’t miss when in Ilocos is the Vigan empanada! It is a deep-fried pastry stuffed with meat. But what makes Vigan empanada different from others is its stuffing. Their empanada is filled with meat, vegetables, and egg, then paired with the best vinegar sauce! While you’re eating, you can also watch the famous dancing fountain Vigan near the plaza!

3. Sinanglaw 

Sinanglaw is a soup dish made of beef and beef innards flavored with garlic, onions and ginger. Kamias gives it a distinctly sour taste with a hint of bitterness, usually a favorite pulutan (beer match). It’s been compared to the popular beer chow pinapaitan.


Best time to go to Vigan

The best time to go to Vigan is around January to May. Vigan celebrates its town fiesta every January while summertime in the Philippines is best to be spent from March to May.


How to get to Vigan

There are two ways to get to Vigan: by bus and by plane.

By bus

From Manila, you can ride a bus bound for Vigan. The travel time will take about 8 to 10 hours depending on the traffic.

By plane

From Manila, you can take a plane to Laoag City. Upon arrival, there is a lot of public transportation available in the Laoag City Airport that can take you to Vigan. Travel time is about an hour. It’s faster but it’s thrice the price of the bus fare ticket. 

For affordable accommodation in Vigan that doesn’t sacrifice comfort and quality, make sure to check out www.zenrooms.com!


Frequently Asked Questions About Vigan City

Q: What is Vigan famous for?
A: Vigan is famous for its well-preserved Spanish Colonial town, historical Vigan tourist spots, and delicious food and delicacies. Because of its charm, it has been inscribed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Q: Where is Vigan located?
A: Vigan City is located in the province of Ilocos Sur. Here you can find the famous Vigan houses that date back to the Spanish colonial era and so many more.

Q: What are the most beautiful places in Vigan?
A: Vigan is an amazing place to travel to. Here are the best places to include in your Vigan Tourist Spots itinerary whether you want to learn more about the facts about Vigan City, history of Vigan City or just chill:

  1. Calle Crisologo
  2. Syquia Mansion Museum
  3. RG Jar Factory
  4. Bantay Church Bell Tower
  5. Baluarte Resort Vigan Philippines
  6. Vigan Cathedral
  7. Crisologo Museum
  8. Plaza Salcedo
  9. Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone
  10. Mindoro Beach of Vigan

Q: What are the best things to do in Vigan?
A: Here are some of the most fun things to do in Vigan: 

  1. Food trip
  2. Travel back in time in Calle Crisologo
  3. Go on a weaving tour
  4. Pot-making
  5. City tour

Q: How many hours drive from Manila to Vigan?
A: The travel time from Manila to Vigan is around 8-10 hours.

Q: How many hours Vigan to Pagudpud?
A: Traveling to Pagudpud from Vigan takes approximately 3 hours.

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

When talking about the most beautiful forests, rarely it happens that the Philippines is mentioned. But the country has something grand to be proud of, too—Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, Mindanao’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It boasts of a beautiful pygmy forest, one of the very few all over the world, and hosts rich biodiversity and endemicity of flora and fauna, an embodiment of ecological balance, which in this age and time, we can seldom see and behold. 

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary’s biggest draw is its sheer diversity and variety of its resident wildlife. As visitors delve in this mysterious forest, encountering astonishing plants and animals, many of those found nowhere else in the world, is a regular sight.

Curious already? Let’s find out what this majestic mountain has to offer!

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary location

It is located in the south easternmost part of the Philippines on Mindanao Island in the Davao Oriental Province.

What’s inside this blog?

About Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park and its amenities are situated at the buffer zone area of the heritage mountain covering around 12.84 hectares which houses the interpretation site, a natural science museum, research center and cabin, bird-watching viewdeck, a hanging bridge, a nature trail for leisure hiking, sunset viewdeck, and Cafe Hamiguitan.

For the more adventurous guests, they can also enjoy other features of the park like the tree-top obstacle and a flying lemur gliding ride.

The trek to Mt. Hamiguitan can be challenging and may take up to three days. If you have no time or energy for that kind of adventure, you can still learn about the mountain range at the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park, which features a modern natural science museum with a central ramp modeled after the mountain’s five levels of vegetation. 

Located in the town of San Isidro, the Mt. Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum is an interactive facility that not only showcases the wonders of Mt. Hamiguitan but also advocates for people’s participation in the mountain’s conservation efforts by introducing them to its rich flora and fauna, and what it means for humanity.

This interactive facility showcases the wonders of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary wasn’t revealing its beauty too easily. Each visitor has to earn it.

Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site

mount hamiguitan peak

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The 5,315 feet above sea level Mt. Hamiguitan gained its fame after it claimed a coveted spot in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. 

According to UNESCO, it is home to 1,380 plant and animal species, eight of which are found nowhere else in the world except Mt Hamiguitan, and 341 of which are endemic to the Philippines that include the iconic Philippine Eagle, Philippine cockatoo, golden crowned flying foxes, the Philippine warty pigs, Philippine mossy-pygmy fruit bats, and more.

One of the reasons that Mt Hamiguitan was inscribed as a UNESCO WHS is that it represents a complete, substantially intact and highly diverse mountain ecosystem, in a significant biogeographic region of the Philippines. 

UNESCO added that the fragile tropical “bonsai” forest that crowns the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary epitomizes nature’s bid to survive in adverse conditions. As a result of its semi-isolation and its varied habitat types growing in dissimilar soil and climate conditions, its biodiversity has shown a significantly high level of endemicity that has led scientists to believe that there may be more globally unique species waiting to be discovered in the area. 

According to some locals and mountaineers, Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary also features a “Tinagong Dagat” (hidden sea), a lake that mysteriously experiences high tide and low tide.

These, among many other things, are what make nature-lovers and hikers’ paradise.

How to get to Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park

From Manila, you can book a flight bound for Davao City. From Davao Ecoland Terminal, take the bus going to the Municipality of Governor Generoso which will usually take 3.5 hours at most.

Another option is to ride the bus heading to Tagum City and from here, ride a jeepney bound for Governor Generoso or Sigaboy. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction leading to the museum, where you can ride a habal-habal motorcycle.

Places you can visit near Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary

Once you’re done touring the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, you can then check out these places near the area to make the most of your trip.

1. Aliwagwag Falls

Majestic blue waters of Aliwagwag Falls

Known for its staircase-like boulders, Aliwagwag Falls is among the top tourist destinations in the province. This picturesque 84-tiered falls with more than 130 cascades stands at 1,110 feet making it the highest waterfall in the Philippines. 

2. Cape of San Agustin

aerial blue of cape of san agustin in davao

Facing the great Celebes Sea, the Cape of San Agustin mixes remains of the Spanish colonial rule and the beauty of the Philippine beaches. Many divers frequent this place because of the diving experience at the famous diving site known as “the wall.” Cape of San Agustin houses three lighthouses which offer equally breathtaking views of the sea. You can also visit an amazing rock formation called “the altar.”

3. Lake Carolina

bamboo raft at Lake Carolina davao

Located just 15 minutes away from the national highway, Lake Carolina in Baganga is a perfect destination for people who are looking for a one-of-a-king experience. Although called a lake, it is actually a lagoon filled with brackish water and abundant marine life. Close to Palawan’s turquoise waters, every corner is definitely Instagrammable! The surrounding green trees makes the place even more relaxing.

4. Dahican Beach

a skimboarder braving the waves at dahican beach in davao

Dahican Beach is popular with surfers, skimboarders and beach bums, that offers a simple, unspoiled slice of paradise with a stunning crescent-shaped coastline and thrilling waves for an adrenaline rush.

5. San Victor Island

If you want a secluded and serene getaway, detached from the whole world, San Victor Island is the perfect place to be. San Victor Island boasts its fine white sand and clean water that’s home to many sea creatures including the transient dugongs and marine vegetation.

Grab the lowest rate yet quality budget hotels in Davao when you book at www.zenrooms.com. ZEN Rooms guarantees comfortable stays with the best amenities at the most affordable price!

Frequently Asked Questions About Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary

Q: Where is Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary located?

A: It is located in the south easternmost part of the Philippines on Mindanao Island in the Davao Oriental Province.

Q: How to get to Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park?

A: From Manila, you can book a flight bound for Davao City. From Davao Ecoland Terminal, take the bus going to the Municipality of Governor Generoso which will usually take 3.5 hours at most. Another option is to ride the bus heading to Tagum City and from here, ride a jeepney bound for Governor Generoso or Sigaboy. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction leading to the museum, where you can ride a habal-habal motorcycle.

Q: What to do in Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park?

A: Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park and its amenities are situated at the buffer zone area of the heritage mountain covering around 12.84 hectares which houses the interpretation site, a natural science museum, research center and cabin, bird-watching view deck, a hanging bridge, a nature trail for leisure hiking, sunset view deck, and Cafe Hamiguitan. For the more adventurous guests, they can also enjoy other features of the park like the tree-top obstacle and a flying lemur gliding ride.

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

It’s not surprising at all when Palawan has been recognized as the best island in the world by international travel magazines. With its pristine beaches and breathtaking lagoons, you will never be disappointed at what’s waiting for you. One charming treasure of Palawan that truly stands out is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

It is one of the longest underground rivers in the world that outflows directly to the sea, traveling five miles through a subterranean cave system. Inside the Puerto Princesa Underground River, you will see karsts—natural rock formations created by dissolving limestone—loom in every direction.

If you’re planning to visit the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, read on to know the things you should expect and some tips for a hassle-free and oh-so-fun adventure!

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park being a UNESCO World Heritage Site

astounding limestone karst inside the puerto princesa underground river

In 1999, Puerto Princesa Underground River was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to UNESCO, it encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife. UNESCO also took into consideration that the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River contains globally significant habitat for biodiversity conservation to include it in the World Heritage Sites list. 

Aside from being a World Heritage Site, it is also recognized as Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park 7 Wonders of Nature.

Because of its beauty and being a protected area, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park activities require careful planning and management to ensure the natural values are not impacted.

Best time to visit Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

The best time to visit Puerto Princesa is during the dry season: November to May. The warmest months are from March to May, while the wet season is from June to October. Be sure to check weather updates from time to time to avoid unwanted circumstances on your trip.

Puerto Princesa Underground River Travel Tips 

bats in the puerto princesa underground river

Take note of these essential travel tips to make the most out of your trip and have an amazing adventure in Puerto Princesa Underground River:

1. Wear comfortable clothes that will let you move around hassle-free. You should also bring extra clothes just in case you get wet during the tour.

2. Avoid wearing slippery footwear or heeled shoes. If possible, wear aqua shoes, trekking sandals, or rubber slippers. 

3. Bring a dry bag to secure your valuables. 

4. Before the tour, apply sunblock and insect repellant. 

5. Always wear the provided life vests and hard hats for your safety. 

6. Avoid bringing disposable water bottles or plastic bags. Use refillable bottles instead. 

7. When inside the cave, keep your mouth closed especially when looking up. We’re sure you don’t want to get any surprise “gifts” from above, where the bats are.

8. Follow the rules of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park activities. Don’t talk loudly inside the cave to avoid disturbing the bats.

Places you can visit near Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

1. Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center

a group of baby crocodiles

If you’re an animal lover, you will surely have a blast at Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, one of the best places to visit in Puerto Princesa. It is where Palawan Crocodile Farm is located, which not only serves as the home of various crocodile species but is also a research center that educates visitors about these creatures. Aside from the crocodile farm, there are also aviaries where you’ll see various species of birds.

2. Baker’s Hill

Baker’s Hill is a well-known pasalubong (gift store) in Puerto Princesa. They sell various pastries and cakes that will surely fill your tummy. Most tourists in Puerto Princesa never miss Baker’s Hill and always have one or two boxes of their homemade pastries in their carry-ons for their loved ones back home. But other than being a pasalubong store, Baker’s Hill has also become one of the most famous Puerto Princesa tourist spots because of its Instagram-worthy areas such as the mini zoo and a collection of life-sized cartoon statues.

3. Honda Bay

If you think you can’t enjoy an island like in Puerto Princesa, think again ‘cause it’s more than just city sights. There you’ll find Honda Bay where various white beaches are located. Through an island-hopping tour, tourists can visit its numerous islands, which are all unique from each other. The beast Puerto Princesa beaches are in Luli Island, Starfish Island, and Cowrie Island.

How to get to Puerto Princesa Underground River

From Manila, you have to travel to Puerto Princesa City first via land, sea, or air. Upon arrival in Puerto Princesa, you have to travel to Sabang. There is a lot of public transportation available to go to Sabang town: jeepneys, bus, and vans. It will take about 2 to 3 hours of travel time from Puerto Princesa Airport to Sabang.

From Sabang Port, you’ll board a small boat bound for Sabang Beach, which is the entry point to the cave.

Make your trip more fun and affordable by staying at the best budget hotel in Puerto Princesa offered by ZEN Rooms. You’re guaranteed quality accommodation at the lowest rates! Check out www.zenrooms.com now!

 

 

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.