Things to do in Vigan, Ilocos Sur: A city that doubles as a time machine
Ah, Vigan. Last time Primer was there, we went out and explored the city the way any sensible person would: stay in a heritage house, visit the two plazas, check out how to make their famous earthenware, and maybe sneak in a meal or two… or three.
The city can be explored within a day, though we suggest staying for the night to fully enjoy the experience. Here’s a list of things you can do #WhenInVigan:
Sleep-over at a heritage house
SEE THIS AT VILLA ANGELA. Yes, that is THE Tom Cruise.
As one of the few well-preserved heritage cities in the world, Vigan has an iron-clad rule about restoring homes: you can only go so far as updating the interior. The outside must stay the same. This means any hotel you see in Vigan will most likely be a heritage house, unless it’s the swanky One Vittoria.
NO HATE. Don’t get us wrong; we love One Vittoria. It’s just that it’s a bit too, well, modern for the town itself.
We recommend staying at the Villa Angela Heritage House, an 18th century home built by then-gobernadorcillo Agapito B. Florendo.
Enjoy #IlocandiaFood from the get-go
HOW CAN YOU RESIST this plate full of guilty Ilocano goodness?
Nothing says a good vacation that a full tummy. We understand your #OperationBalikAlindog2017 is in full gear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have cheat days (or meals), right? Besides, who would not salivate (and eventually dig in) to a plate full of their famous bagnet? You can even go healthy and toss it with a salad.
COMPROMISE. Take away the bacon… and put in bagnet. #InstantHealthyDish
You can also go the extra mile and hunt down the best empanadas you’ll taste this side of the world (or, at least, the country).
Explore its rich history
You’ve gotten your fill of Ilocos Sur’s habit-forming cuisine and have your room in one of the heritage hotels. Now it’s time to explore the city streets and revel in the fact that, apart from the concrete and all the powerlines, it’s largely unchanged since it was born sometime between the 1500s and 1600s.
THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR. Calle Crisologo. It rivals the streets in Intramuros (and probably beats them hands-down).
Take a stroll along Calle Crisologo while trying to resist (and ultimately fail) to get yourself a souvenir (and possibly more grub), know more about Ilocanos through the Ilocos Regional Museum Complex, or see Vigan during its heyday at the Crisologo Museum.
Do as the locals do
Vigan is so well-designed that you can walk from any of its major tourist attractions with ease. Case in point: the museums we mentioned are at most a 30-minute walk away from Pagburnayan, where people go to see how earthenware is made.
However, all that walking will take its toll on you. If you’re tired from all that walking (believe us, you will be), take a break at Plaza Burgos (and maybe get some more empanada). At night, make sure you drop by Plaza Salcedo to witness their dancing fountain come to life.
Vigan truly is an amazing city. It’s not difficult to fit in and get to know the people, especially when it comes to talking about the city’s history. Make enough trips, and you’ll probably grow attached to this wonderful city.