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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vigan City Travel Guide: Vigan Heritage Village and more

The City of Vigan is the capital city of Ilocos Sur located in North-West Luzon facing the South China Sea.  Vigan is derived from the Hokkien chinese dialect "Bee Gan" given by the Chinese traders and settlers which means "beautiful shore". While some say, Vigan City derived its name from the "Bigaa" plant, a variant of the gabi species which grows in Vigan.

vigan ilocos sur

Vigan has an area of 28.86 km which is abundant in hotels, inn, restaurants, banks and tourist shops.  Most establishments are air-conditioned and locals are accustomed to foreigners and tourists.  Vigan City is one of the most famous tourist destination in Luzon because it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines.  Although the architectures are mainly of European colonial as apparent in its cobblestone streets, the houses also carry both Filipino and Oriental particularly of Chinese influence.  The city is more romantic and scenic at night with the town lights.

vigan ilocos sur
One of the Bricks in the Streets of Vigan

Vigan City Map

Vigan City Climate
Th climate in Vigan during dry season from November to May is hot.  Its warmest average reaching up to 31 °C that is felt during the day.  With the plain topography and lack of forest reserves in the area, there is nothing to counter the heat of the sun.  However, during the wet season from May to October, it also experiences heavy rainfalls and typhoons.

Vigan City Budget
The budget for Vigan is around 2,000 to 6,000 php.


To and From Vigan
  • Public Transport
    • Airplane 
    • Bus from Laoag, Ilocos Sur ( placard  going to San Fernando,  Baguio , Carmen,  Pasay, Manila, Cubao) - 110 php fare (1.5 hours travel time)
      • Farinas Trans (Green)  
      • Maria De Leeon Bus Lines
      • RCJ  (Blue)   
      • F. Franco Trans 
      • Auto Bus (Black)
      • Partas Bus (Blue and White)
    • Bus from Manila - 600- 800 php fare
      •  Edsa-Cubao
      •  Direct to Vigan
        •  Dominion Bus  Lines  (Green blue)
          - (02) 727-2350
        • Viron  Transit (Cream Orange Maroon) - (02) 726-7412
        •  Partas (Blue and White) (fare: 600 php)
          - (02) 725-7303
      • Caltex at Bantay, Ilocos Sur so you have to ride tricycle to Vigan
        •  Florida Liner (Pink)
      • Pasay (nearest from NAIA)
        •  Partas (Blue and White) - fewer schedule (fare: 600 php) - (02) 722-3369
      • Sampaloc
        •  Direct to Vigan
          • Aniceto Lines  (Yellow) - (02) 732-8534
          • RCJ  (Blue)  
        • Caltex at Bantay, Ilocos  Sur so you have to ride tricycle to Vigan
          • Auto bus  (Black) 
          • Farinas Trans (Green) 
  • Private Transport from Manila via Car
    • Take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) up to Exit 85 to get to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).  Exit at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and follow the National Highway until you reach Ilocos Sur.
Within the Vigan (mostly walkable) - haggle to get the lowest range
  • Kalesa (200-300 php/hour)
  • Tricycle (8 php-25 php)  
kalesa vigan
Where most Calesas are parked

Accommodation (Where to Stay at Vigan) - Around 300-2,000 php per person
  • Casa Tofilla Lodge (Pantay Daya, Vigan City) - (077) 722-6482
  • Cordillera Inn (Crisologo Street) - (077) 722-2727 
  • El Juliana Hotel (Quirino Blvd.) - (077) 722-2994
  • Gordion Hotel (V. De Los Reyes St.) - (077) 722-2526
  • Grandpa's Inn and Restaurant (#1 Bonifacio St.) - (077)722-2118
  • Green R Hotel (AlCantara St.) - (077) 722-6106
  • Playa de Oro Resort (Mindoro, Vigan) - (077) 722-8771-78
  • R.F. Ancieto Mansion (Crisologo St.) - (077) 722-2383
  • Vigan Heritage Mansion (Cor. Liberation Blvd. & Crisologo St.) - (077) 722-6495
  • Villa Angela Heritage House (Quirino Blvd.) - (077) 722- 2914
    Vigan Street Food
    Activities (What to do in Vigan)
    • City Tour- most destinations are free but they accept donations
    • Food Tripping and Tasting its Local Dishes (Around 150-400 php per meal) - most of your budget will be for this (see list below)
     Restaurant that Serve Authentic Ilocano Dishes (Where to Eat in Vigan City)

    marshas delicacies vigan
    Marsha's Delicacies
      Souvenirs (Pasalubong)
    • Antiques, Arts, Handicrafts and Loomweaving
      • Casa Rica Handicrafts (Crisologo St.) - (0918) 9007-7987
      • Collado Arts & Souvenirs (Crisologo St.) - (077) 673-0885
      • Cristy's Loomweaving (Brgy. Camangaan) - (077) 722-6171
      • Lucy's Antique Shop (Crisologo St.) - (077) 722-5859
      • Rowilda's Loomweaving  (Crisologo St.) - (077) 722-2731
    • Bibingka (also Chicharon, Suka de Ilokko, Bagnet and more delicacies)
      • Amiannance Bibingka (Brgy. II) - (077) 722-2596
      • Marsha's Delicacies 
      • Three Sisters Delicacies
      • Tongson's Royal Bibingka (Crisologo St.) - (077) 722-2920
    • Jat's Vigan Chichacorn (Brgy. San Julian Norte) -also sold on most stores in Ilocos
    • Pots and Jars
    • Vigan Longganisa
      • Cely's Longganisa (Brgy. Tamang) - (077) 722-7106
      • Vigan Public Market
    • Random Souvenir Items
      • Vigan Public Market
      • Vigan Heritage Village (more expensive than market)

    Vigan City Itinerary
    • Ilocos Sur Tourism Information Center - (077) 722-8771-76
      • you can ask for assistance or grab a map here
    ilocos sur information tourism center
    Ilocos Sur Tourism Information Center

    • Abel-Weaving (Brgy. Camaangan) - there are also Abel weavers in Brgy. Mindoro and San Pedro
      • TRIVA: The handwoven abel iloco became so famous or its colorful and strong material that it even beat the Spanish weaving industry during the galleon trade era.
    • Baluarte Zoo (FREE entrance)
    • Ruby Jar Factory (a.k.a Burnayan) (Brgy. VII) - (077) 722-2447 - you can try pottery for FREE 
      • NOTE: Locals call this Burnayan which means pottery or jar factory in Ilocano)
    • Crisologo Museum (FREE entrance)
    • Hidden Garden
    • Plaza Burgos
    plaza burgos
    Plaza Burgos
    plaza burgos
    Plaza Burgos

    • Plaza Salcedo
    plaza salcedo
    Plaza Salcedo

    • Santa Maria Church (one of the oldest churches in Luzon)
    • Syquia Mansion Museum
    syquia mansion museum
    Syquia Mansion Museum

    syquia mansion museum
    Syquia Mansion Museum
    • Vigan Heritage Village and Calle Crisologo (best to view the sunset and at night with town lights)
      • UNESCO world heritage list since  December 2, 1999 since the monumental buildings are preserved since the Spanish Era in the 18th Century
    vigan heritage village
    Calle Crisologo
    vigan heritage village
    Calle Crisologo
    calle crisologo
    Calle Crisologo

    • Vigan Public Market
    Vigan City Events and Festivals
    • Vigan City Fiesta (3rd week of January) - Feast of the conversion of St. Paul and anniversary of Vigan's cityhood featuring colorful longganiza festival
    • Semana Santa (Good Friday) - town religious procession
    • Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts (1st week of May) - Festivities include: Binatbattan street dancing, calesa parade, Karbo festival, traditional games, religious rituals in honor of the Black Nazarene, Santacruzan, Abel fashion sows, exhibits, trade and food shows and other events.
    • World Heritage Cities Solidarity Day (8th of September) - Includes events such as Repazzo de Vigan, Historia Oral, Visita Museo ken Balbalay, Comidas de Ayer, Fotografias y Recuerdos, exhibits and cultural shows

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Mushroom House: Hidden Mushroom House in Itogon Benguet

    I was so tired after our very long (but short according to the locals) walk from Crosby Park so we rested by the bench on the fork of the road.  Then, fellow Travel Tripster Kurt noticed a sign to the Mushroom House.  

    mushroom house
    Our conversation went like this:
    Kurt: Look there's a sign to the mushroom house.  Let's check it out.
    Me: Silly, its pointing to that odd hut-shaped waiting shed.  I guess that's mushroom-shaped for them.
    Kurt: Are you kidding me?  I think they have a real mushroom house neaby.  Let me ask.
    mushroom house
    Turns out Kurt was right.  There is a real mushroom house hidden in the area.  We were pointed to another fenced vicinity guarded by a scary dog and a sign that they'll shoot to kill trespassers.  We were about to back off when a young man asked us why we were there.   We told him we wanted to see the Mushroom House.  He called an old lady who let us in and told us to follow her. 

    mushroom house
    We were led to a house covered in a blue plastic sheet.  It was dark inside but well-ventilated.
    mushroom house
    We were told that mushrooms were suppose to sprout from those stuffings but they were infected by a virus and were just recovering from it so there were only few mushrooms.  They make and add the stuffings on a regular basis row by row.  The stuffings are made of saw dust and grains and wrapped in transparent plastic.

    mushroom house
    It was my first time to visit a Mushroom House so it astounding for me to see oyster mushrooms sprout out from the stuffings.  

    mushroom house

    According to the old lady, we should come back again next time when they are swarming with mushrooms so we can try her mushroom chicharon that they sell cheaply when mushrooms are in surplus.

    We Travel Tripsters enjoyed our visit to the hidden Mushroom House.   The locals were friendly and hospitable.  All our questions of curiosity was anticipated and welcomed. 

    Itogon Mushroom House Itogon Mushroom House Map
    Price Per Person FREE
    Payment Options N/A
    Business Hours
    Reservation Required No
    Virac, Itogon, Benguet, Philippines
    Transportation to Attraction
    Commute Guide

    Crosby Park: Camping, Nature Trip and Kiddie Obstacle Course at Itogon Benguet

    After our Balatoc Mines Tour, we were at the nearby sari-sari store drinking and resting when we noticed a poster about Crosby Park.  I recall going there when I was young but the memory is quite faint.  On the other hand, fellow Travel Tripster Kurt had never been there.  So instead of waiting for the next jeepney to bring us back to Baguio City, we decided to stop by Crosby Park.  We asked the miners who were waiting in the bench with us if it was just nearby.  They told us that it was walkable. 

    crosby park
    The funny thing about our walk was it was loonnnggg.  But, whenever we asked the locals if we were near, they all said the same thing... "it is very near".   By following their instructions, we found ourselves in a fenced vicinity called Crosby Park.

    crosby park

    crosby park
     The playground or the kiddie obstacle course is found on top.  It was pretty deserted during our visit.

    crosby park
     My vague memories begun to feel something familiar. 
    crosby park

    crosby park
    When I was a child, I was more daring with the jungle gym.  Now, I'm to scared to try hanging on it with my legs. 

    crosby park

    crosby park
     I recall not being able to climb here when I was young because I've always been afraid of heights.  As I climb, I was still as scared as I was before but I did it anyway just to conquer my fear. =D

    crosby park
    This looks easy but I couldn't balance and pass through it. =(

    crosby park
    Of course, we didn't try this.  We'd have to be as foolish as kids to crawl on the dirt to go through this. =p

    crosby park
    This is a bit of a challenge for me but I surpassed this as well. 

    crosby park
    The wooden house and picnic tables look old but they are still sturdy.

    We Travel Tripsters imagine Crosby Park as a nice place for kids to play around and families to enjoy a picnic or camping together.   It was cool in the area as we were surrounded by pine trees.

    Crosby Park Crosby Park Map
    Price Per Person FREE
    Payment Options
    Business Hours
    Reservation Required No but suggested because they close the gates
    Contact (074) 447-2617
    Itogon, Benguet, Philippines
    Transportation to Attraction
    Commute Guide

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