Epic North Luzon Road Trip
Written by Dezza, 23 June 2019.
One of the most enjoyable ways to see the best Philippines destinations is by taking a road trip. If you are fortunate enough to have a vehicle and also have the time, road trips can be so much fun.
Last week I had the opportunity to go on an epic North Luzon road trip with some friends, all the way up to the northernmost part of the island of Luzon. This absolutely epic road trip allowed us to take in some of best places in the Philippines. This included the following:
- San Juan in La Union
- Vigan City in Ilocos Sur
- Paoay in Ilocos Norte
- Bangui in Ilocos Norte
- Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte.
If you ever get the chance to do this road trip, I fully recommend it. Please continue to read on and learn more about this amazing adventure.
If you were to drive from Manila to Pagudpud you will find yourself covering close to 600 kilometres. This really is a massive road trip.
If you were to do it in one go, it would take you just over 10 hours of non-stop driving. However, we decided to take our time and make a couple of stopovers along the way to break the trip up.
As my friend lives in Clark, this was actually the departure point for the trip.
La Union – Surfing Capital Of The North
We decided that we would spend a couple of nights in La Union just to break up the drive. So after driving for about three hours, we found ourselves in San Juan.
There was 7 of us in our group and we had already booked an Airbnb house in advance, we which was only about 200 metres away from the beach.
Considering that we arrived at about 6:00 in the evening, we found ourselves at a local restaurant for dinner and some drinks.
The food here was actually quite good and luckily, they had one of my favourite dishes which can be sometimes difficult to get, which is tuna sisig.
And I wasn’t disappointed. It was absolutely sensational and probably one of the best tuna sisig’s I have ever had. After dinner, it was time to head back to the house to relax with a few more drinks before going to bed.
We had nothing in particular planned for the next day aside from casually walking around exploring San Juan and checking out the beach.
San Juan is a lovely little town and has a relaxing yet real touristy feel to it. With the main attraction being surfing there is a lot of younger people here.
We took a stroll along the beach and enjoyed a relaxing time checking out those who people who were attempting to surf.
The waves here aren’t huge, however, they are consistent and good enough for surfing particularly for beginners.
Although the sand isn’t white like some of the more classical beaches in the Philippines it is still quite nice and powdery.
There is a fantastic Greek restaurant on my main beach called Gefseis Greek Grill which I fully recommend if you’re ever in San Juan. It is run by a Greek guy so all of the food is authentically Greek.
Vigan – Take A Step Back In Time
The next day we left just before lunchtime and made our way up to Vigan. This also took about a three-hour drive.
Unfortunately, there was a low-pressure system in the area which meant that it was raining for most of the trip, and also while we were in Vigan.
The plan was to stay in Vigan just for one night before heading off for Pagudpud the next day.
Vigan is a beautiful place and is stooped in colonial history dating back to the Spanish era. As you walk around the streets of Vigan you really do feel like you are in Europe.
You also feel like you’re stepping back in time a couple of hundred years. This is certainly one of the most unique cities I have ever been to here in the Philippines.
That evening we had dinner and drinks in a new restaurant that has been newly renovated called Casa Vicente.
This is a beautiful old colonial building which has a real Spanish look and feel to it. The decor inside this also very traditional and is definitely a place that you should visit if you are in Vigan.
The food here is a tapas style menu with a lot of appetisers that are heavily influenced by Mediterranean cuisine.
The next morning we left early bound for Pagudpud as we planned some stopovers along the way.
Paoay – Rich In History
Our first stopover was in a place called Paoay. This is a very historical town that is famous for the centuries-old San Agustin church.
This is one of the most famous landmarks in the Philippines and is also one of the oldest churches dating back to the 1700s.
Another place that is worth visiting in Paoay is the Malacañang of the north, which is former president Marcos’ weekend retreat from many years ago.
Located right next to lake Paoay, this is a beautiful old colonial style house that has now been converted into a museum. This is definitely worth a visit.
Bangui Wind Farm – A Unique Spectacle
The next stop of our epic road trip was the famous Bangui Wind Farm. This is one of the more unique landmarks in the Philippines.
Here you will find massive wind turbines all the way along the beach. As a matter of fact, these turbines are planted all the way along the coastline as far as the eye can see in both directions.
Each wind turbine is about 70 metres in height with the blades of the turbines being just over 40 metres long. It is quite a fascinating sight and worthy of a stopover.
We didn’t actually stay long in Bangui as we only stopped over to check out the wind farm. So after about half an hour, we continued on to Pagudpud, our final destination.
Pagudpud – The Boracay Of The North
The resort that we booked Pagudpud was right on the famous Saud beach, which is commonly referred to as the Boracay of the north. When you see it, you will understand why.
Although the sand isn’t as white as Boracay it is still beautiful sand free from any rocks or coral.
With coconut palm trees lining the beach and some of the clearest water you have ever seen, this really is a postcard-perfect destination. What’s more, there were hardly any tourists here!
By the time we arrived, it was reasonably late in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time to explore. So we decided to just chill out by the beach at the resort and had dinner and a few drinks to relax after our gruelling road trip.
The next day we headed over to Hannah’s resort area to check out the Blue Lagoon and also the famous cave known as Bantay Abot Cave (translated to mountain with hole).
Blue Lagoon isn’t actually a lagoon, it is small cove off Pasaleng Bay.
However, the water is an amazing beep green/blue colour and the sand of the beach is just as good as anything you will see in Boracay or Palawan.
Here are you will also find the world’s longest zip line over water, which is almost 2 kilometres long. This takes you directly over Blue Lagoon.
Aside from Hannah’s resort most of the accommodation options are fairly basic. You won’t find any big international style resorts around here but this definitely is a place that you must visit if you are in Pagudpud.
We were actually in Pagudpud for a wedding and the ceremony and reception was held at Hannah’s resort. And what a beautiful place to get married!
After checking out Blue Lagoon, we headed back over to our resort at Saud beach to chill out for the afternoon before the wedding.
I decided to take a stroll for a couple of kilometres along this sensational beach.
There were some fairly strong waves crashing up on to the shore as the tide was coming in, with a lovely ocean breeze keeping the temperature under control.
Behind the palm trees lining the beach, they were more wind turbines adding to this fascinating backdrop.
Then in the evening, it was time to head to the wedding before returning to the resort and sitting by the beach in the darkness listening to the waves crashing on to the sound.
The next morning it was time for us head back to Clark so we left fairly early.
Aside from a couple of toilet breaks along the way, and stopping for lunch in Vigan, we pretty much drove nonstop and made it home safely.
So there you have it. If you ever have the opportunity to do a road trip up to Pagudpud, I would seriously recommend that you do so.
As you can see there are a number of places along the way that you can visit which makes the road trip a great overall experience.
Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time so you can really take everything in and you will have an absolutely great time.
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