Ilocos Norte is one of the places I wouldn’t dare leave without attempting a church hopping tour across its historic townscapes.

I had a couple of hours left before sundown.

Having just visited the grand Paoay Church, I decided to stop by Batac and San Nicolas on my way to Laoag. Then go a little further north to the town of Bacarra.

It was really refreshing to see, not only the old churches but also a couple of surrounding structures still standing. They truly are a testimony of the Ilocos Norte’s rich Spanish-colonial heritage.

Laoag Metropolitan Cathedral basking in the afternoon light

Batac City

Batac City brands itself as the “Home of Great Leaders.” Among the significant figures in Philippine history is the former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos.

Usual scene at Batac City Center.

Marcos Family Ancestral House.

Old Spanish-colonial house beside the Marcos Family Ancestral House.

Batac Church. Batac is the second oldest town in Ilocos Norte. Sadly, its church has been renovated many times already.

Marcos Monument.

Ricarte Park.

Revolutionary movement themed park with lots of lovely greens.

Statue of  Gen. Artemio Ricarte.

Ricarte National Shrine.

Gen. Artemio Ricarte is known as the “Father of the Philippine Army.

Batac City Hall.

San Nicolas

San Nicolas is the town right next to Laoag. It’s located just across the lengthy Marcos Bridge. I was surprised to see its charming plaza laid down with red bricks and cobblestone. Like Laoag, the plaza area of San Nicolas is surrounded by many old structures and Spanish-colonial houses.

San Nicolas is historically known for its pottery/ceramics industry. 

San Nicolas Plaza.

Refreshing greens all over.

Statue of Dr. Jose Rizal perched on top of a red brick pedestal.

Traditional Bahay na Bato house.

San Nicolas Municipal Hall.

Facade of the San Nicolas Church.

Backside of the San Nicolas Church. The original red bricks could be seen from here.

Santa Rosa Academy.

Laoag Tobacco Monument and Sinking Bell Tower

Made a longer walking tour of Laoag City this time. Many of the buildings photographed better during the afternoon sun.

Tabacco Monopoly Monument in Aurora Plaza with the Sinking Belfry of Laoag.

Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol

Busy intersection in front of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol.

Aurora Plaza.

Laoag Cathedral

Laoag Metropolitan Cathedral. 

Laoag Cathedral NHI Marker

Laoag Cathedral Interiors

Holy Spirit Academy of Laoag

Laoag City Hall

The City Hall wasn’t so flattering in the mid-afternoon sun. I still loved the fountain and the red brick arches, though.

DBP Building near the Laoag City Hall


The town of Bacarra is located at the northern boundary of Laoag City. I was first greeted by the sight of a ruined bell tower made of red bricks. I can just imagine how massive this structure could have been. The first floor was already so tall.

The bell tower of the Bacarra Church originally had three floors and crowned with a dome roof. It certainly looked like it was a very imposing structure. Too bad the tall structure gave way during a 7.3 magnitude earthquake.

Ruined Bell Tower of the Bacarra Church

Bacarra Church Facade

Marcos Bridge (formerly Gilbert Bridge)

The Marcos Bridge connects Laoag City to the town of San Nicolas. This 800-meter bridge spans over the Padsan River. You’d pass by this lengthy bridge before arriving in Laoag if you’re coming from Vigan or Manila.

It was originally named the “Gilbert Bridge” in honor of Governor General Newton Gilbert. It’s now formally called the “Don Mariano Marcos” but the locals still refer this bridge to its old name.

Thought of taking some picturesque sunset / dusk shots of the Marcos Bridge. Didn’t have a dramatic sunset sky in my favor :(

Don Mariano Marcos Bridge

Only took a few snaps at the riverwall. The area seemed to be in the midst of a seedy neighborhood. A creepy guy was following me while I was taking photos.

Robinsons Place Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte had a relatively new Robinsons Place Mall. It was located in a commercial complex called Valdez Center in San Nicolas town. From Laoag, it was a short 10-minute jeepney ride to Robinsons Place Ilocos Norte. There were a lot of jeepneys available even at night.

Welcome sign of Valdez Center

Robinsons Place Ilocos Norte

This two level mall has a gross floor area of 22,220 square meters. Quite small in Philippine mall standards. I think there’s a market for even bigger malls in Ilocos.

Dinner of Ilocos Pinakbet and Dinuguan capping my last full day in Ilocos Norte.

Thoughts on Ilocos Norte

There was definitely was lot to see in Ilocos Norte. 3 days and two nights were enough to have a good coverage of its tourist spots. Like most places in the Philippines, most of the establishments cater to tourists traveling in groups. I could have spent much less if I had a travel buddy to split expenses with.

For the determined, like me, it was still possible to travel on a budget in Ilocos Norte.

Some of the other things I was able to see and do in Ilocos Norte include Saud Beach, Pagudpud Tricycle Tour, Bangui Windmills, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Kapurpurawan (White Rock), Sarrat, and the Paoay Church.