Kat and Nicole at Calle Crisologo
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

11 BEST Ilocos Sur Tourist Spots + Things to Do

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Located in the northern part of the Philippines, Ilocos Sur is a province rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Notably, it’s also home to Vigan City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular destination in Ilocos Sur. Beyond Vigan City, you’ll find more interesting sights and activities to do here!

In this guide, we’ll take you to the best Ilocos Sur tourist spots and activities that you can do with your family or friends.

1. Vigan City

Vigan City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture. Whether you’re visiting here for a day or staying overnight in one of its heritage hotels, you’ll surely enjoy strolling across Calle Crisologo, taking in the sights of houses, kalesa (horse-drawn carriages), and souvenir shops selling food and other takeaways.

Don’t miss empanada at Irene’s, visiting the ancestral home-turned-museum Syquia Mansion, and the Dancing Fountain in Plaza Salcedo at night.

For a complete list of activities, check out our Guide to Vigan City.

2. Bantay Church Bell Tower

Bantay Bell Tower - one of the top Vigan tourist spots
Bantay Church Bell Tower.

Located a short distance away from Vigan City is the Bantay Church Bell Tower, one of the landmark attractions in Ilocos Sur.

The structure was constructed in 1591 adjacent to the Saint Augustine Parish Church (also known as Bantay Church), one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It originally served as a lookout point and defense fortification against pirate attacks and other external threats during the Spanish colonial period and then again as a lookout point against invading forces during the WWII.

Bantay Tower has a beautiful neo-gothic facade, making it a popular spot for photos.

Unfortunately, in 2022 an earthquake damaged the bell tower. As of 2024, going inside the bell tower is still not allowed due to reconstruction efforts, but you can still see and take pictures of the Bantay Tower from outside.

3. Santa Maria Church

By now, we know that Ilocos Region is home to a number of beautiful heritage churches, right? Santa Maria Church (also referred to as Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion) is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring a beautiful brick façade and a cylindrical bell tower.

The church is located atop a hill, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

It gets busy on weekends on holidays, so if you want to go there for quiet and reflection, schedule your visit on a weekday.

4. Pinakbet Farm

Food in Pinakbet Farm in Vigan
Food from Pinakbet Farm.

A visit to Ilocos Sur won’t be complete without going on an gastronomic adventure. And so, next up on our list is Pinakbet Farm, a riverside restaurant located in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.

Pinakbet Farm is a fantastic place to enjoy Filipino favorites, including their IsKarGu set meals (isda, karne, gulay) served with KBL (kamatis, bagoong, and lasona). While savoring the dishes cooked from farm-fresh ingredients, take a moment to appreciate the peaceful river and farm setting. You can also watch a cultural dance performance daily, starting at 12:30 NN to 1PM.

The food at Pinakbet Farm is delicious and reasonably priced. It’s perfect for everyone, from couples to large groups, making it a part of our best Ilocos Sur tourist spots.

5. Aw-Asen Falls

For those who like off-the-beaten-path adventure, one of the Ilocos Sur tourist spots that you should see is Aw-Asen Falls. Standing about 121 meters high, Aw-Asen Falls is considered the highest waterfall in the Ilocos Region. It’s tucked away in the mountains of Sigay, away from the main tourist crowd, making it a great spot for nature tripping.

To get here, you will need to go on a short but tiring trek for almost an hour. The trail mostly consists of mountain path and thick vegetation. Once at the waterfall area, don’t miss the chance to take photos of the majestic waterfall in its glory and take a dip in its cool, deep basin. It is said that the waterfall is fed by a spring uphill, so the water is safe to drink.

The best time to visit Aw-Asen Falls is from November to May.

6. Pinsal Falls

Pinsal Falls in Ilocos Sur
Pinsal Falls.

Next up is one of the best-kept attractions in Ilocos Sur: Pinsal Falls.

Located in the town of Sta. Maria, Pinsal Falls is an 80-foot waterfall with a wide emerald-green basin for swimming. Locals also refer to it as “Twin Falls,” since the flowing cascade separates into two.

To get to the actual waterfall, you can go on a fun balsa ride or walk your way through a series of stairs. If you’re feeling adventurous, trek to the top of the waterfall, which offers a better view and a series of mini-pools where you can take a dip, jacuzzi-style.

There are cottages near the falls that you can rest for rest and picnicking. There are also bathrooms and toilets for refreshing.

The best time to visit Pinsal Falls is during the rainy season, when the flow of the waterfall swells up.

7. Santiago Cove

Santiago Cove Hotel
(Photo by Santiago Cove Hotel_

For those craving sun, sand, and sea, Santiago Cove (colloquially known as Sabangan Cove) in the town of Santiago beckons with its 1 kilometer stretch of white sand and clear waters. It is often likened to Boracay in Kalibo, Aklan.

At Santiago Cove, you can relax on the shore, go for a swim, or indulge in watersports like kayaking, paddleboating, jetski, and island hopping. There are also beachfront cabanas where you can rest while enjoying the view of the sea.

Santiago Cove is a great place to enjoy the summer and it’s a family-friendly destination, too!

8. Sangbay ni Ragsak


Another natural attraction in Ilocos Sur that you should see is Sangbay ni Ragsak, Ilokano’s own “Falls of Happiness.” Sangbay ni Ragsak is a beautiful 30-meter waterfall with a wide basin that goes approximately 6-7 feet deep, perfect for swimming. It’s a great spot for a quick dip, especially as it is lesser crowded than other tourist spots in Ilocos Sur.

Getting here is easy. From the registration point, the waterfall is only a short walk away. There are also cottages and tables along the trail that you can rent if you want to stay awhile.

9. Paracad View

Paracad View - one of the best Ilocos Sur tourist spots
(Photo by Paracad View Diner)

Paracad View is a riverside dining restaurant built alongside a mangrove forest. “Paracad” is the Ilocano word for mangroves, and it aptly describes the tranquil mangrove forest view that you can enjoy while enjoying Ilokano favorites, including snacks such as empanada, lumpianada, and okay, as well as freshly caught seafood.

This restaurant is perfect for families. During the sunset, the place gives off a soft romantic vibe, so it’s ideal for couples as well.

Aside from dining and picture taking, kayaking activity is offered as well.

10. Baluarte Zoo

Owned by former Filipino politician Chavit Singson, Baluarte Zoo is a sprawling animal zoo located in Vigan City. Visitors can get up close and personal with a variety of animals, including tigers, ostriches, and reptiles, making it a fun-filled destination for families and animal lovers alike.

Note: I personally do not recommend any destination that engages in picture taking with captive tigers. I believe there are alternative animal sanctuaries that promote conservation. I’ve included Baluarte Zoo since it is one of the popular tourist spots in Ilocos Sur.

11. Buy pasalubong!

Fresh bagnet from Vigan
Repeat after me: bagnet is life.

Finally, buy some pasalubong before your trip home! Vigan empanada, Vigan longganisa, bagnet, and chichacorn are favorite food souvenirs to take home. For recipients that love home cooking, take home a bottle or two of sukang iloko.

There are also shops in Ilocos Sur selling inabel clothing, bags, wallets, and other products.

How to get to Ilocos Sur

Here’s how to get from Manila to Ilocos Sur:

By land

The most common way to commute is by taking a bus from Pasay or Cubao to Vigan. Travel is around 8-9 hours.

By air

The closest airport is Laoag International Airport in Laoag City. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly from Manila to Laoag on selected days.

From the airport, ride a bus, van, or taxi to your destination in Ilocos Sur.

Where to stay in Ilocos Sur:

Here are the best hotels and resorts in Ilocos Sur:

Vigan City:

  • Hotel Felicidad. A charming hotel located just a short walk away from Calle Crisologo. Read our review.
  • Hotel Luna. The first museum hotel in the Philippines, featuring beautiful rooms, a gallery with original artworks from local artists including Juan Luna, and a pool. Read our review.


Do you have other places to recommend in our list of best Ilocos Sur tourist spots? Let us know in the comment section below!

What to read next:

Visiting the Ilocos Region? Read the rest of our articles!

See our hotel reviews:

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