“… our heritage from the past, our treasure today!”
Our journey started in Sagada. We took:
- a jeepney to Bontoc (50 PHP),
- from Bontoc bus to Banko (40 PHP) and
- then to Cervantes (70 PHP).
- From Cervantes, we continued to Bitalang with a van (100 PHP),
- and the last transport was a bus from Bitalang to Vigan City (170 PHP).
You see, traveling through the Philippines is everything else than easy.
Vigan City is the World Heritage Site and it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines. The site is also one of the New 7 Wonders Cities. It is well known for its cobblestone streets and unique Spanish architecture. It is a fusion of Asian buildings with Europeans. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia.
Throwback to colonial days is the calesa (horse-drawn carriage) that are still available to rent through Vigan’s streets (for 150 PHP). The other transportation in the center are tricycles, which we used once to take us home. Do not forget to negotiate for the price!
There are dozens of antique and souvenir shops around the city, particularly on Crisologo and Plaridel Streets in the mestizo district.
We had our hotel (Melsol hotel), which was by the way awesome, a little out of the city center but still walking distance.
Here are places and things you can not miss in Vigan City:
- Main street CALLE CRISOLOGO – you get feeling like you are back in Spanish times with all old buildings, souvenir shops, some restaurants, and bars. We visited also Heritage Bakery and tried some baking goodies.
- PLAZA SALCEDO and DANCING FOUNTAIN – one of the tourist spot with a lot of benches around to relax. When we have been there were no fountains, but still, we enjoyed it. Next to the plaza is Saint Paul Cathedral in baroque style.
- PLAZA BURGOS – Plaza Burgos is the smaller of the two major plazas in the city of Vigan. It can be found just right beside Saint Paul Cathedral’s Bell Tower. It is said that Plaza Burgos is best-known for its empanadas and other street food. It is true that where local people converge the best of local food can be found.
- EMPANADA – is a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and different filling. In Filipino culture there are the most popular different filing with meat. From seafood (crab,) to chicken, pork and vegetables as well. You will find a couple of good places with empanadas.
- VIGAN LONGGANISA – is a small and plump famous native sausage, good for about two or three bites. It is really famous in Vigan, you can buy it in every corner and in every souvenir shop. But they are just dry ones. We were trying to get fresh, but we did not find it.
- RICE CAKES – different shapes and colors. Literally, ours was just sugar.
- VIGAN PUBLIC MARKET where it is the market, there is life! There are selling a lot of food on their stalls and a lot of different kitchen accessories. We bought a lot of fruit. I love tropical fruits such as mangoes, papayas, mangosteen, pineapple …
- CAFE LEONA – is an iconic Caffe and restaurant where you can try some specialties. It is named by Leona Florentino, the first Filipina poet who achieved international attention.
- BANTAY BELL TOWER – sits on a hill and near Bantay church. You can see the entire city from the top of the tower.
We visited also CRISOLOGO MUSEUM. It was a home and now a museum of a famous congressman Vincent Crisologo. “He authored the laws behind the creation of the North’s first state university, the University of Northern Philippines, and the establishment of the Social Security System, which serves the whole working populace to this day”. In the museum, you can see a lot of old furniture, pictures, hats typical for areas around the Philippines,… It is would say it is good to visit this museum because you can also learn some history of the Philippines. Donations are optional but you will want to after you will see how they have worked so hard to preserve the place.
The time in Vigan City went so fast. I would recommend this underrated city, just because it is special indeed! It is enough one day to feel the vibe. Now when I am looking back I am happy I´ve been there.