Another friend, Jesus Casabar (who is contributing the photos in this page) recommends a road trip in the Philippines’ great North for a complete, all-in-one taste of the country’s varied natural and cultural offerings. Among these are the mountains of the Cordillera with their amazing rice terraces; the limestone caves of Sagada with their hanging coffins; the old Spanish towns of Vigan; Laoag in Ilocos Norte with its Fort Ilocandia , scenic Paoay Lake and its Malacanang of the North; the pristine beaches of Currimao and Pagudpud which are one of the best in the Philippines; not to forget the ecotourism province of Cagayan Valley from where one can engage in spelunking, kayaking and whitewater rafting.
Our wanderer Jess likes Northern Philippines because “it is not just about beaches” and you don’t have to make a lot of transfers just to get from one place to another. All it takes is a hop on your car or van for the great adventure into the seemingly endless northern highway.
One may start with the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan…
go surfing in San Juan, La Union,
then indulge in cultural immersion in Vigan where the spirit of the Spanish-era 1800s continue to live on through its old houses and cobblestone streets.
Then drive to Laoag in Ilocos Norte, bastion of the Marcos family who ruled the Philippines for 20 years and built edifices like Fort Ilocandia, now turned into a casino, beach and golf course.
Further up is the resort town of Pagudpud, home of white-sand beach havens like Saud and Malingay Cove or Blue Lagoon.
From here, one can head on to Patapat Bridge which gives one a breathtaking view of the mountains and the South China Sea. This bridge connects Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley which is the northernmost part of the Philippines.
Cagayan can be a jump-off point for the beautiful windswept islands of Batanes or the Cordillera provinces of Kalinga-Apayao, Baguio and Banaue, Ifugao.