I fell in love with Vigan the first time I went there last 2010, and I had to visit it again this year.
When I sent photos of Vigan to my friends abroad, they said that it looked like Europe. It does feel like a little piece of Europe in this country because the entire town retained its Spanish Colonial Architecture for more than 400 years. The first time I came here seven years ago, it felt like I traveled back in time the moment I stepped into Plaza Burgos. You walk through cobblestone streets and ancestral houses that stayed the same for centuries. Even the new establishments should follow the architectural style of the old houses.
I stayed at RF Aniceto Mansion during my two-day stay in Vigan. I also spent the night in this hotel before, so I decided to stay here this time as well. The hotel is still the same, but they added more amenities to it. You might find that other hotels in Vigan have better reviews than this one, but I didn’t mind the little details that much. Staying here is still quite pricey (PHP 1,700 or around USD 33.00). The perks that you’ll get though is that you’ll be staying in a real ancestral house that is like a museum on its own. The staff are friendly and you might have a nice chat with the owner if she’s around. They also offer options for group and corporate events.
To conclude my stay here, it really felt like a cozy home away from home. It felt like I had some sort of experience on how to live like a noble in the old days.
My tocino and eggs breakfast at RF Aniceto Mansion
TOUR AROUND VIGAN
If you know where you want to go in Vigan, you can just walk to these places (with the help of Google Maps, I guess) or hire a trike to take you around. As for me, I indulged myself to a kalesa ride, which is PHP 150 or around USD 3.00 per hour. It was definitely a fun thing to do. It was also an easy and convenient way to get from one tourist spot to the next.
I only had 2 hours to spare, so I was only able to go to the Bell Tower, Pagburnayan, Hidden Garden, Baluarte, and Calle Crisologo. I missed the Camangaan Loomweavers this time (I was able to visit this last 2010). Yet I was able to take some video footage on how I went to these places with a kalesa.
The Hidden Garden became a refreshing and trendy place to hang out and eat. You can buy souvenirs at Pagburnayan and Calle Crisologo.
Calle Crisologo is always the highlight of every trip to Vigan. But don’t just go to this particular street. Go explore the other streets connected to it which is also filled with old buildings and houses. Go on a wanderlust adventure! You’ll have a feel of what it’s like to live 400 years ago. There are also picturesque scenes you’ll want to document, so keep your camera gear ready.
Calle Crisologo looks sublime day and night. During nighttime, the best restaurants on the street fill up easily. Souvenir shops are also open for you to buy a variety of things. I bought some Basi (sugar cane wine), bags for myself and bestfriends, t-shirts for my father and younger brother, and pouches for my mom and sister.
I had to leave earlier than expected because the bus trip back to Manila takes 12 hours, and my flight back to Davao was scheduled early the next day. I opted to take the long bus ride instead of taking the return flight from Laoag Airport (LAO – MNL) because it would overlap with the last flight back to Davao on the same day (MNL – DVO). That means I would be stranded in NAIA overnight and have to spend much more for accommodations and food in Manila.
For PHP 665 (USD 13), I spent the night on a bus. I slept at several intervals on that long ass bus trip. The bus stops every 2 – 3 hours, and there are designated bus stations along the way for passengers to get to a comfort room, eat meals, or rest for a bit. The bus leaves after 15 to 20 minutes on each stop. I do have to say that the Partas bus that I took was pretty comfortable, and the bus conductor made sure that everyone was onboard before leaving each stop. Do take note of the bus number before you get off it.
I was pretty tired when I got to Cubao and immediately took a taxi to the airport. I left Vigan at around 12:30 PM and arrived in Manila at 1 AM. My flight back to Davao was at 7 AM so I had some time to kill. I took a long shower at the airport lounge (Wings Transit Lounge) located at the far end of the airport mall, just a little far back from McDonalds. The place was cozy and they have a snack bar where you can eat as much as you want. The shower costs PHP 300 (USD 6.00) and they have other options such as sleeping pods, rooms, and massage services.
HOW TO GET TO VIGAN
- From Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, take a flight bound for Laoag. At the moment, Philippine Airlines offers flights to Laoag at 12 noon every day. Travel time is one hour.
- From Laoag Airport, take a trike (they park outside the airport) and tell the driver to take you to Partas Bus Terminal. The fare usually costs PHP 150 or around USD 3.00.
- Take a bus bound for Vigan or Cubao (which will pass by Vigan). Ask the bus conductor to drop you off at the bus terminal in Vigan.
- From the bus terminal in Vigan, take a trike to your hotel or destination at the town proper.
- Return flight: To go back to Manila, take a bus bound for Laoag at the Partas Bus Terminal in Vigan. Then from Laoag bus terminal, take a trike to Laoag Airport. Flights back to Manila are usually scheduled in the evening. Do check the flight schedules of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.
- There’s a Partas Bus Terminal in Cubao which has buses bound for Laoag. There are also other bus companies which offer this route. Travel time takes 12 hours.
- Tell the bus conductor to drop you off at Bantayan Road because you’ll want to go to Vigan. You can also ask if the bus will stop by the bus terminal at Vigan, which gives you an easier option to take a short trike ride to your hotel.
- Return Trip: To go back to Manila, take a bus bound for Cubao at the Partas Bus Terminal in Vigan. Travel time takes 12 hours.