13 Things To Do In Vigan Aside From Walking Along Calle Crisologo

Vigan City is the capital city of Ilocos Sur and is one among the new 7 wonder cities
of the world. This historic city is also listed as one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites making it as a must see tourist destination in the Philippines.

 

Calle Crisologo, also known as Mena Crisologo, is undoubtedly the most popular travel destination in Vigan City. Walking along the street brings you back in the period of Philippine Spanish colonial era. I was amazed that the local government of Vigan was able to maintain and preserve the old houses/structure along this famous street.

 

If you are travelling to Vigan, aside from walking along the Instagram worthy Crisologo street, here are 13 things you can do in the city:

 

1.  Visit Crisologo Museum

 

This century old structure is the ancestral home of the Crisologos, a prominent political family inVigan. This home was turned into museum after the assassination of a then congressman Floro Crisologo in 1970.

 

Crisologo Mansion in vigan ilocos

 

I was lucky to meet Ms.Remy, daughter of Mr.Floro Crisologo. She welcomes tourists visiting the
museum.

 

There is no entrance fee but they accept donations for the maintenance of the museum.

 

2. Explore the city in Kalesa (Karitela)

 

You will definitely miss half of your Vigan adventure if you will not ride a Kalesa (Karitela).  Kalesa is a horse-drawn carriage used during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines.  Up to this day, Kalesas can be seen anywhere in Vigan City.

 

There is a Kalesa bay/parking area right in front of the capitol. The At 150 Pesos per hour, You can basically tour the entire city in a Kalesa. Coach drivers will bring you to one tourist destination to another.

3 Visit Bantay Bell Tower

 

Built in 1951, Bantay Bell Tower and the Bantay Church (St. Augustine Church) is actually 10 minutes away from the city proper. One can see the panoramic view of Vigan in this historical tower. I learned from the local that this tower saved Vigan against possible enemies as it used to be the people’s tower during the Spanish and Japanese era.

 

Bantay Bell Tower Vigan Ilocos

4. Visit Pagburnayan and Learn How Burnays are Made

 

Jars made in Vigan are called “Burnay” and visiting the “Pagburnayan” (a place where these jars are made) makes the Vigan trip more interesting.  Pagburnayan started during the Spanish precolonial period when Chinese immigrants came to Vigan. Due to the high quality of Burnays, these are also being exported abroad.

 

clay pottery vigan tour
I was very lucky to be assisted by one of the potter and had a chance to take a look how Burnays are made, from mixing the clay, molding and cooking the pots.

 

5. Learn History in Syquia Mansion

According to the tour guide, this mansion was originally the ancestral of home of President Elpidio Quirino’s wife,  Dona Alicia Quirino. This well-preserved ancestral home used to be the venue of some of President Elpidio Quirino’s functions during his administration.

 

The very accommodating and knowledgeable tour guide will let you travel in time when visiting the mansion. When I visited Syquian Mansion, I joined a group of students touring the mansion.

 

Entrance Fee: 20 Pesos

6.  Visit Baluarte ni Chavit Singson

Thank you to the former Ilocos Governor and Baluarte owner Mr.Chavit Singson for opening is property to the public. This must visit place in the city is the home of various animal species from other countries and from the Philippines.  Unlike other zoos, there is an area in Baluarte where animals can freely roam around.

 

Baluerte Singson Philippines

 

An interactive animal show is held every afternoon. There is also a an animal museum which is the newest addition in the 20-hectare property of Mr.Chavit Singson.

 

Entrance Fee: Free

 

7. Experience Heritage River Cruise along Mestizo River

This is another Vigan tourist destination that I just discovered during my 2nd day in the city. This 45 minute heritage river cruise will bring tourists to the historical timeline of Vigan.  The entire cruise is along the historical Mestizo river where 5 stations are situated.  It was very interesting that there is a recorded narrator and music playing during the cruise.

Cruise Fee: 150 Php

My Youtube video of heritage river cruise  – Click here

8. Watch the Beautiful Dancing Fountain at Plaza Salcedo

Unknown to many, Vigan’s Plaza Salcedo showcases its dancing fountain every night which usually starts around 7:30 PM and lasts for about 30 minutes. I must admit that I haven’t really witnessed any dancing fountain show, but I was really amazed seeing the extravagant dancing fountain of Plaza Salcedo.

My Youtube video of Plaza Salcedo’s dancing fountain – Click here

9. Watch Vigan’s Traditional Loomweavers

Ilocos region’s traditional woven product is known as abel. These are beautifully handcrafted colorful cloth made of cotton or what they call in Ilocos Sur as “sagut”. The abel industry started during the early Spanish occupation in Ilocos and is still being practiced up to this day. One of the popular abel weaving factories in Vigan is Rowilda’s loomweaving.

10. Visit the old Ilocos Sur Provincial Jail Turned Museum

 

This centuries old  Ilocos Sur provincial jail was also the birthplace of President Elpidio Quirinio. This is probably the newest tourist attraction in Vigan City as it was just opened to the public earlier in 2015. The museum showcases the rich history of Ilocandia.

 

Jail museum vigan city

 

12. Spend The Night in a Spanish-Filipiniana Themed Hotel

 

There are numerous hotels in Vigan City most of which are Spanish-Filipiniana themed. During my 4 day and 3 night stay in Vigan, I spent my 2 nights in the beautiful Hotel Felicidad. The hotel is just a block away from Calle Crisologo.

If you are visiting Vigan, especially during weekends, I highly suggest to reserve/book ahead of time as hotels easily gets fully booked. You can book your Vigan hotel here.

 

13.  Experience Vigan locals’ Hospitality and Honesty

Along with Davao City and Iloilo city,  I’m definitely placing Vigan on my top 3 friendliest places I’ve been to.

During my first day in Vigan, I was walking along Calle Crisologo when a local suddenly invites me for a merienda. I was really surprised that I was not really expecting that a stranger would invite me to join him and his friends for a merienda. I latter found out that the kind-hearted man owns various businesses along Calle Crisologo.

Later that day, unconsciously dropped my phone and realized that I lost it when I was already riding a Karitela on my way to Bell Tower Church. JR, the Karitela driver, was  kind enough to help me call my number and talked to the person who found my phone. Few minutes later, it was returned to me. The guy who found my phone did not ask anything in return.

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One Armed Wanderer

An IT Operations analyst by profession, Ed started solo traveling last year when his friends (who used to be his travel buddies) started settling down. Born with a short left arm, it did not hinder him to continue traveling and exploring the Philippines. He may have limitations but he is using what was given to him.. feet to walk and wander. (E-Mail: ed@edpuno.com / iMessage: ed@edpuno.com)

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