Cheap Backpacking Trip : One-day Express Ilocos Tour

As a single woman, I always hear people say “Enjoy your life while you’re young. Go see the world” and I took that seriously. That’s where my desire to travel started and finally in October 2013 my backpackner (backpacking partner), Bernadette arrived all the way from Mindanao to join me on my dream voyage. She also wanted to have some adventure.

Bernadette and I reached the bus station at 4:30 pm and surprisingly there’s a trip heading to Pagudpud. We weren’t able to ask how many hours the travel will take as the barker already pressured us to buy tickets. According to him, the bus will be leaving in fifteen minutes.

The Plan

Before we get lost in the story, let’s backtrack to my plan. I have planned the trip already but Bernadette told me it’s best to be spontaneous. So what I did is just an outlined itinerary. Here’s how it looks like:

A. Bangui

  • Bangui mills
  • Kapurpurawan rock formation
  • Burgos Lighthouse

B. Laoag

  • Sandboarding at Sand dunes

C. Vigan

  • Heritage Village

One of the many things I learned from this experience is that it’s important to do some research before actually hopping to a certain place. At least you have an idea or two how to get around. This list was a huge help to us.

Bangui Windmills

It was 4 in the morning when we arrived in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. We were scared because it was still very dark and quiet. (Lesson: Estimate the time of departure and arrival)

Fortunately a man in black jacket to approach us. He spoke in Ilocano to which I replied “Po?” then he realized we’re tourists. He asked us where we were heading. We told him that we’re planning to visit the Bangui windmills but we didn’t know we’d get there in the early hours. He chuckled to this and started a conversation. Turns out, he’s a local and a bus inspector.

He stayed with us until a tricycle driver showed up at 6 am. I’ve read somewhere that in order to get to the windmills you have to rent a tricycle and pay Php 200. True enough, we were asked to pay the same price. Although I think it was too pricey we agreed because we didn’t have other choice anyway.

When we finally saw the mills, we were intimidated by the towering heights of the windmills. I even kidded “Ano ba yan baka mahagip naman ako nito” It took me a few minutes to get used to the place.

After an hour and a half we decided to leave and eat our breakfast. Manong driver brought us to Yzza’s Eatery. He told the people there that we’re going to Kapurpurawan. Before he left, the driver told us “Mam, isasakay na lang kayo nila pagkatapos niyo kumain”. The people there were very kind; they even allowed us to charge our phones.

It felt so close to home and food was so tasty!

As soon as we were about to leave, the owner waited for a jeep with us an d she talked to the driver and told him where to drop us. We can’t believe what was actually happening. “Parang door-to-door” I commented with glee. After getting off, we rode a tricycle to get to the Rock Formation and Burgos Lighthouse.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

I’ve seen it on pictures a week before going there but I never imagined how magical it looked in real life. It was at this point when I whispered a line from Psalm 139:14 “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” These rocks were naturally made.“They were created out of the forces of the ocean. I don’t think it appeared by chance, there must be a creator behind this. It was really breath-taking.

Burgos Lighthouse

We weren’t able to go up the tower because it wasn’t allowed. 😦

We also didn’t stay there for long as well because there were a lot of students, we just took a few pictures. The tricycle driver drove us to the highway so we could get on the bus.

Sand Dunes

In the afternoon, we went to Mc Donald’s where we will meet Mr. Glenn Guerrero, the operator of our next activity – sand boarding. (Contact Number : 09088853669 / 09109474129 / 09154561133) The original price was Php 2,500 it’s good for four to five people but I asked for a discount since there’s only the two of us. He agreed to this. So if you plan on doing sand boarding there; I suggest you contact them early on so they can schedule you ahead of time, and maybe you can negotiate with the price 😀

The first part was a tour. Then we went on the “easy” trails (which weren’t easy for me by the way hahaha!) and then they proceeded to the bumpy trails and down to the vertical mounts. I didn’t expect to survive ‘cause I’m a huge acrophobic. The next activity was sand boarding, I nearly finished a liter of water after this fun-filled activity.


Later on, Kuya Glenn dropped us at the mini bus station because we mentioned that we’re heading to Vigan. It was already 7:00 pm when we arrived at Vigan. Alright, all the places we went to were great and I had a wonderful time but I was teary-eyed when I saw the Heritage Village because seeing it in real life was a dream come true. I know it sounds overrated but I grew up seeing that place in postcards and I even remember wishing to see it in person and then there I was in the middle of Calle Crisologo. Totoo ang chismis, ang ganda niya kapag gabi!

We ate at Tummy Talk, their pinakbet was super and the price is very reasonable. The serving is already good for two to three persons.

We also tried Irene’s Vigan Empanada. The staff is very accommodating and even offered to take our pictures. Plus, the empanada tastes good!
After strolling around and buying some souvenirs, we left for Baguio.

That was the end of our Ilocos tour; there were still places we weren’t able to visit. I promised myself that I’d go back because more than the striking sceneries, I also fell in love with the people. They made my first backpacking experience memorable because they were all very nice and welcoming.

From the bottom of my heart : Agyamanak, Ilocanos!

Of course how can I ever forget to thank the One who took care of us, the Lord Almighty who gave us so much favor

Bus to Pagudpud700We rode the Florida bus
Day 2
Tricycle to the Bangui mills100It was actually 200.00 but Bhi-bhi and I split the bill. I think it’s best to rent a tricycle otherwise you’d have to walk for quite a long time.
Breakfast at Ryzza’s Eatery65
Jeep (to Kapurpurawan)15
Tricycle (to Kapurpurawan Rock formation and Burgos Lighthouse)150Originally 300.00 but just like on the Bangui mills, we split the bill into half
Little windmill souvenir20What I bought was a small cute little windmillBus
(to Laoag)40It was an ordinary bus, so I don’t know how much you’d pay for an air-conditioned bus
Tricycle to Texicano Hotel15
Texicano Hotel155We stayed there for only a few hours just to freshen up, don’t expect much since it’s a cheap hotel.
Tricycle to Mc Do15
Sandboarding750The original price is 2,500.00 for a group of four to five people but since there’s only the two of us, we asked for a discount. *Mr Glenn’s contact number is already provided above
Mini Bus (to Vigan)100Mini buses take two hours to get to Vigan, if you’re in a hurry better take the big bus.
Green R Hotel200We only checked in so we don’t have to bring our stuff along, plus we got all sweaty and dirty at the sand dunes. We only paid for a three-hour stay. The price isn’t so bad compared to the hotels near Calle Crisologo
Dinner at Tummy Talk75Inclusive of two rice and a huge platter of Pinakbet The original price is 150.00 divided by two
Vigan t-shirt90Just use your tawad skills and you’re good to go ^_^
Empanada35.00 each
Tricycle (back to Green R)15
TOTAL : 2,595.00

How much did I spend?
By the way, since backpacking means cheap travel then I’m sure you want to know how much we spent for the day.