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On a cruise to Ilocos, Philippines, you’ll quickly discover why this secluded region is a traveler’s delight. From authentic handiworks to culinary specialties you can’t find anywhere else in the Philippines, Ilocos is teeming with unique experiences. Immerse yourself in Ilocos’ Spanish colonial history on a trip to Calle Crisologo, a historic cobbled street known for its cafes, shops, and restaurants. Go shopping for traditional Ilocano blankets and Pagburnayan pottery in Vigan City.
Of course, there’s more to Ilocos than city life. Venture off-the-beaten path in Ilocos Norte, where a short hike through dense forest yields a big reward—the towering Kabigan Falls. Swim in the crystalline waters of Santiago Cove, or grab your snorkeling gear and dive in at Salomague Island. Uncover the beauty of Ilocos on a cruise to the Philippines with Celebrity Cruises®.
Step back in time on a day trip to Vigan City. Admire the city’s Spanish colonial architecture and opulent mansions via a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, called kalesas. See a light show at the Plaza Salcedo, known for its “dancing fountain,” then follow the enticing scent of Filipino street food all the way to Plaza Burgos.
Venture to the secluded Salomague Island for a getaway within your getaway. This uninhabited isle boasts crystal-clear waters and some of the best snorkeling in the Philippines. Just a short boat ride from the port, water lovers, swimmers, and divers will find an uncrowded paradise here.
Head to Ilocos Norte into the forests overlooking Pasaleng Bay and lace up your hiking boots on the way to Kabigan Falls, a towering waterfall surrounded by dense, lush jungle. Enjoy a 30-minute hike along a tree-lined trail, then stare up in wonder at the nearly 90-foot-tall waterfall before you. If you’re feeling brave, you can even take a dip in the cold waters of the falls.
Take a day trip to the capital of the Ilocos Norte province, Laoag City. Visit the striking Sinking Bell Tower, a popular attraction that buries itself into the ground about an inch every year. Admire the Earthquake Baroque architecture of Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the Spanish colonial era. Or explore the expansive La Paz Sand Dunes, located just outside of the city.
What started as the commercial center of Luzon hundreds of years ago has gradually become a cultural center for shopping, dining, and history. Embark on a guided tour of its preserved homes and buildings, or rent one of the famous kalesa, or horse-drawn carriage, for an unforgettable journey down Calle Crisologo.
Ilocos is teeming with ancient structures and cathedrals featuring distinct Spanish Baroque-style architecture dating back to the 17th century. Explore St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral in Vigan City, close to Plaza Burgos and Calle Crisologo, and listen as the bells ring out into the plaza. Continue your church tour further south and admire one of the oldest churches in the Ilocos Sur area, the St. Augustine Parish.
From juicy, plump longanisa sausage to bright orange empanadas, Ilocanian cuisine is perfect for adventurous palates and fried-food lovers. Don’t miss the chance to try regional specialties like pork bagnet, which are crispy, deep-fried pork cracklings. Inhale the rich aroma of indigenous bawang, a unique garlic crop that’s native to the Ilocos region.
No other city embodies the unique hybrid of Filipino-Spanish culture and influences the way Ilocos does. Ilocanos, who are a group of people who reside in the Ilocos region, comprise the third-largest ethnic group in the Philippines. Native Ilocanos lived here centuries before Spanish conquistadors arrived on the island of Luzon in the 16th century. By the 19th century, the area had grown substantially and was divided into two provinces: Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Today, Ilocos is known for its pottery and handcrafted textiles, particularly weaving work and blankets.
Your cruise ship will dock in the port of Salomague just outside of town on your cruise to Ilocos. The port and its surrounding harbor were launched in 2020 to cater specifically to Ilocos cruise travelers—one of the first of its kind in the Philippines. Once you arrive at the terminal, you’ll be welcomed to the Philippines by local vendors selling snacks and artisanal souvenirs.
The best way to explore Ilocos and the surrounding region is on a shore excursion. A local bus system, motorcycles, and colorfully decorated “jeepney” buses, which are a classically Filipino mode of transit, are also available.
On Ilocos Sur, you’ll find a handful of vendors located right beyond the Salomague port. Shop at the San Vincente Market, where Ilocanos shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. Enjoy the art of jar making at the RG Jar Factory, then visit the shops along Calle Crisologo in Vigan. Favorite souvenirs include pottery, handmade clay vessels, and traditional woven blankets.
The official currency of the Philippines is the Philippine peso (PHP). Tipping is commonplace in the Philippines, especially for taxi services and in restaurants. Tip your servers, bartenders, and taxi drivers anywhere from 15% to 20% for excellent service. Some restaurants and establishments include a service charge on your bill, in which case you don’t have to worry about tipping. It’s helpful to round up to the nearest peso when you’re tipping taxi drivers or tour guides, so be sure to carry some loose change and small bills.