Vigan by Motorcycle

Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur, has the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage City. The city has made headlines lately as it’s currently in the running as one of the 14 official finalists in the New 7 Wonders. The city is well-known for its Spanish-era mansions, cobblestone streets and kalesas (horse-drawn carriages), which are the most popular way for tourists to go sightseeing.

01. vigan calle crisologo kalesa

A lot of the main historic tourist sights (Calle Crisologo, Vigan Museum, Vigan Cathedral, Plaza, etc.) are very near each other and easy enough to walk to. Aside from kalesas, tricycles are also an easy way to get around the city. I can imagine biking (maybe on a vintage commuter bike or a bamboo bicycle) around here would be a great way to go sightseeing as well.

02. vigan calle crisologo kalesa tricycle

During a work-related trip last year, I got to go around via my favorite mode of transport. Thanks to Ilocos Sur-based travel blogger and fellow rider Edmar of, I was able to get a short but sweet motorcycle ride to visit some sights located in the vicinity of Vigan before attending activities related to the the Raniag Twilight Festival, a thanksgiving festival celebrated during the Halloween season.

03. vigan motorcycle

We met up at at RF Aniceto Mansion, the hotel where I was checked in, just off Calle Crisologo, which is considered the most beautiful street in the Philippines. Crisologo Street  is a road paved with cobblestones and flanked by Spanish ancestral houses with large wooden doors, sliding capiz shell windows and red-tiled roofs. This is where all the souvenir stores and antique shops are located. Most of the establishments here have been converted into souvenir stores, restaurants and antique furniture shops.

04. vigan calle crisologo

From Calle Crisologo, we made our way to St. Augustine Parish Church or Bantay Church in the neighboring town of Bantay. Built in 1590, Bantay Church is one of the oldest surviving churches in Ilocos Sur. The church is also known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra Señora de La Caridad) and it houses the miraculous image of Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Charity, crowned as the patroness of Ilocandia on January 12, 1956.

05. vigan st. augustine church

According to the marker on site, the church was damaged in World War II but was reconstructed in 1950. The restored facade is of Neo-Gothic design mixed with Pseduo-Romanesque elements. It is also said to incorporate the distinctively Vigan earthquake baroque in its architecture to save the structure from the destructive force of earthquakes that visit the land.

06. vigan st. ausgustine church

Right beside the church is a historic belfry known as the Bantay Tower, which served as a watchtower for pirates back in the Spanish colonial era. Like Bantay Church, the belfry was also originally built back in 1591 from a mixture of bricks, rocks, seashells and sugar cane.

07. vigan bantay belfry

Bantay Tower, which sits on a small hilltop, offers offers a great view of the surrounding towns, town cemetery, and mountains that reach neighboring province Abra. Apparently, scenes from the well-known Filipino film Panday were shot within and around the vicinity of the belltower.

08. vigan bantay belfryOur next stop was the Baluarte, a mini-zoo and nature park. The complex houses a number of domestic animals like monkeys, chickens, large lizards (bayawak) and rare bird species, right inside the Baluarte forest. Originally a private rest house owned by Gov. Chavit Singson, the Baluarte is now a place where people can enjoy peace and quiet and away from the demands of a busy life and urban living.

10. vigan baluarte

The zoo is open daily between 7 am to 6 pm and is open to the public free of charge. Besides checking out the animals, there are different activities offered here. You can feed animals, ride a small carriage pulled by ponies, go horse-back riding, visit the Butterfly garden, or try your luck at the shooting range here.

09. vigan baluarte

It was getting dark when we reached our last stop. I was surprised to find out that there’s a very nice beach near Vigan known as Mindoro Beach. Located in Barangay Mindoro in West Vigan near the airport, Mindoro Beach is a simple beach resort with a few native cabanas overlooking the ocean.

11. vigan mindoro beach

12. vigan mindoro beach

While the beach is not really ideal for swimming because of the strong waves that hit the shores, it’s a scenic spot for those who prefer the outdoors to museums and churches. I really regret that I only had a short time to go sightseeing in Vigan. The place definitely warrants a longer visit.

13. vigan motorcycle mindoro beach

Thanks for the tour, Edmar! 🙂



8 thoughts on “Vigan by Motorcycle

    • Hi Belle. I haven’t done that yet by motorcycle, but here’s a blogpost with a good route map and list of places you can visit along the way that are usually part of the North Loop for motorcyclists. You might want to extend to Ilocos Norte at least because there are a lot of great stops there including Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rocks, Pagudpud, Sand Dunes in Paoay, etc. Here’s a compilation of some good tourist spots & activities to do from Lakbay Norte, a tour I did which passed through major provinces in North Luzon.

  1. Pingback: Motorcycle Rental & Tours in North Luzon | Travel Up

  2. Hi Kara. Been there, done that, as they say 🙂
    The only difference is when I say Vigan by motorcycle, I mean following:
    Hop on the bike in Naga City, ride north with overnight stops in Sto Tomas, and Baguio, then via Halsema highway past the highest point of 2257m, then down to Cervantes, and up the Cordilleras again over Bessang pass, ending in front of Salcedo de Vigan hotel just at sundown of the 3rd day. They have a small gated parking space (just enough for a couple of bikes), and they let you park there.
    Vigan itself was by kalesa the next day. No point in being there, and not trying a kalesa tour :-).
    But you are right in one thing; for me at least, the best looking town in Philippines. Reminds me of southern Europe. Looks just like small towns in Andalusia (minus the tricycles, and multitude of underbones) 🙂
    Even the hotel, is just like I remember from many years ago in Cordoba.

    • Hi Hrvoje. As Pinoys would say, “Eh di wow!” :p May I ask what motorcycle you ride? Actually, the North Loop is one of my goals when I upgrade my bike, though I wouldn’t want to start all the way from Naga City. Yes, Vigan is a charming town. I only wish more places in the Philippines could preserve architectural landmarks and old structures the same way. A lot of town centers here are just plain ugly. I also hope to visit Southern Europe someday 🙂

      • Regarding preserving old structures; I was really impressed by Vigan. Even the brand new McDo right in the center looks like it was designed 300 years ago. Kudos 🙂
        As for the bike; that tour and another one going up to Pagudpud, Banaue and Bontoc, was done on 2014 Ninja 1000. However don’t go rushing to Kawasaki Krib in Libis and buying one right away 🙂
        This bike is a remnant of my race-track past. As close as I could get to the race replica, and still being able to travel with luggage, and the wife not complaining too much about being uncomfortable at the back. As you can imagine, the last one is MOST important 🙂 🙂
        In the meantime (after having done some 15000 km all over Philippines mostly with ninja 1000, but also with Honda CRF 250L), I have finally settled for Husqvarna Terra 650. My wife manged to buy the last available bike in Manila, as this model is discontinued by Husqvarna. The reason is very simple–this IMHO is currently the best suited bike for Filipino road conditions. 50 kilos lighter than ninja 1000, with large front and rear wheels (easy to get on and off Filipino ferries 🙁 ), and knobby tires, can survive in mud, and mud, as I suppose you know, will happen sooner or later if on a long trip.
        Mind you, there are much more advanced “Adventure” bikes than 184kg Husqvarna Terra, but they weigh minimum 50-80kg more, and they all cost 4-5 times more, and in the end really offer not much more. Again, considering roads in Philippines. Basically, I could live with Honda CRF 250L, if it had double HP, a bit more comfortable seat, and luggage carrying capacity (which it does not have).
        Will let you know how Terra works out, after I actually do some traveling on it — this March, hopefully 🙂

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