Ilocos Norte, the northwestern tip of Luzon, is wedged between the steep Grand Cordillera Central in the east, the rugged Ilocos Mountains in the northeast, and the Ilocos Range in the South.
The centuries old churches that dot every town of Ilocos are testimonies to the colonial past. They formed part of the nucleus of the plaza complex town planning instituted by the Spanish colonizers.
With a coastline that stretches to 90 statute miles, Ilocos Norte is blessed with rich marine life (shells, giant turtles, seaweeds, starfishes, tuna, and a variety of more fishes).
Below Ilocos Norte is Ilocos Sur, located along the western coast of Northern Luzon, bound by Abra on the northeast, Mt. Province on the east, Benguet on the southeast, La Union on the south, and the China Sea on the west. Ilocos Sur's topography has elevations ranging from 10 to 1,700 meters above sea level.
Though unmistakably foreign in form, the churches of Ilocos Sur reflect a distinctly Ilocano character. The hardiness and strength of the Ilocanos are reflected in the massiveness and sturdiness of the structures.
Spanish colonial churches are a must-see in Ilocos Norte. The Paoay Church, originally built between 1699-1704, displays ingenuity in the use of corals, mortar, bricks, and molasses. The Laoag Cathedral, massive, short, and barn-like, was constructed between the 1650's-1700's. Watch out for the Sinking Bell Tower. Dingras Church, set in the midst of expansive rice fields, was built by natives in the 1680 using red bricks. Ilocos Sur's famous churches include the St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral, Bantay Church, Sta. Lucia Church, and the Sinait Church.
Fort Ilocandia Resort and Hotel is situated in the midst of fetching sandhills in coastal Calayab, Laoag City. Some 26 kilometers south of Laoag City is Currimao, lined with beautiful beaches dotted at times with corals. The white beaches of Pagudpud, the farthest end of Ilocos Norte towards the Laoag-Alacapan Road, are a veritable paradise.
Ilocos Sur's national museum, the Padre Jose Burgos House, contains the memorabilia of the martyr-priest Jose Burgos and Ilocano artifacts, as well as the ethnic arts of the Tinggians. The Magsingal Museum is a repository of Ilocano heritage, featuring collections of pottery and porcelain artifacts.
Kamestizoan District in Vigan is replete with ancestral houses with ancient tile roofs, massive hardwood floorings, balustrades, and azoteas in varying Spanish-Mexican-Chinese architectural styles.