Ilocos Norte: Attractions of the North You Won’t Get Tired of Revisiting

Saud White Beach
Saud White Beach

Scenic drives, sumptuous Ilocano cuisines, rich heritage, awe-inspiring megastructures and stunning landscape are some of the reasons which makes Ilocos Norte an all-time favorite for travelers. Memories of Ilocos Norte goes way back to my childhood road trips with family. Even if I had been here countless times, its always a welcome visit to this northern region. The recent Lakbay Norte 7 had me revisit the familiar places again with new companions this time. In just a day, we had the exciting rides at the La Paz Sand Dunes, to marveling the gigantic windmills of Bangui and a fun swim at Saud White Beach of Pagudpud.

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The Farmhouse by EDL: Bucolic Bliss in Tarlac

Early morning at the Farmhouse by EDL
Early morning at the Farmhouse by EDL

It was a night of the “super blue blood moon”. A rare celestial phenomenon that last happened in 1982. We were in the midst of our Lakbay Norte 7 tour in Tarlac that time that I firmly requested we hurry to our accommodation that evening to catch the “super blue blood moon”. The Farmhouse by EDL was our host that evening and I was ecstatic when we arrived on time. We hurried to capture the moon spectacle and after that I couldn’t help but look down at the attractive setting we have that evening. Inviting pool, lovely warmly lit garden and my companions starting their full moon party at the bar.

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Ylang-ylang Essential Oil of Anao Tarlac

Ylang-ylang flowers
Ylang-ylang flowers (photo by Martin San Diego/NPVB)

There’s a pleasant scent lingering in the air when you pass by Anao in Tarlac. The line of ylang-ylang trees (cananga odorata) along the national highway are a giveaway. Their blossom emits a natural aroma that’s both delicate and calming. Lakbay Norte 7 begins the day at the small town of Anao, Tarlac considered as the ylang-ylang capital of the country. Anao started extracting oil from fresh ylang-ylang flowers since 1994. They are dreaming big this year and hope to export more Ylang-ylang essential oil around the globe.

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Evening Rush at Kart City Tarlac

Speeding through Kart City Tarlac
Speeding through Kart City Tarlac

It was a long first day for Lakbay Norte 7. From an early call time of 4AM, we rushed to Malolos in the morning for the heritage walk. In the afternoon we rolled to San Rafael for some river adventure. Evening finds us in Tarlac for a brief museum walk at the Aquino Center. Shortly we found ourselves at Kart City Tarlac. Even with my head heavy and eyelids starting to shut by itself while having dinner, who wouldn’t pass up the chance to go karting? I know I still have enough fuel to last a few more hours and channel a bit more adrenaline for the night.

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San Rafael River Adventure: Aqua Fun Day Tour

San Rafael River Adventure actvities
San Rafael River Adventure actvities

Bulacan continues to unfold as we continue our Lakbay Norte 7 trip from Malolos Historic Town Center. Riding up about one and a half hour north, we reached the banks of the snaking Angat River also knows as the Bulacan River for the San Rafael River Adventure (SRRA). This lush resort by the river resort has a tranquil laid back atmosphere with facilities. The breeze was cool and comforting, the surrounding still and quiet. Yet those who want some adrenaline rush can choose a slew of activities the resort offers.

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Malolos Historic Town Center: A Walk Through Kamistesuhan District

The Barasoain Church
The Barasoain Church

They say seven is a lucky number. If it is, I consider myself lucky to be part of the 7th edition of Lakbay Norte. The annual familiarization tour of the north Luzon is made possible by North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) under Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you have been following Ironwulf for quite sometime, I had participated in several Lakbay Norte tours including the first one which set the foundation of the succeeding tours. Lakbay Norte 7 continues the tradition of a fun whirlwind sightseeing, gustatory and adventure filled trip of the north. We didn’t have to go far from Manila to jump-start the tour. Our first stop in Bulacan has us stretching our legs to walk through the Malolos Historic Town Center and marvel at the ancestral homes, age-old churches and its history.

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Wiped Out at Subic Bay Inflatable Island

Flying high from the human launcher
Flying high from the human launcher

I’m a long time fan of the TV game show Wipeout. It’s one of those shows that simply makes you laugh when contestants get wiped out off the obstacle course. The harsher the better. I’ve always imagined what’s its like to run that course. When I’ve heard of the Inflatable Island in Subic, I thought this would be a cool playground. It’s not Wipeout levels but there are obstacle course that would be a fun challenge for key attractions on the largest floating playground in Asia.

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