For our Holy Week break, we decided to go on an 8-day road trip to 5 stunning provinces in the North of Luzon island. We explored winding mountain ranges, unspoiled beaches, cobblestoned cities, giant sand dunes, and peaceful towns.
From Manila, it takes around 11 hours to arrive at our first destination:
- Watch the Sunrise at Bontoc, Mt. Province
We got up at 4 am and started our hike towards this hidden plateau in order to make it in time for the sunrise. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in the province and is the best place to escape, unwind, and catch a 360 degree view of the town of Bontoc. It also offers a lot of space for our Malamutes to roam free alongside the sea of clouds.
Alaskan Malamutes, Erys and Mint enjoying the mountain breeze
- Caving at Sagada, Mt. Province
Just about an hour away from Bontoc is the municipality of Sagada. The town is popular for its yogurt, rice terraces, hanging coffins, and of course, its caves. Although caving here is risky, as the rocks tend to be slippery especially when wet, it is still a worthwhile experience for the adventurous tourist.
Soon after caving we headed to Cerveza Sagada for some local craft beers. The place is great for a private get-together with family and friends.
For those who plan on staying longer in Sagada, I recommend to book your hotel reservations as early as possible since it gets quite hard to find accommodations during peak seasons.
- Relax at the Unspoiled Beaches of Santa Ana, Cagayan
After 8 hours on the road, we arrived in Santa Ana, one of the northernmost towns situated at the edge of Luzon. A family friend welcomed us into his private beach where we could peacefully bask in the sun and swim in clear waters. For the entire afternoon we explored the property in ATVs then abused the jet skis for hours. In the evening we feasted on steak and seafood. The next morning we worked on our sun tanning routines and had exquisite crabs and lechon for lunch.
- Ride the Sand Dunes of Laoag, Ilocos Norte
From Santa Ana, it took us around 6 hours to arrive in Laoag. With the architecture of an old classic Filipino mansion, I recommend checking into the Fort Ilocandia Resort to get the authentic Ilocano hotel experience.
As early as 6 am, we decided to check out Laoag’s famous sand dunes. While I was standing at the back of a sandrail, my dad tested out the 4×4 vehicles to see if these could survive the deep sand—unfortunately, the Land Cruiser gave up.
- Food trip at Vigan, Ilocos Sur
The city of Vigan is known for its preserved Spanish and Asian architecture and its famous Calle Crisologo—a street filled with local restaurants and Kalesas (horse-drawn carriages). After 4 hours, we had a stopover in Vigan to have late lunch and partake of their scrumptious foods. Cafe Leona is a must-try restaurant when visiting the area. Of course, it is mandatory before leaving that we order Vigan longanisa to bring home to Manila.
- Cool Down at Baguio, Benguet
After another 4 hours, we arrived at our last destination before heading back to Manila. We checked into one of the cozy cottages of Baguio Country Club. Our time in Baguio was mostly spent resting and eating, as we were mostly on the road during the past few days. I recommend visiting Chocolate de Batirol for an authentic hot-chocolate made from local cacao beans.
When you and your friends find yourselves itching to go on a long drive, consider a trip to Northern Luzon. There are a lot of natural and cultural wonders to see and you’ll surely come home with great memories and glowing tans!