One of the best parts of our Vigan trip was the Cultural Vigan Kalesa Tour. I had ridden a kalesa once before in San Fernando, Pampanga. This however, was a different experience and definitely more enjoyable!
As part of our stay at Metro Vigan Inn, we would be embarking on a cultural tour of Vigan via a kalesa. Our itinerary included a church, garden, hotel and the famous Calle Crisologo among other sites.
We had a nice driver named JR who explained the different landmarks.
Bantayan Church and Bell Tower
This historic St. Augustine Church or Bantay (means to watch) Parish is known as the Queen of Ilocandia. It has a rich history and beholds the Sanctuary of Nuestra Senora de La Caridad.
The baroque-gothic style church humbled me and gave me another reminder to explore my personal convictions.
The Bell Tower has long been standing as a watchful eye to the folks of Vigan. Upon arriving at the tower the tour guide was very passionate when explaining the history and its origins.
The moment our horse trotted onto the cobblestones we knew we were in the “old” part of town. The Spanish houses and buildings were fading but held an eerie sense of the past. This was where we were able to buy our pasalubong (gifts).
Walking down the street you can imagine the people that used to walk there in their 18th century clothing. There was actually a photo shoot going on of a lady dressed in 18th century attire.
Having these historical landmarks is a reminder of our past and hopefully it will still be standing in the years to come. The Historic Town of Vigan has been preserved well and is now considered part of the World Heritage List.
There are plenty of stores where you can buy shirts, keychains, bags and other novelty items.
We were able to by a t-shirt (Php99) for Bastian, a woven bag (Php50) and coin purse (Php35) for Kianna and the cutest colorful wooden guitar (Php150) for Jael.
Calle Crisologo at night is a wonder to behold. The lights bounce off and create a scene for picture perfect shots.
Hidden Garden & Lilong & Lilang Restaurant
At this point in our trip we were getting used to riding the kalesa and enjoying the ride.
We stopped over at Hidden Garden where we tried their famous empanadas which were huge. I was pretty full by then and could only eat almost half of it. It was different from the empanadas that I had tasted before but it was good.
The owner was very accommodating and greeted us openly and with a smile.
I made a wish before dropping in my coin. I hope it comes true!
Many local celebrities have visited Hidden Garden from movie stars to politicians.
This unique fountain creates bubbles that we found out had a special chemical to kill mosquitoes. You can also buy plants and pottery as souvenirs.
Hotel Salcedo de Vigan
Our next stop was this hotel where we would get to learn how to make Sinanglao, a broth made from beef. It was delicious but oily.
The hotel ballroom has beautiful lighting fixtures and I couldn’t resist capturing it.
Walking to Plaza Salcedo from Hotel Salcedo I caught a glimpse of Plaza Burgos and these wonderful lights.
We ended our tour with an amazing dancing fountain light show. The show lasts for 30 minutes and plays about 6-8 songs with beautifully choreographed lights. It was a wonderful way to end the night.
Metro Vigan Inn offers 2 kinds of Kalesa Tours.
Culture Vulture Day Tour
A 4-hour city tour for the budget conscious wherein you’ll get to visit historical landmarks and tourist spots.
If you want to tour historic Vigan but are limited in time and budget you can opt for this tour which will include the Bantayan Church and Bell Tower, Burnay Pottery, Hidden Garden, Crisologo Museum, Syquia Mansion and Calle Crisologo.
The Sunset Tour
This upgraded leisurely tour is 6 hours long and includes more places to visit. The upgrade includes Baluarte Zoo, Hotel Luna, Vigan Empanadaan, and Plaza Salcedo.
Rates are at Php700 per person or add Php300 to upgrade to the Sunset Tour.
Getting to Metro Vigan Inn:
Air – Domestic flights leave Manila daily for Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, which is an hour and a half away by land to Vigan. The city can be reached from Laoag City via local bus companies.
By Land – The 408 km stretch from Manila to Vigan City is a comfortable eight-hour ride along the scenic Manila-Ilocos Highway. Many air-conditioned buses ply the Manila-Vigan route regularly.
Getting Around – The best way to explore Vigan is on foot; the town center is small and compact, yet full of excitement.
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