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Things to do in Philippines

Exploring UNESCO-listed Vigan

Experience all of Vigan’s charms, from jar making and wine tasting to visiting the city’s most famous landmarks…

Richie B. Cavinta
Vigan tour guide for Intas, Alfred&'s partner in the Philippines

Wooden bench in Vigan

There’s nowhere else like Vigan in the Philippines. The architecture here is a fusion of three styles – Chinese, Spanish and Filipino – a unique blend that has earned the city UNESCO World Heritage status. On this half-day tour, you’ll experience all of Vigan’s charms, from jar making and wine tasting to visiting the city’s most famous landmarks. It’s a real mix of history, culture and adventure.

We start by taking a horse-drawn carriage along Calle Crisologo, the main cobblestone street in Vigan. You’ll see beautiful heritage houses and learn about the historical architecture. Buildings here were originally made of wood, which was then blended with brick design in the American colonial period. You’ll also notice oriental details that were introduced by the Chinese merchants who settled here. Popular stops include Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle Metropolitan Cathedral and just outside of town, Bantay Church Bell Tower, which you can climb to get aerial photos of Vigan.

The people of Vigan are very hospitable and you’ll get to meet the owners of the old houses, businesses and sometimes local farmers and fishermen along the way. They have so much pride in their city, its monuments and their way of life. What’s incredible is that Vigan went from being known as the Wild West of the Philippines in the 60s and 70s, where there were family feuds and assassinations, to becoming an outstanding cultural landmark. That’s a key part of Vigan’s story that you’ll hear about on the tour.

A real highlight is learning about our traditional industries with a demonstration at Abel Weaving and a visit to a jar-making business. The local guide, Vong, is an expert and will tell you all about how these jars were introduced by the Chinese to transport goods during the galleon trade – you’ll even get a chance to make one yourself. This industry is so important to our history that the Vigan government has recently incorporated jar-making into the school curriculum.

To round off the trip, we’ll try some Vigan delicacies. My favourite part is the wine tasting, it’s all locally produced and an important part of our culture. Guests also love to try our Spanish-inspired empanadas, which you can put together and cook yourself at a street stall. The half-day tour ends at Plaza Salcedo, which is named after the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo. At night, the fountain here has a pretty light and sound show that tourists love.

Categories

  • Adventure
  • Culture
  • Eating & drinking
  • History
  • Trips to take

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Alfred & Richie B. Cavinta

Richie B. Cavinta is from the Ilocos Region of the Philippines but has been captivated by the unique and outstanding beauty of Vigan. He's been a tour guide for a decade and is passionate about showcasing the city's historic treasures. Richie strives to lead tours that connect and share the area's special history, culture, people and traditions.
Richie B. Cavinta

Alfred & our Philippines holiday experts

Freephone an expert

01306 744 656