Between them making up half of the Ilocos region (La Union and Pangasinan provinces make up the other half), Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte line Luzon’s northwestern coast. Long and narrow, Ilocos Sur is sandwiched by the sea on one side and the Cordillera Mountains on the other. For most tourists its highlight is undoubtedly Vigan, one of the most atmospheric and enjoyable cities in the country. Walking its cobbled streets and exploring its heritage homes gives an inkling of the former importance of this trading city. Ilocos Norte is still strongly associated in Filipino minds with former President Ferdinand Marcos, and his family continues to wield considerable political power in the province. Sites related to the Marcos family in the area include Ferdinand’s birthplace in Sarrat, the mansion known as the Malacañang of the North beside Paoay Lake and Ferdinand’s mausoleum in Batac. Getting away from the Marcoses, on the northern coast the town of Pagudpud draws visitors from across Luzon with some of the best beaches on the island.

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