One with the notable travel destinations in northern Philippines is Laoag. This third-class city, which is the capital of Ilocos Norte, is home to many scenic spots and premier attractions that keep tourists from finding its way back. It has also a wide array of resorts and vacation homes providing the best accommodations while you are out of the house. Covering a place of 101.88 square kilometers, Laoag can be called as the “Sparkling Gem of Ilocandia.”

Laoag is found 488 kilometers north of Manila and can be reached by bus or plane. It is an hour drive to Vigan, which can be famous because of its Hispanic houses located on cobblestone streets. Up north, Laoag is six hours faraway from Baguio, the “Summer Capital from the Philippines.”

There are lots of good reasons to love Laoag. Here is a travel help guide to this beautiful city.

La Paz Sand Dunes
Leading the list of attractions in Laoag will be the so-called “Desert with the North.” La Paz Sand Dunes covers a location of 85 square kilometers of sand and beach. This protected area is found just on the outskirts from the city, making it available to tourists. The internationally acclaimed movie “Himala” starring Nora Aunor was shot here. Even Hollywood directors fell deeply in love with La Paz Sand Dunes. Tom Cruise’s “Born for the Fourth of July” and Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max” were filmed simply in this area.

Sinking Bell Tower
One from the first things you might notice upon entering Laoag may be the Sinking Bell Tower. This 45-meter-high landmark is one from the tallest bell towers inside Philippines. It was built by Augustinian priests in 1612. Because it is so heavy and was built on sandy foundations, the tower is continuously sinking at an alleged rate of an inch annually. It is believed that people can move through the belfry’s door years ago. But due to the present condition, you must stoop to get in the tower.

St. William’s Cathedral
Another popular travel stop in Laoag is St. William’s Cathedral. It is one in the oldest and largest churches in Asia. The cathedral, which is situated across the street from the Sinking Bell Tower, was built by Augustinian friars in 1612. It has an Italian Renaissance architecture.

Tobacco Monopoly Monument
Standing beside St William’s Cathedral could be the Tobacco Monopoly Monument. This was constructed in 1882 for then Spanish King Alfonso XIII, who ordered the final of the tobacco monopoly in Ilocos Norte. From 1782 to 1881, people inside the province were instructed to cultivate not one other crops except tobacco.

Museo Ilokos Norte
Sightseeing in Laoag will never be complete without a visit to the Museo Ilokos Norte. Housed in the old Tabacalera Warehouse, the museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Ilocanos. Old tools used by local farmers, rattan-woven handicrafts, traditional Ilocano clothing, and artifacts through the province are some with the best finds at the museum. A souvenir shop for everything Ilocano is situated within the compound.