The heritage city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur has long established itself as one of the tourist draws of Region 1. A visit here is like a glimpse back in time as one walks through well-preserved colonial houses and cobblestone streets. This characteristic alone earned the city a listing under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. But for someone like me, who has been here several times already, I’m always on the lookout for new things to do in the city. Luckily, new establishments and initiatives by the local government have kept things interesting for return visitors.
Vigan Tourist Passport
In 2023, the City Government of Vigan introduced the Ciudad de Vigan Pasaporte de Turista, or the Vigan Tourist Passport. It’s not a requirement to enter the city, but the passport rewards visitors with stamps when they avail of services from partner establishments. These stamps serve as reward points, which can be later redeemed. If you plan to visit Vigan soon or more often, this passport could be handy. Currently, the passports do not have an expiry date. Here’s how to acquire one:
- Register online (Vigan City website).
- Fill out the form online or at the Vigan office.
- Pay the fee (P300).
- Claim it on-site or have it shipped with corresponding fees.
- Scan the QR code on the back cover of the passport to locate partner establishments on the map.
- Avail services from these establishments and collect stamps to earn points.
- Redeem rewards.
While commercial cafes like Starbucks and Dunkin’ have made their way to Vigan’s main Calle Crisologo area, locals recommend Amian Cafe for excellent local coffee. Located between Max’s Restaurant and JTC Supermarket, Amian Cafe’s second branch, after the one in Candon City, Ilocos Sur offers award-winning coffee like the Single Origin Mabini Uguan. Made from robusta beans harvested from the highlands of Sigay, Ilocos Sur, this coffee boasts rich fruity nuances. Amian Cafe not only excels in coffee but also provides a warm and cozy atmosphere with work and study spaces.
Follow their Facebook: facebook.com/amiancafe
One Ilocos Sur Cafe
Another cafe worth visiting is One Ilocos Sur Cafe, located inside the Provincial Farmer’s Livelihood Development Center. They also use Robusta beans from Sigay and are known for their exciting and flavorful coffee blends. The cafe shares space with Ilocos Sur’s OTOP Hub, showcasing various products from different towns, and the Ilocos Sur Livelihood Museum, an exhibit space to showcase various livelihoods and cultures from Ilocos Sur.
Check their Facebook: facebook.com/tongsonrecipes
Vigan Conservation Complex
Although the Vigan Conservation Complex has been around since 2015, it recently reopened for the public after being closed during the pandemic. The multi-purpose buildings are well-curated, featuring three museum sections in separate buildings connected by footbridges. The lower areas serve as training and workshop centers, with a home depot providing materials for colonial house repairs.
Calle Brewery Craft Beer
In the heritage city, Calle Brewery, a micro-brewery housed inside a beautiful 1875 ancestral house, has been crafting beer since 2018. They are the only craft beer maker in town and aim to educate the locals about the art of craft beer brewing. The brewery offers good value for craft beer and food. For P150, you can order the Beer Flight, which includes 4 cups of different craft beer flavors to try.
Vigan is charming on its own, but whether you’re visiting for the first time or you’re a return visitor, these new places can enrich your experience in this heritage city.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.