Vigan tourist guide

Vigan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Luzon which is renowned for its Spanish colonial charm and period architecture. The cobbled streets, unique cuisine and antiques shops make it a one of the most attractive cities in the Philippines and a must-see stop on any tour north of Manila.

The historic heart of Vigan is based around the two public squares of Plazas Burgos and Salcedo, situated to the north of the commercial district. The Mestizo neighbourhood is filled with Oriental-inspired shophouses built by Chinese Merchants and runs along Plaridel and Mena Crisologo Streets, south of Plaza Burgos. Sightseeing in Vigan is pleasant thanks to the small army of horse-drawn calesa drivers that ferry tourists around town. And staying here is an experience in itself as many guesthouses are decked out as time capsule museums.

Attractions & activities

Vigan is a historic city with plenty of things to do. Take a calesa ride around town, visit the cathedral, houses of former dignitaries or even take a trip to the beach and go swimming...more

Hotels & lodging

Vigan is blessed with a multitude of ancient buildings which house quaint period hotels and guesthouses. These are filled with museum artefacts and make for an unforgettable stay...more

Restaurants & bars

Vigan is home to some utterly unique Asian-European fusion cuisine by virtue of the city's historic place as an trading post for Chinese junks and Spanish administrative centre...more

Transportation

Getting to Vigan is relatively straightforward with a range of bus companies all making the journey north from Manila. There is an airport nearby and calesas for sightseeing around the town...more

Brief guide to Vigan - history and orientation

Vigan was an important pre-Spanish trading post for Chinese junks, ferrying golden beeswax and other traditional products from the central Cordilleras back home in exchange for spices and other exotic Asian goods. Many of these merchants settled here and married into the local populace, bestowing a unique ethnicity on the area.

Vigan was finally captured by the Spanish in 1572 and soon became an important political hub of Ilocos Sur. In 1758 the city became Seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia. But the town remained hotbed of the anti-Spanish independence movement, with Diego Silang perhaps the most famous resistance leader of the area. He was assassinated by friends paid by the Spanish in May 1763. His wife, Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang, took on the resistance’s leadership but came to a similar end just four months later when she was publically hanged.

Local legend says that Vigan received its name from an error in communication. Apparently a Spanish man was wandering in the vicinity and asked a local the name of the town he came across. But the peasant thought he was pointing to a giant Taro plant in the same direction and so answered "Bigaa Apo" instead. It is believed Vigan was then derived from the word ‘Bigaa’.

The town has a tourist information office in the southwest corner of Plaza Burgos (by Cafe Leona) and banks with ATMs which accept foreign cards are scattered around the city. There are also internet cafés which charge around Php20 per hour and some restaurants offer WiFi access.

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