A taste of culture at Vigan with Calesa Tours from Metro Vigan Inn

by Carol Ranas
12 minutes read

Vigan is one city rich with cultural heritage. It is one of the cities that had preserved its original state dating back 16th century, when the Spanish colony started. With that, Vigan is recognized as a UNESCO Heritage town.

When in Vigan, you must not miss their Calesa Tours to immerse oneself to Vigan’s rich cultural heritage sites. Metro Vigan Inn, the place where we stayed in Vigan, offers Calesa Tours at an affordable price.

Here are some of the places we’ve visited through the Calesa Tour:

Bantayan Church and Bell Tower

The Bantayan Church was built in 1590 and considered one of the oldest churches in Ilocos. The facade of the church have been rehabilitated to maintain its architectural structure and beauty, but the wear and tear it had experiences through decades can be clearly seen from its side.

I was at awe to see how an infrastructure, much older as grandfather was able to withstand not only our struggle with the Spaniards colonization during the war, but also the wear and tear of the natural forces like earthquakes and typhoons.

The Bell Tower is the belfry of the Bantayan Church. The bell tower was used during the Spanish colony as the people’s watch tower. Situated at top of a hill, if you climb up the bell tower, you can see the stunning view of Vigan as well as its nearby provinces and the South China Sea.

Here I am trying to get a candid shot beside the picturesque Bell Tower.

Calle Crisologo

Calle Crisologo is one of the most visited places in Vigan.

The whole street is filled with ancestral houses with Spanish architectural styles (with ancient tile roofs, massive hardwood floorings, balustrades, azoteas and cobble-stoned streets).

Visitors can admire more closely the architecture when they step inside some of the houses that have been turned into stores and museums. You can see a lot of stall and stores set up there offering Vigan’s best products (antiques, abel woven products, bags, basi wine, burnay and dimili products, chicharon, jewelry, sweets, Vigan vinegar and woodcrafts). They can even experience staying in a heritage house during their visit as some have been converted into hotels and inns.

You surely wouldn’t want to miss having your picture taken here because it can instantly transport you back to the 16th century.

Hidden Garden

The Hidden Garden is located at Bulala and owned by landscape artist, Francis Flores. The garden was like a museum of all his works. It kind of reminded me of Baker’s Hill in Palawan. It was a beautiful garden with amazing landscaping art, superb potteries and almost like an art museum rolled in one.

Inside the garden is a quaint restaurant that serves Ilocano cuisine called Lilong and Lilang Restaurant. Mr. Flores was very warm and extended his hospitality on us by letting us try their Ilocano Empanada with a bottle of soda.

Personally, I didn’t like the orange Ilocano Empanada I’ve tasted in Manila. Lilong and Lilang restaurant’s version of the dish was different. It is Ilocano style tacos with longganisa, papaya, egg, monggo seasoned with herb. I loved it mainly because of the pastry used, it was thin, light and crispy. I prefer the pastry they used as compared to the orange thingy in Manila.

Senyorita Dulce

Before the night breaks in, we went to Senyorita Dulce. Senyorita Dulce has a restaurant and store fronting their facility while their bakery operations happens at the back part of the area.

Their pastries are made fresh from their bakery daily. We were able to get a glimpse of their bakery and saw how their bibingkas were made.

We were able to try some of the items in their menu like their famous miki, chorizo pasta, bibingka and assortment of pastries. It was one gastronomical adventure.

Hotel Salcedo de Vigan

Sinanglao is one of the native dishes in Vigan. We were able to see how sinanglao was made at Hotel Salcedo de Vigan.

They welcomed us in and showcased to us how sinanglao was made. Sinanglao has that interesting taste and what makes it special is their very own vinegar.

I can’t get enough of Vigan’s sinanglao

Plaza Salcedo

Before we ended our day, our last stop was at Plaza Salcedo to witness the Vigan Dancing Fountain. It was a marvelous spectacle. The light and water fountain show is the first of its kind in the country. So far, the light show was the best one I’ve seen in terms of creativity, timing and execution.

The timing of the lights along with the water fountain was unbelievable. These pictures does not even justify how marvelous the light display was. Better check it yourselves!


Before heading back to Manila, we stopped by Baluarte. Baluarte is a zoo located in Salindeng and owned by Chavit Singson. Hectares of land consists of not only a zoo but a butterfly farm, a track for horse riding and a skeet shooting range.

I’m not fond of caged animals. I have a dog and an adopted stray cat which we earnestly train to cohabit in our house. It saddens me to see those unhappy and stressed animals inside cages.

I was more excited to see Mr. Singson’s tigers then and was hoping to see little cubs. But unfortunately, there are only 2 tigers in there, one for picture taking and one kept in a cage.

There are some places we were not able to go to but are included in the Calesa tour namely: Burnay Pottery, Crisologo Museum and Syquia Mansion. We opt to rest for a bit after the heavy lunch we had at Metro Vigan Cafe and started the tour around 3PM. We did not make it because they close early around 4PM. It’s best to start early for the Calesa Tour starts at 8AM and 1PM daily.

Soshi and I enjoyed the whole Vigan trip. It was quite short but definitely fun! I can’t wait to go back to see more of what the Ilocandia region has in store.

If you also want to know more information and avail the Calesa Tour, contact Metro Vigan Inn at 09178243800 or through their Facebook Page. Advance reservation is required and subject to availability.

I would like to express my gratitude to Metro Vigan Inn (through Powercomm) for being nice enough to tour us around Vigan and explore what the city has in store.

Have you been to Vigan?

Let’s swap stories in the comments below!

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