When imagining what you are going to see on your backpacking trip in South East Asia, you easily end up with the stereotypes: beautiful beaches, incredible landscapes and tons of temples and pagodas. However, due to its Spanish heritage, the Philippines is completely different from all other countries in South East Asia and in almost every aspect, be it religion, cuisine or architectural style. The Philippines can be a good alternative for those who have seen too many temples already and are looking for something different. What if I told you that there is a town in the Philippines that completely transports you to South or Central America without leaving South East Asia?
During my last trip to the Philippines I traveled the region of Ilocos Norte and from all the incredible locations I visited in the region – sand dunes, beaches and natural parks – the place that surprised me the most by far was the lovely town of Vigan.
This place, located only a 1 hour drive from the main city of Laoag, is the perfect getaway during your trip in Ilocos Norte and the best location to experience a cultural shock in South East Asia. Its preserved Spanish colonial architecture would serve as the perfect location for a Garcia Marquez story or a romantic Spanish or South American novel. As a Colombian traveling the world for years now I have to say that the cobblestoned streets, horse-drawn carriages and picturesque Colonial architecture of Vigan really take me back to some childhood trips with my family. To me, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a gem in South East Asia and a location you can´t miss, if you want to experience a mix of Spanish and Asian culture.