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Thinking of travel? Do the Lakbay Norte loop

4x4 adventure at the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes

A trip around North Luzon is a sojourn that is best described as AWESOME! From the central plains of Pampanga, the rugged Cordilleras, the beaches of Ilocos and important heritage, culture and adventure spots that can be found in many areas proves to be a very interesting trip for whoever is brave enough to embark on this multi day journey.

Last January 2010, I was invited by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau to join a media tour of travel writers and bloggers to experience North Luzon for seven days starting in Cagayan province all the way to Pampanga to sample the various local cuisines and experience the attractions offered by the various provinces along the route. Ilocandia is just too irresistible with its sand dunes and the exhilarating sports of sandboarding and 4×4 vehicle adventure. Other than that, there are also places worth a visit that is far from the maddening crowds like Paoay Lake and Maira-ira Cove.

Wanting a wet adrenaline rush? La Union’s surf camps are a must. Surf celebrity Luke Landrigan will be there to give tips on form and execution and the place is good for beginners too.

Baguio City still has it charms but the pull is outside its environs, at the nearby municipality of Bokod in Benguet. Go karting, which i tried for the first time and it was fun, or just admire the beautiful monstrosity that is Ambuklao Dam. This area has exciting adventure potentials and possibilities.

Pangasinan also teems with stunning islands, over a hundred of them scattered off the coast of Alaminos with interesting wildlife and formations and cave systems. If you wan’t to explore each one, give it a few days.

Heritage and culture? North Luzon has ancient churches rich in history. There are colonial architectural gems that would just make any Pinoys proud while gazing at Paoay Church or the neoclassic Pangasinan Capitol.

Craving for something delicious? There are lot and lots of food specialties and experience that it has to offer of which, two stood out for this trip: the timeless and always satiating Batac emapanada that is bound to make the visitor not just eat one, but two or more. And of course, a bit of a curiousity, binungey, that sticky rice dish that is cooked inside bamboo. If you want to dine amidst stunning montane sceneries, then Bokod should be it.

Go to the bowels of the earth and explore the caverns of Callao Cave. If you’re done, you can contemplate or reminisce on the riverine landscape while cruising the Pinacanauan River in Cagayan Province. I did it and be ready to be humbled.

These are just some of the places that can be experienced and visited. But be ready for my LAKBAY NORTE REDUX soon.

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