As we drove up north to go to Pagudpud, we decided to pass through Vigan on our way back to Manila and stay there for a night. Since the travel requirements for Pagudpud were easy to prepare, we thought the same for Vigan but we were dead wrong.

Ilocos Norte and Sur are neighboring provinces so it doesn’t make sense why these 2 have different travel requirements. Nevertheless, we have no choice but to comply or ditch our plans to go to Vigan altogether.

Anyway, the drive from Pagudpud to Vigan took approximately 4 hours. And here are the requirements:

  • RT PCR test result taken in no more than 72 hours from time of entry in Ilocos Sur (saliva RT PCR is acceptable as long as it’s administered by Red Cross) or an Antigen test taken within 24 hours
  • Booking confirmation from one of the accredited travel agencies (this is mandatory even if you are just passing through and not going on tours)
  • Travel pass registration at https://ilocossur.tarana.ph/ 

Since we spent 2 nights in Pagudpud, our RT PCR test results have already elapsed which mean we need to get an antigen test, otherwise, we won’t be allowed to enter Ilocos Sur. Fortunately, there’s a testing facility just 5 minutes away from the Sinait border. An antigen test costs 800php and the results will be released within an hour. Once we got the results, we had to log back in to our Tara Na account, click ‘Apply for a Travel Pass’ and upload the antigen test result together with the booking confirmation and a valid ID. Once we’ve uploaded all the requirements, we have to wait 5-10 mins to see an “APPROVED” tag in our travel pass application. This can all be done through the Tara Na website.

The next hurdle is entering Vigan. You won’t be able to enter Vigan without a DOT accredited tour guide which the travel agency will provide. The tour guide met us at the entrance of Vigan and accompanied us to the City Health Office to log in. You won’t be able to do all this by yourself, you also can’t enter establishments or just walk in Calle Crisologo without a tour guide. Booking a travel agency is a MUST to assist you before, during and after your trip in Vigan. It sounds complicated, which it is, but if you are able to complete the requirements prior to crossing the border from Ilocos Norte to Ilocos Sur or Manila to Ilocos Sur, then it should be less of a hassle.

For our hotel accommodation, we booked directly in Hotel Luna instead of booking through the travel agency because we initially thought that we could bypass the travel agency requirement but we were wrong, obviously. 

As for the cost of the travel agency, we paid 500php for the travel agency’s service fee and 1500php (plus tip) for the tour guide for 2 days. The tour guide was with us 4 hours each day. If you want to hire him for an entire day, the cost will be higher.

When leaving Vigan, we had to pass by the City Health Office again to log out. This process is mandatory and the tour guide will still have to accompany you.

We spent less than 24 hours in Vigan but the travel requirements preparation took more time than in Pagudpud. Unbelievable but that’s the reality of traveling during COVID times.