Laoag City is the capital of Ilocos Norte, the country's north-western most province aside from Batanes. The city is more than 600 kms. from Manila. Pagudpud is the province's northernmost municipality, and is bordering with Cagayan province.
I've been to Laoag and Pagudpud 3x: the first in 1993 (Manila-Laoag-Pagudpud-back); the second in 1999 (Manila-Ilocos-Cagayan-Nueva Vizcaya/Ecija-Manila); and the third in 2002 during the First North Philippines Expedition (see my first postings in this blog; Clark-Nueva V/Ecija-Cagayan-Ilocos-Clark).
In 1993, me and my former officemates in Congress were able to explore many parts of Laoag and neighboring towns of Ilocos Norte. My recollections of those areas are now hazy but these are among the nice places that I can remember:
(The 1999 and 2002 trips, I and my companions did not really explore the city, just saw the city proper and moved to the next destination)
1) Fort Ilocandia Resort -- a famous and 5-star hotel in the North, Spanish-era architecture buildings, sprawling open spaces. It has up to 2-kms long fine sandy beach facing South China Sea, from its 77 hectares area.
2) Sand dunes -- in Brgy. Lapaz, a geological wonder in this part of the country.
3) Paoay Church (St. Augustine church) -- in the municipality of Paoay, really old, has some big "aratiles" fruit trees perched alive on its thick walls.
4) Laoag church (St. William's Cathedral) -- one of the biggest churches in the country; Italian Renaissance designs.
5) Museo Ilocos Norte -- exhibits of history, culture and lifestyle of the province.
6) Marcos museum -- in the municipality of Batac, I think.
7) Bojeador Lighthouse -- in the municipality of Burgos, between Laoag and Pagudpud. Reputed as the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Asia, 73 steps to climb in a spiral staircase.
8) Pagudpud -- considered the "Boracay of the north" because of its long white-sand coastlines. Lots of resorts, lodging houses and restaurants. The waves though, can be normally big as it is fronting an open sea with no huge islands from a distance that can partly deflect the winds.
9) Patapat Cliff -- one of the longest bridges and viaduct in the country. The original road is high up there the current viaduct, on steep slopes of a mountain. It was closed many years ago because it was prone to frequent landslides. The current viaduct is long (maybe about 2 kms. long) and has a breath-taking view of the wide South China Sea. Some old and previously sunken ships can be seen from a distance.
When you go up a few kilometers of Patapat Cliff, you will reach the boundary with Cagayan province, near the municipalities of Candelaria.
The road condition in Ilocos provinces is generally good. Municipalities north of Laoag (to Pagudpud-Cagayan) are generally sparsely populated.