The pandemic, especially during the hard lockdown, has made road trips quite a thing of the past. But with travel restrictions easing, now has become an opportune time to hit the road again and re-discover the Philippines from a new normal perspective.

One destination that will not disappoint is Region 1, with its scenic landscapes, surfing locales, flavorful signature delicacies, and a plethora of activities the whole family or barkada can enjoy—your search for the ultimate getaway experience may just be very well over.

The Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan, La Union is one of the most popular spots for surfers in the Philippines.. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Composed of provinces encompassing the Northwestern coast of Luzon island—Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan—Region 1 was the place to be for historical site tours, coastal beach activities, water adventures, crafts like blanket-weaving and pottery, and yummy native delicacies like bibingka, suman, and calamay, pre-pandemic.

The parish church of Santa Monica, commonly known as Sarrat Church, is renowned as the largest church in the whole Ilocos Norte province. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Thankfully, even as the world that we know of now highly revolves around face masks, these must-try experiences in Region 1 are as enjoyable as ever, and even better, with safety and health protocols in place.

Abel weaving has always been a legacy of the Ilocos Region. The materials that they use are made from cotton and dyed from the sap of a plum called sagut which is abundant in several areas in North Luzon.. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

DOT-Region 1 has also developed tourism products that are fit for new normal travel.

While Region 1 is known for its many open air tourist destinations like swimming, surfing, island-hopping, sandboarding, they have also began to put front and center activities that allow travelers to get even more out of the region’s scenic spots like biking, hiking, and even birdwatching, and of course, exploring the many wonders of its provinces.

Among the tourism products that will be launched within the year are the La Union Eco Trails, which will showcase outdoor tourism through hiking; birdwatching of migratory birds visiting the Paoay Lake in Ilocos Norte; and the Find the One Bike Tour, which aims to encourage not only biking enthusiasts but also families as there will be bike circuits for beginners, intermediate, and advanced categories.

Located 3km away from the Suba Sea, Paoay Lake is a freshwater system that supports 300 farmers of the surrounding communities and it serves as irrigation. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

The region is also organizing a MoTOURismo to revive the regional loop in North Luzon for big bikes. They are also developing a Regional Pilgrimage Tour to showcase the region’s heritage churches, as well as a World War II Historical and Cultural Trail involving all the regions of Northern Luzon, to provide Filipinos, especially students, outdoor museums where they can learn about the history and culture of the provinces in Northern Luzon.

The Shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa of Badoc, the Cause of Ilocanos’ Joy and the Queen of Ilocos Norte. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

The Filipino’s resilient spirit has found many creative ways to cope with the pandemic, and it’s just about time to reward your own perseverance with a trip to Region 1 that’s sure to refresh you and give you a deeper appreciation for the many wonders of discovering, or re-discovering, what your motherland has to offer.

The DOT continues to encourage travelers to check the official websites of the destinations they are planning to visit, as well as for the latest updates on open destinations, travel restrictions, and entry requirements and protocol.