The North Luzon Loop (NLL)

I was stuck at work the whole time everyone was out enjoying the Holy Week. That’s okay with me because I have a week-long work leave approved for the first week of April, my birthweek. The destination route: NORTH LUZON LOOP!

nll_cover

What tourists spots can you visit while doing the North Loop?

Red highlight is the island of Luzon. Luzon in its entirety also includes Batanes group of islands in the North and MIMAROPA including Masbate and Catanduanes of Bicol

Red highlight is the island of Luzon. Luzon in its entirety also includes Batanes group of islands in the North and MIMAROPA including Masbate and Catanduanes of Bicol

The archipelago of the Philippines is divided into three: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon is the biggest having 8 of the 17 administrative regions of the Philippines. The North Luzon Loop is the route passing through Central Luzon, Ilocos Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) and may also include NCR (National Capital Region) or CALABARZON (CAvite, LAguna, Rizal, QueZON) as the start/end point. It’s a least a total of 1200 kilometers that passes through busy city streets, quiet provincial towns or barrios, almost-unending stretches cutting through vast rice fields, sharp turns up and down mountains,  refreshing coastal roads, the occasional rugged terrain, and of course the beautiful, historical, amazing, breathtaking, entertaining, exciting, wonderful tourist spots of the Philippines.

A color-coded map of the administrative regions of Luzon.

A color-coded map of the administrative regions of Luzon.

Coming from Laguna (Region IV), I will be able to pass through these regions. I chose to do it in a clockwise direction and will take me 4-5 days to complete. I am using a Honda Wave 125 underbone motorcycle. It’s not the first time I have passed through this route. In Halloween of 2010, I joined my first Official Ride with Laguna Moto Club doing the North Loop on a counter-clockwise direction. After 2 years, I’m doing this solo. Here’s my story:

Day 1 (Laguna – Alabang – EDSA – Bulacan – Pampanga – Tarlac – Urdaneta – Rosario – La Union – Tagudin – Narvacan – Vigan City)

The First Two (of Many) Gas Stops

Tagudin: The Gateway to Ilocos Sur

The First Sundials in the Philippines and the Science Behind It

Suso Beach, Abra Tunnel and Sulvec Bay

The Vigan Gap and the Quirino Bridges That Connects It

Vigan City and The Quest to Find Pinget Island

Why You Should Stay for the Night in Vigan

Day 2 (Vigan City – Badoc – Batac – Paoay – Laoag – Baccara – Burgos – Bangui – Pagudpud)

Entering Ilocos Norte: The Badoc Stop

Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte

The Ruins of a Mansion on Gabut Island

Batac City: the “Home of Great Leaders”

A Roundabout Motorcycle Tour of Paoay Church

Motorcycle Adventure Ride in La Paz Sand Dunes 

Paoay Lake and the Malacañang of the North

Laoag City: The Sparkling Gem of Ilocandia

Bacarra Domeless Bell Tower and Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Kapurpurawan Rocks: The Most Famous Sedimentary Rock in the Philippines

Day 3 (Bangui – Pagudpud – Claveria – Pamplona – Gattaran – Amulung – Tuguegarao City – Enrile – Rizal – Tabuk City – Lubuagan)

The Bangui Wind Farm and What You Probably Didn’t Notice

Maira-ira Point: Timmangtang Rock, Bantay Abot Cave, Blue Lagoon, and Dos Hermanos Islands

Leaving Ilocos Via Patapat Bridge

Passing Through Cagayan

Chico River and the Beauty of Kalinga That Could Have Been Damm(n)ed

A Spooky Overnight Stay in Lubuagan, Kalinga

Day 4 (Lubuagan – Tinglayan – Sadanga – Bontoc – Sagada – Sabangan – Abatan – Atok – Baguio City – Rosario – Urdaneta City – Tarlac – Pampanga – Bulacan – EDSA – Alabang – Laguna)

Roadside Scenery of Tinglayan: Where are you Sleeping Beauty??

Bekigan… Rice Terraces? or House Terraces? Could Be Both!?

Focong Rice Terraces: Sacasacan’s Pride That I Almost Missed

Betwagan Rice Terraces and the Nearby Villages

Completing the North Luzon Loop

nll_done

In total, I have logged 1770 kilometers for this trip  and roughly 68 hours on the road. I am very, very pleased how this turned out really. A reflection on doing the NLL solo on a motorcycle:

1. I got to see the usual, famous stops frequented by tourists including not-so-friendly stops for stinky motorcyclists like museums and other crowded places.

2. I was able to go or stop where and when I  want to just because I want to see something.

3. The schedule and planned route worked “perfectly”. I have researched extensively on the places/routes that I want “known” but also intentionally left out others to keep things interesting. A back-up plan is good but being able to assess and come up with a new strategy is better.

4. I learned a ton of things… I know now what it’s like to be in that place I only used to see in a picture or a map or heard from someone. I have witnessed and interacted with the people in their community going about their day-to-day activities. Also, my motorcycling (riding, packing, techniques, route assessment, fixing, endurance, maneuvers, etc)  experience has tremendously grown.

It took a while but I am thankful I’m sharing this trip with you through this blog. I was surprised I learned more about the place or subject while writing about it. Thanks for reading and please feel free to share what you like.

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About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
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11 Responses to The North Luzon Loop (NLL)

  1. shine says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories. Enjoyed reading your entries, esp the Quest for Pinget Island. I can only imagine your great joy when you finally found it (fresh from under the sea, nonetheless) & it made me long for more nature treks myself. Maybe when my boys are older (3yo & 1yo now), hubby & i can ride in tandem on our very own NLL and much more. 😉

    • Hi Shine! Yeah, Pinget Island was kind of a disappointment but definitely worthwhile. Thank you for reading and I wish you and your hubby well. Take the trip, i’m sure your boys will be inspired 🙂

  2. j says:

    where do you sleep during these kind of adventure?

  3. ming says:

    Nice story. Hoping magawa din namin yan this year. But then, curious lang. Hm your budget for almost 5day? Where is the best and affordable to stay? Any tips? Thanks by the way. Happy new year!

    • Hi MIng! I only stay sa cheap hotels around 300-500 per night. They aren’t so bad anyway. I seldom stop during long rides so food consumption is minimal. Ung gas depende ma un sa motor mo. Good luck sa rides mo

  4. rio says:

    Been reading this The North Luzon Loop (NLL) blog for a week. hahaha .. Thanks for sharing sir. amazed with your blogs. … parand andun na din ako.. haha… excited and nervous at the same time for our “The North Luzon Loop (NLL)” trip . 🙂 .

  5. pj says:

    great write ups and shared experience!
    learned a lot from your trips. keep it up!

  6. Got my own taste of NLL just last month. Got me inspired to update my blog again. Pero uunahin ko muna yung mga nauna kong rides. Hehe.

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