Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Philippines: Vigan

Vigan is on the World Heritage List as "the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia." Frankly, I was a bit disappointed. The "colonial town" is more or less one street of old Spanish colonial buildings. Granted, it is a nice street. But it is pretty much just the one street. There is some interesting architecture off that main street, but the puttering motorbikes, motorized tricycles, and taxis take away all the charm.

We did luck out in some respects. We were there for one of their festivals, and watched a Filipino burlesque drag show. In addition, I celebrated my birthday there. And since we had a TV at the hotel, I was able to watch the inauguration. But beyond those special events, there wasn't much to see or do there.

If you're passing through the area on a bus, by all means stop and spend an hour or two looking around. But I wouldn't make a special journey to see it. Rather check out Intramuros in Manila. It's a much larger area of preserved Spanish colonial architecture. Just don't spend the night there, as the hotels are all priced higher due to it being a famed tourist destination.

A scene of the Spanish colonial street

Another scene

And another

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