"Laoag" (Ilocano for "the place of light or clarity"), is an old, flourishing settlement known to Chinese and Japanese traders when the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo arrived at the northern banks of Padsan River in 1572. Augustinian missionaries established the Roman Catholic Church in the area in 1580 and designated Saint William, the Hermit as its patron saint.
Tourism has become a major economic driver of Laoag City, paving the way for new commercial investments and infrastructure development. A recent surge in Chinese and Taiwanese tourists have been flocking to splurge in the city's profitable casino located inside the only 5-star hotel in the northern Philippines, Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort. Other places of interest include a tour of heritage sites featuring Spanish colonial buildings, Philippine-baroque churches, white-sand beach resorts of Pagudpud, and Marcos-era mansions. The dramatic increase in tourist arrivals also prompted the establishment of a Chinese consulate to oversee the security of Chinese citizens living or visiting the city. A new immigration policy set to simplify entry of Chinese tourists into the country by issuing visitor visas in the airport after arrival is expected to entice more guests to come. To supplement the anticipated growth in tourist-related business activity, the government of Ilocos Norte has started construction on a multimillion dollar convention center and hotel to supply the demand and diversify services.
Other tourist sites include: