A place where you can find refuge from the hustle and bustle of the big city life, Iloilo offers a peaceful haven to anyone who needs a quiet, more laid-back vacation. It is a city where you can smell the flowers and hear the birds singing, and yet you do not miss out on the convenience that is offered by a developed city. Iloilo has been renowned for the warmth and relaxing respite it brings to people.
Strategically located in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Iloilo is a city in the Southeast region of Panay Island in Western Visayas. This city is the gateway to the renowned island of Boracay so if you are planning to go to there, you might want to drop by Iloilo and experience warm hospitality and great food.
Miagao Church, Iloilo by Quaknit
Why Not Go
If you want to go on a vacation in a nice exotic beach, then you need to just drive by Iloilo and go straight to Boracay. It does not have sugary white sand beaches such as those that you can find in that famed island.
On the other hand, if you want to have so many things to do on your vacation, then you might want to visit this lovely city in the Western Visayas. Iloilo is the home of the old affluent families in the Philippines; its vast lands and ancestral homes make it rich in culture and diversity. Its local dialect is Ilonggo, the language of lovers.
Best Time to Visit
Refer to article: Best time to go visit Iloilo
Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo by Quaknit
Since Iloilo is a favorite vacation place for many, it offers a wide array of choices for accommodation, from backpackers to honeymooners you can find the right accommodation that fits your budget.
If you are on a tight budget, you can stay in an inn or a pension house. The Riverside Inn offers clean and decent rooms for as low as $14 a night. On the other hand, if you want to splurge a bit, you can go to Iloilo’s most popular hotel destination which is the Sarabia Manor. It comes complete with an Italian restaurant, a Bar Lounge, an American Bar, a Seafood restaurant and much more. The rates start at $53 which is a little steep for a hotel in this country but hey, if you are on a vacation and you want to enjoy a few luxuries, then this should not be a problem for you.
Since Iloilo is such a nice city, filled with people and establishments that are very eager to be of service to tourists, you will rarely find a hotel, inn or pension house that is not worth what you are paying them for, although it may be best to make sure you research on them first before booking. Some hotels have very high rates so you might want to haggle a bit for you to get better rates.
Where & What to Eat
Iloilo is well-known for its mouth-watering food specialties such as the famous La Paz batchoy- a local noodle soup. It can be found in virtually all of the restaurants in the city but you might want to have a bowl or two at Ted’s. This restaurant chain are found in General Luna and Diversion Road, you can also see them at La Sallet Building in Valeria Street, in a popular mall- Robinson’s Place, and at the Arguelles Building, in Jaro Plaza.
Another favorite would be the Kansi, which is bone marrow soup. The best place to go for this meal would be Pat-Pat’s on E. Lopez St, Jaro. After you have savored the La Paz batchoy and the Kansi, your gastronomical enjoyment does not end there. It is worth stopping by Breakthrough- a seafood place in Villa where you can buy lobsters for as cheap as $4. Breakthrough is about 10 minutes away from the city, if you are taking a cab. Eat to your heart’s desire and it will not even burn a tiny hole in your pocket.
While Iloilo may seem like a sleepy place during the night, it is not what it seems to be! It is bustling with nightlife hangouts and bars. The Tijuana Bar, best known for their cool reggae music, tequilas and margaritas; Smallville, a chain of restaurants and bars that highlight The Flow, a hip party place for yuppies and MO2, a restobar with great music and delectable food. If shopping is your thing, you can go to the Atrium or to ShoeMart (SM) for your shopping needs.
When you plan a trip to Iloilo, be prepared for a long to-do list. There are just so many things to do!
• You can start by visiting some centuries-old churches such as the Molo’s Roman Catholic Church; The Miagao Church is a quartet of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Baroque Churches of Philippines, and you simply cannot afford to miss it. You can take a jeepney ride going the south route to get there.
• You can then proceed to looking at beautiful Spanish homes like those in Calle Real;
• After you have seen the spectacular sights in these valuable heritage sights, you can check out the museums, where you can find more interesting antiques and mementos of Iloilo during the Spanish era;
• Do not forget to stop by some shops for biscocho and piyaya, and make sure to eat them right after they come out of the oven, as these delicacies taste better when they are oven-hot.
• You might even want to go on an adventure to Guimaras Island which is about 15-20 minutes away by pump boat ride. There you can taste the sweetest mangoes in the world!
Stay Away From
The one thing you should not forget when you are in Iloilo is you need to watch over your valuables such as your wallets and mobile phones. There are many pickpockets in the city, even at the malls and churches. You might also want to avoid the squatters’ areas too because tourists can easily become victims of robbery.
If you have never been to Iloilo, you might want to take the easy route by riding on an airplane. Major cities have flights to Iloilo daily. However, if you want to be adventurous, and you happen to have a car, you can always take the long but pleasant route from Cebu to Iloilo via Negros Occidental. If you are from Manila then you should go to Cebu and then on to Negros. Additionally, you can take an overnight boat trip from Cebu or Manila.
Here are some of the flight schedules:
Philippine Airlines from Iloilo to Manila: 7:15AM, 11:35AM, 5:10PM, 8:30PM; Manila to Iloilo: 5:15AM, 9:30AM, 3:05PM, 6:30PM. Cebu to Iloilo: 1:10PM and Iloilo to Cebu: 8:35AM. You can also check with Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines for more flight schedules or you may take a boat going there, too such as Super Ferry every 10:15PM.
If you decide to go to Iloilo, brace yourself for some real good time.
Roz Visarra has always been fond of travelling. As a young girl, she would travel with her parents in the Visayas and Mindanao because their relatives are from all these areas. She currently resides in Cebu, the Queen City of the South and looks forward to her next travel.
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