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Posted by on Apr 6th, 2009
Filed Under: Featured, Iloilo

iloilo map

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.

Philippines Iloilo Miagao Church
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.

Why Go

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

Philippines Iloilo Dinagyang Festival
Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo by Quaknit

Where to Stay

Philippines Hotels and Resorts

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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.

My to do List

Philippines Iloilo Janiuay
Mountain village in Janiuay – 2nd class municipality in the province of Iloilo by Josedeluna

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.

Getting There

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.

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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. Learn more about me [+]

Tourism Philippines thrives on the knowledge of the community. Got a tip, photo or even a guide on a place you been to in Philippines? We will love to hear from you!

15 Responses to “Iloilo”

  1. Bernand says:

    Hi Roz,
    Very informative writeup on Iloilo.
    I am currently planning a wedding reception in Iloilo city, do you have any recommendation for a wedding venue in Iloilo? Oh yah, our budget is like P80,000. A nice beach will be ideal!

  2. Jenette says:

    Iloilo city is The food City of Philippines!! Deco’s La Paz batchoy, Roberto’s Siopao, Panaderia de Molo, fresh lumpia, empanada, panara and PJ’s butterscotch brownies – these are the MUST TRY!

  3. PhilThomas says:

    Been to the miagao church many years ago, itself already made visiting iloilo all worthwhile. Good memories.

  4. Grace says:

    Just a few to add up on the things to do –
    Museo de Iloilo which houses artifacts from regional early settlements is definite worth visiting – it is located at the heart of the city.

    The old colonial houses along Molo and Jaro districts have been well preserved – they were once part of Iloilo’s famous families!

    Jaro Cathedral (Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary) in region 6 if you are on a religious tour! The Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (Lady of the Candles) is housed in a special area in the cathedral and distinct from the all male statues. If you are there early year, mark down Feb 2, as it is the annual Jaro Fiesta which draws thousands for Pilgrims all over Philippines!!

    Outside Iloilo city, 2 places not to be missed:
    Santa Barbara – 1st place outside Manila where the Philippines flag was raised
    Miag-ao (mentioned by roz) – for the amazing Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO Heritage site.

    Food – Famous local Iloilo munchies such as Bisotcho, Butterscotch, Pinasugbo & my personal favourite, the Barquilos are not to be missed! try it at Panaderio De Iloilo which is the oldest bakery around, or the Biscotcho House in Jaro.

    Guimaras Island is an amazing place if you are in Iloilo. It has one of the nicest beaches in Philippines, and of course do try the mangoes from the region if they are in season.

    Igbaras Town is a decent place for something close to the nature. The Nadsajan Falls make a good day trip – for swimming & and even a good picnic location!

    All in all, Iloilo can really be a fun place.

    • Pastry.Girl says:

      Panaderio De Iloilo! I’ve been there before, the barquilos is simply amazing there. Buy it even if you don’t like barquilos … trust me, you will not regret on this!

  5. Ryan says:

    Hi Grace, were they able to clean up the oil spill in Guimaras? The last time I was on the island was in the late 90s and we made a trip to Alubihod Beach… I was disappointed as the accommodations were stark, the sand was rough, a lot of sharp stones on the beach (cut myself), and in one area (beach), it stank of urine. I hope they cleaned it out. I missed out on the famous Trappist Monastery though, they make such good mango jams…yum!

    I think when in Iloilo, one should not miss checking out San Joaquin Church (San Joaquin town after Miagao). It is a very beautiful church that reminds me of Paoay Church in Ilocos, and it’s near the ocean as well! Very stately and elegant with its wonderful bas-reliefs.

    I heard there are nice white sand beaches in Northern Iloilo (Balbagon island is it?).
    Estancia, Iloilo also is a major fish port and its dried fish market is a treasure trove for the fish gourmand.

    Igbaras, meanwhile has nice spelunking if my memory serves me right (although, apparently, Communist rebels are frequently chanced upon in the area.)

    Passi has the nice Pintados Festival and wide sugarcane fields.

    Oh and you missed out on the famous Antillan House in La Paz (?) now owned by the Sanson Family and the Lizares Mansion in Jaro which partly houses Angelicum School. Fine examples of colonial architecture.

    • Grace says:

      The cleaning up is a process that will take up to a few yrs, but the effect on Guimaras is for life. I think the disaster affected the locals deeply, and many yet to forget that tragic day, and all the efforts placed in containing the oil spills. However, as I’ve observed and from my talks to the locals, tourism is picking up at Guimaras, mostly are local tourism tho’.

      What’s most heartbreaking for me, is the effects of the spill have on the environment – the marine life is still suffering much, as too the mangroves.

  6. Ryan says:


    That is quite sad… how is Isla Naburot doing? There is a German-owned resort there as far as I can remember. My sister helped in the cleanup of the spill.


    • Grace says:

      Ryan : Isla Naburot is a hidden treasure! I’ve been there a couple of times with some friends, and it is always a pleasure to be back there. I’m thinking of writing on it soon.

      Your sister really did some good work for the local community! What about you Ryan :P

  7. Ryan says:

    Hi Grace,

    I wished I could help but I am not based in Iloilo. She’s based there. I will be waiting for your article on Isla Naburot. I also want to know more about the mango orchards and the Trappist Monastery. Hope you can include it.



    p.s. As my own personal advocacy, I will always talk to the locals wherever I go to especially take care of their natural resources and I also likewise encourage fellow travelers to be more environmentally conscious. :)

  8. Ronnie Calumpita says:

    Iloilo also has several powdery white sand beaches located in northern part of Iloilo like in the towns of Carles and Concepcion. Even before Boracay attained international recognition, Sicogon Island in Carles had been the haven of foreigners. Its beauty and serenity and long stretch of white sand also attracted prominent Filipinos and celebrities. There are plans to redevelop Sicogon Island.

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Ronnie,

      My Dad’s from Iloilo and I have been near Sicogon as well though I havent been there yet. I also heard about Balbagon Island as well. Is Sicogon near Pan de Azucar? My friend tells me Halong Bay in Vietnam is nothing compared to this island. By the way my Dad was born in Carles and raised in Balasan.I have been as far south as San Joaquin to as far north as Estancia..


      • Ronnie says:

        Hi Ryan,

        My father also hailed from Iloilo, specifically from Leon, Iloilo, a mountainous town. Leon’s attractions include Bucari Mountain where the weather is cold. Because of this it is being considered as the summer capital of Iloilo. Many say all the vegetables from Benguet province can also be planted in Bucari because of the weather.

        I visited Sicogon Island in Carles, Iloilo in 2006 and it was beautiful and peaceful with long stretch of powdery white sand like in Boracay. In front of Buaya Beach there’s Tumaquin Island that you can reach on foot when low tide. Aside from Sigocon Island, the town of Concepcion, also in northern part of Iloilo, also boasts islands with powdery white sand. According to the Explore Iloilo website it has around 16 paradise islands. I hope I could visit these islands and revisit Sicogon. If you wanna get closer to nature and want privacy these are the places worth visiting for.

        • Ryan says:

          Thank you very much for that information. If you are on Twitter you may send us tweets with photos of the places you mentioned so we can promote it to everyone. :)

          Follow us: @TourismPinas


  9. Celene says:

    Hi! Your blog is very informative. Iloilo does have so much to offer. On the “Why Not Go” though, I’d like to share that on the northern part of Iloilo are group of islands that have sugary white sand. These islands are not developed but you can come visit them by inquiring with the local tourism offices. Check out Agho Island and Bulobadiangan Island in the town of Concepcion.:)

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