Leyte, Philippines · 45 hotels available
A leading gateway to Eastern Visayas, Tacloban has long been a take off point for travelers hoping to visit the many fantastic destinations in the islands Leyte and Samar. But this city by the beautiful Cancabato Bay also offers its fair share of surprises in the form of old Spanish churches, historic government buildings, and colorful festivals.
Tacloban is the capital of Leyte Province and home to some 250,000 people. Although devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the city has since bounced back to carry on its role as the economic and cultural hub of the province. As a testament to the people’s resilience and as a symbol of their unity, the residents of Tacloban and Leyte continue to take to the streets for the annual merrymaking fiesta known as the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival.
Direct flights from Manila to Tacloban are available from four major local carriers. Travelers can also fly in from Cebu City and Iloilo City.
Although there are no direct shipping routes between Manila and Tacloban, some adventurous travelers choose to travel by bus via the Pan-Philippine Highway route, which can take anywhere from 25 to 27 hours.
A few bus companies with terminals in Cubao offer this route, which traverses EDSA, SLEX, and the Manila South Road through Calamba, Lucena, Legazpi, and all the way to Matnog in the southern tip of the Bicol Region. From there, the bus will board a ferry to cross the San Bernardino Strait and will alight in the town of Allen in Samar Island. From Allen, the bus will journey through Calbayog and Catbalogan before crossing the famed San Juanico Bridge to get to the island of Leyte, where the city of Tacloban can be found
Tacloban is a fairly small city, and the most common forms of public transportation include tricycles, jeepneys, and multicabs. These vehicles ply major thoroughfares like Avenida Rizal in the city’s downtown, Tabuan National Highway, and the Picas-San Jose DZR Airport Road.
Tacloban is most famous for being home to the picturesque San Juanico Bridge, which, at 2.16 km (1.34 mi) is the longest bridge in the Philippines. It is also the site of exquisite architectural marvels, including the Leyte Provincial Capitol, a neoclassical edifice which served as the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth during the Second World War.
There is also the Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, which houses heirlooms and objets d’ art owned by the Marcos family. Finally, there’s the whitewashed Santo Niño Church, the city’s most important and most visited religious site. Damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, it has recently received an architectural makeover, which turned it into a spectacle of contemporary minimalism.
The best time to visit Tacloban is during the festival season, when the city’s streets burst in a flurry of dancing, music, and merrymaking. The Pinatados-Kasadyaan Festival in June celebrates the island’s body-painting heritage and honors its patron, Señor Santo Niño (the Child Jesus). A similar street-dancing fiesta called Sangyaw is also held every year in the month of June.
A place that you can visit year-round is the Kanhuraw Hill, which provides scenic views of Cancabato Bay and houses Tacloban’s City Hall. There is also a Typhoon Haiyan memorial park in Barangay Anibong, which incorporates the bow of a ship that ran aground at the height of the storm in 2013.
Near Tacloban, there are many other attractions that tourists can visit as well. These include the Paruparong Bukid Nature Conservation Center in Babatngon, as well as the Douglas Macarthur Landing Memorial Park in Palo, which commemorates the return of the American general on October 20, 1944, and the subsequent liberation of the Philippines from the Empire of Japan.
Are you looking for a place where you can enjoy fresh seafood? Then head over to Senator Egage Street where you can dine in Ocho Seafood and Grill. In this local favorite, you can pick menu items like fish, crab, mussels, and shrimp off a refrigerated counter and have them cooked the way you want them.
Another popular dining place is Calle Zaragoza, otherwise known by its nickname, Calle Z. Located on Independencia Street, the restaurant offers delectable food items like sizzling bangus sisig, bulalo, and lechon kawali.
If you are craving for delicious treats and want to dine in a place with a more contemporary atmosphere, then go to Chew Love on Gomez Street. Aside from the décor that straddles cutesy and hipster territories, the restaurant is also known for its penchant for puns when it comes to the names of its offerings, which include items like “Crazy Pork You” and “Love at Pork Sight” among many others
Burgos Street in Tacloban’s downtown area is nightlife central in the city. Here, you can find a collection of restaurants, bars, cafés, coffee houses, tea shops, and other establishments where you and your travel buddies can eat, drink, or while the night away. Make sure to visit Naning, a mobile bar that is popular among the young crowd for selling imported craft beer and fantastic cocktails.
As in other major cities in the Philippines, Tacloban offers a range of accommodations that will suit all budgets. There are contemporary hotels like Hotel Xyz and Zpad Residences, as well as guest house-style accommodations like the historic Hotel Alejandro and the Yellow Doors Hostel, which bills itself as the first backpacker hostel in the city.
Make sure to walk around the downtown area to try the various grilled street food being sold by the local vendors.
Eastern Visayas is a major coconut-producing region in the Philippines, which means Tacloban is also known for producing tubâ, a type of palm wine. Take home a bottle as a souvenir.
Now is the best time to travel to Tacloban because the city needs all the help it can have for its continuing recovery efforts from Typhoon Haiyan.