Famous for its Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo is one of the best tourist attractions in the Philippines. Often called as the “Heart of the Philippines”. A place full of precious historical buildings, mouthwatering cuisines, extravagant festivals, and captivating cultural traditions. Iloilo a place where you would love to visit often.
Iloilo is formerly called “Queen City of the South” and is also known as the “City of Love”. You will find Iloilo City at the western part of Panay Island. A city with rich cultural heritage famous of its old churches and majestic mansions. The locals of Iloilo are known of being hospitable with very sweet and friendly voice. Every 4th Sunday of January the whole province celebrates Dinagyang Festival, a celebration honoring the Patron of Sto. Niňo. This is a religious festival with dance in the streets, several competitions, and very colorful parades.
Being in Iloilo also allows you to access different popular beaches in the Philippines such as Boracay, Guimaras, Antique, Capiz, Aklan, Bacolod, and Negros Occidental.
The flight to Iloilo from Manila is about an hour or less travel, which will take you to the New Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan. From the airport, you will need to ride a public transport to reach the city proper.
There are ships that sail to Iloilo regularly, if you're on a budget and can afford to travel for a few days.
Iloilo has a well-developed road network, making it convenient to go around. The typical modes of transportation include the buses, jeepneys, and metered taxis.
The Dinagyang Festival, held in the Freedom Grandstand, draws a lot of tourists in January. This cultural festival honor’s the child Jesus, or more commonly known as the Santo Niño. The celebration showcases street dancing and colorful procession.
Etched within the old buildings in Iloilo is its glorious past. Drop by Museo Iloilo to learn more about the place’s remarkable heritage. The museum showcases old photos, relics, and antiques from locals that will open your eyes to the beauty of Iloilo.
Another tourist attraction in Iloilo is the UNESCO heritage-listed Miag-ao Church. According to history, this served as Iloilo’s defense tower against Moro raiders. Meanwhile, the historical church of Iglesia de San José de Placer in Plaza Libertad is where you will find a replica of the Sto. Niño of Cebu and Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary). The Jaro Cathedral is a historic landmark where people light a candle and offer a prayer for their loved ones.
Being in Iloilo allows you to go back in time, especially when you visit its famous historical churches. These heritage sites provide a glimpse of the Spanish era and the pivotal changes in the country’s religion. Molo (famed as a “feminist church”) and the Church of St Elizabeth of Hungary or Jaro (the only cathedral in the area) are other churches worth your stopover.
From the Churches, you most specially love to see the downtown area or the spot of Iloilo City’s City proper. Walk from Capitol Complex to Plaza Libertad and find Museo Iloilo one of the tourist spots that has artifacts from early 19th to 20th century. About 110 meters or 1 minute away you will find a spectacular view of Iloilo City and Guimaras which was located at the new capitol. And be mesmerized of the old colonial buildings along Calle Real.
After a strolling make sure to try the local’s delicacy of La Paz Bachoy, a noodle soup made from shrimp broth, chicken breast, pork innards, chicken stock, chopped vegetables and crushed pork cracklings.
If you want to relax and enjoy the natural attractions of Iloilo, head over to the town of Carles where Isla de Gigantes is located, just 5 hours away from the city. With 2 big islands and 8 islets to explore, Isla de Gigantes boasts of white sand beaches, magnificent views, and a rich marine life.
Try Iloilo’s original La Paz Batchoy in Ted’s, Deco’s, or Netong’s Original Batchoy. Enjoy a bowl of mouthwatering goodness for less than P100 per serving. It comes with noodles, veggies, pork, and chicharon. For other budget meals, head over to Jaro Bazaar. There are many food stalls to get some grub if you’re into grilled food.
Stopping for a short coffee break? Madge Café in La Paz Market serves freshly brewed native coffee in a unique way that will make you whip out your camera and take a snap or a video. Since it has been around for more than 70 years, you know they offer only the best.
Another great place to catch some fancy sustenance is at Al Dente Ristorante. They serve almost authentic Italian flavors as it is said to be the oldest restaurant of its kind in the area. Make sure to order one of their best-selling pizzas and signature dishes.
Nighttime happenings in Iloilo are as fun and exciting as the day activities. Check out Diversion Road if you’re planning to spend some good time with your family or friends. Numerous restaurants and party places line along the avenue. Smallville is the ultimate entertainment hub in the area. This complex features bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels.
Whether you’re a backpacker on the hunt for just a basic lodging, a couple on a romantic getaway, or a group of friends ready for new adventures, there’s a place waiting for you in Iloilo.
Accommodation in Iloilo varies from first-class hotels, incredible beach resorts, to affordable inns, hostels, and pension houses. Most three-star and up hotels in Iloilo are found in the city proper. Circle Inn Iloilo, Diversion 21 Hotel, and Sarabia Manor Hotel come highly recommended.
Ong Bun Pension House is by far the most economical place to stay in the business district, where you can pay around P330 a night. Go Hotels Iloilo also gives you value for money, and you can book a comfy room for less than P1,000. This is about 30 mins to an hour from the airport. As such, make sure you allot ample time for when you need to go. Another option nearby is the One Lourdes Dormitel, which has more than 20 budget-friendly rooms for a short or lengthy vacation.