Philippines · 5 hotels available
The laid-back province of Southern offers more than just a perfect diver’s paradise. Know more about why you should schedule your next tropical trip to Southern Leyte.
Located in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines is the province of Southern Leyte. It is a region characterized by relatively flat areas in the coastal areas, and rugged peaks towards the interior. The city of Maasin is the province’s capital and center of commerce, culture, and religion. Locals here speak an offshoot of the Visayan language, and share the same strong belief in tradition and superstition as the Roman Catholic faith.
You can take any daily flight out of Manila or Cebu to Tacloban. From there, take a bus or a private van going to any point in Southern Leyte, including Maasin City. You can also take a ferry from Cebu to Maasin, Liloan.
If bus travel is comfortable for you, there are at least four companies that offer bus trips from Manila to Maasin: Philtranco, Cedec, Inland Trailways and Ciudad. This is because Southern Leyte forms an integral part of the Philippine inter-island transportation system. Buses from all over the country stop at either one of the six designated bus terminals in Southern Leyte: Maasin, Liloan, Sogod, San Juan, Hinunangan and Silago.
The jeepney is your best mode of transport when commuting in downtown areas. For shorter or hard-to-reach locations, you can also hire a tricycle, which is a motorcycle with an attached sidecar, a pedicab, which is a bicycle attached to an open sidecar, or a habal-habal, which is a motorcycle.
You also have the option to travel to another town via an air-conditioned van or bus. Some towns are reachable only via the motorized boat or banca, as they are locally known.
Southern Leyte, just like every major coastal region in the country, has been witness to some of the most significant moments in Philippine history. The Leyte Landing Memorial erected at Red Beach marks the spot where American general Douglas McArthur followed through with his promise to help liberate the Philippines under former president Sergio Osmena from the colonial Japan. The sunset and sunrise at this memorial is breathtaking too, so don’t forget to take some dramatic photos.
Head to the Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum, which was a former rest house of the late dictator and president Ferdinand Marcos. Dedicated to the representation of the infant Jesus Christ, the museum houses religious relics and artifacts.
You haven’t visited Southern Leyte if you haven’t paid San Juanico Bridge a visit. This bridge is a whooping 2.6 kilometers long and connects Samar to Leyte. You can ask a tricycle driver to drop you at the foot of the bridge and wait for you on the other side.
Take part in town fiestas and cultural events. The “Sinulog sa Malitbog” pays homage to the infant Jesus Christ. Limasawa also commemorates the religious and historical arrival of the Spaniards in the province every 31st of March with an anniversary program and a cultural presentation.
Maasin City celebrates the Pagkamugna Festival and Pabulhon Festival, while Karomata Festival is celebrated in Buenavista Pintuyan. Padre Burgos has its Tangka-tangka Festival, as Macrohon celebrates Manha-on Festival.
Southern Leyte’s waters are famous mostly to international travellers for reef diving and snorkeling. Diving and snorkeling spots are located just outside of Maasin, and all the way around Sogod Bay. Southern Leyte also gets a surge in visitor traffic during the months of October to April, thanks to the number of whale sharks who made the waters of the province their playground. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can zip line at Agas-Agas Bridge, the tallest bridge in the Philippines.
Depending on where you want to go in Southern Leyte, there’s definitely something amazing for your palate here in abundance. Silago, which is the farthest town from the province, is known for the “banagan,” a freshwater lobster. Have it steamed or cooked in Sprite.
“Ampaw” in Pintuyan, Panaon Island, is a rice puff made of sun-dried rice mixed in sugar syrup. Grab one for yourself as a tasty snack, or plenty for take-home.
The “budbud”, which is a delicacy made of sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and then steamed in banana leaves, and “bingka,” a rice cake made with fire on both top and bottom, are must-tries when in the town of Padre Burgos.
Maasin City is a pretty laidback city when compared to urbanized metros. As such, nightlife in the city is chilling out with friends over barbecue or local dishes and cheap beer in common eating places to amazing bistros.
When eating barbecue at “Mcdo” or “ma-dukoduko” (a line of street food stalls), it is partnered with a serving of “puso” or hanging rice. Locals go to Esoy’s Grill and Kinamot sa Abgao for these fares.
There are resort hotels and dive resorts where you can book comfortable accommodation and get access to exclusive amenities. Dona Marta Boutique Hotel offers parking and room service, while guests at Jaimee’s Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant can enjoy private parking privileges and billiards. Padre Burgos Castle Resort has an in-house restaurant for guests to dine in without leaving the premises. If you are on a budget, however, there is a variety of B&Bs, inns, and specialty lodgings like homestays and pension houses.
If you’re heading out to an island or beach for the day, choose packed lunches that do not easily spoil in warm weather. ask your hotel if there are restaurants and eateries that you can go to for packed lunches.
Do bring your bug spray or wear a bug repellent/sticker. Avoid scratching harmless bites unless you want them to turn into wounds.
Do not schedule any faraway trips on the day of your departure. You might encounter unexpected delays that could cause you to miss your plane, bus, or ferry.