Iloilo may still not be as known as Cebu or Palawan but it is a place that will excite and leave you in awe because of its uniqueness. Dubbed as the “City of Love” situated in the Panay Island and serves as a passageway to nearby provinces such as Guimaras, Antique and Capiz.
I am not saying this because it is my hometown but I know it has something any tourist would love to see and feel. It is a place where old times meet the modern era much like having a country side feeling meeting the busy metropolitan life.
So here are the list of the things to do when you’re in Iloilo:
Tour Iloilo Downtown
It is one of my favorite spot in Iloilo becuse it gives so much idea of our beloved heritage. This is where you can see century old commercial establishments that has been beautifully restored. One of this old commercial building is Calle Real which serves as the central attraction of the downtown.
Have a taste of the authentic Lapaz Batchoy
Lapaz Batchoy is a dish originated in Iloilo that serves as a signature dish of Ilonggos. Honestly, I never tasted a good Lapaz Batchoy unless it is in Iloilo. Once you tasted the authentic Iloilo Lapaz Batchoy, you will always know the difference.
Ted’s Old Timers Lapaz Batchoy, Deco’s and Netong’s Lapaz Batchoy in Lapaz Market are among the famous food places that offers this signature dish. You can see a lot of branches of Ted’s and Deco’s in Iloilo so it will not be hard for you to get the chance tasting this good food.
Visit Old Churches and Mansions
Iloilo is a good place for church hopping since there are many beautiful churches within its vicinity. You can always start with Jaro Cathedral which is the home of “The Lady of Candles” encased on a glass and said to be continuously growing.
Other must visit churches are Molo Church, Sta. Barbara Church that was declared by NHCP as National Landmark and Miagao Chruch that was part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Iloilo has a lot of ancient mansions as well owned by prominent families of the province long time back. Nelly’s Garden, Casa Mariquit, Lizares Mansion and Molo Mansion are some of the City’s treasured mansions.
Have a Glimpse of Europe
With the fast growing pace of Iloilo City, there’s a lot of ongoing constructions of establishments and business parks. Striking buildings found in Europe inspire some of its new establishments. You can visit Plazuela De Iloilo that has been considered as one of the favorite recreation spot of Ilonggos. Walking on the area will make you feel walking on the streets of Spain. You can find restaurants, shops and night markets during holidays.
Another place to visit in Iloilo is Festive Walk. It has European inspired buildings painted with pastel colors making you feel walking again on a foreign land. It offers a line of restaurants to choose from and becomes more beautiful at night. It turned to be a busy food park with live band at night. Who does not want to have a good food with fresh air backed with a live band? It is really a good place for chill out nights!
Experience Iloilo night out
If partying and chilling is your thing, Smallville Complex located in Iloilo Diversion Road is the perfect place for you. Others might think that partying and bar hopping is happening only on big cities such as Manila and Cebu but Iloilo have it as well. Smallville Complex serves as the heart of the night out life in the province where bars and restobars flock on the area.
Go North and Visit Beautiful Islands and Beaches
As per locals, the most picture perfect beaches can be found in Carles, Concepcion and Ajuy. Most famous of it as of now is Isla de Gigantes in Carles that offers white sands and rock formations that can be compared on those found in Palawan. Other popular beaches are Balubadingan Island in Concepcion, Sicogon Island in Carles and Marbuena Island in Ajuy.
Join Dinagyang Festival
Dinagyang Festival is an annual cultural event held in Iloilo City every fourth weekend of January. It is a thanksgiving festival in honor of Señor Santo Niño. This highlights the rich culture, history and talent of Ilonggos where exciting activities are being organized.
Most of the streets on the downtown area are close to give way to the parade of the competing tribes. Since roads are close on most areas, people have to walk while enjoying the celebrations. Come to create your own festival story, dance with the beating of the drums, take pictures with the Ati warriors, eat delicious dishes on food stalls and meet friendly Ilonggos. Join and make your own Dinagyang story.
These are some of the things I recommend you to do in Iloilo but there are still a lot of stuffs to do once you got there. You can simply ask the locals for any possible spot you can go. Illongos won’t hesitate to help you. They’re the most loving persons I’ve known. It won’t be called “City of Love” for no reason.
What is you favorite travel experience in Iloilo? Share your thoughts below!