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Calle Real In Iloilo City

Iloilo – Where Heritage & History meet

Iloilo is also blessed with natural attractions that offer many opportunities for adventure and relaxation.
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Are you looking for a destination that offers history, culture, nature and adventure in the heart of the Philippines? If so, you should definitely visit Iloilo, a province that is rich in heritage and blessed with stunning islands and landscapes. In this blog post, I will share with you some of the best things to do and see in Iloilo, as well as some tips on how to get there by land, sea and air.

Iloilo is located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines, and its capital city is Iloilo City. The province has a long and colorful history that dates back to the pre-Spanish period, when it was inhabited by various ethnic groups such as the Ati, Hiligaynon, Karay-a and others. The Spanish colonizers arrived in the 16th century and established towns, churches and fortifications along the coast and rivers of Iloilo. The province became a center of trade and commerce, as well as a hub of culture and education. Iloilo was also one of the first places to join the Philippine Revolution against Spain in 1898, and later the Philippine-American War.

Iloilo Church

Today, Iloilo is a vibrant and progressive province that offers a mix of urban and rural attractions for visitors. Whether you are interested in exploring its historical landmarks, experiencing its cultural festivals, enjoying its natural wonders or indulging in its gastronomic delights, you will find something to love in Iloilo. Here are some of the top tourist spots and activities that you should not miss when you visit this amazing province.

Explore Islas de Gigantes

One of the most popular attractions in Iloilo is the Islas de Gigantes, or the Islands of Giants. This group of islands is located off the coast of Carles town, and it boasts of pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, hidden caves and lagoons, and abundant marine life. You can join an island hopping tour that will take you to some of the most beautiful islands in the group, such as Cabugao Gamay Island, Bantigue Island, Antonia Island and Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. You can also enjoy activities such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, cliff diving and trekking. And don’t forget to feast on the fresh seafood lunch buffet that is served on one of the islands. You will surely be amazed by the size and taste of the scallops, crabs, shrimps and fish that are caught from the surrounding waters.

Islas De Gigantes

Visit historical churches

Iloilo is also known for its centuries-old churches that showcase different architectural styles and influences. Some of the most notable ones are:

  • Jaro Cathedral: This is the seat of the Archdiocese of Jaro, and it was built in 1874. It features a Romanesque revival style with Gothic elements. It has a separate bell tower that houses a Marian image that is said to be miraculous.
  • Molo Church: This is also called the St. Anne Parish Church, and it was built in 1831. It features a Gothic-Renaissance style with two red spires. It is also known as the “women’s church” because of the 16 female saints that adorn its interior.
  • Miagao Church: This is also called the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church, and it was built in 1786. It features a Baroque-Romanesque style with intricate carvings on its facade. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines.
  • San Joaquin Church: This is also called the San Joaquin Parish Church, and it was built in 1869. It features a Neo-Classical style with a bas-relief depicting the Battle of Tetuan on its pediment. It is also considered as one of the most beautiful churches in the country.

Experience cultural festivals

Iloilo is also famous for its colorful and lively festivals that celebrate its rich culture and heritage. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Dinagyang Festival: This is held every fourth Sunday of January in honor of the Santo Niño or the Child Jesus. It features street dancing competitions with performers wearing elaborate costumes and props inspired by the Ati tribe.
  • Paraw Regatta Festival: This is held every February in celebration of the traditional sailing boats called paraws. It features a race among hundreds of paraws along the Iloilo Strait, as well as other activities such as cultural shows, sports events and concerts.
  • Manggahan Festival: This is held every April or May in Guimaras Island, which is part of Iloilo province. It celebrates the abundance and quality of the mangoes that are grown on the island. It features various events such as mango eating contests, mango cooking contests, mango exhibits and fairs.

Enjoy nature and adventure

Iloilo is also blessed with natural attractions that offer opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Some of the best ones are:

  • Garin Farm: This is an inland resort and farm in San Joaquin town that offers a variety of activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, zip-lining, horseback riding and more. It also has a pilgrimage site that features a 456-step stairway that leads to a giant cross and a replica of heaven.
  • Sicogon Island: This is an island in Carles town that is known for its white sand beaches, turquoise waters and lush forests. It is also a popular destination for surfing, diving and hiking. It has a rich history as well, as it was once a favorite vacation spot of celebrities and politicians during the Marcos era.
  • Damires Hills: This is an eco-park and farm resort in Janiuay town that offers a scenic view of the mountains and valleys. It also has facilities such as cottages, pools, restaurants and function halls. It also offers activities such as ATV riding, zorb ball, bungee trampoline and more.

Indulge in gastronomic delights

Iloilo is also a haven for food lovers, as it offers a variety of dishes that reflect its diverse influences and flavors. Some of the must-tries are:

  • La Paz Batchoy: This is a noodle soup dish that originated in La Paz district of Iloilo City. It consists of miki noodles, pork innards, crushed pork cracklings, garlic, spring onions and broth. It is best paired with pandesal or puto.
  • Pancit Molo: This is a dumpling soup dish that originated in Molo district of Iloilo City. It consists of wonton wrappers filled with minced pork or chicken, shrimps, garlic, spring onions and broth. It is best served with toasted bread or crackers.
  • KBL: This is an acronym for kadyos (pigeon peas), baboy (pork) and langka (jackfruit). It is a stew dish that is cooked with batwan (a souring fruit) and other spices. It is best eaten with rice or puto.
  • Biscocho: This is a type of pastry that is made from leftover bread that is baked until crisp and coated with butter and sugar. It is a popular snack or pasalubong (souvenir) from Iloilo. You can buy it from the Original Biscocho Haus or other bakeshops in the city.

How to get to Iloilo

Iloilo is accessible by land, sea and air from different parts of the country. Here are some of the ways you can get there:

  • By land: You can take a bus from Manila to Iloilo via the RORO (roll-on roll-off) ferry service. The travel time is about 18 to 20 hours, depending on the traffic and weather conditions. You can also take a bus from other nearby provinces such as Negros Occidental, Capiz, Antique and Aklan.
  • By sea: You can take a ferry from Manila to Iloilo via 2GO Travel or OceanJet. The travel time is about 22 to 24 hours. You can also take a ferry from other nearby islands such as Cebu, Bohol, Palawan and Mindoro.
  • By air: You can take a flight from Manila to Iloilo via Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific or AirAsia. The travel time is about an hour. You can also take a flight from other major cities such as Cebu, Davao, Clark, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga.

I hope this blog post has inspired you to visit Iloilo and discover its many wonders. Iloilo is truly a province that has something for everyone, whether you are looking for history, culture, nature or adventure. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Iloilo now and experience the heart of the Philippines!

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