(SPOT.ph) Iloilo in Western Visayas boasts a unique blend of ancient history, Old-World charm, and comforts of a modern city. It is noted for its elegant Spanish-era mansions and Baroque churches, warm and gracious people, and very distinctive cuisine.
WHERE TO GO
A journey to Iloilo’s interesting past begins with Jaro, a heritage site and upscale district where
Parish of St. Anne
Visit historic churches including San Jose de Placer at the city center, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Church in La Paz, and Jaro Cathedral where Graciano Lopez Jaena was baptized in 1856. The Gothic-style Parish of St. Anne in Molo is known for its postcard-pretty plaza and gazebo.
Iloilo River Esplanade
A new source of Ilonggo pride is this landscaped path for walking, biking, jogging, and public recreation. In the afternoon, you can try the pedal boat and admire the view and mangroves at the riverbank.
The 1865 Avanceña House in the Arevalo district now houses an antique and souvenir shop, a weaving room for sinamay and
Now known as J.M. Basa Street, the downtown area’s main road has rows of
WHEN TO GO
Every third Sunday of January in honor of the Sto. Niño, the Dinagyang Festival runs for more than a week with a range of entertainment, sports, cultural and special events such as street dancing, beauty pageants, and a fluvial procession.
A few days after Dinagyang, Ilonggos hold a race featuring the colorful native
WHERE TO STAY
101 General Luna Street, Iloilo City
Rates start at P3,500
A landmark hotel, The Mansion (formerly the Sarabia Manor
San Rafael, Mandurriao, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 506-8888
Rates start at P4,200
Located at Atria Park District in the Iloilo Business Park, this modern hotel is a top choice for business and family trips. An added attraction outside the hotel is the 35-foot 1890s Pison Chimney Monument, a remnant of Iloilo’s once-booming sugar industry.
Grand Xing Imperial Hotel
Montinola corner Muelle Loney Streets, President Roxas, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 337-0800
Rates start at P3,500
One of the city’s newest hotels, Grand Xing Imperial Hotel features grandiose rooms, an Oriental restaurant, a swimming pool, and a KTV bar. It also has a good view of Iloilo River.
Amigo Terrace Hotel
Iznart corner Delgado Streets, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 335-0908
Rates start at P4,000
An old guard in the heart of the city, the Amigo Terrace Hotel was recently renovated to give it a chic look and feel. It is just a few paces away from Iloilo’s homegrown shops and restaurants.
General Luna Street, Iloilo
Contact: (033) 335-1220
Rates start at P1,100
Highway 21 is a cozy budget hotel in a quiet location along Gen. Luna Street. Its new wing is designed in the mold of Iloilo Spanish houses with a spiral staircase.
Alta Tierra Village, Jaro, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 329-2288
Rates start at P2,500
If you’re with the family, this resort is for you. This two-hectare waterpark is powered by solar energy and features 17 slides, a 222-meter long lazy river, a play area for toddlers, and a number of family-oriented amenities. It has themed rooms—Safari, Pirate, Princess, and Fairies—that can fit four people.
WHERE TO EAT
Iloilo is known for having one of the country’s best regional cuisines so choosing where to eat is always tricky. Start with the local dishes such as
Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood
Contact: (033) 337-1360
Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Located in Arevalo, this is a heritage restaurant built in the 1970s as a humble nipa shack with three tables. It specializes in
La Paz Market
18 Huervana Street, La Paz, Iloilo City
This is the place for your fill of
Emilion Specialty Restaurant
Rizal Street, Lapuz, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 320-5252
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Located at Grand Dame Hotel in La Paz, this buffet restaurant offers local and international dishes at a very reasonable price, such as Tamago Yaki, Buffalo Egg Roll, and Shrimp Fritters. It also has a branch along Gen. Luna Street with a soothing view of the Iloilo River.
Wawa Heritage Restaurant
Calle Lopez Jaena, Jaro, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 321-0315
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Wawa Heritage Restaurant is an intimate art-gallery-themed dining place in Jaro owned by famed Ilonggo international lifestyle designer PJ Arañador.
Troi Oi Vietnamese Streetfood
Riverside Boardwalk, Iloilo City
Contact: (033) 323-3169
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Troi Oi is a Vietnamese expression which is equivalent to “OMG!” in English. The restaurant’s interiors are inspired by Hoi An, a city known for its lanterns. Listen to live music as you feast on traditional Vietnamese and Indochinese dishes.
WHERE TO BUY PASALUBONG
Visit Biscocho Haus, with various branches across the city, for the trademark Ilonggo snacks—biscocho, butterscotch, and
HOW TO GET THERE
Local airlines (Air Asia, Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific) have daily flights from Manila to Iloilo. From the airport in Cabatuan town, you can take a taxi (P350) or a shuttle van (P75) to SM City in Mandurriao. Iloilo can also be reached via Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao through the same airlines.