It was in 2006 when I first travelled to Iloilo, Philippines for a business trip and it was my first time to ride an airplane. After that, I was going back and forth to Iloilo island. The first time wasn’t really that much fun so I promised myself to come back.
I heard a lot of great things from the locals about 2 destination spots in this place — Guimaras Island and Boracay. Six months later, I booked a flight in Cebu Pacific through their online booking system. I chose Cebu Pacific because it offers the most affordable flights in the Philippines. The online experience was flawless. After looking for free slots on my preferred date, paid with my credit card and voila! I was done! Yippy!
Iloilo City is a fantastic place to go. What I love in this place is the food. I enjoyed the food hopping so much. The best places I’ve been to so far were:
- Buto’t Balat, Mc Arthur Highway branch (there are many branches in Iloilo)
- Al Dente in Sarabia Hotel
- Ted’s Batchoy
I like the spicy calamares of buto’t balat. I still can’t forget it until now. Also the ambiance was very refreshing. It’s a floating restaurant above a fishpond, I thought it was a river but I was told it was just a fishpond. We went there for dinner and the place was lit by candles so the mood became more romantic. It’s perfect for a dinner date.
Al dente and Emillion are really great and expensive as well! First class food and service. I was only able to taste their specialties because it was a company treat. For not so expensive treat and you like batchoy, Ted’s batchoy is for you. It is located just near the City intersection.
If you are in the mood to party, try to visit the smallville area. It is a famous gimmick area near the seashore. I went there and it’s a great place.
After the food hopping, I went to Guimaras Island. From the city, it’s only a 10-minute ride to another port. It is a separate island and you have to ride a pump boat to get there. It probably took us around 15 minutes to get to the Guimaras port. Once you’re there, you’ll have to take another jeepney to get to your destination. The jeepney travel is a bit long from the port to our destination. Since Guimaras is a small island, it is surrounded by different resorts. You can ask the locals for good resorts. Bring all you need when going there because there is not much restaurants or souvenir shops available.
Another place to go in Iloilo is in Jaro. I wish I was able to go to the old church in Jaro city, unfortunately I did not have enough time. Maybe I will next time.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Iloilo, I recommend Highway21 Hotel for a budgeted trip. A room-for-2 only cost me 700.00 pesos a night and that was in 2007. If you want a first class experience, Sarabia Hotel and Days hotel are for you. Sarabia Hotel is in the General Luna Street. It’s just a 5-minute walk from the intersection. Days Hotel on the other hand is at the end of General Luna street, opposite to Sarabia.
I was also able to go to the nearby Boracay. From Iloilo, you have to take a bus or van going to the Caticlan port. It’s a 6 hour trip so it’s a bit long. Boracay is surrounded by white sand and it’s a great place to relax. It is also very commercialized. There are a lot of restaurants and bars and has its own mall. Some of the items and foods are very expensive so you have to really check on the whole place. It is just small so you can roam around. We stayed in Baeay hotel, I could not call it really a hotel, maybe a mini-hotel? But the room has a hotel feeling so I still recommend it. The room cost 1500.00 to 2500.00 a night. The services are good as well and the landlord is very accomodating. If you do not like to travel for another 6 hours again going back to Iloilo City, Cebu Pacific offers flights in Caticlan Port which is already a few minutes away from Boracay island.
This november, I’ll be travelling with my family to Iloilo City, Roxas City and Tacloban, Leyte. We will be visiting a family in Iloilo and then proceed to Boracay. Before going home, we decided to check out Roxas City. Roxas City is famous for its seafoods. It is just 3hours away from Iloilo and Boracay so it’s not really that far. Since Cebu Pacific also has a flight in Roxas, so it’s a good destination spot if you are already in the Iloilo Island. After that, we scheduled a trip the next week to visit our father who is in Tacloban, Leyte and good news, Cebu Pacific is also available in Tacloban city. Wow! What a convenience!
For those people interested in going to Iloilo, I bet you’ll enjoy it. It’s better if you have a local friend who can tour you. I found the places I mentioned because of my co-workers there. If you are in a budget, check out Cebu Pacific Airlines. You may wonder how we were able to booked the trip on November. We are five in number and we are not that wealthy to afford that amount. We took advantage of the absolute zero all-in seat promo offered this month. This last promo was probably the biggest discount I ever heard of. You can go to anywhere in the Philippines for as low as 700.00 pesos! I am not bluffing, it’s real! “Low fare, great value!” This is the motto of Cebu Pacific Airlines and they are living by it. So my other tip for you is to get updated with Cebu Pacific promos. If you are a twitter fan, Cebu Pacific has a twitter account so you will be more updated with what’s new and hot.
Good luck and see you in Iloilo soon. Happy flying to all!