Iloilo City Travel Guide with Budget, DIY Itinerary, How to Get There and More

Budget Travel Guide to Iloilo City for First-time Travelers

Iloilo City Travel Guide

Iloilo City Travel Guide

If you are asked of a great city to go to in the Visayas, there is a good chance that the first things that will enter your mind are Cebu City, Iloilo City, and Bacolod City. However, with its huge Airport, impressive townships, and booming economy, Iloilo City is fastly becoming a major business hub in the Visayas. Read on more below so you will know why Iloilo City is worth visiting.

Iloilo City Travel Guide
Iloilo City Travel Guide

Iloilo City is the economic and cultural center of Panay Island. At several points in history, it acted as the capital of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. This explains why there are a lot of historic churches and buildings in the city. In fact, it has gained a reputation as an Emerging Museum City because of the heritage structures and art museums in it.

Iloilo City also has a huge value among religious people. It was one of the first American colonial outposts in the early 1900s and is home to many Protestant congregations. For example, the Central Philippine University, which is the first Baptist church in the country, can be found here. The Jaro Adventist Center, the first organized Adventist church in the Philippines, is also in Iloilo City.

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Iloilo Business Park photo by Ariane Joy Cacay via Unsplash
Iloilo Business Park photo by Ariane Joy Cacay via Unsplash

Iloilo is also renowned all over the Philippines for its efforts to be sustainable. The city is gifted with a lot of open spaces, gardens, and parks that people can go to. Iloilo City has also been praised for its efforts to have sustainable urban planning and for maintaining the quality of its air. Proof of these efforts is the gorgeous Iloilo River Esplanade, which straddles both sides of the Iloilo River.

In this Travel Guide to Iloilo City Blog, we listed some tips on how you can do your own DIY trip to Iloilo. We also included Iloilo City Itinerary, Things to do and see, how to get there and more.

Best Time to Visit Iloilo City

If you like it when there are a lot of tourists, January is the busiest time in Iloilo City. This is when the city holds the Dinagyang Festival, one of the most popular tourist events in the Visayas. It is a religious festival though many establishments have co-opted it now by holding street parties.

Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City
Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City

The Paraw Regatta, held every February, also attracts many people from different parts of the world. It is the oldest traditional boat sailing event in Asia, where colorful sailboats dot the Iloilo Strait.

The summer is also a fantastic time to visit Iloilo City. This is due to the city’s proximity to getaway destinations like Guimaras in the south and Carles in the north.

How to Get There

By Air

The easiest way to get to Iloilo City is through a flight. If you are coming from Manila, Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, and Philippine Airlines have flights from NAIA. Iloilo International Airport also has flights to and from Cebu, General Santos City, Davao, Puerto Princesa, and Cagayan de Oro.

AirAsia’s brand new Airbus A320 fitted with sharklets gets the traditional water canon salute upon arrival at Laguindingan International Airport in Cagayan De Oro City last October 28 to celebrate the airline’s newest flight from Cagayan de Oro to Manila, Clark, Cebu and Iloilo.
AirAsia’s brand new Airbus A320 fitted with sharklets gets the traditional water canon salute upon arrival at Laguindingan International Airport in Cagayan De Oro City last October 28 to celebrate the airline’s newest flight from Cagayan de Oro to Manila, Clark, Cebu and Iloilo.

For international travelers, there are direct routes to and from Hong Kong and Singapore. Flying time to Iloilo from NAIA in Manila is approximately 55 minutes.

How to get to Iloilo City from Iloilo Airport

The New Iloilo Airport located in Cabatuan is 18 kilometers from the city proper and is accessible by jeepney, van, and taxi.

By Ferry

Iloilo City is the province’s port of entry for sea transport and Iloilo port is just 5 minutes away from the city’s main commercial district. Iloilo City is 20 hours from Manila sailing 12 times weekly; from Zamboanga City, General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro City once weekly; Cebu is 12 hours with daily trips. Fastcrafts from Bacolod City take one hour at the most. The Roll-on, Roll-off (RORO) sea and land transport system serves Iloilo-Manila on the Strong Republic Nautical Highway.

Getting Around

It is very easy to get around Iloilo City. There are multiple jeepneys that roam the roads from one point to another. Just make sure that you ride the right jeepney for your destination. There are also taxi cabs and Grab cars that you can book.

Where to Stay

As a popular tourist destination, there are a lot of accommodation options in Iloilo City. These are three of the best options that you have:

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo
Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

Address: Megaworld Boulevard corner Enterprise Road Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City

[Check Rates and Availability]

Located in the heart of Iloilo Business Park, this 5-star hotel is a perfect place to stay in for corporate trips. It has a contemporary design, with rooms that are incredibly spacious. It has a dining restaurant, a bar lounge, and a swimming pool-bar area. There is also a fitness center on the 7th floor.

Diversion 21 Hotel

Diversion 21 Hotel
Diversion 21 Hotel

Address: Benigno Aquino Avenue Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City

Room rates start at Php 2,200

[Check Rates and Availability]

Known for its impeccable service, Diversion 21 is a great place for young travelers and backpackers. Each room is equipped with an in-room safe box, air conditioning, fast Wi-Fi and refrigerator. The hotel also has an option to have a massage or have a karaoke night for guests.

Injap Tower Hotel

Injap Iloilo Hotel Lobby
Injap Iloilo Hotel Lobby

Address: Diversion Rd, Mandurriao, Iloilo City

Room rates start at Php 1,975

[Check Rates and Availability]

Each of the rooms of Injap Tower Hotel with minimalist branding and design in mind. The rooms are air-conditioned, with two beds and fast Wi-Fi. There is also complimentary use of the swimming pool and the Fitness Center. You will also be assured of safety because of 24-hour security service and responsive housekeeping. Read our Injap Tower Hotel Review.

Also see: Best Hotels in Iloilo City

Where to Eat

Of course, no trip to Iloilo City will ever be complete without a stop in their numerous restaurants. You should not miss La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo, local noodle dishes served in specialty restaurants in Iloilo City. These three restaurants are among favorites of tourists:

Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods

Tatoys Manokan and Seafoods photo via FB Page
Tatoys Manokan and Seafoods photo via FB Page

Location: Oton Blvd, Villa Arevalo District, Iloilo City

Due to its close distance to one of the country’s most productive fishing areas, Iloilo is known for seafood. Tatoy’s would be a great way for you to experience the diverse seafood offerings of the city. Their sisig is also a top choice among customers.

7 Fishes by Coco Veranda

Crispy Pata photo by 7 Fishes by Coco Veranda FB Page
Crispy Pata photo by 7 Fishes by Coco Veranda FB Page

Location: 21 Avenue Place, Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City

7 Fishes have become a household name in Iloilo, where it is always frequented by businessmen, tourists, and students. You should try the Paella Rice and the Coco Loco Prawns. It is also pretty near the Esplanade and SM City Iloilo, which means it is a good option if you are near the downtown area.

Ponsyon by Breakthrough

Address: Benigno Aquino Avenue, Iloilo City

One of Ponsyon’s greatest selling point is the ambiance the restaurant has. It has great seafood options, which is why it has become a favorite of diners. The menu options are also generally pretty cheap.

What to Do and See

Iloilo is such a large and dynamic city that you have a lot to do in the area. These are among the things that you can do.

Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo La Paz Batchoy
Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo La Paz Batchoy
  • Walk along the Iloilo River Esplanade during the sunset
  • Do a pub crawl in the Smallville Complex
  • Church hop in heritage cathedrals
  • Iloilo Pasalubong Shopping
  • Eat La Paz Batchoy

Also read: Best things to do in Iloilo

Iloilo Travel and Tours

Iloilo City Heritage Tour

An introduction to the city, its culture, and urbanity. Visit Museo Iloilo, Calle Real, Plaza Libertad, Fort San Pedro, Jaro, and Molo. Shop for souvenirs at Tinukib Showroom. Visit Jaro’s old colonial houses and cathedral. Drop by at the gothic-renaissance church of Molo. See how princely vestments are hand-embroidered at Asilo de Molo.

Miagao Church in Iloilo
Miagao Church in Iloilo

South Countryside Tour

A scenic trip to Iloilo’s southern countryside passing the flower gardens of Villa Arevalo, the historic town of Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, all the way to Miag-ao. Visit Tigbauan Church with Latin-American Churrigueresque style, Guimbal’s yellow sandstone church and plaza and Miag-ao Fortress Church built in 1706 with a unique facade of botanical motif reminiscent of Aztec art. This church is indeed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Pasalubong Shopping in Iloilo City

Take home famous delicasies like pinasugbo (banana brittle), barquillos (local wafer), and biscocho (buttered toasted bread) from Jaro district, hojaldres, banadas, kinihad among others are baked and sold fresh at Panaderia de Molo and Biscocho Haus.

Travel Tips

  • Iloilo City is a walkable city so you might want to bring walking shoes.
  • Ilonggos understand English and Filipino well so do not pressure yourself to learn Hiligaynon.
  • The city is food heaven so do not forget to try their native delicacies.

Iloilo City is a wonderful mix of heritage structures, modern buildings, and magnificent homes. With its storied past and the current boost in its economy, you will surely be able to find something to enjoy in this city.

Have you been to Iloilo City? Help us improve this Travel Guide to Iloilo City Blog by sharing your personal Iloilo City travel tips and recommendations.

Check out our complete list of recommended Hotels and Resorts in Iloilo City, Philippines via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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