Leyte Itinerary and Travel Guide: Best Places to visit in Leyte, Philippines
Leyte is a province located in the Eastern Visayas Region (Region VIII). It sits on 75% of Leyte Island, and its capital city is Tacloban. It’s where the largest naval battle in the history of the Philippines is. The asymmetrical shape of Leyte makes it unique when viewed from above. It’s also where Mount Lobi is located. The province is rich with rolling plains and bodies of water.
The income source of the province is from fishing and crops like rice and corn. They also grow other crops like coconut, banana, sugarcane, tobacco, and abaca. Some mineral and stone deposits like manganese, limestone, and sandstone can be mined in its north-western part.
But what attracts tourists the most about Leyte is the abundance of things to do. From natural attractions to manmade attractions to places to eat, there are many ways to get entertained and have adventures in Leyte.
Here are the top 15 things to do in Leyte.
Visit Historical Sites
Leyte’s history is driven by the fact that it’s where General Douglas MacArthur landed when he was trying to free the Philippines from the Japanese Imperial Army. You can visit the MacArthur landing Memorial, where larger-than-life statues of MacArthur and his force can be found.
You can also visit Leyte Provincial Capitol, which became the seat of the government in 1944.
Another historical site worth going to is Palo Metropolitan Cathedral which was used as an evacuation center for the Allied forces and refugees during the Japanese-American war in 1944. The church features modern Gothic architecture with a 17th-century altar that is gold-plated.
Visit Cuatro Islas
Blend in with the locals while island hopping to this group of islands found in Inopacan and Hindang. The group of islands is Apid, Digyo, Mahaba, and Himokilan. These islands’ pristine beaches and coral reefs are thriving, but safety rules are implemented due to some environmental conditions in the area.
The four islands may have differences in appearance, but they all have a laidback appearance, and the sky is just amazing when you’re at the beach. There are tours to choose from and ranges from visiting one island only to all four.
Visit Kalanggaman Island
You sort of get exclusivity when you visit Kalanggaman Island because only 500 tourists are allowed each visit. They follow these rules to maintain the beauty of the island. The island has fine sands, and although not exactly as fine as Boracay, it’s close, and it’s a new paradise.
Some activities can be done when you visit the island, like snorkeling, hiking, and biking, but nothing beats just chilling by the beach.
Discover Mt. Pangasugan Ecopark
Alternatively called ‘the last frontier in Eastern of Visayas,’ Mt. Pangasugan features steep terrain, a virgin rainforest mountain in Leyte. It has heavy vegetation where different plant and animal species thrive. It’s about 1,150 meters tall and where spring water is going to Baybay City and nearby towns.
You can see the beautiful shape of the mountain and several of its waterfalls during the wet season from Visayas State University. The same school protects wildlife like the Philippine Tarsier, Philippine Flying Fox, and Fischer’s Pygmy Fruit Bat.
Swim in Tongonan Hot Springs
The hot water of Tongonan Springs can relax your muscles, soothe your senses and improve your mood. This valley of geothermal power sources suppliers the whole region of Leyte with energy, and it’s actually the first geothermal plant in the Philippines. The hot spring can be found in Ormoc, Leyte.
Visit Sto. Niño Church
Sto. Niño Church is located in Tacloban, Leyte. It’s a shrine and a heritage museum containing lots of artifacts and, of course, the miraculous image of Sto. Niño. The church features an airy and bright appearance compared to other churches adorned heavily with countless ornaments and statues.
Go to Stations of the Cross (Calvary Hill)
Catholic pilgrims include visiting a religious place every Holy Week, and the Calvary Hill in Tacloban is one of the places to remember the Passion of Christ. It’s a place where life-sized statues of Christ and the other important characters of his life are placed and sort of re-enacting what transpired during those days.
This isn’t for the weak-hearted because you need to climb to the top to reach the other stations, but people who go here know that it’s part of the sacrifice.
Take Pictures of San Juanico Bridge
San Juanico Bridge is the longest bridge in the Philippines that connects Leyte to Samar. They say it’s the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ birthday gift to his wife, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
It runs across 1.34 miles or 2.16 kilometers and provides a scenic view which you can capture in photos.
Go Food Tripping in Leyte
Leyte is a desserts haven. They have different native delicacies that will make any person’s mouth with sweet tooth water. The first delicacy you should try is their Binagol, a combination of glutinous rice, taro pudding, and nuts. It has a filling of coconut and kalamay. The second one is their Chocolate Moron made of pure cacao and combines white and brown colors.
The third one is Suman Latik which is similar to Binagol but doesn’t have nuts and taro. They also have Sagmani made from taro and cassava, coconut milk, peanuts, and wrapped with banana leaves. The last one is Roscas. It’s a delicacy from Garugo and consists of flour, sugar, eggs, shortening, and anise.
Also Read: Food Trip: A Taste of Tacloban
Watch Pintados Kasadyaan Festival
Watch as the locals celebrate their Patron Saint Sr. Santo Nino through numerous song and dance numbers. The festival also remembers the Pintados warriors of Leyte hence the colorful merriment occasion. The festival is held every June 29, and many local and foreign tourists visit for its lively performances.
The festival is also a way for the locals to present their rich culture. The performers will have their faces and body heavily painted like the old Pintados warriors.
Visit Ormoc Bay
This large bay can be found in Leyte, and it extends to the Camotes Sea. The area has a rich history. It’s where the WWII Battle of Ormoc Bay took place. Today you can visit the WWWII Veterans & Centennial Park located at the bay. You can spend some time there by yourself or with family. The bay also offers stunning sunsets, so don’t forget to take a picture.
Go to Our Lady of Assumption Shrine
The shrine is located in Maasin City. You need to climb 300 steps to reach the 3-meter statue of Mother Mary. The climb is worth it once you see the gigantic image of the Mother of Jesus and the colorful ambiance of the mini paradise above. They light the shrine at night, so you get a different view at night than in the morning.
Witness Subiran Regatta
Subiran Regatta started in 1975, and it’s the first of its kind in Leyte. It’s a part of the PintadosKasadyaan Festival. Each sailboat is controlled by only one man towards the end of the race in Leyte Gulf. These are single-sail native boats that are colorful.
The once-a-year event will list 30 and above participants from Leyte and Eastern and Western Samar. They have to race on approximately 15 kilometers of water to win impressive prizes. Watch the festival held every June 28.
Go to Lake Danao
Enjoy your day sitting idly, eating food, and chatting with friends when you visit Lake Danao. The lake resembles the side of an acoustic guitar and is 650 meters above sea level. It’s kind of like Tagaytay because it formed after a volcanic eruption. The locals of Eastern Leyte consider the lake their primary source of water for rice fields and drinking. They also say that it’s where giant eel species can be seen.
You can join activities like boating, kayaking, fishing and of course, swimming in case you get bored with chilling. It’s also possible to explore the mountains and go camping.
Red Beach and Himokilan Island
The Red beach was the landing site of General Douglas Mc. Arthur together with his group. It’s also a place to have a picnic, swimming or even windsurfing. The beach is located in Palo, Leyte.
Another place to go is Himokilan Island which is part of the Cuatro Islas group and where you can find ‘tatus,’ coconut-cracking crabs. It’s a white sand beach lined with coconut trees and has crystal clear waters.
Leyte is more than just a place where General McArthur landed though it added to its popularity. It’s a place where you can spend your vacation and visit scenic spots, go on educational and religious tours and enjoy the foods that the province has to offer. Visit Leyte now and find out for yourself.
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