Travel Guide: Things to do and see in Zamboanga City
Summertime is knocking on our doorways. Time to stop hiding in your homes, and time to go on an adventure in our wonderful country. Grab your friends, cameras, and tubes of sunscreen, because in this article, we’re going to the one and only Zamboanga City.
Zamboanga City is also known as “Asia’s Latin City” for a reason. Its chief dialect, Chavacano, sounds a lot like Spanish. Its culture, like most of the country, is also heavily influenced by the Spanish colonizers. Even the local dance and songs hint Spanish roots. Its religious structures are also Spanish in origin.
Zamboanga City is basically a European city in Asia, thus the name “Latin City”. And it’s more than just a fancy city with Latin Spanish European feel. It’s an awesome city in the Philippines that has a lot of things to offer you. Are you ready for Zamboanga City this summer? Because it’s ready for you:
1. Zamboanga offers a gastronomical adventure. Food trip anyone?
Road tripping with friends is never complete without food tripping. A road trip without food trip is not a road trip at all! As a foodie, I have had that as a principle.
What I love about Zamboanga City is that it offers a diversity of delicacies, some local, some Spanish, some Spanish with a twist of Zamboangeno. Some affordable, some exquisite, some locally unique. Here are some of Zamboanga’s food that you shouldn’t miss out trying:
The curacha. The curacha is a Zamboangeno spanner crab that is cooked in so many dishes. This crustacean variety is abundantly available in Zamboanga City’s markets, so you can buy your barkada a whole kilo of them to cook for yourselves, or maybe go out and fine dine in Zamboanga’s seafood restaurants.
Satti. Satti is a super spicy local dish that is, believe or not, actually a local breakfast meal. But for tourists, satti is a nice bowl to try in the middle of summer, with all those flavors exploding! There’s always someone in the group who loves spicy food. If there’s none, however, then, why not give Satti a try? It’s never too late to become a spicy-food-lover convert.
2. The city has a lot of religious structures.
If you’re the type of traveler who never leaves a place without visiting at least one church to pray in, then you’re in luck. Zamboanga City has a lot of churches, some old, and some new.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Zamboanga City is a known church for its pure white exterior and unique architecture. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. Make sure to keep your awe to yourself when gazing at this beautiful structure. Masses might be ongoing.
The Taluksangay Mosque, on the other hand, is the oldest mosque in Western Minadanao. This sacred structure is prominent for its bright red domes. Tourists and pilgrims alike are attracted by this modernly designed mosque.
3. There are lots of areas to stroll around in, take pictures of, and get some healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air.
Although one generally strolls around as a traveler, Zamboanga City offers a lot of beautiful parks perfect for jogging in the morning, strolling and picture-taking in the afternoon, or simply walking around on with a loved one.
The seaside Cawa Cawa Boulevard, for instance, is the perfect spot to get some fresh air and sunshine. Nearby the Boulevard is a port of some vinta, where you can rent for a small fee and sail on with friends or loved ones. Reglardless if you’re walking or oaring, Cawa Cawa Boulevard is the perfect place to unwind.
Meanwhile, there’s Rizal Park that’s located near the Zamboanga City Hall. If you prefer strolling around in the urban rather than the seaside, Rizal Park should be your choice.
But if you’re a nature lover or if you simply want to get away from the bustling streets, then go drop by at Pasonanca Park. The public park has lots of facilities, which include a swimming pool and even a tree house. The park property also houses a national park under the same name, which is managed under the Philippine National Integrated Protected Areas System.
4. You can bring home lots of souvenirs.
If Metro Manila has a Divisoria, Zamboanga City has a Canelar Barter Trade Center, a long street of crafts, clothes, souvenirs, food, and just about anything. Each stall is colorful and unique, so if you need to buy a souvenir there’s no need to look anywhere else. Haggling here is totally fine as well. It’s in Filipino culture. Live it, and keep it as a souvenir.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some ornaments to bring home for your mother, Yakan Village is abundant with artistic handicrafts and weaved mats, among others. The Yakans are known in the country as one of the best weavers, and you can buy directly from them in Yakan Village. If you want to bring home a souvenir that is culturally and unmistakably Zamboanga, then make sure to drop by Yakan Village and support the Yakan weavers.
5. If you’re tired of commercialism, malls, and restaurants, you should know that Zamboanga City also houses some natural wonders that you might want to check out.
Asia’s Latin City isn’t done with you yet. It still has lots of wonders waiting to be explored.
Zamboanga City houses the Great Santa Cruz Island and its well-known pink sands and clear water. Nearby is a historical burial ground that, although inactive, still contains historical remnants that are culturally significant and interesting.
Take your summer to a whole new level by frolicking on the cool waters of Merloquet Falls and Congo Falls in Zamboanga City. These two waterfalls are not sandy like the Great Santa Cruz Island, but hey, they’re relatively more secluded, and the vegetation and surrounding rock formations may just be the best backdrop for your next display picture on Facebook.
Another interesting natural tourist destination is Paseo del Mar. Paseo del Mar is also the perfect place to relax in. It’s a beautiful habitat of diverse species of birds and mangrove, and with you and your friends on oaring on the quiet water and the birds flying around above you, you’ll definitely forget all of your worries.
How to get to Zamboanga City, and getting around Zamboanga City
Now that we’ve mentioned five of the many, many perks of Zamboanga City, it’s about time we know how to get there, of course!
Zamboanga City is accessible by land, air, and water. Major carriers in the country fly to and from Manila, Cebu, and Davao daily. Flights usually last for only 1.5 hours, so no need to worry about getting plane sick.
The Asia’s Latin City is also very accessible by land. There are bus lines in Manila that travel to a roll on-roll off barge to get to the city.
Ships to Zamboanga City travel once a week. Ships from Manila travel to Zamboanga via Iloilo. Ship sails usually take longer to reach the destination, but hey, if you’re with your group of friends or loved ones, then take that as another great adventure.
Now, once you’ve gotten to Zamboanga City, make sure to note that there are no taxis around. Transportation here come in the form of walking, biking, riding a tricycle, or riding a jeepney. If you’re a tourist and don’t know the jeepney routes, it is recommended that you ride tricycles first. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting in.