If you are traveling to the Philippines, or live in the Philippines and want a fun and interesting place to visit, I cannot help but suggest my home, Iloilo City. Situated in the west-central part of the Philippines, Iloilo City is a beautiful and wondrous area.
I moved to Iloilo City from Cavite to be closer to my wife’s family. Most live in and around this area. Her parents live on a small farm outside the city where we have spent many a restful day eating, conversing and celebrating holidays.
I know of no better place I would like to be because of family and the fun activities to around the area like beach-going, shopping, eating fresh seafood, and visiting the many festivals.
Places of Interest In and Around Iloilo City
On your way to the city proper from the airport, on the outskirts of town in Pavia, is one of my favorite restaurants to visit when I want fresh and delicious seafood. Nanay Sela’s Restaurant is not only a gorgeous place to relax, but they have some of the best dishes I have ever tasted in my life. Shellfish, native chicken and pork are all on the menu and deliciously prepared. The prices are great too, as we have gone with large groups of people and have never spent more than 3000PHP.
After eating, enter the city for some of the best shopping at SM City and The Shops at Atria. You will notice all the new construction at the Megaworld complex with new hospitals, hotels, office complexes, and even a new convention center. In Megaworld, make sure you stay at the finest in luxury hotels, Seda Hotel Atria.
If you come to town during one of the famous festivals, like the Dinagyang Festival, make sure you make reservations because the city fills up rather quickly.
There are many outdoor markets in and around the city where you can find anything from seafood to farm-fresh vegetables.
The feeling of the city of Iloilo is like a party at most times, and you will never run out of things to do.
My Favorite Activity: Hitting the Beaches and Island-Hopping
Right outside the city, and a boat ride away is the island of Guimaras. Full of white sand beaches and sparkling resorts, this is a great place to rent a boat and go island-hopping or snorkeling.
One of my most memorable mini-vacations was spent on Guimaras at the Jannah Glycel Beach House. We spent three days and two nights in luxury, eating the best of food, with the beach and access to boats right on our doorstep.
The people of Guimaras are friendly and more than willing to cater to every whim of locals and tourists alike. All you have to do is ask, and you can do or see anything that you wish.
A Beach Closer to My Home
One of the first beach places I visited after arriving in Iloilo City, and one I visit at least once a month is the Riverside Beach Resort in Oton. Just a quick 15 minute drive and I am standing on the pristine beach looking out at the fishermen on the ocean. My daughter Zoey loves it there so much it’s hard to get her to leave.
A Funny Story:
On my first visit to Riverside, we stopped in the parking lot and while my wife went to find a table to sit, I unloaded the car and followed her. On my way, I was stopped at least six times by a friendly local offering a hello. The funny thing was everyone was calling me Joe. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how these people knew me, and why they thought my name was Joe!
After we found a place to sit, I asked my wife about it, and with a laugh, she told me that Joe is what they called foreigners when addressing them. I guess it started around the time of the war and just stuck.
Now when I go places and someone calls me Joe, I just smile and wave a hello in return.
Visit Iloilo City – You Won’t Be Sorry
A visit to Iloilo City is a time of fun and celebration. Whether it’s for a festival or just a little island-hopping followed by a enticing dinner of seafood and drinks, you will be glad you came.
I am proud to call this area my home and never plan to leave.
If you are ever in the area, look me up. We can sit on the beach and drink Red Horse beer while the sun sets.
Photo Credit: Dinagyang Festival Dancer by Enrico Dee – self-made, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15376827