To travel Iloilo on budget is actually a much more enriching experience than many think. Considering that it is a city rich of history and is of close proximity to some of the best beaches in the world, you surely don’t need to splurge just to experience its best and bring back home golden memories.

And so, if you’re planning to visit this vibrant and booming metropolis soon, here are the top 12 activities that you must not forget to take. For sure, they’ll make you feel that you’ve really been to the City of Love.

i am iloilo

1. Walk Around Calle Real

Calle Real is IloIlo City’s downtown. Shops selling kitchen wares to fabrics line along the street. But it’s different from your average shopping district. And that’s because the stores are housed in Spanish-style buildings. The architectures there will show you that the city was already a progressive metro even during the Spanish days.

2. Take the Public Transport

Jeepneys are the major means of transport going around the city with just a minimum fare of P7.50. The jeeps here though are not the usual colorful jeepneys you will find in Manila. But they are equally impressive with their more modern look often with a head modeled from some luxurious or sport car. And so, look out!You may just find a jeepney with a front that of a mustang passing you by. That surely is worth taking a selfie with.

3. Go Church Hopping

We mentioned that Spanish influence is widely evident in this metro. But more than anything, those influences could be very well seen in the old churches scattered in the province. Among all the other old churches though, one that you must never miss is the Miag-ao Church. It is in UNESCO’s World Heritage list sporting traditional carvings and secret doors.

4. Take a Stroll in Esplanade

Esplanade is one of the latest developments in Iloilo City. It is very popular among joggers and people who just want to relax from work. During your downtime, take a stroll in this park located just beside a river and feel the Iloilo breeze.

5. Eat in Local Restaurants

Batchoy and Inasal are two popular dishes from Iloilo. You haven’t been here if you haven’t eaten those two. However, it’s best to have them in local restaurants. Apart from the fact that it won’t cost you much, the flavor you’ll get will be more distinctly Ilonggo.

6. Watch the Sunset in Fort San Pedro

Here’s another downtime activity for you. Soak yourself in the setting sun in Fort San Pedro. Just beside the Iloilo port, it will give you the perfect view of the golden ball setting in the horizon.

7. Visit Ancestral Houses

After church hopping, visit ancestral houses. Iloilo was a nest of rich hacienderos back in the days. And many of the houses of those rich families have been preserved until today. Others may require you some entrance fees or donations for maintenance but they won’t really take a toll on your budget.

8. Take a Side-Trip to Guimaras

If you want to go beach bumming, Boracay is just two rides away from the city. However, if you want less crowded yet equally beautiful beaches, take a side-trip to Guimaras. In just 15-30 minutes and less than P100, you could already be in one of the island’s white-sand and crystal-water beaches.

9. Join the Dinagyang

Dinagyang is the city’s local festival celebrated every January. It is known for its rythmic beat and colorful costumes. And the best part of it, you don’t really need to spend just to enjoy it. Sure, there are seats that you could get reserved before the event for your own convenience. However, watching from the sideline will give you a better feel of the festival.

10. Watch Fireworks Display

In the recent years, Dinagyang Festival is being accompanied by Fireworks Display. And so, if you’re coming here to “dagyang,” it’s best to check for any schedule of pyrotechnic show. It will surely be a delightful no-expense experience.

11. Sail With the Paraws

Paraw Regatta is another Iloilo City festival that you must not miss. Basically, it is a sailboat contest. Now what makes it tick? It’s the colorful sails that participants parade while sailing across the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait.

12. Converse With Ilonggos and Learn Some Hiligaynon

For sure, you’ve heard Ilonggos being dubbed as “malambing.” Prove that true by conversing with them. And while at it, learn some Hiligaynon words. You may notice a lot of Spanish words are used in the language and that’s what actually makes it familiar yet distinct.

[ Guest Post by: LJG ]