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Visiting Iloilo City? Do not miss these spots

In my post-traveling days, I had many misconceptions, one of which is that modernization doesn’t touch the provinces; evidently, I had been living under a rock. Good thing I started traveling and found out that even in provinces there are cities with a business center, modern establishments, among others. I’ve been to many cities around the Philippines, but nothing is more interesting to me than Iloilo City.

They have roads that are long and wide, huge malls just like in Metro Manila, and food establishments and other businesses that urban dwellers enjoy. Modern but not crowded or disorderly; the streets are generally clean. I liked it so much I found myself nodding to the possibility of moving there should an opportunity presented itself. I’d been there two times and have gotten to know the city a little. Getting around is easy, you could either take a taxi or jeepneys. Whether you traveling there DIY or with the help of a Philippine travel agency, here are some of the spots that you may want to visit in Iloilo.

Iloilo Esplanade River

The River Esplanade is the most beautiful spot I’ve seen in the city. It’s a long stretch of a brick pathway with a garden that sits by the Iloilo River. The view is amazing and the locals like to go there for a run or to cycle. There is an Iloilo sign on one end of the river, a good picture-taking spot if you ask me. There are some restaurants and cafes nearby, so it is indeed a good place to hang out.

If you feel like walking it would only take you roughly 20 minutes to get there from SM Iloilo. But you could just take one of the jeeps in front of the mall, take the one with the Leganes or SM Mandurriao route.   

Carpenter’s Bridge

At the end of the Iloilo Esplanade River, on the Senator Efrain Treñas boulevard side, you will see the Carpenter’s Bridge. It is named after the first civilian governor of the Moro province, Frank W. Carpenter. It offers a fantastic view of the Iloilo River. There, you could watch some local folks fishing, cycling, or taking a stroll.

carpenter's bridge iloilo

Molo Church

Just a 5-minute walk from the Carpenter’s bridge is one of the oldest churches in the city, the St. Anne Parish Church, more popularly known as the Molo Church. It is called as the “feminist church” because of the 16 statues of female saints placed on each pillar. This Spanish colonial church was built in 1831, the architectural design a fusion between Gothic and Romanesque styles.

molo-church-iloilo

It is quite easy to get there, just take a jeep that plies the Molo or Arevalo routes; these jeepneys pass by the Molo Plaza where the church can be found.

Madge Café

Inside La Paz Public Market, you will find the famous Madge Cafe. It’s a very old café, dates to 1951, owned by a man named Vicente De la Cruz. He named the café after the nickname of his wife, Magdalena. It’s a small café and eatery that old people like to frequent. This is also where the tourists go to seek out what the city claims as the best coffee in town.

The first time I went there I couldn’t justify the hype. If the nods came from the interesting way the coffee is being prepared, then I wouldn’t argue. I’ve never seen coffee made this way before. They use a cloth called, culador that kind of looks like women’s stocking to filter the coffee grounds, then put it inside a tin pot with boiling water. Then they pour the coffee into a cup and sugar and milk, according to one’s liking. It’s kind of fascinating to watch really.

But there was nothing special with the coffee, I found it too sweet. Well that’s what I thought then, until I returned and tried a much stronger flavor consequently shifting my opinion. Apparently, I just needed to get a strong coffee. Unlike the very expensive coffee that I like to indulge myself in back in Manila, the coffee here is cheap, only 40 to 50 pesos.

The café is open everyday from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Kasanag Wellbeing Center

If you’re in a want of some kneading of them muscles, I recommend you visit Kasanag Wellbeing Center. “Kasanag” is from a Hiligaynon dialect, which means brightness. The massage place can be found in an old two-story house. The spas I frequent are mostly Thai-inspired or have zen interiors, thus I find it quite interesting to see one that is Filipino-themed. The receptionists are donned in the traditional baro’t saya, the place is lit with yellow lighting that further imbibes the atmosphere of the olden days.

kasanag-iloilo

I chose the Kasanag signature hilot, a one-hour whole body massage. Instead of a towel, I was given a malong to wrap my body with. The massage itself felt so relaxing I almost dozed off.

Kasanag is open from 2:00 p.m to 12:00 midnight.

Camiña Balay nga Bato

To glimpse a piece of history, visit Camiña Balay nga Bato (house by the river), a small museum in a well-preserved ancestral house of the Camiña family along Osmeña Street.

camina-balay-nga-bato-iloilo

It’s a showcase of how the affluent lives in the 18th century. They look ancient now, but I could discern how the stuff in the house could only have been used by the wealthy during that time. There are silver wares, intricately painted ceramic plates, walls, floors, and furniture made of sturdy fine kamagong and narra woods, a turntable (might have cost exorbitantly in that period), etc.

At the end of your tour, you will be served with a cup of thick hot tsokolate de batirol and toasted mamon.

Plazuela de Iloilo

Plazuela is a business hub that is a favorite among the locals for shopping and dining. It’s a two-story complex with Spanish-Italian architectural design. It sits close to SM City Iloilo.

plazuela-de-iloilo

Pit Stop

For restaurants to try in Iloilo, Pit Stop is on the top of my recommendations. I love their mango pizza so much, I’d be willing to cheat on my keto diet for it. It was just amaaaazing. Also, try their mango baked macaroni, it’s just as equally good.

Recommended Accommodation

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Iloilo City, I recommend the following:

Injap Tower Hotel

Injap Tower Hotel is at a prime location, just across SM City Iloilo. Rates are reasonable, around 2,500 per night. The room is equipped with a mini kitchen, microwave oven, hot and cold shower, and a LED cable TV. There is free Wi-Fi that is reliable, a swimming pool area, and a spa. My favorite part of this hotel is the Horizon Café on the 21st floor as it offers a scenic view of Iloilo city.

KR & Quisa Airbnb Dorm Room

If you are on a budget, I’d like to recommend this Airbnb place owned by an amazing woman. The place is clean, the neighborhood is quiet. It is off the main road, but it can easily be reached by a taxi or a jeepney. For only P600 per night, you got a yummy breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and one of the best Airbnb hosts I have ever met, Ate Quisa.

Click here to get a discount on your first Airbnb booking

I came to Iloilo expecting nothing. I never really bonded with any of my previous Airbnb hosts, hence, I was pleasantly surprised when I met Ate Quisa. She treated me like a friend, gave me many tips on how to get around Iloilo, and told me some stories about her life. She joined me during breakfast (Ate Quisa said that she doesn’t want her guests go about their day with an empty stomach), drove me to some places where I needed to be, and lastly, walked me to the jeepney stop and waited until I was able to get a ride back to the airport. Never have I been treated by an Airbnb host like this before. It truly warms my heart and made my stay even more memorable and meaningful.  



Thanks for reading!

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