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I’m Sure You Need to Read This Before Flying to Iloilo City

jaro cathedral

Are you planning to book a flight to Iloilo City and wondering what you’ll do on your upcoming visit to the city of love?

I’m not a local of Iloilo, but this has been my home for more than a year now. Well, technically, I moved to Guimaras, but I consider Iloilo my home since I stay here at least once a week whenever I’m in Western Visayas.

One thing I noticed about flights to Iloilo is they’re always cheap. On average, You can book a roundtrip flight from Manila for Php2,500. There are also flights from Cebu, Clark, CDO, General Santos, and Davao. Also, it has direct flights to Hongkong and Singapore.

The moment you arrive at Iloilo Airport, the first thing that you need to know is how to get to the city center. It’s easy. As soon as you step out of the airport, taxi drivers will welcome you. But I suggest declining their offer. Keep walking to the parking lot and look for vans bound for SM City Iloilo. Fare is Php50.

iloilo airport

If your luggage is heavy, though, and you really need a cab, pick Light of Glory. It’s my most trusted, if not Iloilo’s most trusted, taxi company.

Trip from the airport to SM City is approximately 25 minutes. Don’t worry about traffic jams; they rarely happen, because the city has a wide road spanning from the airport up to the Iloilo River (Esplanade). From SM Iloilo, there are jeepneys going to Iloilo City proper.

Where to stay in Iloilo

I’ve been to at least 10 hotels in the city–from the cheapest to the most expensive.

If you have extra budget for a luxury accommodation, choose Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo. It’s the best luxury hotel in the city. Read my review of Marriott Iloilo

Check Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo Rate and Availability

Courtyard Iloilo
I can stay here all day and night! That’s how I love Marriott’s bed.

If you’re looking for budget hotels, I always recommend the Harbor Town Hotel located in downtown Iloilo. Location wise, it’s the best, as most jeepneys plying the city pass by the hotel. Whether you’re going to Jaro, Molo, or SM City, you can easily spot jeepneys here. 

They also have fast WiFi, good customer service, clean room, and a comfortable bed. All the basic things that you need for a lovely holiday are provided.

Check Harbor Town Rate and Availability

What to do in Iloilo City

Three days and 2 nights is actually enough if you will stay within the city, as there’s nothing much to do. But of course, there are some spots that you should not miss. These are the Jaro Church, Molo Church, and Molo Mansion.

For a first timer in the city, I recommend visiting these landmarks. To be fair, these are some of the best you will find here in the Philippines.

Molo Church

So, what else is there to do?

  • You can walk along Iloilo River Esplanade and watch the sunset.
  • You can visit Museo Iloilo.
  • You can walk along Calle Real or J.M. Basa Street to marvel at century-old buildings.
  • You can visit the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Arts (entrance fee is Php100).
  • You can walk around Iloilo Business Park and see for yourself how fast the economy of Iloilo grows, becoming the powerhouse of Western Visayas.
Iloilo Business Park
Iloilo Business Park

There is nothing much that I can recommend within the city, but if you have more time, you can also visit Guimaras, Miagao, and Garin Farm.

If you love to party, Iloilo is not the place to be. It has its party area called Smallville, but it’s not as lively as Manila. It’s more of a place to chill. Although most of the party-goers are “millennials,” I still find the place laid back.

Where to Eat in Iloilo City

People will tell you to eat Batchoy in Lapaz Market, but which famous batchoy restaurant should you try? Netong’s, Ted’s, or Deco’s? People will argue about this one, but I will give my vote to Deco’s. I tried all of them, but I will always go back to Deco’s.

I dined out at a number of restaurants in Iloilo, but these are my recommendations. Troi Oi (Vietnamese) and Kogi & Vegi (Korean) and if you love seafood Tatoy’s, Manokan and Seafood should be on your list too.

Don’t forget to visit Troi Oi at Iloilo River Esplanade – Photo Credit to Troi Oi

Where to go next from Iloilo City

Iloilo city is a good hub to start your travel in the Philippines, as it’s located at the center of the country. Besides the domestic and international destinations that you can take on from Iloilo, here are some of the major tourist destinations within Western Visayas. Please note that rates and schedules are subject to change without prior notice.

  • Iloilo to Jordan, Guimaras via Pumpboat
    • Travel time: 15 minutes
    • Schedule: 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
    • Fare: Php15
  • Iloilo to Bacolod via fast craft
    • Travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
    • Schedule: 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM
    • Fare: Starts at Php250php depending on the class
  • Iloilo to Roxas City via Ceres BusIloilo to Roxas City via Ceres Bus
    • Travel time: 3 hours
    • First trip: 5:00 AM
    • Fare: Around Php170
  • Iloilo to San Jose, Antique via Van at Molo Terminal
    • Travel time: 3 hours
    • Fare: Php150
  • Iloilo to Kalibo Aklan via Ceres Bus
    • Travel time: 5 hours
    • First trip: 5:00 AM
    • Fare: Around Php250
  • Iloilo to Caticlan via Ceres bus
    • Travel time: 6 hours
    • First trip: 5:00 AM
    • Fare: Around Php390

After more than a year of living here, I’m proud that I can understand and speak Ilonggo. Kabalo Man ko Mag Ilonggo, basi gamay lang. Although I’m not that confident with grammar, I can converse and speak basic phrases.

Ilonggo has this low tone and sweet accent that I haven’t adopted yet even if I speak Hiligaynon. People will still know that I’m not Ilonggo especially if they hear that the wavy part at the end of the sentence is missing. For example, “Di-in ka halin hawwwwww?” means “Where are you from?” I would say that as “Di-in ka halin?” but not add the long, wavy, low toned “hawwww” at the end.

Don’t be surprised if someone replies in Hiligaynon even if the question is in Tagalog. Per my Ilonggo friends, they’re also having a hard time speaking Tagalog.

Here are some of the common phrases that you can use and hear in Iloilo.

  • If they ask, “How are you?” (Kamusta ka?) You can reply, “Maayo man, salamat.”
  • Oo (yes) is pronounced as “Hu-O”
  • “I don’t know” is “Am-bot.” You will hear it as Am-boooooot. Remember the long, wavy and low tone?
  • Do you speak Tagalog? “Kabalo ka mag Tagalog?”
  • To stop a Jeepney, you will say, “Sa lugar lang.”
  • “How much?” is “Tag pila?”
  • “Excuse me” is “Palihog.”
  • “Where” is “Sa Diin.” If you’re asking where the CR is, say, “Sa diin ang CR?”
  • “Let’s eat” is “Kaon ta.”
  • “Delicious” is “Namit.”
iloilo provincial capitol

Four years ago, I just dreamed of moving to Iloilo City. Now, here I am, living that dream. For me, this is the most liveable city in the Philippines, so I’m inviting you to please book a flight and experience why I love Iloilo.


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