Sat

31

Jan

2015

10 Photos That Prove Iloilo is the Next Hotspot For Food, Culture, and Nightlife

Food, Culture, and Nightlife in Iloilo - Philippines

Iloilo...So Much More Than Churches and Dinagyang!

 

In just 2 months, I visited Iloilo 4 separate times!  What keeps me coming back? Well, in Iloilo I found a sophisticated, health-conscious city that is rich in history, heritage, and a wide variety of affordably delicious dining options! 

 

 

Here are 10 reasons I think you’ll never forget the “City of Love”:

 

 

#10 - Sunset At Fort San Pedro

Sunset at Fort San Pedro - Iloilo, Philippines

 


This Fort was built by the Spanish 400 years ago, and is now home to smiley fishermen and stunning sunsets!

 


 

#9 - Heritage Houses and Mansions

Camiña Balay Nga Bato Heritage House - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

Camiña Balay Nga Bato is turning 150 years old this year!  Located in the Villa area of the city, it provides a beautiful and fascinating glimpse into the lives of its wealthy  previousowners.  Find it on Facebook, and also be sure to visit Casa Mariquit in Jaro!

 

 

#8 - Buffet At Days Hotel

Buffet @ Days Hotel - Iloilo, Philippines

 


I have a friend in Iloilo who was so excited when the buffet at Days Hotel opened - he was practically in tears when he told me the story!  Haha.  Yes, the variety and quality of food is impressive, especially when you consider the price!  Did I mention the desserts?  Oh, the desserts...


 

#7 - Madge Coffee Shop in La Paz Market

Madge Coffee Shop in La Paz - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

Finally, I found an affordable coffee shop in the Philippines!  Move over, Starbucks and Figaro - Madge has brewed native coffee for just 25 pesos a cup.  Regular customers even get their own mug on the shelf!  This place has so much character, I really fell in love with it. 

 

 

 

Nathan Allen @ Coffee Break - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

For a more modern (yet still affordable) coffee shop, check out the many locations "Coffee Break" has around the city.  Each store has a unique "le cirque" or "circle chair"...here I am enjoying the one in Smallville:)

 

#6 - Nightlife and Partying in Smallville

Iloilo loves to party.  How do I know?  I know because this is the first city I have ever been to that actually has a "vomit fee" for customers who had a bit too much fun!  Haha.  I saw these signs at quite a few establishments.


 

Vomit Fee in Smallville - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

Seriously though, people were well behaved, and the nightlife in Smallville was a blast!  Here's a shot from Club Aura on a weekend when I was there...

 

 

Nightlife @ Club Aura in Smallville - Iloilo, Philippines

#5 - The Women Saints of Molo Church

Women Saints of Molo Church - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

Molo Church is unique for two reasons: One, it is constructed of coral rocks and a mortar held together by a mixture of egg-whites and sand.  Two, the saints on display in this church are all women!  Try some delicious bibingka and fishballs from the street-vendors out front...

 

 

#4 - Calle Real

Calle Real From A Jeepney - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

These historic buildings along JM Basa street were created during the commonwealth period, and are now heritage sites.  I took this photo from inside the jeepney...speaking of which, the jeepney drivers in Iloilo seem to take great pride in their unique, modern designs!

 

 

#3 - Batchoy in La Paz Market

Elal and Marcos at Deco's Batchoy in La Paz - Iloilo, Philippines

 

 

I have a confession to make - batchoy is not my favorite.  However, don't let that discourage you from trying it, because everybody else LOVES batchoy!  La Paz is home to the original batchoy...this photo with bloggers Elal and Marcos was taken at Deco's, but also try Netong's and Ted's.

 

 

#2 - Jaro Cathedral's Famous "Growing Statue"

The Growing Statue at Jaro Cathedral - Iloilo, Philippines

 


Wow, what a story!  Supposedly, fisherman found this statue floating in the Iloilo River in 1587.  It was too heavy to lift, but became easier when they decided to transfer it to Jaro Cathedral.  There, it was reported to grow over the years - so large that it was moved to the case on the front balcony!


 

#1 - The FOOD!!  Yes, Iloilo is a Foodie's Dream Come True!

Kadyos Baboy Langka (left), & Tinuom (top right) @ Bauhinia Restaurant, Smallville.  Cake from "Nothing But Desserts" next door...
Kadyos Baboy Langka (left), & Tinuom (top right) @ Bauhinia Restaurant, Smallville. Cake from "Nothing But Desserts" next door...



The thing that really struck me about Iloilo is the number of small and independently owned restaurants - compared to other cities in the Philippines, the selection and quality is just staggering!  The best part is that it's all quite affordable.  This is a great city for a budget food trip!



To Die For Blueberry Pancakes @ Punot - Smallville (With @flavoursofiloilo and @exploreiloilo)
To Die For Blueberry Pancakes @ Punot - Smallville (With @flavoursofiloilo and @exploreiloilo)

 

In Iloilo, food is the star of the show.  My absolute favorites were the Chicken Tinuom @ Bauhinia Filipino Cuisine, Blueberry pancakes @ Punot Restaurant, the ambiance and great food at both Tatoy's + Buto't Balat, and finally, the unforgettable French Toast at Dova Brunch Cafe.

 

 

Yes, Ilongos Have Good Taste.



Great Restaurants - Famous Roberto's Siopao in Calle Real, Dova in La Paz, and Punot in Smallville
Great Restaurants - Famous Roberto's Siopao in Calle Real, Dova in La Paz, and Punot in Smallville

My Hotel and Guest House Recommendations

Days Hotel Iloilo

Christmas Decorations in the Lobby @ Days Hotel - Iloilo, Philippines
Lobby @ Days Hotel

This warm and welcoming hotel is conveniently located in the upper levels of Atrium shopping mall.  There’s even a supermarket on the ground floor - and I have friends that shop there from as far as away as northern Antique.  Yes, the selection is that good

 

The mall also has a hair salon, and many other shops and services.  Very convenient!  

As for the hotel itself, I really felt at home there.  It could be because the staff is so warm and friendly.  The room felt homey and the bathroom was quite nice and modern.  I loved the little things, such as coffee and tea in the room, along with a small water heater.  

Days Hotel invited me to experience their Thanksgiving dinner, and that was much appreciated, because I was 10,000km away from my own family for the holiday.  With an authentic turkey dinner and plenty of new friends from the hotel, it was just what I needed!

As mentioned before, the buffets I had at the restaurant there were quite memorable (and breakfast is included:)  I recommend my friends to eat there - if they’re staying in the hotel or not!

The gym is nice, and I also experienced a 90 minute “Journeys” massage and hot sauna session.  What a great way to relax after sight seeing around the city - highly recommended!   Days Hotel really took care of me.  When you go, I hope you will tell them I say hi!

 

 

You can book Days Hotel HERE

 

Amigo Terrace Hotel

Room @ Amigo Terraces - Iloilo, Philippines
Room @ Amigo Terraces

This beautiful hotel is located in the historic old business district, and it features a classy, modern design.  The common areas are especially sleek. 

 

The spacious business center equipped with new Macs was a nice touch, but my absolute favorite part of this place was the heavenly bed I slept in - probably the most restful sleep I’ve had in the Philippines so far!  My room had a strong wifi connection as well.


The hotel is conveniently located near the Chinese-Filipino Friendship Arch, beautiful and historic Calle Real, and famous Roberto’s Siopao Restaurant (see above).  Their provided breakfast was very tasty, as was the very reasonably priced Chinese restaurant Gloria Maris downstairs. 

 

Did I mention that Amigo Terraces has a grand piano?  That was an unexpected plus, as I love to play!  Speaking of playing, they even have a casino on the premises!


You can book Amigo Terrace Hotel HERE

 


Ong Bun Pension House (Budget)

 

Don't expect too much luxury at these prices - the rooms are very basic (though you can ask about deluxe rooms with more options).  However, I have to say that the staff were some of the friendliest I have ever encountered during my travels!  An excellent value for those on a very tight budget. 

 

Ledesma Street, Iloilo City Proper, Iloilo City, 5000 Iloilo, Philippines

+63 33 335 1271

 

Still looking for hotels?  Check HERE for more options!

 

 

Baskog Ang Iloilo!

 


Yes, from an outside perspective, I really do get the impression that Iloilo is on the verge of something big.  I applaud the city's use of solar technology in City Hall, as well as the creation of bike lanes and jogging paths along the beautiful Esplanade! 


I do hope other cities in the Philippines will take Iloilo's lead and implement some of these changes as well.  I look forward to seeing what's next for this this vibrant, blossoming city!


Special thanks to Explore Iloilo, Cafe Illongo, and Flavours Of Iloilo for the cultural and culinary tour of the city...

 


 - Nathan Allen

www.idreamedofthis.com

Nathan Allen @ Tatoy's Restaurant - Iloilo, Philippines

 

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Nathan Allen has spent 6 years taking photos and documenting life in Asia.  A long-term traveler, he lives by the motto "spend less, see more".  Follow him HERE.

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