Iloilo’s Best Time to Go
Almost all year round, Iloilo is a dream destination. However, during the typhoon months from June to August, you may not be able to enjoy the experience , particularly if you intend to go to the beaches or do island-hopping tours.
Be sure to search for incoming typhoons with the weather update. If you want to combine a festive event with seeing the tourist spots of Iloilo, then you’d better enjoy your visit during the Dinagyang Festival.
Dry Season and Summer November to May
The majority of Iloilo attractions are outdoors or may enable you to ride a ferry. That’s why the best months to schedule your trip to Iloilo are the months when, from November to May, it’s sunny almost every day. This covers the summer season that begins in March until mid-May in the Philippines.
Festival of Dinagyang January
Rock and dance to this festival’s stomping drumming rhythms, known for its vivid songs, elegant dances, and colorful costumes.
One of the most famous and oldest festivals in the Philippines is the Dinagyang Festival, celebrated every third or fourth Sunday of January. This is a pleasant time to encounter Iloilo, as everyone enjoys the festival in a jovial mood by dancing to the vibrant rhythms in unison.
Regatta at Paraw February
Believed to be Asia ‘s oldest traditional sea craft, the Paraw Regatta takes seafarers from Iloilo City to the island of Guimaras, an island province next to Iloilo, for a race across the waters of the Iloilo Strait.
It dishes a stunning view onboard colorful Paraw sailboats, in hundreds and often numbered up to a hundred, as each Paraw glides smoothly over the sea.
The original configuration of the Paraw sailboats of the first settlers of Iloilo who came from the island of Borneo in the early 13th century still possesses the configuration of modern-day Paraws. The Paraw Regatta was first introduced in 1973 and is celebrated every third weekend of the month of February.
Weather and Climate
Iloilo’s climate is tropical and has only two seasons, both dry and rainy. The temperature is 27.1 ° C on average. February is the driest month, while August is the rainiest. May is the warmest month, and the coldest temperature is usually felt around December to January or during the holiday season.
What to Wear
If you’re doing city tours or island-hopping tours in Iloilo, especially during the dry summer season, wear breathable clothing. If you intend to do a lot of walking, carry an umbrella or wear sunglasses and caps as well.
If you’re going to Iloilo for the January Dinagyang Festival, use a small bag where you can easily protect your belongings because during the events, there will be huge crowds. Wear comfortable shoes and you can spend a lot of time standing up and walking.
How To Get to Iloilo
Ocean view aboard a ferry boat from Bacolod to Iloilo
Iloilo is one of the country’s easily accessible provinces, as both domestic and international flights (Hong Kong and Singapore) to Iloilo International Airport can enter it.
There are also ferries from major cities in the Philippines that fly to Iloilo via roll-on-roll-off (RoRo) routes. It is also accessible from neighboring destinations such as Boracay, Guimaras, Bacolod, and Cebu from its position in the middle of Visayas. On how to go to Iloilo, here are your options:
A number of airlines operating directly from different cities in the Philippines (Cebu, Clark, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Puerto Princesa, Cuyo and Sipalay) and even from a few international destinations, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, operate at Iloilo International Airport.
Iloilo airport is now one of the country’s main hubs, with leading airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia. The travel time from Manila to Iloilo by plane is just about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Cebu. It is 2.5 hours away from Hong Kong and 3.5 hours away from Singapore.
There are four major seaports in Iloilo: the Fort San Pedro Domestic Port, the Loboc International Port, the Port of Ortiz (serving Guimaras to Iloilo and vice versa for just 15 minutes) and the Port of Muelle Loney (serving Iloilo to Bacolod for around 1.5 hours). The giant transport shipping company 2Go also sails for about 20 hours from Manila to Iloilo City.
With many bus companies, such as Ceres Bus traveling directly from Boracay (4-5 hours), Kalibo in Aklan (3 hours), Roxas City in Capiz (2 hours) and San Jose in Antique (3-4 hours), Iloilo is the transport center of Panay Island.
A regular (around 20 hours) RoRo (roll-on, roll-off) bus service linking Manila to Iloilo also operates.
Iloilo Getting Around
When driving around Iloilo City’s tourist spots and other attractions or destinations outside the city proper, you have a range of choices. The primary mode of transport is the jeepney and taxicabs while exploring the area. You can ride tricycles or pedicabs for shorter distances.
There are buses and vans for longer journeys, including going outside of the city. There are also car and van rentals available within the city, where you can travel in the province or other places where Iloilo is part of the Panay Island.
Jeepneys are called passad in Iloilo City and do not look like the usual Philippine jeepney that you see plying Manila ‘s roads and other places in the country.
They resemble sedans and pickup trucks, have an elongated body and have a lower profile. They ride around Iloilo City’s main roads and are the most popular transportation method used by locals.
You must first find out which route will pass your destination to explore Iloilo City via jeepneys. Most definitely, as they have a set road, you may need to make many jeepney transfers.
Tell “lugar lang!” if you’re entering your destination. (Stop at the unloading area) to tell the driver at the nearest stop that you want to turn the jeepney on.
In Iloilo City, a more convenient transport alternative is the taxicab. On most major roads, you can flag them down, or line up in the malls of Taxi Bay. If you choose to hire one instead of riding a bus or van, taxicabs will drop you off at any point in the city, or even outside the city.
They are also available at the Iloilo International Airport arrival area and may drop you off at the city departure area as well.
If you’re heading outside Iloilo City to other provincial destinations such as Islas de Gigantes in Carles or neighboring provinces in Panay Island such as Antique, Kalibo in Aklan, or Capiz, the bus is your main mode of transport. A regular (non-AC) bus and air-conditioned buses can be reserved.
Ceres Liner is the main bus company that links Iloilo City to other destinations. In Iloilo City, there are a variety of terminals serving various routes, so make sure you first figure out the terminal you should go to, depending on the destination.
Tagbak terminal service routes, which include Carles, Aklan (Kalibo and Boracay), and Roxas in Capiz, to Central Iloilo and North Iloilo. Buses to San Jose in Iloilo to Antique serve the Molo terminal.
Van, Van Van
Vans that follow the same path are an alternative to buses. These are air-conditioned and, since they make fewer stops and pick-ups along the way , typically have a shorter travel time. Nevertheless, they do not have as much legroom as buses and do not have huge luggage compartments.
Most vans also need to be fully loaded before they leave, so if you’re on a tight schedule, it may not be the best choice. If you’re a large party, you can also hire or rent a private van.
Pedicab and Tricycle
You can ride tricycles (automated rickshaws) or pedicabs (cycled rickshaws locally called trisikads in Iloilo) for shorter distance travel within the city.
They are not permitted on major roads, and minor roads such as those linking residential houses to major roads are only permitted. Just 2-4 passengers at a time can handle it.
Where to stay in Iloilo City
In recent years, Iloilo City has seen major growth and with it came a variety of hotels catering to different types of travelers. You have plenty of choices for your home away from home in Iloilo, from hotels for any budget, backpacker hostels, and holiday rentals.
It is also important to choose the location of your accommodation as it will be a factor in how quick or difficult your travel to tourist spots or terminals will be.
Forms of lodgings
You have plenty of choices for accommodation in Iloilo, depending on your budget, preference, and the number of travelers in the party. Read on to find out which kind of accommodation fits your requirements best.
There are budget-friendly, mid-range, and luxury hotels you can choose from in Iloilo City. These are typically situated on main roads, and attractions, malls, and restaurants are within easy reach. They offer maximum services and facilities, which vary depending on the hotel’s classification.
Hostels / Guesthouses / Inns
There are a variety of hostels, inns, and guesthouses scattered in Iloilo City for backpackers or budget-travelers. These are cheap accommodations providing simple amenities such as a fan or a shared air-conditioned room or private bathrooms.
Rentals for holidays
If you want a private home in Iloilo City, complete with a kitchen for a large party, vacation rentals are great for you. In Iloilo City, there are a lot of condominium units available for rent that can accommodate small to large groups.
These holiday rentals deliver the comforts of hotels with additional facilities such as streaming channels, but without the hotel staff’s operation.
Areas and Neighbourhoods
It is important to choose where to book your hotel in Iloilo in order to minimize public vehicle transfers or taxi rates while traveling around tourist attractions.
It’s best to first identify where you want to go in Iloilo and verify which hotels or rooms have the best access. Here are some of Iloilo ‘s top areas where you can book a hotel:
Proper Iloilo City
Iloilo City Proper is also known as Iloilo Poblacion and is situated in the middle of Iloilo City. Most of the hotels and accommodations built are found here.
This is where you can find the Iloilo province’s government offices, including the Iloilo City Hall. The place where Calle Real is located is also the City Proper. The principal highlights of the event are held here during the Dinagyang Festival.
Aside from Molo and Jaro, this district is one of the three main commercial areas of Iloilo Region. In this region, mid-range to luxury hotels can be found. You can find the Smallville Complex here, where the nightlife scene of Iloilo is, the Riverside Esplanade, and Iloilo’s malls.
The city has plenty of hotels because it’s an entertainment and shopping center. Due to its position, this area is also highly accessible to the key tourist spots in Iloilo Region.
From La Paz
This district is known for being La Paz Batchoy ‘s birthplace, with the most popular one located in a restaurant named Netong’s at the La Paz Public Market.
Major colleges, terminals, hospitals, and residential subdivisions are housed in this location. You can choose from a variety of budget, mid-range to luxury hotels and accommodations in La Paz.
This district in Iloilo City is where you can find the Molo Church (St. Anne Parish) and the Molo Mansion, also known as the Yusay-Consing Mansion, which are just a short walk from the Mandurriao River Esplanade.
The plaza where you can buy Iloilo ‘s special bibingka (baked rice cake) is just right outside the Molo Church and Molo Mansion. Here, residential subdivisions are plentiful and provide the areas of City Proper and Mandurriao with a more quiet vibe and simple accessibility.
Jaro The Jaro
Iloilo City’s largest district is also named Mestizo Town because this is where the province ‘s famous Spanish Filipino families come from. It is also the region where some of the top tourist spots in Iloilo, such as Jaro Cathedral and Belfry, Lopez Mansion, Casa Mariquit, and Lizares Mansion, can be found.
You can book accommodation in this area if you’re traveling to neighboring destinations in the north of Panay Island, since Tagbak Terminal is located here.
You can book a hotel in Villa Arevalo if you would like to be closer to the beach or the coastal area of Iloilo City. Also known as Villa or Arevalo, several resorts and open-air seafood restaurants and bars are housed in this area. It is further away from Iloilo City Proper, though, but by riding a taxi or jeepney, it can still be available.