Iloilo City and the entire province as a whole is experiencing something of a renaissance when it comes to tourism.
Visit now and you will still see the grungy, slightly dirty and unkempt relic of a colonial Spanish town that Iloilo is known for.But if you come in a few years, all of that will likely change and Iloilo will be just another shiny tourist city without any character to distinguish it from any other town or province in the country.With that said, there isnt as much to do in Iloilo as there is in some of the other cities in the Philippines, and the beaches close to town are infamous for being rather dirty, so if you are spending time in Iloilo as part of a larger trip, it might be a good idea to limit the number of days you spend in the area.
Some of the most interesting churches in the region can be found in Iloilo, and in keeping with the theme, some of these houses of worship are pretty run down.The vast majority of them were built during the Spanish occupation and have not seen much upkeep since.
St. Anne Parish Church, Santa Barbara Church, St. Clements Church and Santo Nino de Arevalo Parish Church are some of the most well known churches in the province and as with any part of the Philippines, if you go on a Sunday, you will likely see local Filipinos celebrating Mass.All of the aforementioned churches are free, of course, and are open seven days a week to visitors.
Shopping with a historical twist
If you are tired of churches, you can head for some shopping over at Calle Real, which is the commercial district of the city.Most of the buildings are from the colonial period and the historical facades have been preserved, so in addition to getting a great shopping experience, youre also getting a good historical overview of how the city once looked.You should be able to find all sorts of souvenirs here, but dont be afraid to haggle if you find something that strikes your fancy.
Once your shopping spree is over and you have plenty of souvenirs to bring back home with you, you can head to Nellys Garden which is a huge mansion which was owned by the famous and affluent Lopez family.You can take tours of the mansion and of the beautiful gardens and there is a small PHP50 fee to enter.The address of the Gardens is E. Lopez, Jaro district of Iloilo City.
If you find yourself hungry, thirsty, wanting to dance and in need of some fun, head for the Smallville Complex which is located on Benign Aquino Jr. Avenue (also known as Diversion Road) in the Manduriao neighbourhood of Iloilo City.Here, you can find bars, restaurants, clubs and more to spend a few hours in the evening.Its your best bet for nightlife in Iloilo, which otherwise is a pretty sleepy city that hits the hay early.
An interesting destination to end the day is Camina Balay nag Bato.Its a house and restaurant and museum all tied into one fun package.You could spend hours here looking through all the dusty antiques and the best part is that there is free hot chocolate included with every visit, that the patrons rave about.It is open to visitors seven days a week and can be found at 20 Osmena Street, in the Arevalo district of Iloilo City.Definitely do not miss if you want to get a glimpse of a Iloilo city that no longer exists.