A week after my Europe trip, me and my high school friends had to go to Iloilo City to attend our kabarkada’s wedding. Imagine the expenses I had to endure! Haha! This was definitely a budget trip! Aside from the air tickets which cost me P1700 (that includes the terminal fee from Manila), I only shelled out about P3500 for this whole trip (including Guimaras). Not bad huh?
When we arrived in Iloilo, we checked in at a budget hotel called Highway21. It’s actually not bad and for two nights, we only had to pay P1200 each (that’s for four people in the room). It has the basic amenities, good beds and cool AC. No elevators though and that hurt our legs since we were at the 4th floor. Haha. The following events happened after we attended the wedding which starts at about 3pm.
Day 1: We were supposed to have a city tour so we hired our own van (we’re 7 in the group and it cost approximately P2500 for 5 hours) but it was raining hard so we were only able to do so much. We had another day, a Sunday, to go on a city tour again before leaving for Manila so it was ok. There are a ton of taxis, even more than jeepneys or cars so you won’t have a hard time getting around.
First was a quick stop at Roberto’s, famous for their siopao. Since I was still full from the reception, I shared one siopao with my friend. As you can see, there was a long line just for their siopao! The line is long but moves fast so it’s ok. When we went there again on a Sunday morning (other photo), there was no line and the place was quite empty. That serves as a warning if you go there on a weekday afternoon. Since I’m no siopao fan, it was just ok for me. The smallest costs P45.
Next, we went to their museum. It’s small and doesn’t hold a lot but it’s interesting to note that the paintings were made by young art students who took up classes for summer. My favorite is the long haired girl listening to music, created by a16 year old. Reminded me of an apple artwork so now it’s my home screen saver. Entrance fee is P25.
One of our friends had to go back to Manila early so before dropping her off at the airport, we had dinner at the famous Tatoy’s, with photos of Tatoy and his famous guests like Pres. Gloria, Trillanes and the like. This was recommended by a lot of people, including bloggers, so it was surprising that the place was close to empty at around 6pm.
Food was hohum, nothing special and too expensive. For all the food we ate – sisig, soup with fish, bakes oysters, roasted native chicken, seaweed, squid rings and leche flan – we paid more than P2000. I honestly don’t recommend this place but we wanted to try it because they said it was good. Maybe your experience would be different.
Of course, a stop over at the Biscocho Haus for pasalubong was a must so we dropped by on our way to the airport. There are a lot of options to buy like butterscotch which they’re known for, otap, piyaya, Biscocho of course and the like.
After we dropped our friend at the airport, we had some coffee at Coffeebreak, a local cafe which I feel is like their Starbucks because it was everywhere! The tea, though loose, was nothing special. The ambiance was nice though. Capped off the night with good conversation with friends.
Day 2 was spent in Guimaras, which I’ll post next so technically this would be Day 3. Coming from Guimaras Island, we wanted La Paz bachoy for breakfast so we went to one of the oldest and authentic shops called Netong’s, found right smack in the middle of their public market in Iloilo. People were staring at us since we weren’t exactly dressed for the market. Unfortunately, I found the la Paz batchoy just ok (or maybe my expectations were too high) but it wasn’t really special. Same goes with Deco’s, which my friends also tried for comparison. Small batchoy costs P55.
For reference, we hired a van again for our tour and paid P3500 for the whole day, including the trip to the airport, which was about 30minutes away from the main city. That’s not bad in terms of transportation.
Next, our married friend texted us and told us to try out the chocolate drink at Balay nga Bato, which was recently featured in Kris TV. It’s a huge, old house which would have been a great location for one of the scenes in Noli me Tangere. Haha! We actually role played a scene since it really felt like you were in the early 1800s, what with the design of the rooms, the music which was playing old songs and the chocolate drink served in authentice silver pitchers.
Right beside Balay nga Bato was Mama’s Kitchen, which makes delicacies like cookies. It is also sold in Deco’s pasalubong store but for a higher price so if you want lower prices for pasalubong, visit their main store. Mango chewies are the best seller for P135 for a box (P155 at Deco’s).
What makes the chocolate drink authentic is that it’s made in the traditional way, with the silver pitcher under low fire while stirring it with the wooden spoon for over an hour. The drink is made with milk and served with biscuits. It’s quite sweet and very chocolatey, but not like the commercial ones. You know that this is made with real tablea chocolate. Entrance fee with drink costs P150.
Since we were so full with all our food intake, it was time for the church tour. We went to different churches including the hour drive away Miag-ao church, which unfortunately was being renovated, an old cemetery, then back to Iloilo for the Molo church and other ones I forgot. Honestly, there’s nothing really special about the churches so I guess I don’t really recommend it. Also, maybe coming from Europe, I feel our churches having nothing to offer compared to theirs. But still, it was nice seeing a little part of Iloilo.
It was already around 3pm when we finished our church tour and believe it or not, most food establishments we saw were closed and would open again at 5pm. Good thing we found Ramboy’s, this food place in Smallville complex. Honestly, the food here was way better than Tatoy’s! I highlight recommend this place for a quick fix. We had their lechon kawali, mixed seafood, gambas and Kare-Kare. Everything was good! Or maybe because we were so hungry then? But sill, I suggest you visit this place if you need some good food. We paid approximately P1000 for lunch.
Since we needed to kill time, we dropped by a nearby dessert place called Nothing but Desserts. Catchy title, noh? But the desserts aren’t that good. We had tea which was nice only because it’s from Numi then for the desserts, we had the red velvet cookie, red velvet bar and almond bar. I don’t recommend those three. What I do recommend is their calamansi gelato, which was really good and almost tasted like some sort of cheesecake. Though not as good as the real Italian gelato, that was the saving grace for this place. Tea + dessert would cost you less than P100.
All in all, there’s really nothing much to do in Iloilo. As my friend told us, we should go there for the food but unfortunately for me, I didn’t find the food there spectacular. Guimaras though is a different story. But at least I can say that I’ve been to Iloilo already. I can now cross that off my Philippine travel list.
Edit: Thank God we weren’t on the Cebu Pac flight from Iloilo at this time. So grateful for His protection.