Visayas, home to some of the world’s best destinations (as recognized by international travel magazines), never fails to attract both local and foreign tourists. While it’s true that it’s popular for the attractions like Boracay and Cebu, there are so many beautiful Visayas tourist spots that are still waiting to be discovered.

18 Must-Visit Visayas Tourist Spots

From the fine white sand of Boracay to the mystic province of Siquijor, Visayas region will surely satisfy your wanderlust. Here are some of the must-visit Visayas tourist attractions.

  1. Boracay – One of the world’s best islands
  2. Bantayan Island – A place of calm and peace with a view.
  3. Chocolate Hills – Jaw-dropping cone-shaped hills in Bohol.
  4. Panglao Island – One of the best Visayas tourist destinations when it comes to beaches.
  5. Cambugahay Falls – A majestic waterfall in Siquijor.
  6. Malapascua Island – Home of the unspoiled white sand beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and rich marine life.
  7. Oslob – A famous place in Visayas for diving because of the whale sharks there.
  8. Kalanggaman Island – The smaller version of Boracay.
  9. Lakawon Island – One of the most beautiful places in Visayas for beach-lovers.
  10. Gigantes Island – A set of islands that make up a paradise of pristine beaches, clear water, and huge rock formations.
  11. The Ruins – One of the historical places in Visayas. Taj Mahal of the Philippines.
  12. Salagdoong Beach – A perfect place to visit in Visayas for picture-taking, chilling, and cliff jumping.
  13. Moalboal – The place where you can dive with millions of sardines.
  14. Sirao Flower Garden – A garden full of colorful flowers.
  15. Kawasan Falls – A famous waterfall in Cebu where you can go canyoneering.
  16. Hinagdanan Cave – It features a pool of clear water where you can swim under the stunning stalactites and stalagmites. 
  17. Biri Island – A famous tourist spot in Visayas featuring rock formations.
  18. Loboc River – Buffet lunch on the river.

What’s inside this blog?

Read this travel guide to discover the best tourist spot in Visayas that will not just make its way to your Instagram feed but also to your heart. 

Best Visayas Tourist Spots

1. Boracay – Aklan

boracay visayas tourist spots

Oh, Boracay. Does this island even need an introduction? Boracay is not just a famous Western Visayas tourist spot but it’s popular all over the world. What makes travelers visit this island paradise is, well…a lot! From the finest white sand, cerulean waters, fun water activities, and amazing nightlife, Boracay will surely captivate you.

Must-read: Boracay Tips: Everything You Need to Know Before Traveling to Boracay

2. Bantayan Island – Cebu

bantayan island cebu magagandantang tanawin sa pilipinas

If you’re looking for peace and quiet with a view, Bantayan Island is what paradise dreams are made of. It is a place where you can find calmness and serenity in spite of the numerous tourists who travel there every day. Once you step out of your boat and walk to Bantayan’s fine white sand, you’ll be welcomed by fresh air and crashing waves of its clear blue waters that become a perfect harmony letting you hear the sound of nature. Because of these, Bantayan is considered as one of the most beautiful Cebu tourist spots.

3. Chocolate Hills – Bohol

chocolate hills bohol visayas tourist spots

Another tourist destination in Visayas that will make your jaw drop is the Chocolate Hills in Bohol. Undoubtedly the most famous Bohol tourist destination and the province’s face, Chocolate Hills is composed of more than 1,000 symmetrical mounds, conical and dome-shaped that most people liken them to Hershey’s Kisses. It is called the Chocolate Hills not because it’s made of chocolate but because of its color.

In the rainy season, the grass blanketing the hills gives them a soft and lush appearance. While in the summer, the vegetation dies off and turns to a chocolatey brown hue, giving them their name. For a more detailed guide to Chocolate Hills, read this.

Suggested read: Unfolding the Majestic Beauty of Chocolate Hills in Bohol

4. Panglao Island – Bohol

panglao island bohol visayas tourist spots

Bohol tourist spots fit every traveler’s taste and if you’re the type of traveler who loves the beach, you’ll definitely enjoy Panglao Island. Known for its white-sand beaches and diving sites, Panglao Island never disappoints its visitors. Aside from the stunning beaches, its marine life makes it a great snorkeling and diving spot as well.

5. Cambugahay Falls – Siquijor

cambugahay falls siquijor tourist spots

Located in the town of Lazi in Siquijor, Cambugahay Falls is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines. Cambugahay Falls is a catch for tourists because of its turquoise clean and warm water originating from natural springs. Its water will invite you to plunge in, the moment you see it. If you want a more thrilling experience, jump on the cliff there or dive into the waters using the swing. 

Related article: 10 Siquijor Tourist Spots That’ll Make You Walk Straight Into A Beautiful Trap

6. Malapascua Island – Cebu

malapascua island cebu visayas tourist spots

While the island’s name means “Bad Easter,” this place is far from giving you a bad experience. Malapascua Island is a great destination for both divers and non-divers. You won’t get disappointed upon seeing its unspoiled white sand beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and rich marine life. That’s why it has caught the attention of travelers across the world and eventually gained the title of being one of the Philippines’ best diving spots.

7. Oslob – Cebu

oslob cebu tourist spot in the philippines

If you’re looking for the best tourist spot in Visayas that offers a great diving experience, don’t miss Oslob in Cebu. There you can watch the gentle giants also known as whale sharks or if you’re adventurous enough, you can also swim with them to get a closer encounter. 

8. Kalanggaman Island – Leyte

kalanggaman island visayas tourist spots

Kalanggaman Island in Leyte is said to be a smaller version of Boracay. What sets it apart from other beaches are its charming sandbars and the lack of crowds. The island is an ideal place to lounge around or take a dip in the water. You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards. 

9. Lakawon Island – Bacolod

Lakawon Island visayas tourist spots

Lakawon Island is one of the most famous Western Visayas tourist spots. This place is perfect for those who are looking for a short trip away from the city. Lakawon is a 13-hectare banana-shaped island where Asia’s biggest floating bar is situated. The island is famous for its pristine white beach and clear blue water.

10. Gigantes Island – Iloilo

chicken inasal visayas tourist spots

After visiting other famous Western Visayas tourist spots, make sure to include Gigantes Island, also known as Islas de Gigantes, in your itinerary. It is a set of islands that make up a paradise of pristine beaches, clear water, and huge rock formations. But what truly sets it apart are its stunning, secluded beaches. From the city proper, Gigantes Islands is a five-hour trip. It’s untouched beauty is one of Iloilo’s best kept secrets.

11. The Ruins – Bacolod

the ruins bacolod tourist spot in the philippines

The most famous Bacolod tourist destination is The Ruins. Find out the love story of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga through The Ruins, a mansion that was burned during the war and now turned into a famous historical place in Bacolod City. It is the Philippines’ version of Taj Mahal. Don Mariano built the mansion in honor of his beloved wife. And as proof of his unwavering love for Maria, he had their initials molded on every post of the mansion. You’ll see the two Ms, facing each other, that stands for Mariano and Maria. Because of its story, The Ruins is considered one of the historical places in Visayas.

Related article: Top 8 Bacolod Tourist Spots Every Traveler Must Not Miss

12. Salagdoong Beach – Siquijor

Salagdoong Beach siquijor tourist spots

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Even with man-made structures at Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor, it maintained its natural charm thanks to the rock formations surrounding it. This tourist destination in Visayas is perfect for picture-taking, chilling, and cliff jumping.

13. Moalboal – Cebu

moalboal cebu visayas tourist spots

Just around 2-3 hours south of Cebu City, Moalboal is a favorite destination of water lovers, specifically scuba and free divers. This Visayas tourist spot with description is best known for its amazing sardine run, wherein millions of sardines form bait balls. What makes this spectacle magical is that the sardines don’t leave the shallows of Panagsama Beach.

You can see them year-round, whether you’re diving deep or just snorkeling. A lot of sea turtles can also be spotted in the area. Because of its beauty, this place is now one of the most popular Visayas tourist spots.

Must-read: 7 Best Places for Cebu Island Hopping

14. Sirao Flower Garden – Cebu

sirao flower farm cebu temple of leah

Sirao Flower Garden is one of the top Cebu attractions. You can find different kinds of flowers in the farm like Celosia. There’s an entrance fee of PHP 20. Although the flowers are worth checking out, be prepared as the place can get crowded due to flocking tourists who wish to have a good photo at the farm, too. Nevertheless, this Visayas tourist attraction is a must-visit.

15. Kawasan Falls – Cebu

kawasan falls cebu visayas tourist spots

Kawasan Falls  is a three-stage cascade of clear turquoise water from the mountain springs of Mantalongon mountain range and one of the top Cebu tourist spots. Aside from its natural beauty, Kawasan Falls has also become famous because one of the most popular activities in Cebu is done there— Canyoneering.

The canyoneering adventure starts at Canlaob river downstream going to Kawasan Falls. There are local accredited guides who accompany all tourists and facilitate activities such as walking, jumping, swimming, climbing and abseiling through the streams.

Suggested read: Kawasan Falls: A Spectacle of Nature’s Grandeur and Charm

16. Hinagdanan Cave – Bohol

hinagdanan cave bohol visayas tourist spots

Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful Bohol tourist attractions is Hinagdanan Cave. It features a pool of clear water where you can swim under the stunning stalactites and stalagmites. 

Located in Dauis, it is said to have been accidentally discovered by a farmer who built a ladder to access the cave, thus the name. The light filters through the cave entrance, filling the whole area with a soothing and otherworldly glow. Don’t miss Hinagdanan Cave as it’s one of the most beautiful Visayas tourist attractions.

17. Biri Island – Samar

biri rock formations

Biri Island in Northern Samar is another beautiful place in Visayas you shouldn’t miss. It’s famous for its rock formations such as the six major rock formations on the island: Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlaw, Puhunan, Bel-at, and Caranas. Make your trip even more fun by swimming at the natural pools of Bel-at. If you want a more thrilling activity, you can also dive into the Garon Wall, a popular dive site on the island.

18. Loboc River – Bohol

loboc river cruise bohol visayas tourist spots

A Bohol tour wouldn’t be complete without hopping on the famous Loboc River Cruise. Tour guides usually bring their guests here for lunch while exploring the Loboc River. In the middle of the tour, your cruise will stop by at a place where the locals will play musical instruments and perform traditional dances. Make sure to add Loboc River to your itinerary as this is one of Visayas beautiful places.

Must-read: 15 Best Bohol Tourist Spots Every First-Timer Should Visit


Best Time to Visit Visayas

Since the Philippines is a tropical country, and the Visayas region has so many pristine beaches and islands to see, we suggest you schedule your trip during the summer or dry season. It’s from March to May.


Must-Try Food in Visayas

When you’re done exploring the historical places in Visayas or other insta-worthy Visayas tourist destinations, it’s so much more rewarding when you’re munching on the best dishes! Here are the must-try foods in Visayas.

Cebu Lechon

lechon cebu

This is a famous Filipino food not just to Pinoys but also to foreigners. Lechon is a whole roasted pig usually served on special occasions. It’s kind of expensive, that’s why when you see lechon on an occasion, it must be grand. 

What people love about lechon is its crispy skin and juicy meat which is best paired with liver sauce. Anthony Bourdain claimed that this is the best pig ever! He wouldn’t say this for nothing right?

Humba

humba visayas tourist spots

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Another delicacy from Visayas is Humba. It is the popular braised pork dish whose name directly translates to tender pork.

It’s quite similar to adobo because Humba also uses ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions, peppercorns, and laurel, Humba differentiates itself with the addition of pineapple juice and or sugar.

Piaya

piaya visayas tourist spots

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

When people think of what pasalubong to bring home from Negros, piaya is on top of mind. This delicacy is a flaky unleavened bread filled with sweet muscovado sugar. There are also other variants like ube (purple yam) and chocolate piaya.

Kansi

kansi pagkaing pilipino

If you love sinigang and bulalo, you’ll definitely love Kansi, too! Kansi is an Ilonggo dish that is a combination of sinigang and bulalo. But the sour taste overpowers the soup. The meat is the same as bulalo using beef shank and bone marrow. Kansi is one of the must-try Filipino dishes in the Philippines!

Chicken Inasal

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

chicken inasal visayas tourist spots

This dish is basically a grilled chicken but this is not the ordinary grilled chicken you’ll see everywhere. If you want to taste the authentic chicken inasal, you should go to Bacolod. It’s where the dish originated. They marinate the chicken soy sauce, vinegar, and different spices that make Bacolod chicken inasal unique. They also use chicken oil to pair with rice. 

Must-read: A Taste of Filipino Food: 10 Pinoy Dishes That Will Have You Drooling

Travel Tips When Visiting Visayas Tourist Spots

  • Wear sunblock
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes depending on your destination
  • Always bring cash for emergency as there are some places that don’t have ATMs nearby
  • Always bring extra clothes especially when trying a water activity
  • The weather can be so unpredictable so bring a hat or a folding umbrella

Where to Stay in Visayas

Isn’t it so much better when you’re staying at a comfortable hotel after visiting famous places in Visayas? Here’s a list of budget hotels in Visayas you can check out.

Boracay budget hotels

Matt Guesthouse
Price from PHP 1,800/night
Address: 0158 Cagban, Manoc-Manoc, Malay, Aklan
Amenities: Baggage Storage, 24h Security, No Parking, Air Conditioning, Free WiFi, Hot Shower

Book now

One Hagdan Villas
Price from PHP 29,000/night
Address: 299 Sitio Hagdan, Hagdan Hills View, Yapak, Malay, Aklan
Amenities: Swimming Pool, Wheelchair Access, Airport Shuttle (Extra Cost), Ironing Facilities (Extra Cost), Baggage Storage, Shared Lounge / TV Area, Designated Smoking Area, 24h Security, SPA (Massage), No Parking, Air Conditioning, Hot Shower, Free WiFi

Book now


Cebu budget hotels

ZEN Premium Banilad
Price from PHP 1,500/night
Address: Gov. M. Cuenco, Banilad, Cebu City
Amenities: 24h Front Desk, 24h Room Service, Parking, Hotel Spa, Fitness Center, Hotel Restaurant, Wheelchair Access, Ironing Facilities, Airport Shuttle (Extra Cost), Elevator, Concierge, Tour Desk, Baggage Storage, Shared Lounge / TV Area, 24h Security, Designated Smoking Area, Laundry, Swimming Pool

Book now

Alicia Tower
Price from PHP 850/night
Address: Gov. M. Cuenco, Banilad, Cebu City
Amenities: 24h Front Desk, Parking, Fitness Center, Hotel Restaurant, Baggage Storage, Shared Lounge / TV Area, Laundry (Extra Cost), Dry Cleaning (Extra Cost), Designated Smoking Area, 24h Security, Bottled Water, Swimming Pool, Elevator

Book now

Frequently Asked Questions About Visayas Tourist Spots

Q: Where should I go in Visayas Philippines?
A: Here’s a list of tourist spots in Visayas every traveler must visit.

  • Boracay
  • Bantayan Island 
  • Chocolate Hills 
  • Panglao Island 
  • Cambugahay Falls 
  • Malapascua Island 
  • Oslob
  • Kalanggaman Island 
  • Lakawon Island
  • Gigantes Island 
  • The Ruins
  • Salagdoong Beach
  • Moalboal
  • Sirao Flower Garden
  • Kawasan Falls
  • Hinagdanan Cave
  • Biri Island
  • Loboc River

Q: What can tourists do within Visayas?
A: Visayas has a lot to offer to its visitors. Here are some of the most fun activities to try in Visayas:

  1. Swimming
  2. Island-hopping
  3. Diving
  4. Snorkelling
  5. Caving
  6. Hiking
  7. Food-tripping
  8. Canyoneering 

Q: What is Visayas known for?
A: While Visayas seems small compared to its neighboring island groups—namely Luzon and Mindanao—this island group should not be underestimated. One of its small, scattered islands witnessed an important historical event, and the Visayas Region is also home to a number of pristine, white sand beaches.

Q: Where are the best Western Visayas tourist spots? 
A: Here’s a list of the beautiful Region 6 Western Visayas tourist spots you shouldn’t miss:

  1. Boracay
  2. The Ruins
  3. Lakawon Island
  4. Negros Museum
  5. Antique
  6. Capiz
  7. Gigantes Islands
  8. Museo Iloilo
  9. Balay Negrense
  10. San Sebastian Cathedral

Q: Is Bohol open for tourists?
A: Yes, Bohol is open for travelers but local tourists planning to visit Bohol Province will only be allowed to explore the COVID-free island Panglao according to Governor Arthur Yap. 

More travel updates here: Latest Philippines Tourism News

Q: What are the Central Visayas points of interest?
A: If you’re planning to visit the most popular Visayan region which is the Central Visayas, you will not regret it. The Central Visayas points of interest are the following:

  1. Cebu City
  2. Bantayan Island
  3. Malapascua Island
  4. Oslob
  5. Kawasan Falls
  6. Panglao Island
  7. Man-made forest in Bohol
  8. Hinagdanan Cave
  9. Loboc River
  10. Balicasag Island 

Q: What are the Western Visayas points of interest?
A: Visayan region is something that travelers must visit at least once as it offers lots of beautiful places in Visayas. The Western Visayas points of interest are the following:

  1. Boracay
  2. Iloilo City
  3. Gigantes Island
  4. Bacolod
  5. Capiz

Q: What are the best region 6 tourist spots?
A: There are many places to visit in Visayas and among the most popular part is the Region 6. Here are the most beautiful region 6 tourist spots:

  1. The Ruins
  2. Lakawon Island
  3. Negros Museum
  4. Balay Negrense
  5. Mambukal Mountain Resort
  6. Pulang Tubig Falls
  7. San Sebastian Cathedral
  8. Bernardino Jalandoni Museum
  9. Gigantes Island
  10. Miag-ao Church
  11. Garin Farm
  12. Calle Real
  13. Molo Church
  14. Iloilo River Esplanade
  15. Concepcion Islands

Q: What are the best region 8 tourist spots?
A: Here are the most beautiful best region 8 tourist spots:

  1. Kalanggaman Island
  2. Mount Pangasugan Ecopark
  3. Napantao Fish Sanctuary
  4. Canigao Island
  5. Tongonan Hot Spring
  6. Lake Danao National Park
  7. San Juanico Bridge

Q: What are the best Bohol region 6 tourist spots?
A: Bohol is part of the stunning Visayas island and is one of the most visited places in the Philippines. Here are the most beautiful Bohol region 6 tourist spots:

  1. Panglao Island
  2. Chocolate Hills
  3. Hinagdanan Cave
  4. Loboc River
  5. Bamboo Hanging Bridge
  6. Man-Made Forest
  7. Anda Beach
  8. Blood Compact Shrine 
  9. Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary
  10. Danao Adventure Park 
  11. Balicasag Island 
  12. Baclayon Church
  13. Dimiao Twin Waterfalls
  14. Alona Beach
  15. The Mirror of the World

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

Dinagyang is a Hiligaynon word that means “merrymaking.” Just like the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan Festivals, Dinagyang Festival is one of the religious festivities in the Philippines that celebrates the feast of the Santo Niño and the pact between the Datus and locals.

Every 4th Sunday of January, the festival transforms the Iloilo City into a massive street party with overflowing drinks and food. The most exciting part is that the city hosts a highly competitive Dinagyang Festival dance contest and grand float parades.

ZEN Rooms Quarantine Hotels

Dinagyang Festival Activities

Dinagyang is one of the most-awaited festivals in the Philippines because of its fun, lively, and colorful celebration. Here are some of the fun activities you should experience at the Dinagyang Festival:

  1. Floats Parade of Lights
  2. Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
  3. Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition
  4. Ilonggo Dinagyang Arts Festival
  5. Miss Iloilo Pageant
  6. Ilonggo Food festival
  7. Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika

What’s inside this blog?


Dinagyang Festival History

The Dinagyang festival history started in 1967 when an Augustinian priest from Cebu gave a replica image of the Santo Niño as a birthday gift to a fellow Augustinian priest in Iloilo. Since then, a novena mass was held every Friday at the San Jose Parish Church.

In 1969, a competition was organized similar to the popular Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo town in Aklan province. That time, the Dinagyang was known as “Iloilo Ati-Atihan.”

“Dinagyang” became the official name almost a decade later when radio broadcaster Pacifico Sudario insisted on using a local word to distinguish the festival from the well-known Ati-Atihan of Kalibo. 

Another thing to note is that the Dinagyang Festival performances are anchored on a folkloric story about the Barter of Panay. The story revolves around how 10 Bornean datus and their families fled a tyrannical ruler in Borneo early in the 13th century and sailed towards the island of Panay. When they arrived, the Borneans bargained with the native Atis to occupy the lowlands. To celebrate the barter, the Borneans painted their bodies with soot and danced with the Atis.

Because of the remarkable celebration, Dinagyang Festival has been famous not just in the Philippines, but across the world.


Dinagyang Festival 2021 Schedule of Activities

The Dinagyang Festival 2021 activities will push through despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Iloilo festival in 2021 will be different from the previous years as some of the activities will be held on-ground, while some will be held online.

  • January 10-17 – Pinta sa Kapiestahan (JCI Iloilo) | Atria Park District
  • January 15, 5PM – Pamukaw sa Virtual Opening Salvo 2021 | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 17 – Dinagyang Fun Bike Ride | Iloilo Business Park-Megaworld
  • January 18-24 – Iloilo Dinagyang 2021 MarketMarket (PCCI) | SM City Iloilo Activity Center
  • January 18-24 – One Iloilo, One Dinagyang Trade Fair | Festive Mall Iloilo
  • January 18-24 – Dinagyang Costume Exhibit | SM City Iloilo North Point
  • January 18 – Dinagyang Fantasy Make-Up Contest | Robinson’s Place Jaro Activity Center
  • January 20 – Dinagyang Drumbeats | Robinson’s Place Iloilo Fountain Area
  • January 22, 2PM – Sto. Nino Religious Motorcade (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | San Jose Parish Church – Iloilo City main streets
  • January 22-24 – Dinagyang Foodfest | Iloilo Convention Center (Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market & IHRA); 
    City Time Square (Street Food Night Market Drive Thru); SM City Iloilo (Batchoy Festival) and 
    ATRIA Park District (Tienda)
  • January 23, 9AM-11AM – Dagyang sa Calle Real Time (Rotary Club of Iloilo South) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 23, 5:30PM – Dinagyang Warrior Fashion Show | Festive Mall Iloilo
  • January 23, 7PM – Virtual Religious Sadsad 2021 (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 24, 7AM – Virtual Dinagyang Mass 2021 (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 24, Sunday, Morning – One Dinagyang Digital Presentation | GMA Regional TV 6,  Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)
  • January 24, 6PM – Virtual Awarding Ceremony (IFFI & San Jose Parish) | Online Stream: www.iloilofestivals.com (Dinagyang Social Media Pages)

Main Highlights of the Festival in Iloilo

  • Floats Parade of Lights
  • Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
  • Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition

Dinagyang Festival 2021 Guide

There is no room for dead air and boredom in Dinagyang Festival 2021 when the thunderous drum beats, heart-pounding chants, and world-class Dinagyang Festival dance performances begin. And when you’re in Iloilo for the festival, keep these tips in mind to make the most out of your festival experience!

1. Research 
Don’t just book that flight and travel to Iloilo empty-handed. Find out the most Instagrammable spots, where to eat, and the best places to stay in Iloilo. Read also some things about Dinagyang. Trust us, you’ll enjoy the festivity more if you know and absorb the true Dinagyang Festival meaning.

2. Bring water
Don’t let yourself dehydrated. Always bring a water bottle with you because for sure, you will get tired from the endless but convivial walks, dances, and parties throughout the day!

3. Wear appropriate clothes
Comfort is key to a more fun festival experience! Wear clothes that are light and comfortable enough for you to move freely. Also, if you don’t want to have calluses at the end of the day, avoid wearing heels. Choose a comfortable but tough pair of shoes to keep your feet clean and safe.

4. Wear sunscreen
Unless you want to get a tan, protect your skin from harmful UV rays of the sun by putting on sunblock. 

5. Book your accommodations in Iloilo early
Dinagyang Festival is one of the country’s biggest festivals so expect that many tourists around the world will visit Iloilo during this time. We suggest that you book your accommodations in Iloilo as early as today.


Must-visit Iloilo tourist spots

Here are some of the top attractions in Iloilo every traveler must visit.

  1. Gigantes Islands
  2. Miag-ao Church
  3. Garin Farm
  4. Nadsadjan Falls
  5. Calle Real
  6. Molo Church
  7. Iloilo River Esplanade
  8. Pawikan Cave
  9. Concepcion Islands
  10. Tangke Lagoon

For the full list of Iloilo tourist spots, read this: 18 Must-Visit Iloilo Tourist Spots That Will Capture Your Heart

The real Dinagyang Festival meaning is not just about the grand street dance, a parade of floats, and partying but about the celebration in honor of Santo Niño. Through Dinagyang, Ilonggos did not just prove the world how artistic Filipinos are but also show the values and unity of the community.


Iloilo Tourism Guidelines 2021 | COVID-19 Updates

As of April 2021, traveling to Iloilo is allowed but travelers must comply with the following requirements:

What you need:

  1. Get coordination through the s-pass system https://s-pass.ph/
  2. RT-PCR test upon arrival
  3. Passengers will be required to upload soft or scanned copies of their pre-travel requirements. Once verified, you will be given a QR Code indicating the local government’s approval of their travel to Iloilo City. Ensure that you have a copy of the QR Code, whether soft or hard copy of the same which shall be presented for scanning upon their arrival at the ports of entry of Iloilo City.
  4. Get a Travel Coordination Permit (TCP) through the S-PaSS Travel Management System by submitting the following requirements: 

ILOILO CITY RESIDENTS AND/OR THOSE STAYING WITH ILOILO CITY RESIDENTS
Get a Certificate of Residency from their respective Barangays in Iloilo City 

NON-RESIDENTS OF ILOILO CITY
Copy of hotel or accommodation establishment booking

APOR (staying in Iloilo for not more than 24 hours)

  1. Negative RT-PCR (OPS / NPS) Test Result showing that the date of specimen extraction was made not more than three (3) days prior to the date of travel
  2. Identification Card
  3. Travel Order
  4. Travel Itinerary
  5. Must pass symptom-screening at ports of entry and exit
  6. Accomplish official business in Iloilo City within twenty-four (24) hours from arrival.

APORs traveling for medical purposes must secure a certification from a physician, hospital or medically qualified healthcare provider indicating the medical services or procedures. 

ALL OTHER INDIVIDUALS ARRIVING IN ILOILO CITY (LSIs, ROFs, APORs staying in Iloilo City for more than 24 hours, and Persons on Non-essential Travel / Tourists)

  1. Upon arrival in Iloilo City, passengers shall be subject to NPS/OPS RT-PCR Testing at the airport.
  2. After the RT-PCR testing, individuals must observe strict self-quarantine until a negative RT-PCR test result is issued. The self-quarantine may be observed in either the following: at home, at hotels/accommodation establishments, or at the government quarantine facilities.
  3. Individuals who are confirmed COVID-19 positive shall comply with the instructions of local health authorities.

For more travel updates, visit Iloilo City Tourism’s Facebook page.


Frequently Asked Questions About Dinagyang Festival

Q: What is the Dinagyang Festival description?

A: Dinagyang is a Hiligaynon word that means “merrymaking.” Just like the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan Festivals, Dinagyang Festival is one of the religious festivities in the Philippines that celebrates the feast of the Santo Niño and the pact between the Datus and locals.

Q: Why is Dinagyang Festival celebrated?

A: Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo is an important event in the Philippines just like other festivals. The festival is held to show reverence of Santo Niño as well as to mark the arrival of Malay immigrants.

Q: Where is Dinagyang Festival celebrated?

A: The Dinagyang Festival place of origin is Iloiloi that’s why it is celebrated there.

Q: When is Dinagyang Festival celebrated?

A: This Iloilo festival is celebrated every 4th Sunday of January.

Q: Who is the patron of Dinagyang Festival?

A: Just like the Sinulog and Ati-Atihan Festivals, Dinagyang Festival is one of the religious festivities in the Philippines that celebrates the feast of the Santo Niño and the pact between the Datus and locals.

Q: How do we celebrate Dinagyang festival?

A: Every 4th Sunday of January, the festival transforms the Iloilo City into a massive street party with overflowing drinks and food. The most exciting part is that the city hosts a highly competitive Dinagyang Festival dance contest and grand float parades.

Q: What activities to do in Dinagyang Festival?

A: When attending Dinagyang Festival, make sure you wouldn’t miss these fun activities:

  1. Floats Parade of Lights
  2. Festive Parade Sponsors Mardi Gras
  3. Dinagyang 360° Tribe Competition
  4. Ilonggo Dinagyang Arts Festival
  5. Miss Iloilo Pageant
  6. Ilonggo Food festival
  7. Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

Built in 1786, Miagao Church, also known as the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Miagao Iloilo. More than a place of worship, it also served as a fortress. Hence, it is called the Baroque fortress church.

It was designed with the baroque features with touches of Chinese and Filipino style imposing designs, ornaments and motifs, making it a one of a kind church. That’s why the Miag ao Church architecture is among the Philippines’ most beautiful architectural gems. Its old structure, history, and its UNESCO World Heritage mark make it a treasure not only for Iloilo but for the Philippines.

Throughout the years, it has gone to many wars and revolutions, fires and earthquakes and survived. Miagao Church also stands as a living legacy of the culture and way of life of the people of Miagao centuries ago.

What’s inside this blog?

Miagao Church History

detailed miagao church architecture

Before Miag ao Church, there were two churches that were built in town but both were burned by Muslim raiders and pirates. 

It was just in 1786 when the construction of Miag ao Church Iloilo started and completed in 1797. Since then, it served two purposes: a place of worship and a fortress against Muslim raiders. 

For centuries since 1797, Miag ao Church was not only a garrison of the Christian faith but also an indomitable refuge for citizens during the Spanish-Moro wars. Battle after battle, its walls stood steadfast like San Cristobal under the weight of a centuries-long struggle. 

During the revolution in 1898, the church was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt in the same year. In 1910, the church was damaged by fire. While in 1948, it was damaged by an earthquake and the restoration was completed in 1962. Due to the disasters and calamities, it went through, Miag ao Church underwent restoration work several times already. 

In 1974, Miag ao Church Iloilo was declared as a National Landmark. And in 1993 it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Miagao Church being one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites

facade of church of santo tomas de villanueva

Now that you know the history of Miagao Church, let’s talk about it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UNESCO has chosen Miagao Church as one of the World Heritage Sites because it exhibits various architectural designs with the predominance of baroque architecture and local artistic elements. 

The church’s foundation runs 20 feet deep into the ground, and it’s one-and-a-half-meter thick walls are reinforced with four meter-thick buttresses. As the town of Miagao was constantly invaded by the “Moros” for almost a decade in the mid-18th century, the church had to be moved to a more secure place, so a new fortified church was then built at the highest point of the town to guard against potential invaders. But what makes this church even more special is its unique ochre color.

The church was built using a combination of Spanish Baroque and Romanesque Early Medieval architectural styles, with the addition of Chinese, Muslim, and local Filipino elements in the decoration of its facade. For instance, St. Christopher is wearing a traditional Filipino attire, and it’s surrounded by decorations like papaya and palm trees which are very common in the country. The Miagao Church’s distinctive yellow-ochre color comes from the inclusion of coral, ground into dust, and egg whites in the mixture for the adobes. Egg whites are customarily used by Spaniards to make mortar for their churches, in order to make the mixture more durable.

The adobe used in building the church is made from silt and clay that can only be found in this part of Iloilo, giving also the building a unique warm-yellowish glow. The towering buttresses from the side of the church walls are typical of the “earthquake baroque” design reminiscent of churches in Ilocos, particularly Panay Church and Vigan Cathedral, while the church’s simple interior is highlighted by a striking gold-plated retablo.

The church is what put Miagao on the map. 

Places you can visit near Miagao Church

1. Islas de Gigantes

tourists arriving at islas de gigantes

After visiting the prominent church, make sure to include Islas de Gigantes in your itinerary. It is a set of islands that make up a paradise of pristine beaches, clear water, and huge rock formations. But what truly sets it apart are its stunning, secluded beaches. From the city proper, Islas de Gigantes is a five-hour trip. It’s untouched beauty is one of Iloilo’s best kept secrets.

2. Camiña Balay Nga Bato

Facade of Camiña Balay Nga Bato iloilo

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Aside from being known as the home of the sweetest and softhearted people, Iloilo is also filled with history from the old churches and ancestral houses. One of the most famous ancestral houses is the Camiña Balay Nga Bato. It was built in 1860 and was strategically located beside the river to have easy transportation of the family’s business of hand-woven textile products.

While learning its history, you can sip a hot chocolate that they’re also famous for, or dine at the restaurant, or just shop for pasalubongs.

3. Nelly’s Garden

facade of the nelly's garden in iloilo
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1928 by Ilonggo Statesman Don Vicente Lopez and Doña Elena Hofileña. The Beaux Art Mansion was named after their first daughter. It is called the “Queen of Heritage Houses.” An icon of old Iloilo Grandeur. It is a mansion where you can experience what it’s like to live like the aristocrats in the old times. There’s also a shop inside where you can buy pasalubongs.

4. Miagao Rice Terraces

Surprisingly, there are many rice terraces in the Philippines, not just only in Ifugao. In fact, Miagao has its own. Miagao Rice Terraces is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the province. Situated in Cabalaunan village, Miagao Rice Terraces covers a 500-hectare rice fields with beautiful terraces carved in perpendicular slopes that will surely engulf the mountain climbers.

It was built with minimal equipment, mostly by the meticulous hands of its inhabitants in order to adapt to its mountainous environment.

How to get to Miagao Church

There are three ways to reach Sto. Tomas de Villanueva parish church or Miag-ao Church in Iloilo: by plane, ship, and bus.

By plane

From Manila, there are direct flights to Iloilo that will take around 50 minutes of travel time. Upon arrival, you can ride a shuttle van or taxi going to Iloilo City. 

By ship

From Manila Ports, you can reach Iloilo Domestic Port, located along General Hughes St., in about 20 hours.

By bus

There are also buses from Manila bound for Iloilo City. The terminals are located in Cubao and Pasay. These buses will then ride the roro (roll-on-roll-off) services going to Iloilo. 

Upon arrival in Iloilo, there are many available transportation services that can tour you around. There are taxis, jeepneys, and vans. From the city proper, it will take about 45 minutes to reach Miag-ao Church.

Miagao Church history proved us that no matter how many times we fall for the challenges we face over time, we can still recover. This church stands proud, a testament to resilience and faith of its people.

After visiting the simbahan ng Miagao sa Iloilo and you’re looking for budget hotels to stay at, make sure to only book the best ones. Check out www.zenrooms.com to enjoy quality accommodation at a very affordable price.

Frequently Asked Questions About Miagao Church

Q: Saan matatagpuan ang simbahan ng Miag-ao?

A: Matatagpuan ang simbahan ng Miag-ao, o ang simbahan ng Santo Tomas de Villanueva, sa bayan ng Miag-ao sa Iloilo.

Q: When was Miagao Church built?

A: Sto Tomas de Villanueva church also known as simbahan ng Miag-ao was built in 1786.

Q: How long is the travel time from Iloilo City to Miagao?

A: Simbahan ng Miagao is 30 to 45 minutes away from Iloilo City. 

Q: What is the medium or materials of Molo Church?

A: The medium or materials of Molo Church are coral rocks, affixed with a mortar made from egg whites mixed with sand, and dubbed as “women’s church” because of the presence of 16 images of women saints inside.

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.