Tacloban City is the commercial center of Eastern Visayas, a region composed of three major beautiful islands: Samar, Leyte and Biliran. Samar is well-known for its amazing caves, rivers and rock formations, while Leyte and Biliran are famous for their pristine islets and white beaches. Though Tacloban, which is a highly urbanized city, doesn’t have the best natural tourist attractions, like huge caves and powdery white-sand beaches, the city is one of the places in Eastern Visayas every tourist shouldn’t miss to explore.
Through Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport (the biggest airport in Region 8), Tacloban is considered as the main gateway by air to any place in Eastern Visayas. Tourists from around the globe would probably set foot in the city when they travel to any place in the region.
Tacloban offers its own unique attractions and activities both for local and foreign tourists. You can even stay for weeks or months to explore this city dubbed as the City of Hope. So if you are thinking of what to do and where to go when you’re in Tacloban City, here are 12 things you can do within the city and nearby towns.
1. Cross and cruise San Juanico Bridge.
Dare to cross the longest bridge in the Philippines, which connects the islands of Samar and Leyte. When you’re standing or walking at the middle of the bridge, experience the vibrations when a heavy vehicle is passing. Remember that this engineering marvel is 2.16 kilometers long. So be prepared.
Try San Juanico Cruise to experience cruising along san Juanico Strait and see the marvellous bridge from the under. The organizers of San Juanico Cruise made a series of successful trial cruises last year. This year, with the help of investors, they are hoping to make this tourism project a full run.
2. Take a perfect picture of Leyte Provincial Capitol Building.
Capture the splendid neoclassical structure of Leyte Provincial Capitol Building located at the corner of Senator Enage Street and Magsaysay Boulevard in Tacloban City. Did you know that Tacloban became the capital of the Philippines from 20 October 1944 to 27 February 1945? While Manila was still under the control of the Japanese during WWII, the Capitol served as the temporary seat of the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines under President Sergio Osmeña.
3. Chill out at Kanhuraw Hill.
Enjoy the atmosphere in Kanhuraw Hill. Your visit in Tacloban wouldn’t be complete without visiting the City Hall of Tacloban. Unlike other city halls, Tacloban City Hall is situated at the top of Kanhuraw Hill, a relaxing spot in the city where you can relax and unwind while facing Kankabato Bay. It is also at Kanhuraw where you will find the infamous Madonna of Japan, a monument built as a symbol of friendship between the Japanese and Filipinos.
During holiday season, a huge Christmas tree is built in front of Tacloban City Hall. Kanhuraw Hill is an ideal place for families, teenagers, skaters, joggers and almost everyone who just want to chill out at the heart of the city. You can also walk down to Mags (short for Magsaysay Boulevard) with your pals to enjoy barbecues and drinks at night.
4. Visit the new Sto. Niño Church of Tacloban.
See the transformation of Sto. Niño Church. It was badly damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, but thanks to generous donors, especially Tzu Chi Foundation, the church was rebuilt. The church is considered as the main church of Tacloban City and home to the miraculous image of the Senor Santo Niño – the patron of the city.
Sto. Niño Church is only within a walking distance from Kanhuraw Hill. Hence, don’t forget to pay a visit, especially if you’re a Catholic devotee.
5. Discover what’s inside Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum.
Find out what’s inside Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum. It is located along Real Street beside the People’s Center Library. The mansion was built by President Ferdinand Marcos for his wife Imelda Romualdez Marcos. It is now under the custody of the government through PCGG. Inside, expect to see collections of luxurious artifacts, including paintings, furniture, religious relics, ivory sculptures and dioramas. You can even see Senator Bongbong Marcos’ school grades displayed in one of its rooms.
6. Witness the colorful Pintados and Sangyaw Festivals.
Enjoy a double treat of festivals in Tacloban. Watch the dazzling parade of lights of Sangyaw Festival held every night of June 29 – the night before the annual grand fiesta of the city, which is dedicated to Señor Santo Niño.
Moreover, watch and join the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival, a cultural-religious festival participated by delegates from different towns of Leyte and the Philippines. Pintados is based on the body-painting traditions of the ancient tattooed “pintados” warriors. Both festivals are organized in honor of Sr. Santo Niño.
7. Offer prayers for the people who died during Yolanda.
Pay a tribute to the Yolanda victims, as well as the survivors and heroes who have helped Tacloban, Leyte and Eastern Visayas rise again. Several Yolanda memorials were built, not only in Tacloban City, but also in other parts of the region to remember the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Visit M/V Eva Jocelyn Yolanda Memorial Marker in Brgy. Anibong and Astrodome Memorial Marker in Sagkahan (beside Tacloban Convention Center). You may also visit Holy Cross Memorial Park in Brgy. Basper to offer a prayer for the thousands of souls who died during Typhoon Yolanda.
8. Eat and party along Burgos Street.
Dine, drink, sing and party at the bars and restaurants along Burgos Street. The active nightlife in Tacloban is back! More than two years after Yolanda, establishments like hotels, restaurants, tea houses, coffee shops and bars have already increased in number. Just stroll along Burgos Street and you will find a lot of bars and restaurants to fulfill your food, drink and party needs. Of course you can try other nearby streets to find for more.
9. Enjoy Leyte’s mouth-watering delicacies.
Taste the famous Binagol and Chocolate Moron of Leyte. You can also try Sagmani. Then choose which among the three is your most favorite. Don’t forget to bring some pasalubong for your loved ones. These special foods are sold almost everywhere in the city, from the pasalubong centers in Zamora street and malls to the corners of Tacloban Airport.
10. Hike to the Stations of the Cross and see the overlooking view of Tacloban City.
Burn some calories and start a religious journey by hiking to the top of the Stations of the Cross in Calvary Hill, Siren District of Tacloban City. There are 14 Stations along the way. Each station has life-size sculptures depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion.
At the top of Calvary Hill is a huge statue of the resurrected Jesus Christ, facing the city of Tacloban from above like He was taking care of the city.
The best time to go to the Stations of the Cross is during the dry season from 4 pm to 5 pm, where sunlight is not already excruciatingly hot and where you can catch the incredible colors and cloud formations in the sky, as shown in the picture above.
11. Learn World History at MacArthur Park.
Visit MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Palo. See the Leyte Landing monument, which commemorates the landing of General Douglas MacArthur and the allied forces in Palo Beach in Leyte on 20 October 1944. The Leyte Landing is commemorated every year on the same date by Filipinos and World War II veterans around the world. The monument is one of the few landmarks in the Philippines that are shown in the Philippine money. You can see it at the face of 50 peso bill.
12. Take a side trip to Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park
Get on a nature-packed adventure at Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park in Basey, Samar. The town of Basey is less than an hour away from Tacloban City. You and your friends can enjoy river cruising, caving, trekking, kayaking, swimming and other adrenaline-pumping activities all in one day.
Sohoton Natural Bridge and National Park is an 841-hectare protected area, containing the popular Sohoton Caves, the golden river, lush green forests, limestone formations and the natural stone bridge which connects two mountains.
Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City is one of the busiest airports in the country. There are several flights daily from Manila (NAIA) or Cebu (Mactan–Cebu International Airport) to Tacloban. Tacloban City is also home to many hotels and private resorts.
For more information about tourism and travel in Tacloban City and Eastern Visayas, you may visit the office of the Department of Tourism Region VIII at Magsaysay Blvd, Kanhuraw Hill or their temporary office at Leyte Park Resort Compound in Tacloban City. You may also contact them at +63(53)832-0901 and +639988889715.
So have you been to Tacloban City? Have you already experienced all the things above? What other fantastic activities and amazing places in the city can you recommend to us? Feel free to make a comment below. And of course, don’t forget to share this post to your friends and loved ones.