Image by Splodin' Pandas (and Other Mishaps)
Iloilo is NOT Boracay and never will be. Most people who are thinking about how to beef up the Iloilo tourism industry are scratching their heads on how to position Iloilo to be the next tourist destination. They lament that Iloilo does not have pristine beaches, no white sands there, no major touristy delights like zip lines or the like, no major mountain resorts, no commercial spots that Manila does not have better, nothing but our old Spanish churches.
I, however, will beg to disagree. What Iloilo may lack in the "wow" factor in sights and sounds, it makes up, a hundred times over, in terms of the "wow" factor for the tastebuds. But more than that, Iloilo has everything that a man (or woman) in dire need of rest will need.
Here are the three reasons why I say that:
1. Iloilo is home to affordable accommodations. If Boracay bills its tourists "in dollars" for the chance to stay near its white, powdery sands, Iloilo bills the budget-wary traveler with rates that will allow him to party, in accommodations that are decent to great. The cheapest rooms are still at Php 500, and even good hotels charge around the Php 500 to Php 650 range, for an airconditioned room. If you're in for monthly/long-term accommodations, Iloilo's education hubs are home to boarding houses and dormitories that have rates half of Boracay's dormitories and apartments.
2. Iloilo's spas are so affordable, you could get massages at only Php 65. Got a crick in the neck that needs straightening? Head on over to Spa Riviera or Spa Riviera's Chair Spa. Spa Riviera is Iloilo's pioneer in the spa industry, and to this day, they are still the unbeatable best in overall spa experience. Quick massages start at that rate. If you want a massage that will leave you dreaming of returning, Salog Spa has a famed Php 200 massage. Other spas to try include Shana Lacs in General Luna, Nuat Thai, and new spas are opening as well. Expect to pay anywhere from Php 65 to Php 400. Uhuh. It's THAT cheap. And totally worth more than what you pay for.
3. The food. Need we say more praises to the food that will leave you yearning to return to Iloilo? From JD Roadhaus to Green Mango to Breakthrough to Bauhinia to Afriques to Al Dente to Terra. We assure you, as long as you're in Iloilo, you won't go hungry, and you won't be left irritated at paying for an overpriced, overhyped meal.
Iloilo, though more metropolitan than Dumaguete, still has that relaxed pace which tricks you into believing that time seems to run slower. This makes it perfect as a place to rest from the wear and tear of daily life. Coupled with the spas and the food havens, indeed, you'll be able to rest like a king in Iloilo.
You want the lazy days as rest from your life in a fast-paced city like Manila or Cebu. Or maybe you're coming in from another country and you're wondering what else the Philippines has to offer, aside from Boracay. Well, Iloilo may not have the amazing beaches, but it promises you rest, lazy days, and heart-stopping feasts in a land where time seems to stand still.