Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, is a large urban area in the Philippines. Ravaged by a devastating Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in 2013, the city has impressively restored its vitality since then and has become more tourist-friendly.
As people say, “The worst of things bring the best out of them,” the renovation plans post the tragic cyclone strengthened the city and its people, besides adding a new charm to the city.
Although the gateway to the Eastern Visayas region, it was overlooked by tourists for many years. However, people now book flights to Tacloban to explore the renovated city. From exploring the historical monuments, natural and man-made attractions to Filipino food, let’s look at the top things to do in Tacloban on your vacation to the Philippines!
- Visit Madonna of Japan, the Icon of the Goddess of Peace:
Madonna of Japan, a symbol of peace and friendship, is an important historical landmark in Tacloban City. The monument of Maria Kannon erected in a park (Madonna of Japan Memorial Park) in memory of the soldiers (who lost their lives in a war against the invading Japanese) also celebrates the Philippines’ reconciliation with Japan post World War II. The park located along Magsaysay Boulevard is frequently visited by locals seeking peace. Spend a quiet evening in the park catching the glimpses of the beautiful Kanhuraw Hill!
- A walk along the San Juanico Bridge:
San Juanico Bridge is a section of the Pan-Philippine Highway, a network of roads, bridges, and sea routes connecting Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao islands. Stretching along 2.16 kilometers, this longest bridge constructed over a water body in the Philippines connects the islands of Samar and Leyte. It is also dubbed ‘The Bridge of Love’ as the former President Ferdinand Marco has dedicated it to his beloved wife, Imelda, who was hailed as ‘The Rose of Tacloban.’ A walk or drive across the arch-shaped truss bridge in the company of the spanning sea and clear sky is overwhelming! Obviously, clicking pictures at this instagrammable place is one of the recommended things to do in Tacloban!
- Explore Sto. Nino Shrine and Museum:
Another example of President Ferdinand Marcos’ love for his wife is Sto. Nino Shrine and Museum, a vacation home, he had built for her. This popular Tacloban tourist spot is both a chapel and a museum. The royal building is fronted by sprawling gardens and the shrine inside houses the image of Sto. Niño; whereas the lavish rooms showcase paintings, dioramas, Australian mirrors, massive chandeliers, Chinese jars, religious relics, pottery, ceramics, and other antique collections from different parts of the world. There is a grand ballroom and many other themed guestrooms to explore! A tour of the museum gives you an insight into the opulent lifestyle of the rich!
- Go on an adventurous ride on Habal-Habal:
Have you ever seen a bike with a roof? Come to the countryside areas of Tacloban and you’ll see canopied-motorbikes passing through the streets. Known in the area as Habal-Habal or motorcycle taxi, the motorbike features a wide seat, often provided with a roof. It is the primary means of transport indigenous to Tacloban and can carry 3-5 members on its large seat. Hire a Habal-Habal for an exhilarating ride through the rough, bumpy roads and steep paths. Experience the rustic atmosphere of the countryside!
- Taste the Binagol and Chocolate Moron of Leyte:
Tasting the Filipino sweets is a must-thing to do in Tacloban! The must-try dainties for all the people with a sweet tooth are the famous chocolate moron and Binagol that sell like hotcakes in the area! Chocolate Moron is a sweet rice cake made with rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. Binagol, cooked in a coconut shell and wrapped in banana leaf, is prepared using tubers of the taro plant, coconut milk, condensed milk, and sugar. If you are taking back home confectioneries as souvenirs, there could be no other best choice than these native delicacies!