Known as Asia's Latin City, the Sardine Capital of the Philippines, and the City of Flowers, Zamboanga is a progressive city located in the south-western area of the Philippines. Its rich Spanish culture, mesmerizing tourist spots, and the prevalence of Chavanano, the only Spanish-based creole in the country, make Zamboanga City worth traveling to.
With a land area of 1,453 square kilometers, it is home to multiple Filipino indigenous tribes and a trade center between the Philippines and its southern neighbors Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. One of the major cities in the country, Zamboanga is a bustling metropolis that sparks life and culture in its tracks.
There are so many things to do in Zamboanga that could satisfy the senses. For travelers, these are must-dos:
From the famous Alavar Seafood Restaurant with its seafood feast to modest satti houses located in the middle of the city, adventurers can taste the savory Curacha (spanner crab) and the Tausug comfort food Satti (thick spicy red soup with rice slices and sticks of meat). Try the famous Knickerbocker Sundae for dessert in the Palmeras Restaurant.
Sta. Cruz Island is accessible by boat from Zamboanga City. It is known for its beautiful pink-sand beaches.
Try the stunning view of Merloquet Falls, or enjoy a 360-degree view of the city in the Abong-abong hill. The famous Pasonanca Tree House and Nature Park, and the Caling Lobregat Butterfly Garden, are nearby.
Take a historical trip by visiting Fort Pilar and its museum. Feel a taste of Spain in the Philippines as you walk through Zamboanga City Hall and its surrounding buildings. Enjoy an indigenous exhibition at the Yakan Weaving Center.
Of course, who doesn’t want to? The city has a barter trade center to buy local products and imported goods from Malaysia and Indonesia. You cannot see these goods in high-rise international stores.
Here are some of the top spots in Zamboanga that you should definitely include in your bucket list when you get there:
Fort Pilar was a former Spanish fortress and a bastion of the city’s Spanish roots. It is now a shrine dedicated to the Virgin of the Pillar, Zamboanga’s patroness, and a branch of the National Museum.
The Zamboanga City Baywalk, located just beside the Fort Pilar, is known for its spectacular night esplanade and a sightseeing view of the sea and the vintas, the indigenous boats of the Subanen.
This park boasts not only of its swimming pool and nature ambiance, but it also has other scenic sites that are definitely worth a visit. For the nature lover, this place is definitely for you – to camp, admire the butterflies, or even take a bath!
The white sand beach of Boracay has a rival in Zamboanga – the pink-sand Sta. Cruz Island. Accessible by boat, it is also a protected area. It can also be seen from the Zamboanga City Baywalk.
The virgin falls sit in the heart of the city’s lush forest cover. The stunning natural view gives viewers a chance to enjoy nature uninterrupted. The falls are Instagram-worthy, so feel free to take pictures of them!
Zamboanga can be visited all year round. The best time to visit would be in October, when the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival and the Feast of the Lady of the Pillar, Zamboanga’s primary Catholic patroness, is held. The celebration includes street dancing, a mini-concert, and even a regatta del mar – the sea-race of different colorful vintas. Be sure to take many pictures during this event because the city bursts with color during the celebration!
Planning to visit Zamboanga City in the next coming days? Checkout the weather in Zamboanga City.
Zamboanga is one of the most accessible places to visit – it has regular weekly flights, ship voyages, and even bus routes to and from Manila.
From Manila, you can head to Zamboanga via the accessible RORO-Bus route. Travelling from the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange to Zamboanga City includes a bus route from Manila to Jagna, Iloilo, or Samar-Leyte and Agusan, and from these stopovers to Zamboanga via Cagayan de Oro city. Either way, it should cost about PHP 3,000 for a one-way, 31-hour trip.
Passenger ships are also traveling to Zamboanga via the Manila North Harbor weekly. The trip, lasting for more or less two days, leaves Manila by Monday evening and arrives in Zamboanga by Wednesday afternoon, with a midnight stopover at Dumaguete. Prices range from PHP1,800-3,000, depending on the accommodation.
Philippine Airlines, through PALExpress, serves Manila to Zamboanga thrice weekly from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Zamboanga International Airport. Cebu Pacific also conducts daily flights to and from Zamboanga.
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