When you’re in Zamboanga, you’d have a hard time pointing out what makes this stunning region stand out – is it its colourful vintas? Or its stunning buildings?
Known as the “Latin City” of the Philippines, cradled in the southernmost part of the country, Zamboanga has famous tourists spots and attractions that will leave a mark on visitors. From its interesting history down to its gastronomic dining scene, the Philippine’s third oldest city is nothing short of fascinating.
A trip to Zamboanga is a trip that’ll surely satisfy all your senses. The city itself is a spectacle — everywhere, you can see structures that are heavily influenced by Spanish design and architecture. In this place, Catholic churches and Muslim mosques symbolise the harmonious relationships between Christians and Islams. The seemingly endless display of brightly colored malongs, woven baskets, and other intricate ornaments give Zamboanga a splash of color. A few kilometres away from the city is the Great Santa Cruz Island known for its pristine waters and powdery white sand. Take a break from the rigors of traveling by visiting Congo Falls and Merloquet Falls — secluded attractions perfect for relaxation. When you’re done with sight-seeing, don’t forget to indulge in Zamboanga’s delicious seafood delicacies!
Major airlines in the Philippines such as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines offer Manila-Zamboanga, Cebu-Zamboanga, and Davao-Zamboanga flights daily. Travel time ranges from 2 to 3 hours and fare is usually around PhP 3000 (USD 60) one way.
2Go ferries offer once-a-week ferry service from Manila to Dipolog. Travel time is 30 hours and fare is around PhP 2400 (USD 48). Once you’re in Dipolog, you can reach Zamboanga City via bus or private car. Travel time via bus is 13 hours and costs PhP 1000 – PhP 1800 (USD 20 to USD 36).
If you’re coming from Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Dumaguete Ferry offers daily trips to Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. From there, you can take a bus to Zamboanga City.
Philippine Peso is the currency accepted in most establishments in Zamboanga. Zamboanga City is a highly-urbanised city and you can see a lot of banks offering ATM services. In some establishments and hotels, you can use your debit and credit card. Money-changing services are usually found inside the malls and other major establishments. Although credit cards are accepted in some establishments, it’s always better to carry Philippine bills and coins with you especially if you’re visiting a more secluded attraction.
The weather around Zamboanga is usually warm and humid, and the temperature slightly varies. Zamboanga experiences two seasons all year round — dry and wet season. The hottest months run from March to May while the rainy season starts around June. The relatively cooler months are November, December, and January. The best time to visit Zamboanga is between January and March when temperatures are not too hot and chances of rain are particularly low.
While in the city, you can transfer from one attraction to another via jeepney, tricycle, and taxi. Please note that taxis around Zamboanga are very limited, so if you want cheaper options, go for jeepneys and tricycles. Thanks to Zamboanga’s impressive transportation system, you can visit attractions outside the city via buses.
Zamboanga boasts of dishes and delicacies rich in flavour — and some of them can only be found in the region. For a hearty breakfast dish, head over to Jimmy’s Satti House and order their famous satti, a dish made of marinated, grilled meat. Another famous food destination is Alavar Restaurant that was made famous by their delicious deep-sea crabs, also known as curacha, in signature Alavar sauce. Indulge in Tausug dishes from Sulu by visiting Dennis Coffee Garden — a restaurant that serves Chicken Pianggang (marinated chicken), and Tiula Itum (beef in roasted coconut broth). You can also ditch the restaurants and just enjoy the delicious street food goodies such as the knickerbocker dessert, the sweet and crunchy lokot-lokot, and chicalang.
Visiting Zamboanga is like experiencing the Philippines in an exciting and different way. The place’s culture, beauty, and culinary specialties make this place a must-see. Zamboanga — it’s truly a place that brings color to the country.