My 5-day island hopping at the BIGG (Bacolod, Iloilo, Gigantes, Guimaras)
Aside from leisure and work, one reason why I love going to places is that it helps me with my way of thinking and honestly, feeling. And while traveling can be mostly exciting and fun, it’s so much more than posing for pictures and trying out some unfamiliar delicacies like I always share here or on social media.
Traveling is not just a great content for a blog. For me, traveling is one hell of a stress-buster. There are times I cannot help but feel pressured by work or being a mom or a family provider, and with that I always I knew I needed some new environment to refresh my mind. Well, I won’t be able to be the “superwoman” I am if I’m super stressed out, right?
So after the looong week(s) of working harder for some monitoring at work, and even though my daughter is still at a veeeery young age, I needed to go away and regain my energy and courage and…my superpowers. So thanks, lolo and lola, for taking over as Mnemo’s 5-day parents.
The “BIG” (Bacolod-Iloilo-Gigantes) adventure is one of the most-listed must-try adventures in the Philippines. It’s also one of the bests, I guess, as you can actually visit more than 20 spots from two different provinces in three days, plus more water and mountain adventures in different islands around the provinces. Not to mention the really good food in Visayas!
|When is the best time to visit BIG?
It really depends on what you want to do. All year is ideal when you visit each of the islands, but of course if you want to go island hopping, it’s best to go during summer. If you want to avoid the crowd, it’s also nice to visit the islands months before, like February to March. If you want long and cold nights, go have a staycation far from Manila during rainy days. But of course, always mind the convenience and safety of your travels.
|How to get there?
We started our BIG week as I wanted to start with a more “chill” itinerary for the first day: Iloilo City Tour. To get to Iloio City from Manila, you can either book a direct flight or ride a ferry.
Get to Iloilo by plane
The fastest way, of course, is by plane – about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half – via AirAsia, CebuPacific, or PAL. There are direct flights from Manila at around 3000php to 5000. But here’s a tip: register a free account from different airlines to get notified for future seat sales. They could offer as low as 1php fare! There are also flights coming from Davao, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Get to Iloilo by ferry
If you are coming from Manila, there are weekly schedules for ferry trips. One way trip would take 8 hours via 2Go Travels. I’m not really sure if there are other lines offering service from Manila, but I highly recommend 2Go in terms of sanitation. service, and they also offer single-journey travel insurances which I think is not very usual among domestic ferry rides.
|Where to stay for accommodation?
I still really think the best place to enjoy most of Iloilo is Richmonde Hotel. Get the latest promos and book here!
Other options would be:
◘ Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Iloilo
◘ Sheridan Boutique Resort
◘ Circle Inn
◘ Urban Sands Hotel Iloilo
◘ You can also try these cute Airbnbs within the city.
Click bullet items for suggested list of what to do and where to go.
Day 1. Richmonde Hotel, Iloilo CityWELCOME TO ILOILO!
I partnered with Richmonde Hotel for my first day in Iloilo. It was my first time in the city, and I am more than thankful for one of the best guest experience I’ve had so far. I visited other hotels in the area, too, and I can say all of them have their fair share of doing a great job. But if you ask me where to stay in Iloilo, my first answer would be Richmonde.◘◘ Experience luxury at an affordable price.
- Richmonde Iloilo offers an upscale buffet experience at a low price. From the usual cost of P1,000-3,500 to dine in a comfortable hotel restaurant, The Granary can actually give you the same great dining experience for just as much as P950*. For less than a thousand peso (PHP), you can allow yourself to enjoy a wide variety of all-you-can-eat dishes for dinner, while buffet breakfast costs only at P675*.
- They have the most friendly and accommodating staff, ever! At our day 2, I already checked out to explore more of Iloilo. But I still had the same guest treatment when I came back for dinner. Which is very rare and almost impossible when you such in a big city.
- Food is unexpectedly great.
Read more of my Richmonde Hotel Iloilo experience here >>
Also: I just created my TripAdvisor account to commend Richmonde Hotel Iloilo and start sharing my reviews there. See you on TA!
Day 2. Iloilo City TourEXPLORING ILOILO CITY
Iloilo’s hidden gems are mostly showcased in its delicious cuisine, historical buildings, and cultural traditions. One big thing I noticed during my stay was people (as in literally everyone) are nice, friendly, and very accommodating. Not to mention the their wealth when it comes to the arts and history.◘◘ ILOMOCA or Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art is home to the arguably largest collection of modern art outside Manila. Seeing the totality of the Museum will make you even more prouder of being a Filipino. Read more about my (funny) ILOMOCA experience here >>
◘◘ St. Anne Parish Church / Molo Church. Unlike other churches which are dominantly furnished with statues of male saints, St. Anne is known to be a feminist church or Church of the Women because the images of the saints in the church are all female.
◘◘ San Joaquin Cemetary and Church.
◘◘ Jaro Cathedral. Also known as Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles.
◘◘ Miag-ao Church Widely known as one of the UNESCO Heritage spots.
◘◘ San Jose Church.
◘◘ Garin Farm. Iloilo is rich of heritage churches that are truly worth visiting. Garin Farm also is a pilgrimage site open for people who are looking for peaceful place to pray. But if the religion limits, Garin Farm also have outdoor activities open for everyone. Read more about my Garin Farm experience and travel guide here >>
Day 3. Gigantes IslandsTHE ISLANDS OF GIANTS!
Islas Gigantes or the Islands of Giants, is a remote group of islands located off the coast of Carles and Estancia towns in northeastern Iloilos. It takes at least 5 hours to get there from Iloilo City proper. Though far, Gigantes Islands is a must to be included in your itinerary when traveling to Iloilo. What to do in Gigantes Islands?
Read more about my Gigantes Islands experience and travel guide here >>
◘◘ For better convenience and safety, you may book your island hopping adventures with Gigantes Island Tours and Services.
Day 4. GuimarasGUIMARAS, THE ISLAND OF THE SWEETEST MANGOES
The island of Guimaras became so special to because of two reasons: good food and good people. I said Iloilo has the kindest people, right? Guimaras, specifically, are probably the roots of this kindness. ❤
Below are the spots we visited:
◘◘ Smallest Plaza
◘◘ Guimaras Plaza
◘◘ Mango Plantations
◘◘ Trappist Monastery
◘◘ Guisi Lighthouse
◘◘ Guimaras Island Hopping
◘◘ Baras Cave
◘◘San Loranzo Windmills
Read more about my Guimaras experience here >>
Day 5. BacolodENDING THE TRIP IN THE CITY OF SMILES
◘◘ Bacolod has been one of the items in my where-to-next list since I knew about The Ruins. Read more of my Bacolod Ruins experience here>>
◘◘ And of course, you should definitely visit and have at least a day tour around Campuestohan in Bacolod. Not only because this place is Instagrammable, but they also are offering fun activities that will surely make the most of your BIGG adventure. Read more about my Campuestohan Resort experience here >>
━━━━━━WRAPPING IT ALL UP ━━━━━━
Along the cities and seas and mountains, Bacolod, Iloilo, and Guimaras are indeed a treasure. And it is absolutely a must to include them in your bucket list!
Since I had a very limited time I visited just a few beautiful spots around BIG. I have plans on coming here again soon, and maybe explore more adventures and less-known places.
OMG, can’t wait!
Looking for more places to visit? Need someone to travel with? Waiting for someone to be your food buddy? Wait no more and just stay connected! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I also am on VSCO and Zomato, in case you’re curious or interested to join me in my travels and food reviews. Or let’s chat via email through email@example.com.
This article also appears on themhayonnaiseonline.com.