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Zamboanga Travel Guide

Located on the southernmost tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula, Zamboanga City is one of the major gateways to Mindanao. And there is indeed no better way to start your Mindanao adventure than from here. Its city center is filled with history and culture, the food scene is very vibrant, and there are beaches which you can easily access.

Dubbed as Asia’s Latin City, Zamboanga City’s identity is deeply intertwined with Spain—from the way they speak, to the food they eat. Their culture is a colorful mix between the conquistadores of yore, to Christian and Muslim customs.

This Zamboanga travel guide aims to help both first time and returning visitors on how to get there, where to eat, where to stay, and what to see and do in and around the city on a modest budget.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Marcian Garden Hotel Zamboanga

We stayed on a single hotel during our five-day stint in Zamboanga City, the Marcian Garden Hotel along Gov. Camins Road. It was actually my first time to stay on an actual hotel in the city, having previously lodged on a military camp during our quick tour in Zamboanga years back.

Marcian Garden Hotel Zamboanga Restaurant
BREAKFAST BUFFET AT MARCIAN GARDEN HOTEL

From the airport, which was just three hundred meters away, we went straight to the hotel for breakfast. They have an everyday buffet. And while the selections aren’t that many, they make up for it with quality—all the dishes I tried were really good.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, November 8, 2018

Where to Eat Zamboanga Food Trip

Zamboanga City came as a surprise in terms of food. Its history as a former stronghold of Spain in Mindanao has indeed taken root in its cuisine, with Spanish dishes going alongside more local flavors from the Zamboanga Peninsula, the neighboring Sulu archipelago, and even Malaysia. It also helps that the area is near the sea, with harvest coming in abundantly—the city isn’t dubbed as the Sardine Capital of the Philippines for no reason.

During our weeklong escapade in the city, in between Zamboanga’s tourist spots, the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival, and a jaunt to Once Islas, we tried various restaurants serving everything from traditional Filipino and Moro cuisines, to Hispanic dishes, and even unique and tasty street food that can only be found on this part of the country.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What to See in Zamboanga City

A destination is better enjoyed the second time around, especially if your first visit only lasted for a mere ten hours. It has been more than four years since I’ve last been to Zamboanga City, and on this subsequent outing, the city seemed unchanged, it’s still as vibrant as when I’ve first laid eyes on it. This time, I’m definitely spending more than a day at the city, in fact, we’re here for a total of five days. Perfect for seeing all the tourist spots in Zamboanga!

What to See in Zamboanga City Fort Pilar
FORT PILAR, A MASSIVE FORTIFICATION LEFT BY THE SPANIARDS IN ZAMBOANGA CITY

Dubbed as Asia’s Latin City, Zamboanga City is one of the major bastions of the Spanish conquistadors during the Spanish Colonial Era in the Philippines. Traces of this can still be found on the city’s architecture, the people’s chavacano language—a type of Spanish creole, their cuisine, faith, and way of life. The people of Zamboanga City are as diverse as the colors of their vinta boats, here Christians and Muslims—from the people of Yakan and Samal, to Tausug, and Badjao—coexists without friction.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, November 4, 2018

Once Islas Tour Zamboanga City

“I’m glad I brought my snorkel!” I whispered to myself as our wooden boat slowed near the white sandy shoreline of Once Isla’s Bisaya-Bisaya Island. The water, deep green with hints of cerulean, was clear as crystal. I can see all the way to its coral-ridden bottom, I wanted to jump right there and then. Clumsily, I tried to get my camera from my bag to take a photo, but was just too darn clumsy, our boat’s bow was already crunching down on the sand as I freed it from my bag.

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival
ZAMBOANGA HERMOSA FESTIVAL

Island hopping in Zamboanga City was the last thing on my mind when our plane landed on the city’s airport tarmac. We were really here to witness the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival and eat—spell curacha and lechon. Yum! But yes, the city, indeed, has its share of white sand paradise—well, pink to be more precise—with the nearby Sta. Cruz Island. But really, that’s about it.

Zamboanga Travel Guide

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, November 2, 2018

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

Colors everywhere! That’s the first thing that struck me as we arrived at Zamboanga City for the annual Zamboanga Hermosa Festival. The almost hundred-year old festival is celebrated during the whole month of October and is one of the oldest festivals in the Philippines. And at the center of the fiesta, the miraculous image of the Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar, which was originally brought to the city’s fort by the Spaniards in 1734.

This year’s Zamboanga Hermosa kicked off early, starting during the last days of September with Smoke Out Zamboanga, a grilled food fest along R.T. Lim Boulevard, and rolled with no less than sixty activities running all through October in and around the center of the city. We stayed for a week in Zamboanga City and it still wasn’t enough to see everything!

Zamboanga Travel Guide

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, October 29, 2018

East Timor is one of the most underrated and forgotten places in South East Asia. Heck, even I didn’t know it was in South East Asia until recently. It was also fairly recent that it has gained its independence from Indonesia and has since been struggling to find a foothold in the league of ASEAN nations.

Locally called Timor Leste, this island nation east of Indonesia has much to share in terms of beaches and diverse marine life. Much of the country, including its capital, is still underdeveloped, attracting not much tourists. It is, however, perfect for those looking for places where malls and high-rise CBD’s hasn’t ruled much of the city and people still go out to parks and, in East Timor, beaches, for leisure.

We allotted a whole week to see East Timor, knowing full well that our stay was a tad too long. A trip to Dili can actually be accomplished in three full days, which most people do as a side trip from Bali, but we wanted to see it on a more relaxed pace.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, October 26, 2018

Dili Beaches

It took several days for us to finally hit the beaches of Dili. One of the main reasons why was due to its location. While it is right within the city limits—heck, we can even see it from the boulevard in front of the Palacio Governo—getting there by foot, which was our main mode of exploring Dili, was out of the question. So we asked around, not wanting to flag a taxi to go there, and eventually found it was possible to get there using East Timor’s public transport, the microlet.

Dili Beaches
THE BEACHES OF DILI, BORDERED BY MOUNTAINS

Dili Beaches
EAST TIMORESE KIDS PLAYING ON A WEEKEND

Dili Beaches
THE BEACHES OF DILI ARE WITHIN THE CAPITAL CITY

The beaches of Dili, East Timor’s capital city, is located on its eastern part. There are a couple of beaches right at the center of Dili, but these have course brown sand and almost no one swims there. To get to Dili’s white sand beaches, we took a white, number 11, microlet which passes along Largo de Lecidere, and alighted at the corner of Bidau Street. We then took a blue microlet that went straight to the Dili Cristo Rei jump-off where the Jesus Beach is located. En route, we also passed the Areia Branca Beach and an unnamed small pocket-sized beach along the road.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, October 24, 2018

If you’re looking to travel outside of the Philippines with your family, Japan would be an excellent choice. Kids will love Tokyo Disneyland and families can save a significant amount of money by buying or renting a Disney timeshare on the DVC Resale Market. A Wyndham timeshare resale rental can also be a good budget choice for many families.