Kalibo is the capital of the province of Aklan. It is a first class city with ports and its own international airport, making it a gateway for tourists to Boracay. But the city knows how to party just like the nearby famous island as it hosts one of the biggest and most colorful festivals in the country. It is also blessed with some natural wonders that make it a remarkable destination in addition to Boracay.
Almost every city and province in the Philippines celebrates a festival every year but perhaps the grandest of them all is celebrated in Kalibo. The famous Ati-Atihan Festival is held every January of the year to honor the Sto. Niño, the Christ child and the oldest Christian image in the Philippines. Participants put on dark face paint, dress in colorful costumes, and parade the streets while dancing to the rhythm of drums and tribal music. The festivities also include street parties, bazaars, variety shows, and dance competitions.
Located at the town center is the Aklan Freedom Shrine. It was built to honor the revolutionaries who fought and died during the war against Spain. The 19 steps on the shrine symbolize the 19 Martyrs of Aklan. A statue of their leader, General Francisco del Castillo, is on top of the stairs. Every March 23, the province observes a special local holiday to honor them.
Also in Kalibo is the Museo It Aklan, a museum that chronicles the rich history of the province. It has numerous artifacts, artworks, antiques, and photographs.
Kalibo is only a little over an hour away from Metro Manila. Major airlines like Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, and AirAsia offer direct flights from Manila Domestic Airport to Kalibo International Airport.
How to Get Around
You can ride a jeepney to get around Kalibo. It is one of the most popular modes of public transportation in the country, and it plies the main roads of Kalibo. Not only is riding the jeep efficient, it is also budget-friendly as it is also the cheapest mode of transportation.
Tricycle is another affordable mode of public transportation. It's a good alternative especially if you’re heading to the remote areas in Kalibo. It is also favorable for those who want to avert getting lost since you can always ask the tricycle driver for directions. A regular tricycle can seat up to three passengers.
When going to the other towns in Aklan, buses are the most sensible choice.
What to See
The St. John the Baptist Cathedral, also known as Kalibo Cathedral, is one of Kalibo's most defining landmarks. Constructed during the Spanish era, the church also stands as a shrine to the holy image of the Sto. Niño.
Another notable landmark is the Aklan Freedom Shrine. This monument was built in memory of the 19 Filipino martyrs who revolted against the Spaniards during the colonial period.
Nature lovers will find that Kalibo also has a lot to offer when it comes to natural wonders.
Bakhawan Eco-Park is a sprawling mangrove forest. It is a nice place to visit if you want to enjoy a peaceful walk amongst nature. After your long walk, you can unwind with a massage at a spa within the area, or have a quick snack from the canteen. If you're brave enough, you can try some of the exotic offerings like fresh tamilok or woodworm.
Adventurers will love a trek to Tigayon Hill. As you climb to the top, you will encounter refreshing nature sceneries along the way, including some caves. Tigayon Hill also doubles as a pilgrimage site; Catholics visit the place during Lent to pray Stations of the Cross.
For a dose of culture and history, visit Kalibo's museums like the Museo it Akean. This museum holds priceless artifacts, memorabilia, and precious works of art such as paintings and sculptures. The edifice of this establishment is itself a historical wonder, as it dates back to the late 1900s.
Another museum worthy of a visit is Finds Museum. This fine arts museum houses a prized collection of paintings such as those by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock as well as antique sculptures and stamps.
Located in the nearby town of New Washington, Sampaguita Gardens is a unique attraction perfect for kids and kids-at-heart. This Precious Moments-themed park’s main attraction is Jojo's Christmas Cottage, which is open all year round. Inside, you'll see various Christmas-themed displays. There is also a souvenir shop selling all sorts of Precious Moments merchandise.
Piña, the "Queen of Philippine Fabrics", is one of Aklan's main products. You can see how this native fabric is made by visiting weave shops like Dela Cruz House of Piña and La Herminia Arts and Crafts.
If you're one for appreciating architecture, Aklan Provincial Capitol's Neo-Classical structure will make you feel as if you're in Greece. A selfie with this architectural wonder is definitely a must.
After all the sightseeing and walking around town, you can relax and unwind at Pastrana Park or Magsaysay Park.
Events and Festivals
Ati-Atihan Festival, also known as the "Mother of All Philippine Festivals," is Kalibo's number one tourist draw. The event is the most prominent and one of the most-awaited festivals in the Philippines. This lively and colorful feast happens every January and is celebrated in honor of the Sto. Niño. Throughout this lively event, participants of the tribal dances and the street dance competitions wear festive native garb and paint all over their faces and bodies. Some of them even carry costumed images of the Sto. Niño. The feast also features parades and all sorts of competitions. It is considered one of the biggest parties on the festival calendar.
On the other hand, the Kalibo Food Festival is a delight for foodies and music lovers. Celebrated every June during the feast of St. John the Baptist, the gastronomic festival highlights food fairs as well as musical performances from prominent local bands.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
For those who prefer to stick with familiar tastes, fast food chains are also available in Kalibo. Most of the branches of your favorite fast food chains are located near commercial centers like malls and around the town center. You are bound to find a Jollibee, McDonald's, or KFC in town. Chowking, Greenwich, and Mang Inasal are also available.
Aklanon cuisine is definitely a must-try and Saylo is just the place to get an authentic taste of their unique dishes. You can enjoy chicken dishes such as binakoe and inubarang manok as well as the seafood dish linapay, the exotic tamilok, and native rice cakes like inday inday. On the other hand, for hearty eaters out there, Ramboy's Lechonan and Restaurant specializes in roasted meat, especially the Visayan version of liempo or roast pork belly.
In addition to serving light fare such as pastries, cakes, and coffee, Latte Coffee Café also features a menu of Filipino food and breakfast meals as early as 7:00 AM. Meanwhile, if you're in the mood for some steaks and pasta, Primavera Restaurant comes highly recommended.
For those craving for Chinese food, Emerald Dragon has a wide array of dishes that will satisfy your hunger. The Peking House is a more affordable alternative.
Carinderias in Kalibo are great places to enjoy local meals at pocket-friendly prices.
Bars and Clubs
Follow your sumptuous dinner with a nightcap at either Abregana Bar or Lorraine's Tapsi.
Where to Shop
Gaisano Capital Mall and City Mall Kalibo each offer a plethora of shopping and dining options that you can enjoy.
The Kalibo Market is a great place to buy souvenir items like keychains, T-shirts, and native handicrafts like baskets.
ATMs and Money Changers
Kalibo has several banks, ATMs, currency exchange shops, and remittance shops.
Fare: PHP 2,000.00++
You can get a one-way plane ticket from Metro Manila to Kalibo for as low as PHP 2,000.00.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 500.00
A typical carinderia meal is only PHP 50.00. Meanwhile, restaurant meals range from PHP 200.00 to PHP 500.00 depending on the establishment.
Shopping: PHP 50.00++
Small items like keychains cost less than PHP 50.00 apiece. As for T-shirts, prices start at PHP 100.00.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 4,000.00
Travelers can already have an overnight stay at a lodge's fan room for less than PHP 500.00. Meanwhile, if you want to stay at a hotel, room rates range from PHP 1,300.00 to PHP 4,000.00.
Activities: PHP 15.00++
Some attractions in Kalibo require an entrance fee. Museo it Akean charges only PHP 15.00, while Bakhawan Eco-Park is at a measly PHP 20.00. But for Sampaguita Gardens, you need to shell out PHP 50.00.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 200.00 to PHP 750.00
A PHP 200.00 terminal fee for domestic flights and PHP 750.00 for international is collected at Kalibo International Airport.