Known as the "Beauty by the Bay," Ormoc is the largest city of Leyte and the second largest in Eastern Visayas. Located in the western part of Leyte, Ormoc is an urbanized city and a commercial hub in the province.
The main attraction in Ormoc is the one-of-a-kind Lake Danao. Shaped like a guitar, Lake Danao is 148 hectares, and is located 2,130 feet above sea level. The lake is also the primary source of clean water to some of the towns in the province. Because of the relaxing and cool weather in the area, tourists visit the lakesides for picnics, camping, sightseeing, and trekking. Boating and fishing are also popular in the area.
For history buffs, there are many places of interest to explore in Ormoc. Built in the 1800s, the Puente de la Reina is the oldest bridge in the city. It was used as a docking area for the ships of Asian traders who visited the country. There is also the Philippine-Japan Peace Memorial, a monument given by the Japanese to the Philippines after the Second World War as a sign of peace and friendship. Another World War II monument is found in the Veteran's Park, constructed in the 1990s to honor the soldiers who fought for the liberation of Leyte and the Philippines. After touring the city, one can enjoy a great view of the sunset at Ormoc Bay.
While in Ormoc, be sure to take home with you the city's famous Queen variety of pineapples and a box of its delicious cassava cake.
Though Ormoc has its own airport, it is not yet served by commercial flights. An alternative would be Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, which is served by low-cost airlines Cebu Pacific Air, Air Asia, and Philippine Airlines, the country's flag carrier. Once you arrive in Tacloban after your one-hour flight, head to Tacloban's bus terminal where you can catch a ride to Ormoc. Travel time is around two hours.
While there are no direct ferry rides from Metro Manila to Ormoc, you can opt to ride a 2GO Travel ferry to Cebu first. Travel time takes 22 hours. From Cebu, you can take a FastCat ferry to Ormoc, which would take more than two hours.
One can also ride a bus to get there. Philtranco offers 24-hour trips from Manila to Ormoc daily.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys are a popular means of commuting in Ormoc. These vehicles ply the roads of the city daily.
The tricycles of Ormoc have roomier sidecars than what we are used to, so they can accommodate more passengers.
Habal-habals are the preferred mode of transportation when visiting an attraction that is off the beaten path.
What to See
Although it is a bit overshadowed by other cities and towns in Leyte, the charming city of Ormoc has both historical and cultural sights and natural wonders that make it worth a visit.
In November 5, 1991, the city of Ormoc was devastated by Tropical Storm Thelma, leaving almost almost 5,000 residents dead and hundreds of millions worth of property damages. The tragedy was considered one of the worst storm attacks in Philippine history. The Flash Flood Memorial Marker was erected at the mass grave for Typhoon Thelma victims in Ormoc Cemetery to commemorate the dead.
Another landmark worth seeing is the Puente de la Raina. This 19th century cobblestone bridge is the oldest bridge in the city and was instrumental during the galleon trade during the Spanish colonial period. Your Ormoc tour will not be complete without walking across this historic bridge.
Meanwhile, the Philippine-Japanese Peace Memorial was a gift from the Nagoya and Gifu prefectures of Japan as a sign of its friendship with the Philippines after the Second World War. You can visit this monument at Carlota Hills.
Meanwhile, the ruins of the mansion of Sen. Dominador Tan is another reminder of the Second World War. The once magnificent ancestral house was greatly damaged by all the bombings. Make sure to catch a glimpse of it during your visit.
Ormoc is home to three lakes. Among them, Lake Danao is the most prominent and one of the city’s most prized attractions. This guitar-shaped lake is located within a protected area and is a favorite spot for nature trips and recreation. Activities are plenty in this place: swimming, boating, fishing, sightseeing, capming, and going on a picnic. The lake is teeming with freshwater mussels, which can be caught and eaten. Kasudsuran Lake and Janagdan Lake are the two other lakes that are also worth a visit.
Mountaineers should also include a hike up Alto Peak, also known as Mt. Amindiwin. It is considered as the highest peak in all of Eastern Visayas. Lake Danao is a popular jumping-off point for a hike.
Aside from being the venue for one of the most important naval battles between the Americans and the Japanese during World War II, Ormoc Bay is the perfect spot to appreciate the wonders of nature. After an eventful day, head to this place to watch the beautiful sunset.
Leyte Golf and Country Club is located in Barangay Mabini. This 18-hole par 72 golf course is a popular spot for golfing and other recreational activities.
Meanwhile, Leyte Geothermal Production Field is another of Ormoc's popular attractions. Tucked within the mountains in Barangay Tongonan, the geothermal plant is the biggest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines and currently supplies energy to a large part of Visayas and some parts of Luzon.
Events and Festivals
Tugob Festival is a thanksgiving celebration for the bountiful harvest of Ormoc. It is held every October 20 to coincide with the city's Charter Day anniversary. Just like most fiestas, the highlights of the Tugob Festival are parades and street dancing competitions.
Where to Eat
Ormoc has a thriving food scene. It has a variety of restaurants that offer different cuisines to satisfy different tastes.
For those who prefer native cuisine, try Jo's Milagrina. This restaurant is a favorite among locals because of its delicious chicken barbecue. Meanwhile, Mimay's Seafood House, as its name suggests, specializes in seafood dishes but also offers other delicious local dishes.
For those who prefer international offerings, go to Sal's Bar and Restaurant. It has an extensive menu that will satisfy all your cravings. Tempura House is the go-to place for Japanese food lovers, while Elijah's Pizzaria and Grill tempts you with its Italian dishes. But if you're looking for healthier food choices, Roma's Cafe has healthy Thai and Mexican food.
Pacdol is a local dish in Ormoc. It is a clear broth made with carabao knee meat. Doroy's Carinderia is the most recommended place for this native delicacy.
Where to Shop
Robinsons Place Ormoc, Gaisano Riverside Mall, and Ormoc Centrum Mall offer you great selections for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
What to Buy
Ormoc is famous for producing the queen pineapple. This pineapple variety is a popular pasalubong, which you can buy at the SAL Pineapple Plantation.
Another must buy food product in Ormoc is the cassava cake. Young Attitudes Patisserie is one of the best places where you can get this delicious treat.
ATMs and Money Changers
Ormoc has several banks and ATMs where you can withdraw some cash.
Fare: PHP 1,600.00 (Bus fare); PHP 2,000.00 (Ferry fare); PHP 3,000.00 to 5,000.00 (Airfare)
A one-way bus ticket to Ormoc via Philtranco Bus Line costs about PHP 1,600.00.
Meanwhile, for those who prefer to ride the ferry, a ticket for a Manila to Cebu City trip via 2GO Travel costs about PHP 1,500.00. The ferry ride from Cebu City to Ormoc is about PHP 800.00 via SuperCat.
For those who prefer air travel, a one-way ticket to Tacloban Airport ranges from PHP 3,000.00 to PHP 5,000.00, and the ticket for the bus or van ride from Tacloban to Ormoc is from PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
For travelers on a budget, PHP 50.00 will do for a carinderia meal. If you're eating at a restaurant, it usually costs PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00.
Shopping: PHP 200.00++
A box of cassava cake from Young Attitudes cost less than PHP 200.00.
Accommodation: PHP 1,000.00++
There are many cheap accommodations in Ormoc such as GV Hotel Ormoc where you can get the best bang out of your buck.
Activities: PHP 500.00++
Lake Danao National Park has a PHP 10.00 entrance fee. Boat rentals cost about PHP 500.00. Meanwhile, Leyte Golf and Country Club's entrance fee is PHP 1,000.00 for non-members.