PAL and Cebu Pacific have daily flights from Manila to Zamboanga City, which lasts for one hour and 40 minutes. There are flights to Dipolog City daily as well, which lasts one hour and 30 minutes. Meanwhile, only Cebu Pacific offers flights to Pagadian City. Travel time is one hour and 35 minutes.
2Go Travel has voyages from Manila to Zamboanga City once every week. Sea travel is quite long at 42 hours. They also serve the Manila to Dipolog route. Travel time is 32 hours.
From Cagayan de Oro, there are buses bound for Pagadian City. Land travel is only six hours.
How to Get Around
Public jeepneys are one of the more common modes of transportation when in Zamboanga.
By Tricycles and Habal-Habal
There are also tricycles and habal-habal, which are ideal for short distance trips.
Buses are available if you want to travel from one town to another in Zamboanga.
What to See
Zamboanga City is the capital of the province. It is the location of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The church, which serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, is known for its unique modern architecture. Inside the main church is a marble statue of the Immaculate Conception sculpted by National Artist, Napoleon Abueva. Another interesting object it houses is the relic of Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of the city.
A huge percentage of the people of Zamboanga is composed of Muslims, and the first center of Islam is found in Taluksangay in Zamboanga City. The Taluksangay Mosque, which is the oldest mosque in Western Mindanao, was built in 1885 by Hadji Abdullah Maas Nuno, the chieftain of the Sama Banguingui Moro ethnic group.
The Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, also known as Fort Pilar, served as a military defense fortress for the Spaniards in the 17th century. Today, the fort is a regional branch of the National Museum of the Philippines, symbolizing the cultural heritage of Zamboanga and of its people. A shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar was also built on the eastern side of the fortress.
Dapitan is a quiet city in the province of Zamboanga. It is famous for being the place where Dr. Jose Rizal was exiled in 1892. There, he purchased a 16-hectare land on a hill that faces the Dapitan Bay where he built houses, a farm, a school for boys, and a hospital. Today, the land is now called the Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape, where some of the structures left by Rizal have been well-preserved.
About 20 minutes away from Paseo del Mar in Zamboanga City lies the Great Santa Cruz Island that is known for its pink beach. The island’s coast is covered in fine white sands that are peppered with crushed red corals (organ pipe corals), making the sands look pinkish especially when hit by sunlight. The beach waters are cool and clean and offers various water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving.
Zamboanga Del Sur is home to Dao-Dao Island, which many say is paradise on earth. The island is located about ten minutes away from Pagadian City seaport and has fine white sands and crystal clear waters. It also has an artificial reef where visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing.
Another natural attraction not too far away from the Pagadian City seaport is the Putting Balas Sandbar. Literally translated as “white sand,” Puting Balas is loved for its powdery white sands that rivals that of Boracay. It is the perfect spot for those who want to relax by the sea and away from the stressful life in the city.
Mount Pulong Bato, a monolith located within the Pasonanca Natural Park, is another popular natural attraction in Zamboanga City. It is a favorite hiking site among many, especially by pilgrims during the observance of the Holy Week since the trail is lined with the Stations of the Cross. A giant cross is erected at the peak of the mountain, where a picturesque view of the city awaits visitors.
The Sicayab Cliffs found at the border of the cities of Dapitan and Dipolog is a seven-kilometer rocky coastline that is popular among rock climbers. The Kendis Cave and Guipos Cave, both in Zamboanga Del Sur, offer thrilling spelunking that cave enthusiasts will enjoy.
Pasonanca Park, located about seven kilometers away from Zamboanga City, offers a spot where you can enjoy some peace and quiet. The park was built in 1912 and has various facilities including a separate campsite for males and females, an amphitheater, and even a convention center.
Pasonanca also has three public pools: Olympic-sized, a pool with naturally flowing waters, and a children’s pool with slides. The Pasonanca Tree House is another popular attraction that you can rent for lodging. Lastly, within the property lies La Jardin de Maria Clara Lobregat, a garden park named after the late Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat. The park has some wondrous flora and fauna as well as an aviary.
A couple of steps away from Fort Pilar is Paseo Del Mar, a long walkway fronting the breakwater. The place is ideal for jogging and brisk walking. It is also the perfect spot where you can catch a glorious view of the sun as it sets over the entire Zamboanga Peninsula.
Dakak Beach Resort is a holiday destination in Zamboanga Del Norte where “a variety of adventures awaits.” The resort is highlighted by a wide stretch of white sand, top-tier amenities, accommodations, and services that will impress beach lovers.
Gloria’s Fantasyland is located about 15 to 20 minutes away from Dakak Beach Resort. The amusement park has a variety of rides, from bumper cars to carousels to Ferris wheel.
Rotonda Park in Zamboanga del Sur offers a sweeping view of Pagadian City. You can also go horseback riding in the park itself. Pajares Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares of Pagadian, also allows tourists to catch a scenic view of the city, especially at the highest point.
Events and Festivals
Hermosa Festival is one of the oldest feasts in the Philippines, having been celebrated in Zamboanga since 1926. The festival is held in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar. The festivities include including street dance competitions, trade events, a Chavacano song festival, beauty pageants, and the highly-anticipated Regatta De Zamboanga.
Where to Eat
A trip to Zamboanga City is never complete without stopping by the ever-famous Alavar Seafood Restaurant. Their signature dish is the spanner crab, or more popularly known as the curacha. Whether served steamed or boiled, it is best enjoyed with Alavar’s signature sauce.
Palmeras Restaurant has a fine selection of dishes, but it is best known for its dessert. Their unique treat called Knickerbocker is similar to halo-halo but made with fresh fruits like melon, banana, mango, watermelon, and many more. It is also mixed with gelatin, cream, and topped with a scoop of ice cream.
Kamayan ni Manay is a recommended restaurant in Dapitan City. Some of their delectable dishes are halabos na hipon, inhaw na nukos, and seafood rolls. Don’t be shy to use your bare hands while eating!
In Dipolog, don’t miss trying out UrChoice Bistro Café. The restaurant serves delectable Italian fares like pizza.
Rodolfo’s Cuisine in Pagadian City serves delightful Filipino and Asian dishes. This restaurant in the heart of the city and is well-loved not only for their delicious food but also for their generous servings. Another crowd favorite is Bob’s Diner, which features a menu of Filipino and Western specialties at pocket friendly prices.
Fare: PHP 4,800.00++
Roundtrip airfares from Manila to key cities in the Zamboanga Peninsula are PHP 4,800.00 at the minimum. One-way boat fares, on the other hand, starts at PHP 2,200.00.
The base fare for a jeep ride in Zamboanga is only PHP 7.00. A tricycle ride, on the other hand, will cost you PHP 20.00 at the minimum.
Food: PHP 250.00 to PHP 500.00
The dining options in the province are highly diverse, but seafood is a crowd-favorite. You can set aside a budget of PHP 200.00 to PHP 250.00 per meal, but some restaurants have dishes that cost as much as PHP 500.00.
Shopping: PHP 220.00 to PHP 1,000.00
Souvenir shirts are available for sale, starting at PHP 220.00. Colorful vinta sails are also ideal souvenir items that cost PHP 800.00. You can also take home miniature vintas for PHP 1,000.00.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 4,000.00
For budget travelers, there are affordable hostel rooms for only PHP 500.00 a night. Most hotels in Zamboanga are priced from PHP 1,500.00 to as much as PHP 4,000.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 150.00 to PHP 1,000.00
For spelunking, the standard rate is PHP 150.00. If you’re going diving off Santa Crus Island, the rate is around PHP 1,000.00 per person. Meanwhile, a ride-all-you-can pass to Gloria’s Fantasyland also costs around PHP 1,000.00 per head.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Tipping in restaurants is no longer necessary especially if a service is already included in the bill. But if you insist, a tip worth PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be just fine.
||ETA in Zamboanga City
||Have breakfast at Tsokolate by Linfood.
||Visit Zamboanga City Hall.
||Visit the Zamboanga National Museum.
||Have lunch at Jimmy’s Satti Haus.
||Visit Pasonanca Park.
||Check in at your accommodation.
||Visit Fort Pilar.
||Watch the sunset at Paseo del Mar. Afterwards, have dinner at one of paseo’s food stalls.
||Return to the hotel and retire for the night.
||Head over to Barangay Victoria for spelunking in Victoria Pader Cave.
||Go back to town and have lunch at Alavar’s Restaurant.
||Head to Merloquet Falls.
||Return to the hotel for a quick rest before dinner.
||Have dinner at Palmeras Restaurant. Don’t forget to order their knickerbocker for dessert.
||Travel back to the hotel.
||Head to Yakan Weaving Center and buy souvenirs and pasalubong.
||Head back to the hotel and prepare for check-out.
||Check out of the hotel. Have lunch at La Vista del Mar.
||ETA at the airport
||Depart Zamboanga City for Manila.
||ETA in Manila
Zamboanga experiences generally dry weather all year round except the wet season from June to October. The average temperature in the province is 28 degrees Celsius, so make sure to bring light and airy clothes when visiting.
The province has both private and public hospitals that you can visit in case you need medical attention. The Zamboanga City Medical Center, Ciudad Medical Center, and Camp Navarro General Hospital are some of the notable hospitals in the province.
Due to Zamboanga’s proximity to Basilan and unfortunate incidents like bombings, tourists often think twice about visiting the province. But you can count on the authorities and the local government in keeping the place safe. While there, make sure to have a well-planned itinerary and stick with it. The locals are also very friendly, so smile often and be respectful. For assistance, you can ask tour guides or the staff at your accommodation.