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How to Spend 5 Days in Panay Island (without going to Boracay)

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Panay Island isn’t all about Boracay. Take the route less taken. Here’s your guide around Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras and Capiz.

Boracay Island’s powdery white sands, pristine waters and pulsating nightlife is still one of the longest-running travel destinations in the Philippines. But what makes Bora so enjoyable also makes it very expensive.

Around PHP 1,000 is how much you have to shell out for roundtrip terminal fees, boat transfers, airport terminal departure and environmental fees — that’s just to get to its shores! Chances are, your itinerary won’t be just beach bumming. Activities such as helmet diving, island hopping, cliff diving, not to mention, the partying will also add up to the expenses.

So instead of going to Boracay Island, we backpacked Panay Island with via land travel and simplifying itineraries. Sorry, Bora, you can wait! Here are the destinations you shouldn’t miss should you take the route less traveled:

Aklan: Escape to an Eco-Park

Bakhawan Eco-Park is a self-sustaining environmental organization established in 1989, offering a kilometer-long boardwalk piercing through hectares of man-made mangrove plantations. The eco-park allows in Panay Island you to enjoy the strong sea breeze amidst the rustling of trees, and a peacefully coursing river.

It’s an awesome destination for introverts who wanted to escape crowded spaces in Panay Island. Bakhawan Eco-Park also offers kayaking, rafting and doing demos of extracting woodworms and serving the latter as snacks (locally called tamilok). The entrance fee is at PHP 150, which goes to the sustainenance of the eco-park.

Other attractions in Aklan: Get to know the town’s heritage by visiting Museo It Akean located at the heart of Kalibo.

Antique: Relax at an Outdoor Hot Tub

Known primarily for its legends of the aswang and the mananganggal, Antique is probably the less modernized province in all of Panay Island. Still, its unspoiled provincial feel has its charm. The weak cellular signals and absence of light pollution at night will help you reconnect.

A great way to relax in Antique in Panay Island is going to Kawa Hot Bath. Huge metal basins with fire ignited from the bottom and a potpourri of leaves and flowers floating in the steaming water serve as a hot tub for weary bodies. Even if you kind of look like Soup of the Day, you won’t be the mythical creature’s next meal, promise! The fee for a hot bath is at PHP 250 per person. You can opt to spend the night in Kawa inside bamboo huts starting at PHP 500.

 

Other attractions in Antique: Go island hopping to Malalison Island and alternate hotsprings with the cold spring of Malumpati. For more information, check out this guide from Taraletsanywhere!

Iloilo: Go on a Mid-Year Visita Iglesia

The city of Iloilo is flocked by Panay Island foreigners during Dinagyang Festival, an annual street party in honor of the Sto. Nino. But even on ordinary days, Iloilo shines with its colonial period churches. One of these churches, the Miag-ao Church, is among the four churches in the Philippines listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its Baroque architecture.

Aside from Miag-ao, almost each town in Iloilo also has their own old churches and church ruins worth visiting. Just take a commute crawl on the towns of San Joaquin, Molo, Jaro, Guimbal, Tigbauan, Pavia, Sta. Barbara, and more to see them.

Other attractions in Iloilo: Taste Iloilo’s signature dishes such as the batchoys of La Paz town and the pancit of Molo town.

Guimaras: Savor the Less-Crowded White Beaches

Home of the sweetest mangoes in the world, Guimaras is also known for their southern white beaches that receive far less traffic than Boracay. It is also located just at the tip of Panay Island, only a 15-minute ferry ride away.

On the Southern part of Guimaras is Alubijod Beach, just one of the white sand wonders you can choose to soak your feet into. You can go island hopping right before the sunset to SEAFDEC, Ave Maria Islet, Baras Cave, and Turtle Island for PHP 500 per person for the first hour, with an additional PHP 150 per hour.


Other attractions in Guimaras:
Pass by the hectares of mango plantations and taste local mango pizza!

Capiz: Binge-eat on Seafood

There are more excuses to skip pork and poultry for a few meals when in Capiz, known as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines. An easy way to get your hands to seafood in Panay Island is to go to the Seafood Court at People’s Park Plaza.

Just along the strip of Baybay Beach, which is reminiscent of Manila’s Roxas Boulevard, are clusters of seafood palutuans which serve the freshest catches of the day. Platters of prawns, shrimps, scallops, squids, clams, mussels and more are priced at PHP 100 – 250 per serving that is good for sharing.

Other attractions in Capiz: Go on a short side-trip to Panay Church and see the largest church bell in Panay Island and in Asia.

Traveling around the towns of Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras and Capiz is achievable in just five days, and you can extend if you wanted to! A backpacker’s budget of PHP 4,000 per person (and a discipline to not buy trinkets) will suffice for the transportation, hostel stays, food expenses and sightseeing around Panay Island.

So the next time you find yourself itching to go to Boracay, know that there are also great alternatives when you choose the Panay Island route less traveled.

This article was later published at Manila Bulletin‘s Lifestyle Section on February 21.

 

 

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    thetravellingfool
    October 22, 2016 at 8:38 AM

    Sounds like a fabulous place. I have had the opportunity of traveling to the Philippines seven times. I need to get back again because there is so much I haven’t seen yet. Panay Island is one of them.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      October 24, 2016 at 11:09 PM

      Hope you visit it! It’s more popular for Boracay, but as mentioned here, there are more places to see here. 🙂

  • Reply
    Who is Ferna?
    October 6, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    We have the same thoughts on this. Although Boracay has really beautiful beach. I bet people should extend their trip to other parts of Panay. I did my 20 days backpacking in Panay and even went to Boracay, but, unfortunately, I just stayed 2 nights there for I didn’t liked it. Antique was for me the best during my trip there, but, food in Roxas is to die for, I so agree with you on that.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      October 6, 2016 at 12:44 AM

      So great that we agree on many things! I definitely fell in love with cheap seafood. And Antique was my favorite, even though lots of people think, “What are you going to do there?”

  • Reply
    Claire Algarme
    March 10, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    I live just across the sea, in Negros, but I have explored Panay when I was still a kid. I did some RORO but we just passed through. Great post as I hope to do this one of these days.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      March 10, 2016 at 12:40 PM

      Thanks. good luck on re-exploring Panay. And do i hope I get to Negros too 🙂

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE
    February 18, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    Very nice post! It reminded me of a time when I lived in Boracay for five years! And I have around Panay Island too.

  • Reply
    Didi
    February 8, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    Im really planning to travel these coming months. It would be great to add this on my travel list! Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply
    ASKSonnie
    February 6, 2016 at 7:04 PM

    You gave a good reason to bring Panay islands into our must visit places, with Guimaras on the top list.

  • Reply
    Mark
    February 6, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    Will definitely travel this 2016 and make sure to visit this places. Will make sure to keep this in my bucketlist.

  • Reply
    Karen
    February 5, 2016 at 2:56 PM

    Curious to see the largest church bell too. Panay on the bucketlist now.

  • Reply
    Aika Loraine
    February 4, 2016 at 5:20 AM

    So many places to visit here in the philippines! I am really thankful there are bloggers who share their experiences! One added to ky list!

  • Reply
    Roselle Jean Dancel
    February 4, 2016 at 12:13 AM

    A must have itinerary for everyone going to Panay!!!! I will bookmark this 🙂 Thank you so much! <3 Love your blog btw

  • Reply
    Jojo Vito
    February 3, 2016 at 11:24 PM

    Great that you have discovered others things to do and visit in Panay island…

  • Reply
    Debarpan Mukherjee
    February 3, 2016 at 10:50 PM

    The place looks so awesome,would love to visit.I think travel bloggers are very lucky to visit these beautiful places,feeling jealous 😛

  • Reply
    Franc Ramon
    February 3, 2016 at 10:30 PM

    I was planning to join a trail race in Antique during the summer. I’ll surely drop by the Panay area and explore.

  • Reply
    Cheryl F.
    February 3, 2016 at 9:44 PM

    Another place to visit this year. I wanna try the Kawa bath. Also, anywhere where seafood is, is love.

  • Reply
    Renz
    February 3, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    Lol! Will share this to my friends because some of them thought that Panay Island is just about Boracay and Batchoy. LOL

  • Reply
    Nicole Paler
    February 3, 2016 at 8:58 PM

    I’m very intrigued by the kawa hot bath, looks like a pinoy version of an onsen to me.. hehe. And thanks for the this travel list- Bora is so over rated anyways, it’s good to go to the road less traveled once in a while, right? 🙂

  • Reply
    Deks
    February 3, 2016 at 7:30 PM

    Great work here Samantha! Though the spot that I recently visited was Boracay, I managed to have a ball during my stay with a penny-pinching budget. 🙂

    Exploring and featuring other spots in Panay is super awesome! Cheaper and less traveled on as what you’ve mentioned, it definitely caught my interest and would love to try it out when I get the chance… especially the kawa hot bath. LOL!

    Cheers!


    http://thedeksbook.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    Coi Ibanez
    February 3, 2016 at 7:26 PM

    Wow! I bet this was an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing! Hope there were more photos of each places you’ve been to though 🙂

  • Reply
    Milton Coyne
    February 3, 2016 at 6:44 PM

    what a great place to unwind… I think i saw that Kawa bath on TV .. it’s either on Rated K or KMJS.. I will definitely include Panay Church on my itinerary if I will visit this lovely island
    thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Milton Coyne
    February 3, 2016 at 6:39 PM

    what a great place to visit as it has so many great sites to offer.. I think i saw that Kawa bath on Tv not sure if its on Rated K or KMJS… I will definitely include the Panay Church on my itinerary if I will visit this island..
    thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      Samantha Coronado
      February 3, 2016 at 9:00 PM

      Yeah, I liked Panay Church too. It was very striking to be just on the side of the road 🙂

  • Reply
    Jovelyn Mateo (@jovelynbmateo)
    February 3, 2016 at 5:36 PM

    Jelly!!! Huhu. I wanna travel so bad. “So the next time you find yourself itching to go to Boracay, know that there are also great alternatives when you choose the route less traveled.” I will keep this in mind for my future travel goals. Thanksss!!!

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