Fifteen years ago, my parents dragged me out of Tacloban City where I left behind all my friends, schoolmates and practically everything I consider valuable on my teenage self. When I left Tacloban, the first Jollibee had just opened, there was only 1 intersection with a working traffic light and eating French fries dipped into gravy at Cindy’s was considered the coolest thing to do. Over the years I have returned to the place of my childhood and believe me, a lot has changed.
Before we only had Gaisano and Dynasty Square to fulfill our retail fantasies, now they have Robinsons and a bunch of other stores. Jose Karlo was the only coffee shop then, now they have Bo’s Coffee and Café Lucia (and who knows, maybe Starbucks a few years from now J). And for teenagers, the only hangout place then was Magsaysay Blvd (or Mags as we like to call it) and although ‘Mags’ is still mighty popular, they now have various nightspots at Astrodome. And best of all, there are now a lot of traffic lights and their traffic lights are awesome (well, compared to Cebu anyway), you will feel like you’re on a drag race or something
How to get to Tacloban from Cebu:
- By Air – Cebu Pacific and Airphil Express has daily flights to Tacloban from Cebu. Airphil in the morning and Cebu Pacific handle the afternoon crowd. When you arrive at the airport, there are no taxis waiting for you, instead just board on a San Jose route jeepney. This will take you to the downtown area, fare as of date is 12 PHP. When you get to the downtown area, just board on a tricycle and the driver will take you anywhere in the city; fare for the tricycle within the city is 7 PHP.
- By Sea – Fast crafts like Weesam and 2Go (formerly Supercat) regularly sails from Cebu to Ormoc 3x a day. The trip will take about 2-3 hours and from Ormoc, you have to take a bus or a van for hire to Tacloban. The drive from Ormoc to Tacloban will take about 2-4 hours depending on the driver a nd weather conditions and will cost about 120 PHP. For safety purposes, I suggest you take the Duptour vans, although it seems slow but it is always better to be safe than sorry ayt? When you get to Tacloban City, just hop on a tricycle and tell the driver where you’re going.
- By Land – Don’t even think of doing this unless you really need to bring your own car or you are just plain crazy. By land from Cebu is accessible via Bogo to Palompon route. From Palompon, expect a 3-4 hr drive.
Where to Stay in Tacloban
Now that you have figured out how to get to Tacloban, the next question will be where will you be spending the night. I have categorized my preference by budget since basically I am a cheap ass but sometimes I really would like to experience how it is to enjoy luxurious rooms.
For the big guns:
- Oriental Hotel – Situated in Palo and beside the MacArthur Memorial Park, this new hotel is probably like the Leyte Park Hotel on its heyday, quite expensive but the rooms are nice, the staff are clearly inexperienced but courteous enough and the grounds well kept. Basically you get your money’s worth by foreign standards. Average room rate is about 95 USD, quite pricey for a cheap ass like me.
- Leyte Park Hotel – This old dame might need a few repairs but for me, nothing beats the location and the romantic atmosphere only Leyte Park can offer on this side of the country. It is near the downtown area but far enough to give its residents some peace and quiet. Average room rate is about 50-70 USD.
For the average guns:
- Alejandro Hotel – An old ancestral house converted into a hotel. The place has a very homey feel to it without sacrificing all the comforts of present day. Average room rate is 30-60 USD.
For the cheap ass:
- Rosvenil Pensione – Highly recommended by yours truly J. The rooms and the bathrooms are tiny by foreign standards (in fairness, spacious by Hong Kongstandards) and place also has a very homey feel to it. Location wise, it is also good; there is a grill right out front and a 24 hr Goto place just around the corner. Everything is basically a tricycle ride away from this place Average room rate: 700 PHP for a single room.
- GV Hotel – stayed here once and it never fails to remind me of action movies where shady deals are being done on ever shadier places. The place is cheap yeah but hell, I couldn’t sleep most of the time because I keep hearing footsteps outside and the place badly needs repair. Heck, the shower knobs came off just when I was rinsing off shampoo! So in conclusion, unless you are really, really into a very tight budget, don’t try this place. Average room rate: 600 PHP for a single room.
How to get to Tacloban – check!
Where to stay in Tacloban – check!
What to do in Tacloban – click here.