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Top 21 Best Things to do in Zamboanga City

Travel Guide: Things to do and see in Zamboanga City

Summertime is knocking on our doorways. Time to stop hiding in your homes, and time to go on an adventure. Invite your family and friends and grab your cameras, and tubes of sunscreen, because, in this article, we’re listing some of the amazing places to explore and the best things to do in Zamboanga City.

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regatta de Zamboanga

Zamboanga City is also known as “Asia’s Latin City” for a reason. Its main language, Chavacano, sounds a lot like Spanish. Its culture, like most of the country, is also heavily influenced by the Spanish colonizers. Even the local dance and songs hint Spanish roots. Its religious structures and landmarks are also heavily influenced by the Spaniards.

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Pink Sand Beach of Sta Cruz Island

Zamboanga City is dubbed as a European city in Asia, thus the name “Latin City”. And it’s more than just a fancy city with a Latin Spanish European feel. It’s an awesome city in the Philippines that has a lot of things to offer. Are you ready for Zamboanga City this summer? Because it’s ready for you:

Sample Curacha

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Road tripping with friends is never complete without food tripping. As a foodie, I have had that as a principle.

I love Zamboanga City because it offers a diversity of delicacies, some local, some Spanish, and some Spanish with a twist of Zamboangeno. Some affordable, some exquisite, some locally unique. Here is one of Zamboanga’s food that you shouldn’t miss out on trying:

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Curacha Alavar Seafood Restaurant

The curacha. The curacha is a Zamboangeno spanner crab that is cooked in so many ways. This crustacean variety is abundantly available in Zamboanga City’s markets. You can buy your family a whole kilo to cook for yourself or go out and fine dine-in in Zamboanga’s seafood restaurants.

Try Satti

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Satti

Satti is a super spicy local dish that is, believe it or not, actually a local breakfast meal. But for tourists, satti is a nice bowl to try in the middle of summer, with all those flavors exploding! There’s always someone in the group who loves spicy food. However, if there’s none, why not give Satti a try? It’s never too late to become a spicy-food-lover convert.

Try Tetuan Lechon

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Tetuan Lechon

If Quezon City has La Loma, Zamboanga has Tetuan – an area where you will find several shops selling their own version of Tetuan Lechon. Similar to Lechon Cebu, Zamboanga’s Lechon is tasty and a little bit salty.

Sample Knickerbocker!

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Knickerbocker

It’s Zamboanga’s very own version of Halo-Halo. What’s the difference then? Knickerbocker has fresh tropical fruits in it with crushed ice, vanilla ice cream in the middle of the glass, and topped with a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

Visit Port Pilar Shrine

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The Altar of the Port Pilar Shrine

If you’re the type of traveler who never leaves a place without visiting at least one church to pray in, then you’re in luck. Zamboanga City has a lot of churches, some old, and some new. One of the most popular places of worship is Port Pilar Shrine, located within the 17th-century military defense fortress built by the Spanish colonial government in Zamboanga City.

Outside the eastern wall is a Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of the city, pontifically crowned on 12 October 1960 via decree dating from 18 September 1960.

Visit The Metropolitan Cathedral of Zamboanga City

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Zamboanga Cathedral By RobloxianMoth – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Zamboanga City is a known church for its pure white exterior and unique architecture. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. Make sure to keep your awe to yourself when gazing at this beautiful structure. Masses might be ongoing.

Visit The Taluksangay Mosque

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Taluksangay Mosque

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Inside Taluksangay Mosque

The Taluksangay Mosque, on the other hand, is the oldest mosque in Western Mindanao. The Mosque was built by Hadji Abdullah Maas Nuno in 1885 in the Barangay Taluksangay in Zamboanga City.

This sacred structure is prominent for its bright red domes. Taluksangay was the first center of Islamic propagation in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Tourists and pilgrims alike are attracted by this modernly designed mosque.

Explore Cawa Cawa Boulevard

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Cawa-Cawa Boulevard

Although one generally strolls around as a traveler, Zamboanga City offers a lot of beautiful parks perfect for jogging in the morning, strolling and picture-taking in the afternoon, or simply walking around on with a loved one.

The seaside Cawa Cawa Boulevard, for instance, is the perfect spot to get some fresh air and sunshine. Nearby the Boulevard is a port of some vinta, where you can rent for a small fee and sail on with friends or loved ones. Regardless if you’re walking or oaring, Cawa Cawa Boulevard is the perfect place to unwind.

Roam around Rizal Park

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Rizal Park Zamboanga City

Meanwhile, there’s Rizal Park that’s located right in front of the Zamboanga City Hall. If you prefer strolling around in the urban rather than the seaside, Rizal Park should be your choice. The park is surrounded by restaurants and establishments as well.

Visit Pasonanca Park

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Pasonanca Tree House

But if you’re a nature lover or simply want to get away from the bustling streets, go drop by at Pasonanca Park. The public park has lots of facilities, which include a swimming pool and even a treehouse. The park property also houses a national park under the same name, which is managed under the Philippine National Integrated Protected Areas System.

Shop at Canelar Barter Trade Center

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Canelar Barter Trade Center

If Metro Manila has a Divisoria, Zamboanga City has a Canelar Barter Trade Center, a long street of crafts, clothes, souvenirs, food, imported Malaysian food products, and just about anything. Each stall is colorful and unique, so if you need to buy a souvenir there’s no need to look anywhere else. Haggling here is totally fine as well. It’s part of the Filipino culture.

Buy Souvenirs at Yakan Village

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Zamboanga Yakan Village

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some ornaments to bring home to spice up your interior design, Yakan Village is abundant with artistic handicrafts and weaved mats, among others. The Yakans are known in the country as one of the best weavers, and you can buy directly from them in Yakan Village.

If you want to bring home a souvenir that is culturally and unmistakably Yakan, then make sure to drop by Yakan Village and support the Yakan weavers.

Visit the Pink Sand Beach

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Zamboanga Pink Sand Beach

Asia’s Latin City isn’t done with you yet. It still has lots of wonders waiting to be explored. Zamboanga City houses the Great Santa Cruz Island and its well-known pink sands and clear water.

The Great Santa Cruz Island is also popularly known as the Pink Beach. The island has an amazing pink sand beach that came from pulverized red organ pipe coral that is mixed with the island’s white sand.

Discover Ancient Burial Grounds

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These Badjao grave markers are also called Sundok

Located in a heavily forested area of the Great Santa Cruz Island is a historical burial ground that, although inactive, still contains historical remnants that are culturally significant and interesting.

Visit the ZSCMST Bird Sanctuary

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ZSCMST Bird Sanctuary in Zamboanga City

If you love wildlife and are a budding bird photographer, make sure to visit and watch birds in the ZSCMST fishpond, located in the Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology campus compound. The area is also the first-ever documented breeding ground of the Great Egret in the country. The Great Egret is an elegantly white bird that can measure 3.3 feet tall and have a wingspan of almost 6 feet.

Visit Merloquet Falls and Congo Falls in Zamboanga City

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Merloquet falls

Take your summer to a whole new level by frolicking on the cool waters of Merloquet Falls and Congo Falls in Zamboanga City. These two waterfalls are not sandy like the Great Santa Cruz Island, but hey, they’re relatively more secluded, and the vegetation and surrounding rock formations may just be the best backdrop for your next display picture on Facebook.

Stroll at Paseo del Mar

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Paseo Del Mar Aerial View

Another interesting natural tourist destination is Paseo del Mar. Paseo del Mar is also the perfect place to relax. It’s a beautiful habitat of diverse species of birds and mangroves, and with you and your friends roaring on the quiet water and the birds flying around above you, you’ll definitely forget all of your worries.

Island Hopping at Once Islas

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Bisaya-Bisaya Island at Once Islas Zamboanga City

Once Islas is a cluster of small and big islands located at Brgy. Panubigan and Brgy. Dati in Zamboanga City. This new eco-cultural tourism attraction opened to the public last July 2018.

It is composed of 11 islands along the Moro Gulf. Among the 11 islands, only 3 are opened to the public and can be reached by registering at the office of Barangay Panubigan. The islands that can be visited are Bisaya-Bisaya, Sirommon and Baung-Baung.

Visit the BPI Museum

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BPI Museum Zamboanga

As part of the historic branch’s opening on August 17, 2012, the BPI foundation unveiled the lifestyle museum on the second floor to celebrate the Zamboanga office’s centennial celebration. The museum takes people back to the beginning of the 20th century and depicts the life and culture of Zamboangueños at the end of the Spanish colonial period, and the beginning of the American period.

The BPI Museum houses antique furniture, vintage photographs, and an exhibit are found all throughout the six rooms and grand sala. There is an array of material on BPI history and the BPI Zamboanga branch’s history as well.

Visit El Museo de Zamboanga

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El Museo de Zamboanga

The museum is located at Jardin Maria Clara Lobregat Complex inside Pasonanca Park in Zamboanga City.

“El Museo de Zamboanga” or the Zamboanga City Museum houses valuable artifacts, items, collections, and memorabilia, that have historical, social, and cultural significance to Zamboanga. The museum will enhance the interest of the people, particularly the young, for them to appreciate the past and diverse cultural personality of Zamboangueños and educate, enlighten, and immerse them in how the City came to be by re-presenting the “old” settings to the future.

Visit the Zamboanga City Hall

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Zamboanga City Hall

The Zamboanga City Hall is the seat of the local government of Zamboanga City. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines considers the city hall building a National Historical Site.

The construction of the historic building was commenced in 1905 by the Federal Government of the United States and was completed in 1907. The building served as the official residence of the US Military Governor of the Moro Province. It later became the seat of government of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu and the defunct Zamboanga province. Since 1937, the building has been functioning as the city hall of Zamboanga City. The Zamboanga City Hall has a Filipino colonial architectural design.

How to get to Zamboanga City

Now that we’ve mentioned five of the many, many perks of Zamboanga City, it’s about time we know how to get there, of course!

Zamboanga City is accessible by land, air, and water. Major carriers in the country fly to and from Manila, Cebu, and Davao daily. Flights usually last for only 1.5 hours, so no need to worry about getting plane sick.

By Air

Launched last October 27, 2020, AirAsia now flies 2x weekly from Manila to Zamboanga VV.

By Land

Asia’s Latin City is also very accessible by land. There are bus lines in Manila that travel to a roll-on-roll-off barge to get to the city.

By Sea

Ships to Zamboanga City travel once a week. Ships from Manila travel to Zamboanga via Iloilo. Ship sails usually take longer to reach the destination, but hey, if you’re with your group of friends or loved ones, then take that as another great adventure.

Getting Around Zamboanga City

Now, once you’ve gotten to Zamboanga City, make sure to note that there are no taxis around. Transportation here comes in the form of walking, biking, riding a tricycle, or riding a jeepney. If you’re a tourist and don’t know the jeepney routes, it is recommended that you ride tricycles first. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting in.

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