Nicknamed “Asia’s Latin City” due to its Spanish influences, Zamboanga City is a commercial and industrial hub on the island of Mindanao. It’s clustered with historic buildings and modern landmarks that include a whitewashed cathedral and is also on the doorstep of picturesque islands and traditional villages.
Things to do in Zamboanga City
Founded as a garrison in 1635, Fort Pilar is an open-air shrine that tells the story of how the Zamboangeños fought for their freedom. It houses a branch of the National Museum where cultural and historical artefacts are on display. Adjacent to the shrine lies the picturesque Paseo del Mar, which offers views of the neighbouring islands and is home to an impressive Dancing Fountain.
Dominating Zamboanga City’s skyline is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a modern church that houses a marble statue designed by Napoleon Abueva. Admire the stained-glass windows featuring symbolic images of Mindanao’s dioceses and see a replica of Michelangelo’s “Pieta” within the cathedral’s columbarium.
After exploring Zamboanga City, make a day trip to the waterfront Rio Hondo Village, which is clustered with wooden stilt houses connected by a series of boardwalks. Also not to miss is the Yakan Weaving Village where traditional textiles are crafted and local handicrafts are for sale. You can also cruise to the famous pink sand beach of Great Santa Cruz Island or kick back on the powdery white sands of Little Santa Cruz.
Getting around Zamboanga City
Zamboanga International Airport is a five-minute drive from the city centre and has flights to destinations across the Philippines. Long-distance buses connect to towns and villages across Mindanao while ferries travel to neighbouring islands and Sandakan in Malaysia. Taxis, jeepneys and tricycles are the main means of getting around the city.