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The Visayas are a major island and cultural grouping in the very centre of the Philippines, sub-divided for our purposes into three regions: Central, Eastern and Western Visayas.

The Visayas have many beautiful and pristine white sand beaches and their colorful history began with the earliest migration of the Malays from mainland Asia.

The world famous island resort of Boracay is located in the western part while diving site of Malapascua island is at the central part. Other famous landmarks include the Chocolate Hills of Carmen, Bohol, the San Juanico Bridge of Leyte and whale watching in the Tañon Strait off Bais City. w:Limasawa Island off the southern coast of Leyte is where the first mass in the Philippines was held on 31 March 1521 by the Portuguese adventurer Ferdinand Magellan during the first circumnavigation of the earth.

Regions

Regions of Visayas
  Western Visayas (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental)
Beautiful white sand islands, postcard-perfect coral reefs, and colorful festivals make this region a perfect place for vacation. Home to Asia's 24/7 island, Boracay
  Central Visayas
consists of the islands of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and the eastern Negros Oriental part of the island of Negros which it shares with the Western Visayas region
  Eastern Visayas
the islands of Biliran, Samar and Leyte make up this region

Cities

  • Bacolod — the capital of Negros Occidental and is home of the MassKara Festival where it got its name "The City of Smiles"
  • Calbayog — the capital of Samar
  • Cebu — the regional center of Central Visayas and the capital of the island province of Cebu. It anchors the sprawling Metro Cebu urban area. It is home of the famous Sinulog Festival and the Magellan Shrine. It is nicknamed the 'Queen City of the South"
  • Dumaguete — the provincial capital of Negros Oriental; coconut Baye-Baye, a clean sea-front boulevard and protestant University
  • Iloilo — known as the "City of Love" in the Philippines. Once named Queen's City in the South. Known for its festival, the Dinagyang.
  • Tacloban — the regional center of Eastern Visayas and the capital of the province of Leyte. It is home of the famous Pintados Festival and the San Juanico Bridge that connects Leyte island to Samar Island. The city was leveled by Typhoon Haiyan (with winds of over 300 km/h!!) in November 2013.
  • Tagbilaran — the capital of Bohol province
  • Roxas — the capital of Capiz province

Other destinations

Understand

Talk

There are three major local dialects in the Visayas group of islands; Waray, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon (the language of the Ilonggo). Waray is widely spoken and the dominant dialect in the Eastern Visayas and spoken from Samar island to the northern part of Leyte and parts of Biliran. Cebuano is widely spoken in the Central Visayas including Southern Leyte, parts of Biliran and the eastern part of Negros island. Hiligaynon is widely spoken in Panay island, Guimaras island and the western part of Negros. There are other local languages in the Visayas such as Inabaknon in Capul Island while Karay-a is spoken in some parts of Panay Island. Despite differences in local languages, most Visayan people speak and understand Cebuano, English and Tagalog. Many locals will also understand other world languages such as Arabic, German, French, Russian and Spanish since the Visayas are home to many of the overseas workers that keep the Philippines afloat economically with their monthly remittances and then come home to retire and build a house with their savings.

English: Good morning! Waray: Maupay nga aga! Cebuano: Maayong buntag! Ilonggo: Maayong aga!

English: Good afternoon! Waray: Maupay nga kulop! Cebuano: Maayong hapon! Ilonggo: Maayong hapon!

Get in

  • Air Asia fly from Manila to Cebu city, Kalibo, Tagbilaran, Tacloban. Puerto Princesa.

Get around

See

Festivals

  • Ati-atihan Festival (January)
  • Dinagyang Festival (January)
  • Sinulog Festival (January)
  • Pintados Festival (June)
  • MassKara Festival (October)

Landmarks

  • San Juanico Bridge
  • Magellan's Shrine
  • Magellan's Cross

Natural Spots

  • Chocolate Hills
  • Langun-Gobingob Caves
  • Sogod Bay
  • Danao Lake

Itineraries

  • East-Central-West (Route 1)
  1. Fly to Catarman, Samar Island
  2. Bus ride to Tacloban City, Leyte Island
  3. Bus ride to Ormoc City, Leyte Island
  4. Ride ferry to cross to Cebu City, island of Cebu
  5. Ride ferry to cross to Tagbilaran City, Bohol Island
  6. Ride ferry to cross to Dumaguete City, Negros Island
  7. Bus ride to Bacolod City, Negros Island
  8. Ride ferry to cross to Iloilo City, Panay Island
  9. Bus ride to Caticlan
  10. Boat ride to Boracay and back to Caticlan
  11. Fly out Caticalan Airport


  • East-Central-West (Route 2)
  1. Fly to Catarman, Samar Island
  2. Bus ride to Tacloban City, Leyte Island
  3. Bus ride to Sogod, Southern Leyte
  4. Ride ferry to cross to Ubay, Bohol Island
  5. Bus ride to Tagbilaran City
  6. Ride ferry to cross to Cebu City
  7. Ride ferry to cross to Dumaguete City, Negros Island
  8. Bus ride to Bacolod City, Negros Island
  9. Ride ferry to cross to Iloilo City, Panay Island,
  10. Bus ride to Caticlan
  11. Boat ride to Boracay and back to Caticlan
  12. Fly out Caticalan Airport


  • West-Central-East (reverse route 1 & 2)

Do

Eat

Drink

Stay safe

The area has significant risk of typhoons; travellers should check weather reports regularly and either take precautions or, even better, get out of the area when a storm is expected.

The Visayas were hit extremely hard by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest tropical storms on record, in November 2013. Thousands were killed and whole towns flattened. Cleanup and rebuilding were almost done when they were hit again by Typhoon Ruby in December 2014. Damage this time is not nearly as severe but travellers should expect disruption of various services, especially in the Eastern Visayas.

Stay healthy

As for most travel, it is worth checking with your doctor and possibly getting some vaccines before setting out. The area is tropical, so see also tropical diseases.

Unlike some other areas of the country, the Visayas have no risk of malaria. Dengue fever, on the other hand, is fairly common so taking precautions against mosquitoes is a good idea and the dengue vaccine should be considered once it is available (not yet, as of Feb 2016).

The region has lots of stray or feral dogs and cats, and some rats and mice, so rabies vaccinations may be a good idea.

Go next

The obvious places to go next are the other parts of the Philippines — north to Luzon, south to Mindanao, or west to Palawan. There are flights and ferries to some of those from most major cities in the Visayas. Cebu City is the main hub.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport has connections to many Asian cities, and a few beyond Asia. Iloilo and Kalibo airports also have some international flights.

This region travel guide to Visayas is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!