All you need to know about Leyte & Samar
Discover exotic Kalanggaman Island and nature-based activities including mountain trekking, birding and glamping in the region’s protected landscapes and seascapes.
Expect world-class white-sand beaches and water sports such as diving and surfing, as well as other outdoors fun including mountain trekking.
Why it’s more fun in Leyte & Samar
Ecologically minded tourists love this region for the various environmental initiatives that have been introduced to preserve its incredible biosystem – resources that together make this the perfect natural playground for those who love wildlife encounters, water sports and walking amidst stunning scenery ranging from volcanic lakes to reforested mangroves. About a third of Samar is preserved and included in the Samar Island Natural Park, while its twin-island of Leyte has more than its fair share of surprises with its remote and pristine islands.
Biri Rock Formations Gerry Ruiz
Culture & Food
Periods of Spanish and American colonisation mean there is so much culture to be enjoyed – from architecture to traditional regional dances seen at local celebrations, bringing together Roman Catholicism with Hindu-Buddhist-Animist folklore. Tacloban, the educational, cultural and commercial centre of the Eastern Visayas, is a hub for local festivities. But small festivals take place in every town annually. Don’t miss Tacloban’s Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum with its bas-relief of the legend of Malakas and Maganda (the first Filipino man and woman) and its painting of the 14 stations of the cross by Filipino artists.
Many people in Samar and eastern Leyte are Waray, a largely rural people who have retained many beliefs and much of their folklore from pre-Christian times, and who are famed for their strong and very beautiful women.
Don’t miss a taste of the local delicacy of binagol (a half-coconut shell filled with mashed taro with condensed milk, coconut milk and egg yolks, sold at pavement stalls), Abuyog’s moron (ground sticky rice cooked in coconut milk flavoured with cocoa) and tuba (coconut wine). Local seafood, fresh or salted, features highly on menus. The culinary tradition of Leyte and Samar blends the local with Chinese, Continental European and American flavours.
Top Events & Festivals
- Fiesta del Sr. Sto. Niño de Tacloban – June
including region’s oldest Pintados Festival.
- Buyogan Festival – August
A dance of buyog or honeybees.
- Manaragat Festival of Catbalogan – August
A tribute to the local fisherfolk.
- Padul-ong Festival of Borongan – September
Honouring Our Lady of the Nativity.
- Karatong Festival of Dulag, Leyte – September
Remembers the Moro Raids.
- Leyte Gulf Landings Commemorations – October
- OkTuba Festival – October
Coconut wine celebration.
- Lawig Festival of Palompon, Leyte – December
Depicting the story of St Francis Xavier.
There is no pronounced wet and dry season in Eastern Visayas. Rain is evenly distributed throughout the year with August to December the heaviest.
Check out the weather today in Samar
Top 10 things to do in Leyte & Samar
MacArthur Landing Memorial
1. Coastal Drive
Drive the scenic coastal highways of Leyte and Samar
2. Kalanggaman Island
Discover Kalanggaman Island in Palompon, a remote model of sustainability, or head off to the tiny tropical Cuatro Islas
3. MacArthur Landing Memorial
Dig into history at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park at Red Beach, Palo, on Leyte, where the US general came ashore in WWII.
4. Mahagnao Volcano
Head to Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park in Burauen and La Paz, Leyte, with craters, hot springs and lakes.
5. Lake Danao
Take a dip in the violin-shaped lake in Lake Danao Natural Park in Ormoc City and simply laze in the lush rainforest.
Go diving/snorkeling on the coral reefs around Southern Leyte’s Sogod Bay dive sites and interact with whale sharks in Pintuyan with a bonus trip to historic Limasawa Island
7. Panhulugan show cave
Explore Samar Island Natural Park, the Philippines’ biggest protected terrestrial wonder, which includes the Panhulugan show cave in Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge and the Calbiga Caves, world’s 4th biggest karst cave system
Sogod Bay Scuba Resort
8. Canoe the rapids
Shoot the rapids of Ulot River in Paranas, Samar via a motorised dugout canoe
9. Rock Formations
See the magnificent rock formations on the island of Biri, Northern Samar
10. Surf CAmp
Catch some waves in Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar with its surf camps.
Where to stay in Leyte & Samar
Leyte and Samar: The region’s largest hotels are situated in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte and Calbayog in Samar. But all over the islands, other cities and towns offer accommodation of various kinds and classifications including beach and dive resorts in the Sogod Bay dive sites in Southern Leyte, boutique hotels and tourist inns and speciality resorts like the one in Calicoan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, with its surf camps.
XYZ Hotel Tacloban, Leyte
Getting there & away
In Leyte, Tacloban City, the regional hub, has daily flights from Manila (1hr), Clark (1hr 20mins) and Cebu City (30mins).
From Manila, Clark and Cebu City you can hire a car or van to explore Leyte, Biliran and Samar, or you can get between the islands’ major cities and towns by bus, mini- vans, jeepneys and tricycle taxis.
Take a fast craft to Ormoc City from Cebu City (3hrs).
More travel info
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Maps, travel tips, information on visas, working holidays and health and safety.
Wake up in Leyte & Samar
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Book a holiday
Dreaming of heading to the Philippines? Plan your next adventure and book your ultimate Philippines holiday today. Check out some of the great packages that are currently on offer from tour operators below.
Grand Tour of the Philippines
Grand tour of the Philippines’ is a comprehensive 23-day exploration of the most important islands in the Philippine archipelago. Visit the famous rice terraces, picturesque Negos, Bohol and Cebu islands taking in both history and pristine beaches.
23 days from £4,785pp
Classic Tour of the Philippines
Culturally and geographically removed from the rest of Southeast Asia, this green archipelago is best known for its pristine beaches. Spend time in the capital city of Manila, trek to an Ifugao village or visit the stunning rice terraces of Banaue.
15 days from £3,725pp
Philippines Northern Explorer & Beach Escape
Explore the majestic scenery of the north and gain a real insight into the traditional cultures and warm hospitality of the Philippines. Tour highlights include the stunning Banaue rice terraces, Sagada’s ‘hanging coffins’ and Boracay’s white-sand beaches
13 days from £1,879pp
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