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Leyte & Samar

Enjoy waves, caves and stunning rock formations in Samar and vast coral gardens in Leyte
Top 10 Activities

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.

Manila sunset

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.

Pintados Festival

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.

Climate

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.

Ulanulan Falls

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.

6. Diving

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

XYZ Hotel Tacloban, Leyte

Getting there & away

Air

In Leyte, Tacloban City, the regional hub, has daily flights from Manila (1hr), Clark (1hr 20mins) and Cebu City (30mins).

Land

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.

Sea

Take a fast craft to Ormoc City from Cebu City (3hrs).

More travel info

For more general information on travel to and around the Philippine Islands, visit our travel information section:

Maps, travel tips, information on visas, working holidays and health and safety.

 

Wake up in Leyte & Samar

As we wait for the day to travel once again, discover the wonders that await you in our 7,641 islands from the comfort of your home. Stay at home, dream, and wake up in the Philippines.

Download the Leyte & Samar brochure here

Find out more information about the destination. Maps, attractions, shopping, activities, eating out, nightlife, accommodation and other useful links and contacts.

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. 


Bamboo Travel

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.


Audley Travel

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


Trailfinders

13 days from £1,879pp

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, the Philippines has implemented temporary travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. We urge you to stay home and follow community quarantine protocols.  LEARN MORE

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, the Philippines has implemented temporary travel restrictions.  LEARN MORE

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