Tacloban is the capitol of Leyte and de facto also from the Samar neighbor, another connection of the two islands of the Eastern Visayas is the common language "waray".
Tacloban is becoming meanwhile a pleasant provincal town with a Robinson-Mall and some quite good hotels with an advantageous price-performance.
In my view, Tacloban and the northern part of Leyte offers not very special tourist attractions - its more a passing station.
But for that, Southern Leyte will give you much more - specially if you are interested in diving and snorkeling!
Ok, the San Juanico - Bridge to Samar is a quite nice building and the longest bridge in the Philippines - 20 minutes north of Tacloban.
Ormoc is the second largest city from Leyte and the gate to Cebu(-City). Here, as at the whole west and south coast, Cebuano (Visaya) is spoken. With the Fastferry (Supercat) you can go in around 2 hours to Cebu-City.
Ormoc was in the past - like also some other places on Leyte - scene, of large, natural disasters caused by human acts! About 5000 people were killed 1991 by a landslide during a typhoon. One cause for this tragedy was the logging of the rainforest trees, which happens very radical in the past in Leyte. The later partial installation of coconut plantations - does not give the strength to the earth in the mountains like the rainforest before, if there will be several days strong rainfalls. That is one reason, because it cames again and again to strong landslides in Leyte (2003 San Francisco, 2006 Guinsaugon/St. Bernhard - both places in Southern Leyte) … and I am sure, there will be still more in the future.
I do not want to spoil the vacation here on Leyte - on the contrary, I spent here a majority of my time on the Philippines! However one should not stay close to steep mountain-slopes, if the rainy season is going on or typhoons passing by (it's also a good idea for other regions.)
From Ormoc you can reach easy and quick the Camotes Islands. A place with plenty of fine beaches, the condition of the corals is unfortunately in a poorer range, detailed information later on my "Cebu"-site.
Welcome Home Pension, Sto. Nino Str.,
Aircon rooms for 2, starts at 600 Peso.
GV Hotel, Avenida Veteranos,
Fanroom starts at 350 Peso, Aircon at 550 Peso, both with cable TV, because some room can be a little small, ask for the bigger one!
Casa Real, Real Str.,
Aircon + cable TV for 520 Peso.
Rosvenil Pension, Burgos Str.,
Rooms with Aircon and cable TV starts at 660 Peso, the nicer ones in the new building you get for 930 Peso.
Going to: Daily flights from Manila. Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Philippine Airlines.
Flights from Cebu to Tacloban and fastferry Cebu-City -Ormoc, from Ormoc by bus or van to Tacloban in around 2 1/2 hours.
Bus to Manila in 25 +/- hours.
From Surigao/Mindanao ferry to Liloan, from Liloan in 3 1/2 hours by van to Tacloban.
The visit of the big market (westside of the peer) is quite nice.
To the new busterminal you can go from the city by multicabs (start at the pier).
2 van-terminals (Van Van + Duptours) you can find inside the city. They offer you fast connections to all towns in Samar and Leyte. For bigger luggage you have to pay another seat. From the new busterminal starting also some vans.
Gerry´s Grill, Burgos Str.,
good philippino food, country-wide chain (you eat everywhere good),
at the weekend livemusic, middlepriced.
Socsargen Restaurant, close to the Rosevenil Pension (Burgos Str.),
another good philippino restaurant, middlepriced.
The Gustavian, small offshoot of the Cebu restaurant inside the Robinson Mall (Marasbaras), occasion to eat good salads and italian pasta, as soon as drinking fair wines. Middle to higher rates.
At the Magsaysay Boulevard (southeastern area) you can find the lions club restaurant with a veranda to the sea. Nice place by better weather, good view to Samar and the airport penisula. Simple food, cheap prices.
Plenty of bbq-restaurants in the Real Street, around corner to Gomez Str. Jollybee, Mc-Donald und Dunkin Donut you can find around the pier. From the 1. floor of the jollybee you have a good view to the San Juanico - Bridge (depending to the weather).
Favorable accommodations: Zenaidas, Navarro Str.,
Aircon and TV starts at 600 Peso.
GV Hotel, Real Str. (a little outside on the way to Tacloban), Fanrooms for 350 Peso, Aircon + TV for 550 Peso.
Restaurants: In the evening you can find many bbqs around the Larrazabal Blvd.
Jollybee in the Aviles Str.
The northwestern part of Leyte I did not visit already, thats why no further infos. I can tell you only, that you can go from San Isidro with outrigger boats to Maya on Cebu (1 time in the morning). From there it's only a short way to Malapascua (report later in the Cebu-website, very good beaches, snorkeling deserves not the visit, diver go there to see tresher-sharks.)
In San Isidro you will find simple accommodations and carinderas.
The trekkingtour from the lake Danao to the lake Mahagno seems to be only a myth. The Leyte mountain trail has been established 1982 from the DENR in corporations with an australian organisation, but already short times later the path wasn't passable. It was said you could do the trip in around 4 - 5 days, but i read in the internet from pinoy trekkers, the route isn't good for walking and you can't find anymore the way!
Another reason to stay away from the area, is the killing from one of the most famous philippine biologists (and some of his company) by the military in november 2010. The expedition was announced, but the military followed the old motto: First shooting, then asking! In the area are still some npa people and at the present time, there is also a struggle about new mining projects! So - the visit of the trail is just in time not recommondable - and you would also not get the necessary permit of the local DENR (philippine environmental office)!
The Lake Danao itself should be possible to visit without danger (hopeful!), in the surroundings one can find also geothermical plants for energy production.
My absolute highlights in (north) Leyte are the Cuatro Islands. As the name already says, 4 islands which are in front of the westcoast of the small town Inopacan. Prices for boats starts around 800 Peso, depending how many islands you like visit and how large is your company.
The islands are surrounded by very deep sea, they have a very good underwater world and meanwhile also some protected areas.
Himokilan, pic on the left side,shortest distance from Inopacan, with a large mountain. A village is situated on the northeastern part. At the north coast, more on the western part, you can find some nice beach bays, 100 meters outside there is a very good drop off for snorkeling. The reef edge is almost complete covered with corals and you can discover plenty of reef fishes and some bigger chaps.
The southwestern part of the island is a very strict sanctuary, even snorkeling and diving is forbidden!
Digyo, pic right side,flat beach island with some coconut trees. During holidays and weekends many locals come for visit. No accommodations, but the people bring tents or stay overnight in the open beach huts. Small entrance fee. At the southside the corals are not so good like in Himokilan, the northern Part should be more attractive, i couldn't discover, on my travel there been the waves to strong for snorkeling!
Mahaba, pic downside, beautiful beach on the east and northside, there are also fish and corals and frequently turtles. Village in the northwestern part.
Apid, the best place for landing with the boat is probably the village on the east side - even better is snorkeling just off the boat. All possible places on the land are settled or covered by rocks.
There is a german diving operator in Hilongos, the name is Naval-Diving. The accommodations of the place are not for budget traveler. On their website you find a good description of all the divesites (link).
A good starting point for the visit of the Cuatro Islands is Bay Bay. The small town is situated around 1 hour, by bus, south of Ormoc. From Tacloban a van needs a little more than 2 hours. Inopacan, from where you can rent boats, you can reach in 30 minutes. From Baybay are going also boats to Cebu City (6 hours).
The town is not very big, cheap restaurants at the peer. Nice sitting over the sea. At the bus- and jeepneyterminal you can find another good restaurant: "The captain". A frequently visited jollybee is on the mainstreet.
It's a good idea to rent a motorbike from locals and discover the coastline up and down, even more interesting is a trip inside the country up to the mountains, direction to Tacloban. You will find some rivers and you can hiking in the forest.
10 km north of Baybay is an agriculture researchcenter, some international scientists and students working there. They have a guesthouse and a restaurant.
GV Hotel, BonifacioStr.
Airconrooms with cable TV starts at 550 Peso, Fanrooms at 350 Peso, some rooms are very small.
A pleasant internet is close to the hotel.
JR Pension House, Decembrie Str.,
Fanrooms start at 300 Peso, Aircon at 500 Peso.
Plenty of ricefields surrounds the small towns of Hilongos and Bato. It is also possible to visit from these places the Cuatro Islands.
Both towns have a ferry connection with Bohol and Cebu.
From Bato starts a carferry in the evening and a boat with bunk beds to Cebu (6 hours), in the morning going 2 outriggerboats and a carferry to Ubay/Bohol (2 - 3 hours).
In Bato (pic downside) you can stay overnight in the EZA-Pension, located at the mainstreet, just where the buses and vans stops, rooms with aircon and TV start at 600 Peso. In the basement is a restaurant.
But you can buy also a delicious fish at the market and bring them for bbq, close by, to the small restaurants at the pier (by good weather enjoy the sunset).
Just south of Palo is a monument that shows the re-entry of the Americans in World War II. There were great struggles for the liberation from the Japanese and there are war graves. Every year in October veterans coming to the memorial ceremonies, but the action gets smaller since the participants have become increasingly less.
The beaches around Tacloban are not very attractive, a better option is a daytrip to Marabut/Samar or to the Sohoton Cave and the Nationalpark by Basey/Samar (Infos later at the Samar page).
Lots of rain you can expect from November until January.
Meanwhile it is not allowed for trikes to go to the airport, but there are jeepneys - 50 Peso per person (start at the pier). Also in the city area the trikes are not allowed to use some streets, so they need to made some curious detours. Taxis are mostly not available.
Employees of a city traffic control are watching the people - it is forbidden to cross the streets away from traffic lights or zebra crossings - be careful!