Mindanao is the Philippines’ 2nd largest island group. Many people especially foreigners think that Mindanao is a place you should avoid because of various conflicts, but I have to say, Mindanao is very peaceful and the people there are very friendly.
Field Trip Boy has visited Mindanao several times. I even lived in Butuan City for almost half a year because of my work assignments. I’ve also visited and toured some of the best and beautiful places in Mindanao such as Davao, Cagayan de Oro as well as those so called ‘Hidden Tourist Spots” and dive sites in Surigao.
Mindanao is very rich in natural resources. This place is one of the last frontiers of the Philippines because of its unexplored natural wonders. Many of the places are also not yet commercialized, thus you can visit these tourist spots without spending much. Mindanao is the best place to spend a cheap yet fun and adventure filled vacation or a week end get away.
Here is Field Trip Boy’s List of the Most Popular Tourist Spots and Destinations in Mindanao.
Davao City and Samal Island
Davao City is the world’s largest city in terms of land area. It is also one of the most developed and urbanized cities in Mindanao. You can find a lot of hotels like the famous Davao Marco Polo and cheap pension houses and restaurants in Davao City.
Davao is famous for its pasalubong items especially tropical fruits like Durian and the Davao Pomelo that you can score in the designated Davao pasalubong centers. There are also a lot of white sand beaches within the city. Some beaches are open to the public and you only need to pay 20 pesos as entrance fee.
If you want to see more white sand beaches, you can ride a boat going to Samal Island. This island is the home of the famous Pearl Farm Island Resort. I’ve been there once, and I have to say, Pearl Farm is truly a tropical paradise. Thankfully, the trip was a reward trip from my company then, so paying for the world class and luxurious accommodations like their Beach Villa ($500 or roughly 20,000 Pesos) was not charged against my pay check. But for budget conscious travelers who want to have a cheap and affordable vacation in Davao, there are a lot of affordable white sand beaches located around Samal Island.
For nature lovers, I suggest you go to Eden Nature Park in Davao City. Here you can do a lot of outdoor activities like zip lines as well as tour inside the tropical forest. The park is part of Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines.
You can also visit the Philippine Eagle Foundation and see the Philippine Eagle up close and personal. Another popular tourist spot in the city is the Davao Crocodile Farm. These attractions are favorites among those who are on an educational field trip southern part of the Philippines
Best time to visit Davao City is during August wherein the city celebrates it’s annual Kadayawan sa Davao Festival and is the season where the Durian, Lanzones and Rambutan bears their sweetest fruits.
Cagayan De Oro City
The other premier city in Mindanao is Cagayan de Oro City or popularly known as CDO. Cagayan de Oro is the capital of Misamis Oriental. Davao City is around a 6 hour drive away from CDO. Going to Camiguin best suits your Cagayan de Oro itinerary. This is the best side trip this part of Mindanao.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Cagayan de Oro and one of the must try Eco-tourism destination in the Philippinesis the White Water Rafting in Carmen. But it is better to do your white water rafting during the summer for the river might swell during the rainy season.
Hamon de Cagayan or preserved ham is a must buy pasalubong item when in Cagayan de Oro.
Best time to visit CDO is in August because of the annual Kagay-an Festival where you can see a lot of street dancing and open air bazaars and trade fairs.
Camiguin is called the “Island Born of Fire” because of the island’s 7 volcanoes, the most famous of which is Hibok Hibok Volcano. Camiguin is a beautiful island in the northern part of Mindanao can be reached via Cagayan de Oro.
Camiguin is famous for its sweet tasting Mambajao lanzones and delectable pastries called Pastel.
Camiguin also is rich in history and natural resources. It has a number of white sand beaches, cold and hot springs and a number of waterfalls. Paras Beach Resort is a famous beach resort in Camiguin.
The most popular tourist spot in Camiguin is the Sunken Cemetery. The Sunken Cemetery was a piece of land taken back by the sea aftern the eruption of Bulkan Daan on 1871. Now a white cross marks the area where the cemetery once stood. This Camiguin tourist spot is now converted into a dive and snorkeling site for tourists and divers.
Unique to Camiguin is the Bura Soda Water Swimming Pool where in you can really swim in a pool of soda water. It is located in Catarman, Camiguin.
Camiguin’s famous waterfalls include the 70 meter high Katibawasan Falls and the Tuasan Falls.
One of the fastest growing cities in Mindanao in terms of commerce and tourism is the city of Iligan. Iligan City is the capital of the Province of Lanao del Norte. Iligan City is called the “City of Majestic Waterfalls” because of it’s 20 plus waterfalls located in and around the city. Iligan City is also popular because of the Kasadya Festival which features local folk dances and other local traditions.
The most famous among the waterfalls in Iligan City is the Maria Cristina Falls. Maria Cristina Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in thePhilippines and is a prime electric source in Iligan. Another famous waterfall in Iligan City is the Tinago Falls.
For your shopping needs, you can go to Gaisano Citi Super Mall, one of the largest malls in Mindanao.
The tear drop shape island of Siargao is one of the most famous surfing destinations in the Philippines.
Surfers coming from as far as Hawaiiand Australiaare often seen here to try their luck in Siargao’s famous surf, the Cloud 9. The Cloud Nine wave in Siargao Island is considered one of the 5 toughest waves to ride.
ZamboangaCityis called the City of Flowers and one of the most beautiful cities inMindanao. Zamboanga City is also the home of the very colorful Vinta or sail boats.
Zambaoanga City is famous for its seafood produce particularly dried fish like danggit and dried pusit. When in Zamboanga, you must try their famous catch the Curacha, a large native crab.
The culture in the city is a bit different from the rest ofMindanao. The people here speak Chavacano, a mixture or local dialects and the Spanish language.
There are a lot of other beautiful places in Mindanao that are just waiting to be explored. Come now and visit Mindanao and share to the rest of the world the beauty of this place.
How to go to Mindanao
Most major cities in Mindanao have their own airports like Davao, General Santos, CDO, Butuan, Zamboanga, Siargao and more. Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Airphil Express and Zest Air have regular flights going to and from these cities.
The largest airports in Mindanao are those in located in Davao Cityand Cagayan de Oro City. Cagayan de Oro also has a major sea port.
Surigao City in Northern Mindanao is the “Gateway of Mindanao” because it is the main port for the RORO or the “Roll on, Roll Off System”. For those who want to take their cars or motorcycles toMindanao and have a road trip there, you should take this route. Bus liners from Manila, like Philtranco, has bus that uses and boards the Roro system and have scheduled trips to Davao and CDO.
There are also a lot of big ships and marine vessels going from Manila and some cities in the Visayas Region like in Cebu that has scheduled trips going to Mindanao. Traveling by boat from Luzon or Visayas to go to Mindanao is cheaper compared to air travel.
Make Mindanao and its prime tourist destinations part of your travel bucket list!
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