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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Two Days around Surigao Del Sur: Itinerary, Guide and Travel Expenses

I never heard much about traveling on the side of Eastern Mindanao and was quite surprised when I watched a TV feature about the Enchanted River that was actually located in Surigao Del Sur. Me and some office mates booked a flight with the goal of seeing the said body of water and SOCCSKSARGEN in the duration of 8 days.

surigao del sur travel
Highlights of our trip to Surigao del Sur

PLANNING

We were restricted to have only two-days for Surigao del Sur so we weren't able to visit Surigao del Norte, even have a quick run through of the tourist spots in Butuan! We would have had at least three days in the province but my companions are leaving earlier and they wanted to squeeze all the highlights of Surigao before moving on to the next one and then leaving for Manila. So I was only able to plan for places that we shouldn't miss for this trip. There are actually other interesting places such as below that you could check out while in the Southern Surigao aside from the places that we visited:
Cagwait Beach Resort
Cansilad Beach Resort
Malinawa Cool Spring

mindanao
map of where we went at Surigao del Sur (credits to: denrcaraga.site90.com)

GUIDE

How to go to Surigao del Sur:
From Manila - easiest way is to either take a plane or ferry going to Butuan. From there, there are buses that could take you to different parts of the province.
From Davao - there are buses that go directly to Bislig or you could also hop on buses that head for Butuan and alight at your planned city.

ACCOMMODATION

Where to stay at Britania:
There are actually few options of resorts in Britania such as Oasis Resort and the more famous La Entrada, but we opted for Mac Arthur's place. I am glad we decided to stay here since the staff were very accomodating and friendly. The rooms are basic but has air conditioner, though I think the bathroom was pretty small. The staff also gave us discount for the boat rental as there were only three of us, she offered the tour for 1,200 pesos (normally it is 1,500 but can accommodate 15 persons). Just be mindful of your stuff since my friend lost his cellphone here. :( For a room rate of 1,200 for three, it also comes with free breakfast.

Mac Arthur's Place Contact Number:
09999910845
09399163745
09165850171
Facebook Page: Mac Arthur's Place 


mac arthur surigao
a picture of our 3 bed room at Mac Arthur's Place, enough to accommodate 3-6 persons

Where to stay at Hinatuan:
Though we didn't stay at Hinatuan for the night, here are some contacts I gathered before while constructing our itinerary:

Marky's Hostel: 09284397785
Maryland Lodging House along Espana St. in Hinatuan: 09078689808 maryland_lodge@yahoo.com
Koa and Bea's Hometel: 09286809417, 09066698088

Where to stay at Bislig:
Tifanny's was recommended by our habal habal driver since I didn't know any cheap hostels around the area. We were given a discount since we will only be staying for a few hours (only to sleep) and we won't be availing their "free" breakfast anyway since they only serve it from 7 AM to 10 AM. The room was pretty nice, though the restroom was also quite small. We were given the veranda room and what I liked about it was that they had cable TV! Their wi-fi connection is only accessible at the lobby. It was a pretty good steal for the price.

Tifanny's Inn Room Rates:
1,200 3 beds for 5
1,000 2 beds for 4
800 2 beds for 3
650 1 double bed/2 single beds

Contact Number:
09194708998, 09122008159, 09307958703

tifanny inn
room for three at Tifanny's Inn, Bislig

TOURIST SPOTS INFORMATION

Entrance Fees as of Dec 2013
Britania: None
Enchanted River: 30 pesos for adults, 5 pesos for children
Tinuy-An Falls: 50 pesos, Free for children
Ocean View Park: Free
International Doll House: 20 pesos for adults, 15 for students, Free for children

Directions (for more detailed info, you may read up on each post)
Britania: San Agustin
Enchanted River: Hinatuan
Tinuy-an Falls and Ocean View Park: Bislig

HABAL HABAL CONTACTS

Kuya Rene (recommended! no cellphone though, look for him around crossing/Hinatuan terminal) Rate from crossing to river; one way is 50 pesos. He resides at Hinatuan.)

Kuya Loloy (09485750496 resides at Bislig, rate from crossing to Tinuyan round trip incl. waiting time is 250 pesos)

* Drivers also accept tours combining Enchanted River + Tinuy-an Falls for a standard rate of 1,500 pesos (rate as of Dec 2013, please note that rates will change appropriately)

habal habal mindanao
habal habal rides at Surigao!

TRAVEL REPORT

Day 1 Butuan to San Agustin

Britania Group of Islands

Our flight arrived at Butuan by half past 9 AM and we wanted to take the easiest way to Britania, San Agustin and hoping to still have time to explore when we get there. The estimated three-hour van ride turned into four because of the frequent stopovers on getting more passengers. By two in the afternoon, we got settled and started with our tour. The Britania Group of Islands is Surigao's own version of Hundred Islands that is very famous around Luzon. What I especially loved about it is the white fine powdery sand and the amazing color of the water that surround it.

britania san agustin
Britania Group of Islands

Day 2 Hinatuan and Bislig

Enchanted River
We woke up early only to be disappointed with a late habal habal driver who was supposed to pick us up an hour earlier. By 6 in the morning, buses were already very crowded. After another bus transfer heading for Hinatuan, we finally arrived at the Enchanted River. I was glad that we were able to enjoy its unexplainable beauty by ourselves.

enchanted river hinatuan
Enchanted River

Ocean View Park: Restaurant and International Doll House

OVP wasn't really in our itinerary, but since we were already in Bislig, I figured why not take a quick look on why the place is so popular. Cheap but good food and amazing collection of toys, top it off with an amazing view of Bislig Bay. I am sure kids and kids at heart would love it here!

hinatuan

mindanao doll
dolls at Ocean View International Doll House

Tinuy-an Falls

After 18 kilometers of habal habal travel and I stood in awe in front of one of the most picturesque waterfalls I have ever seen in the country. Its grandeur, power and wide berth are some of the reasons it was given the title of being "The Little Niagra Falls" of the country. Playing around the falls was a memorable ending for our tour of Surigao del Sur.

falls surigao
Tinuy-an Falls

ITINERARY AND EXPENSES

For two days, me and my two companions were able to spend 3031 pesos for transportation, food, lodging, tour fees, and tips. Below is a breakdown of how much we spent.

You may download a copy of our itinerary and a detailed sheet of our expense sheet by going to this link.

mindanao budget
Breakdown of our expenses for our 2-day stay at Surigao del Sur

The rain didn't stop us from exploring the province! I am glad the Surigao's government officials are doing a good job of developing these tourists spots to better cater to travelers like me. Surigao del Sur used to be one of the off-the-beaten paths in the country and is now slowly gaining popularity. The place is perfect for those who have maximum of two-three days, perfect for a weekend get-away. I really enjoyed my time here and it's that place I can never get tired off with lovely gifts of nature and smiles from friendly locals.



Day 1
Britania Group of Islands (San Agustin)

Day 2
Enchanted River (Hinatuan)

Tinuy-an Falls (Bislig)

International Doll Museum/Ocean View Park Restaurant (Bislig)
Itinerary and Expenses
2-Day Itinerary, Guide and Travel Expenses for Surigao del Sur

More of Mindanao here

24 comments :

  1. Enchanted river at tinuy an falls isa sa mga listahan ko to na puntahan salamat sa info laking tulong to

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  2. I am making our itinerary using your entry as a guide. I hope the sun shines for us on June. :D

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    Replies
    1. Glad to be of help! Feel free to also use my itinerary and budget guide :) Sana nga walang ulan! Enjoy your trip!

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  3. Awesome list. Thanks for the comprehensive guides. Will be there in a few weeks.

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  4. Thank you much. What a fantastic guide! This is a great help for our tour this month...God bless

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  5. a have a lil concern regarding the transportation is it ok to take a van or better to go by bus and habal habal?

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    1. sorry for the late response, the bus will allow you to much transfers so if you have money then you can opt to go by van or habal habal

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  6. Hi Mariane!! I need assistance or advice kasi pupunta kami sa enchanted river this coming sept 6. From Iloilo kami and sa Markys Hostel kmi magoovernight ng sept 6. tapos sept 7 kami pupunta ng umaga sa enchanted river. Ilang oras ba ung byahe from hinatuan to the river. and plan sana namin na pumunta din sa tinuy-an falls. Ilang oras din ba yung byahe from river to the falls? Kasi kelangan namin pumunta sa davao city on that night kasi may pina.book kami sa isang hotel dun. Thanks and Godbless!!

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    1. Hmm from market to Enchanted River around 30 mins siguro byahe. If you're in a group, you can charter a van, pwede rin to rent a habal habal driver or still take the buses/jeepneys. Doable naman on the same day ang river to falls, since we also did that route last year. River to falls if direct skylab/van may take 2-3 hrs, by public transport probably 3 or more. Confirm with your hotel when the last trip from Tinuyan to Davao is. when we went there, we were told last bus trip leaves at 5pm kaya we opted to go to davao the next day na lang

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    2. helow mariane! thanks talaga sa post mo.8s really a great help to us who plan for a tour this October..how many hours will we travel from britania to hinatuan? from zmaboanga sibugay kami..


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    3. hello po, as far as i remember if bus kayo mga ilang transfer din sya, around 2-4 hours ang byahe

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  7. hello.. were planning to explore agusan. were from lanao del norte. can u advise us for our travel itinerary as our guide. and recommend us were to stay at a cheapest hotel, pension house, or inns.. were 23 in a group.

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  8. Wow thanks for this detailed guide to Surigao del Sur's hidden gems! Very useful backpackers and budget traveler like me! I'm just curious if there are souvenir shops around Bislig or Hinatuan which you bought home like shirts, magnets or keychain. No blog mentions about it. Is it also possible to do a Davao-Bislig route and v.v. aside from taking Butuan as a jumpoint?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I think there were some souvenir shops at Tinuy-an Falls (not 100% sure ha) but when we went there it was raining so I think they were closed so cannot really comment about items such as tshirts, keychains, etc. Sa Enchanted River naman, I think you will pass by some stores that sells stuff for tourists though we didn't stop here because it is a bit out of the way from the entrance. We went here Dec 2012 pa so there might be some new stores inside the premises of Enchanted River since the place got really popular these past few years.

      I think it's also possible to start from Davao since there are multicabs/vans plying from Surigao to Davao, I think there is a new airport in Tandag, Surigao del Sur which is closer to all the tourist destinations.

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    2. Thanks Mariane... I'm still doing a research on this and this is really helpful. How about in Bislig? Since it is a booming city already, there might be souvenir shops already? And the province is becoming popular in the recent years with numerous travel programs and travel blogs covering it. I say, it is an emerging tourist destination of the country.
      I'm also curious if the road, travel safety and security, etc. in Surigao del Sur is fine for travelers. I mean, safety precaution shouldn't be forgotten but is it generally safe place(or its places) too like Surigao del Norte?

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    3. No worries, ask away! We only spent a couple of hours in Bislig, we went around Bislig's transport hub, but it was early morning and most shops were still closed (but maybe you can try there). We've had no problems in terms of safety, I think Surigaonons are very helpful and accommodating (they left quite an impression on me because they were super friendly, I think I mentioned some of my experiences on some of my posts) I don't think you have anything to worry :) We only went to Surigao del Sur btw, but I heard locals at del Norte are more laid back and more used to tourists I think.

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  9. Ang ganda naman dito. Thank you for sharing your adventure. :)

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  10. I love your blog,, thanks for the tip!!!

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  11. Ms. Marianne Im planning to travel solo. Will it be ok?

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    1. Yup but might be a bit more expensive if you dont have anyone to share habal habal expenses with. Maybe you can opt not to hire the driver for the whole day

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