The original plan was to visit the upper part of Mindanao, but later on, my friend suggested why not visit the SoCCSKSarGen region? And that’s the first time I heard it. As a heads up, this is not a typical trip because this is more backbreaking compared to sitting at the beach. Imagine hitting four provinces for five days!? How to do that? Keep reading, and I will tell you why SOX is your next travel destination!
SoCCSKSarGen is a region of the Philippines located in Central Mindanao and designated as Region XII. The acronym stands for four provinces and one city: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City.
SoCCSKSarGen is full of spectacular lakes, majestic waterfalls, stunning mosques, and rich culture and traditions.
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS & GUIDELINES (2022 UPDATE!)
If your entry point is Davao City, the only thing that you need to bring is your valid ID. If your entry point is General Santos City, here are the following requirements.
- Valid ID
- SPASS Permit
- Vaccination Card or Vaccination Certificate
- TAPAT QR Code, if bound for General Santos City
UNVACCINATED & PARTIALLY VACCINATED
- Valid ID
- Negative RT-PCR Test Result from any DOH-accredited laboratories taken within seventy-two (72) hours before arrival
- SPASS Permit
- TAPAT QR Code, if bound for General Santos City
HOW TO GET TO CENTRAL MINDANAO?
Option 1: You can book a flight to General Santos City or Cotabato City through Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. Travel time may take roughly two hours.
Option 2: Book tickets from Manila to Davao. At Davao City Airport, ride a taxi going to Ecoland Bus Terminal. From the terminal, ride a bus bound to General Santos City. Travel time may take five hours, and the fare is about 280PHP. Then, ride a tricycle to your accommodation.
|NOTE: Please be guided that our entry point is Davao City. If your entry point is General Santos then it will be easier for you to go in your accommodation.|
WHAT TO DO IN GENERAL SANTOS?
General Santos or Gensan is a highly urbanized city in the region of Soccsksargen and known as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.” Aside from Tuna Fish Port, there are other destinations that you can see, such as Plaza General and Saranggani Highlands.
To visit those following spots mentioned above, you can ride a tricycle from your accommodation, and the fare is roughly 50PHP one-way.
WHAT TO SEE IN SARANGGANI?
Glan, Sarangani is a top-rated spot when you’re up for a beach escape in SOX Region, and Isla Jardin Del Mar is one of them. Its 750-meter stretch of white sand will surely satiate your summer thirsts. The beach was secluded, not crowded and remains unspoiled.
Isla Jardin Del Mar offers a variety of rooms from air-conditioned suite rooms and deluxe rooms to open-type cottages. Inside, there is also a bistro where you can eat.
We only spent 2 hours in Isla Jardin, and we didn’t rent huts as we needed to go back to Gensan to catch a bus that would take us to Lake Sebu. So we asked the bistro head if we could leave our things on our table, and surprisingly, they agreed. Just please bear in mind to bring your valuable stuff to the beach.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA JARDIN FROM GENSAN?
Ride a tricycle going to KCC Transport Terminal, GenSan from your accommodation. Find a UV Express Van bound to Glan. The fare is 86PHP, and travel time may take 1 hour. From Glan Terminal, ride a tricycle going to Isla Jardin.
Note: Please be guided that transportation is limited in the area, don’t forget to get the tricycle driver’s contact number to reach him if you want to get back to Glan Terminal.
WHAT TO EXPLORE IN SOUTH COTABATO?
South Cotabato is known as the “Land of the Dreamweavers.” It is the home of the T’boli tribe, specializing in weaving based on their dreams. There are a lot of tourist destinations in this province; however, due to lack of time, we pick the most visited spot, which includes:
- Lotus Flower
- 7 Falls Adventure
- Lake Sebu Signage
- T’Boli Museum
HOW TO GET TO SOUTH COTABATO FROM GENSAN?
From GenSan, you need to ride a tricycle to Bulaong Terminal. Look for a van bound to Lake Sebu. The fare is 150PHP, and travel time may take 2 hours.
NOTE: Please be guided that Bus going to Lake Sebu is not 24 hours available, and the last trip is 4:00 pm.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH COTABATO?
School of Living Traditions, also known as SLT, is a homestay for travelers who love to experience the T’boli culture. Before, SLT was an informal learning center established by Ate Maria to preserve T’boli culture and traditions.
Rate: 350PHP/pax with free breakfast
PACKAGE TOUR RATES AS OF JANUARY 2022
Lake Sebu Tourism offers CAN – Culture Adventure and Nature. They are serving guests based on their points of interest. You may contact Kuya Jorie Untang Sabal on Facebook.
Also read: 5 THINGS TO VISIT IN LAKE SEBU
WHAT TO VISIT IN SULTAN KUDARAT?
Sultan Kudarat province appeared to be the most luxurious capitol building in the Philippines. With its Arabic-inspired architecture and exquisite mosques, you will definitely feel like you are in the Middle East.
HOW TO GET TO MAGUINDANAO?
From Lake Sebu, ride a van to Surallah Terminal (50php/45mins). From Surallah Terminal, ride a van bound to Isulan Terminal (50php/45mins).
WHAT TO SEE IN SULTAN KUDARAT?
1. Sultan Kudarat Provincial Capitol has a five-storey building that showcases Islamic architecture. It is located near Isulan Terminal; you’ll need to walk about 10 minutes to reach the Capitol building.
2. Pink Mosque – Masjid Dimaukom, also known as the Pink Mosque of Maguindanao, and it is located in the heart of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town. The mosque was painted with pink color to symbolize peace and love.
HOW TO GET TO PINK MOSQUE?
From Isulan Terminal, ride a Husky Bus. Tell the driver to drop you off at Sinsuat (fare is 75PHP, travel time 1hour). There is no admission fee, but please dress appropriately.
3. Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque, also called Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, is the largest and said to be the grandest mosque in the Philippines. There is no admission fee, but you have to wear a Muslim outfit when entering the premises. On the other side of the Grand Mosque, there is a store where you can rent Muslim outfit for 150PHP.
HOW TO GET TO GRAND MOSQUE?
From Pink Mosque Highway, ride a van bound to Cotabato (50php/1hr) and ask the driver to drop you off at the corner of Grand Mosque. Ride a habal-habal to reach Grand Mosque (40PHP one-way).
Travel Tip: Get the contact number of Habal-Habal driver as there is no transportation back to the highway.
WHAT TO SEE IN COTABATO?
Asik-Asik falls is the majestic waterfall located in Alamada, North Cotabato. The tour costs 1200PHP (suitable for two pax), including the Habal-Habal ride back and forth. The entrance fee is 30PHP only, and trekking down to Asik-Asik Falls is about 30 minutes.
Please be reminded that it is not advisable to make a DIY trip to Asik-Asik as it can only be reached via Habal-Habal.
Fb: Yson Padrique – 09268605767
HOW TO GET TO ASIK-ASIK FALLS?
From Grand Mosque Highway, ride a jeep to UCPB (20PHP/30mins). Once you get off at UCPB, walk about 5 minutes, and you will see a van bound to Libungan Terminal (80PHP/1hr). Once get off at Libungan Terminal, contact your tour guide as they will take you to Alamada.
WHERE TO STAY IN ALAMADA?
We stayed in Ate Sally Homestay near Asik-Asik Falls. The fan-room rate is 150PHP per person for one (1) night. The location is freezing like Baguio at night, so don’t forget to bring a jacket. Also, electricity is not stable in the area, so bring a power bank as much as possible.
BACK TO DAVAO CITY AIRPORT
From Alamada, Kuya Yson helps us to go to the bus terminal going back to Davao. The travel time may take up to 6 hours; it was a very long and tiring bus trip, so consider eating first before leaving the terminal. In addition, along the way, the Bus stops where you can buy “pasalubong.”
SAMPLE OF ITINERARY FOR 5 DAYS
Below is a sample itinerary of SoCCSKSarGen, suitable for five (5) days. Always feel free to make changes that will match your preferences.
DAY 1: MANILA – DAVAO – GENSAN
3:40 pm – Touch down at Davao Airport
4:00 pm – Ride a taxi to Ecoland Bus Terminal
5:00 pm – From Terminal, ride a bus bound to GenSan
9:30 pm – Get off to GenSan Terminal
9:40 pm – Ride a tricycle to Homestay
10:00 pm – At the homestay
DAY 2: GENSAN & ISLA JARDIN
6:00 am – Ride a tricycle to Tuna Fish Port
7:00 am – Ride a tricycle to Plaza General & Saranggani Highlands
8:00 am – Check out at accommodation
9:00 am – Go to KCC Transport Terminal and ride a van bound to Glan
10:00 am – At Glan Terminal, ride a tricycle going to Isla Jardin
11:00 pm – Get off to Isla Jardin
2:00 pm – Back to Glan Terminal, ride a van bound to GenSan
3:00 pm – From GenSan, ride a tricycle to Bulaong Terminal
4:00 pm – Look for a van bound to Lake Sebu (last trip)
6:30 pm – South Cotabato, Lake Sebu
7:00 pm – Stay at SLT and rest
DAY 3: LAKE SEBU TOUR
6:00 am – Breakfast at SLT
7:00 am – Start of Lake Sebu Tour, Lotus Flower
8:30 am – 7 Falls Adventure
10:00 am – Evelandia
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – T’Boli Museum
3:00 pm – Zipline
4:00 am – Lake Sebu Signage
5:00 am – Back to SLT homestay
DAY 4: SULTAN KUDARAT
8:00 am – From Lake Sebu, ride a van to Surallah Terminal
9:00 am – From Surallah, ride a van bound to Isulan Terminal
10:00 am – From Isulan, walk about 10 minutes to reach Capitol Building
11:00 am – Back to Isulan Terminal
12:00 pm – Ride a Husky Bus and tell the driver to drop you off at Sinsuat
1:00 pm – Pink Mosque
2:00 pm – From the highway, ride a van bound to Cotabato and tell the driver to drop you off at the corner of Grand Mosque
3:00 pm – Ride a habal-habal to reach Grand Mosque (vice versa)
4:00 pm – From Grand Mosque Highway, ride a jeep to UCPB
4:30 pm – Get off at UCPB, walk about 5 minutes, and you will see a van bound to Libungan Terminal
5:30 pm – Libungan Terminal (contact your tour guide)
6:00 pm – Habal-Habal to Alamada
8:00 pm – Stayed at Ate Sally Homestay
DAY 5: ASIK-ASIK FALLS & BACK TO DAVAO
07:00 am – Breakfast
8:00 am – Start hiking to Asik-Asik Falls
9:00 am – Asik-Asik Falls
11:00 pm – Back to homestay & lunch
1:00 pm – Back to Davao bus Terminal
7:00 pm – Davao Terminal
7:30 pm – Ride a taxi to Davao Airport
We only spent 5000 PHP (each) for transportation, accommodation, tours, and food. Please take note that flight tickets are not included.
Did this itinerary help you? If you have any questions, suggestions, or something to share, please comment down below. We’d love to hear that!