Surigao del Sur is part of the Caraga region located in Mindanao. It is situated in the eastern coast of Mindanao facing the Philippine Sea to the east – so expect beautiful islands and strong waves.
Since our entry and exit point is Davao City, we need to travel for 6-8 hours by land to reach Surigao del Sur.
FROM DAVAO (FRANCISCO BANGOY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT):
We arrived late in the evening so we decided to hire van that will take us directly to Tagum Bus Terminal where we can hop on a bus going to Mangagoy, Bislig. We were offered by one of the local drivers P2,000 for the van but we haggled it to P1,500. We arrived at Tagum around 1:00 AM (Day 1). The earliest bus to Mangagoy is at 4:00AM so we waited for about three hours. Bus fare is P270. Around 9:00AM, we were finally at Mangagoy, Bislig. We took a tricycle to Paper Country Inn (PCI), which we pre-booked via phone for P1,750 (for 7 pax). Tricycle is P10 each.
Kuya Gary (member of DIYTripPinas), our habal-habal driver/tour guide, offered us to tour around Mangagoy for P1,200 per habal-habal. We took the chance of touring the place using habal-habal instead of van so we could feel the fresh air and experience the life of the locals.
We agreed to start our tour around 9:30AM to be able to visit more of Mangagoy. We got 4 habal-habal for P4,800.
FIRST STOP: Tinuy-An Falls
Tinuy-an Falls is located on top of the mountain so expect a bumpy ride. Half of the trip to Tinuy-an is bumpy and challenging so better prepare yourself for the greatest adventure of your life.
Entrance fee to Tinuy-an is P50 and you can stay at even until the afternoon. There are few cottages and tables and chair if ever you wanted to stay long in the place. You can also go near the falls if you use the Balsa.
(Enjoying the cold waters of the falls)
(The clear waters of Tinuy-an)
We did not stay too long at Tinuy-an since we planned to visit other waterfalls and spring but before leaving we tried the fish spa on the area (for free) and enjoyed looking on the small fish as they bite and group around our feet.
Souvenirs like ref magnets, keychains and traditional bracelets are available outside the falls ranging from P20-P100. Buy from them instead of souvenir shops and you we’ll be able to support the livelihood of the locals.
As a tradition in the area, only the Manobo habal-habal driver will take us down from the mountains for P100 per head and our tour guides just tagging behind us. We were able to experience the traditional habal-habal of the Manobo tribe as shown below.
(Those with brave hearts)
(With one of the Manobo habal-habal driver)
Before continuing our tour, we decided to grab our lunch on one of the carenderia our tour-guides suggested. We do not want to try restaurants, we opted to try how locals eat and of course taste the local food the way they are traditionally cooked.
“Be a local, not a tourist” – Drew Arellano in BND
We ordered their traditional lechon manok and liempo for lunch and we ate with our tour guides.
SECOND STOP: I Love Bislig Signage
I LOVE BISLIG signage is located along bay walk just in front of what they call the “Chocolate Beach”. It is known for its chocolate-colored sand making it look like a mud. It’s a public beach so you can stay there for free.
THIRD STOP: Sian Falls
Sian falls is located in a remote place only habal-habal can enter. We need to trek for 5minutes to reach the falls. It is consist of big boulders of rock that you can climb and jump into its cold water. This beautiful place is all for free; without Kuya Gary, we will not be able to visit this place since the area is not yet featured and well-known online (as far as I know). It felt like we own the place, because no one is the area aside from our group.
(We have a habal-habal driver, tourist guide and photographer in one with Kuya Gary)
FOURTH STOP: Durian and Marang Taste-Test and Hinatuan Signage
On our way to Hinatuan, the rain started to pour heavily so we decided to stop by a waiting shed and took advantage of taste-test; the very famous Durian and Marang. We bought one durian for P100 and Marang for P30. We enjoyed the marang but as for the durian? I ended up eating the whole durian since some of them did not enjoy how it taste. Hahaha!
(Murdering the Marang)
Right after we finish the fruits, we continued our journey to Hinatuan. Hinatuan signage is just along the highway going to Enchanted River. It’s the longest drive we had from Sian Falls since Hinatuan is a bit far from Mangagoy where 2 falls are located.
FIFTH STOP: Enchanted River
Sadly we were not able to swim on the bluest and clearest waters of Enchanted River since it is currently close to the public until March 3. They are conducting maintenance since the river is not in its good condition. But this place is really worth all the habal-habal drive.
Hinatuan is indeed the home of the river with the most enchanting charm. Though the water is not that clear, we can still see different kind and species of fish swimming right in front of us.
SISXTH STOP: Libuacan Cold Spring
Who would believe that this beautiful spot can be found in a remote area here in Surigao del Sur. Just like Sean falls, Libuacan (as far as I know) is not yet featured nor visited by a lot of tourist. We had the place for that day too. Though the water looks calm, the water current is so strong that swimming in the spring is a bit challenging. The water is as cold as ice and the clear as crystal that you can even see the riverbed.
Who would have thought that this spring is free? Well, it is! We just gave P50 as donation to the caretaker of the place. We loved to stay at the place but it’s almost getting dark due to the rainy weather and it’s also getting late so we need to leave and bid goodbye to this amazing creation.
It was our last stop; we were not able to visit the infamous International Doll House because it closes at 7:00PM. But according to our guide, it’s a must to visit this place and taste the food they offer if you still have time to do so.
We ended our day with a dinner at the ihawan few steps away from PCI since we will be leaving early for Britannia the next day. (Britania Group of Islands: The Hundred Islands of Surigao del Sur)
To see more of our adventure, you could watch it in my travel vlog.
Day 1 Expenses:
Van to Tagum: P1500 (P215 each)
Bus Fare to Mangagoy: P270
Tricyle to PCI: P10
Paper Country Inn: P1,750 (P250 each)
Breakfast (longganisa, rice and coffee): P40
Entrance fee at Tinuy-an: P50
Manobo Habal-habal: P100
Lunch: P790 (P113 each)
Tour and Tip: P5,000 (P715 each)
Durian and Langka: P130 (P19 each)
Donation at Libuacan: P50 (P7 each)
Total Expenses: P1,889.00
Below are the contact numbers for your reference. Just tell them that you are referred by me so that they can give you a discount too.
Tour Guide Contact Number:
Gary/Bayan – 09298130658
Justin – 09101414710