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Butuan City, Home Sweet Home

Updated on September 24, 2009

Butuan City is located in the northern part of the Mindanao (the second-largest island in the Philippines). It is the regional center of the Caraga Region of the Philippines and is known as one of the oldest city in the Philippines. In fact, it has been said that "before there was no Philippines, but there was Butuan City". As early as the 10th century, the city already has a thriving trading relationship with Vietnam, China and other countries in Asia.

Butuan (pronounced but-wan) City is also called the "Ancient Kingdom of Butuan" or the "Timber City of the South" (because of its vast forest lands during the 19th century). It is said to be the site of the first Catholic Mass in the whole of Philippines, a fact that the city vigorously claimed when history books (both local and international) kept citing another island in the Visayas as the site of the first mass.

The city's land area is roughly 816.62 km2. It has a population of about 300,000.

Courtesy of:
Courtesy of:
The majestic Mt. Mayapay (Courtesy of:
The majestic Mt. Mayapay (Courtesy of:

Getting There

There are a couple of ways you can go to Butuan. One is through domestic flights from Manila or from Cebu. There are flights everyday to/from Manila and to/from Cebu (both have international airports). Currently, there are two airlines servicing Butuan, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. You can check out their sites for the schedules - Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

Just a tip, when you arrive by plane and you're nearing the runway of Butuan, don't forget to look out of the window (towards the land area, not the sea). Search for the highest mountain in the area. That is the majestic Mt. Mayapay, the pride of Butuan.

Another way to go to Butuan is by ship from Manila or from Cebu. The port is located in Nasipit, about 20-30 minutes away from Butuan City. It takes around 36 hours from Manila to Butuan and only around 12 hours from Cebu to Butuan.

Lastly, you can also go to Butuan by riding the bus from Cagayan de Oro City (CDO), Davao City or Surigao City. CDO to Butuan via a bus (with air conditioner) is around 4.5 hours, Surigao to Butuan is only about 2 hours and Davao to Butuan is about 7 hours.

Courtesy of:
Courtesy of:

Where to Stay

There are a number of hotels and inns in Butuan. They offer quality service at low prices (one night is like 1,000 pesos per person or $20/person or even lower). Some of these hotels cna be found in the main highway such as Almont Inland Resort and Dottie's Place - Hotel and Restaurant. These are also the premium hotel here. Others include Goat2geder Hotel and Restaurant, Royal Plaza and Balanghai Hotel. This website features some of these hotels -

Where to Eat

Butuan is one of the cities where you can eat to your heart's content while still maintaining your budget (not your waistline though LOL). Want to eat native food? Go to Lutong Bahay ni Aling Cora (Home Cooked Food of Ms. Cora) for a taste of their barbequed chicken (Pinoy style) or to Weegol's, another place known for its chicken. You can also go to Goat 2Geder, a hotel and restaurant in one where you can eat native foods. Its specialty is kalderetang kambing (goat with sauce). Or you can try Narra Restaurant, a very old restaurant here in Butuan with its own recipe for garlic chicken. When you go to any of these restaurants, try their kinilaw (raw tuna fish cooked in vinegar). It's the equivalent of the Japanese sashimi and it's really delicious. If you want Chinese food, go to Rosario's.

If you want to go for a coffee, there's True Brew with it's brewed coffee, capuccinos and frappes. Try their baked spaghetti, potato salad and loaded omelet, these are the best (and my favorites too!). Or you can go to Pit Stop Coffee Shop which is at the back of the Otis Shell Station along the highway.Or go to Margie's Kitchen, which also serves pasta, cakes, breads and hot meals. When you go to Margie's Kitchen, make sure to try their cakes, especially Cookie Monster. I'll bet you haven't tasted anything like it before.

If you're a bread lover, there are lots of bakeries in Butuan. There's Pan de Pugon (Bread of the Oven) with its fresh bread (so fresh, it was baked only within the last 24 hours) and its 24-hour operation. You can go there anytime, buy a freshly baked bread and eat it with hot coffee. There's also Julie's Bakeshop, Rose Bakeshop, Gold n' Pearl and Madelicious Bakeshop.

Courtesy of:
Courtesy of:
Almont Inland Resort (hotel) - from
Almont Inland Resort (hotel) - from
Dottie's Place (hotel and restaurant) - from
Dottie's Place (hotel and restaurant) - from

Where to Go

There are a lot of places you can go to in Butuan. There's the Balanghai Museum, the museum in Libertad, the City Hall of Butuan and the newly-built state-of-the-art bridge (called Macapagal Bridge, but some want to call it Butuan Bridge). Make sure you visit the Libertad Museum where you will see the famous balangay boat (which dates as far back as 320 AD).

If you want to go farther, just barely 2 and a half hours away, is Siargao Islands, known for its surfing and waves. There are also a lot of tourist spots in other parts of the Caraga Region and they are just one to two hours away from Butuan. You can easily go there through the jeepney or the bus or you can hire a van (what we call the PU) to take you to the various places in the region.

The Balangai Boat. Courtesy of:
The Balangai Boat. Courtesy of:
The City Hall of Butuan (Courtesy of:
The City Hall of Butuan (Courtesy of:
Dancers performing during the Balanghai Festival (May 19) (Courtesy of
Dancers performing during the Balanghai Festival (May 19) (Courtesy of
The Macapagal Bridge (Courtesy of:
The Macapagal Bridge (Courtesy of:

If you want to know more about my hometown, visit this site -

There you have it, all about my home, Butuan City. But what I have written here is just a short summary of this city. There are a lot more I can write about Butuan (and I will). For now, let me just leave a final note. For those who are worried about going to Butuan because it is in Mindanao (read: the travel advisories), don't. This city (knock on wood) is very peaceful. I'm not saying it's crime free (what place is?) but what you read in the news is like far away from this place. So, if you want to go somewhere inexpensive where you can be laid back and relaxed, go to Butuan (just don't forget to drop me a note here so that I can show you the sights and places I have written in this hub). Madiyao nga adlaw sa inyong tanan (Good day to all of you)!


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