Where to stay
- Almont Inland Resort, J.C. Aquino Ave; +63 85 342 7414; www.almont.com.ph. A comfortable hotel with spacious rooms. There’s also a free two-way airport shuttle.
- Dottie’s Place Hotel & Restaurant, J.C. Aquino Ave; +63 85 341 4579. A three-star hotel with its own outdoor swimming pool.
- Go Hotels Butuan, Robinsons Place Butuan, J.C. Aquino Ave; +63 85 341 1568; www.gohotels.ph. Situated within Robinsons Mall, so you’ll have easy access to restaurants and shops.
- Masao Beach. For just PHP100, you can rent a cottage at the beach, which locals believe to be the site where Ferdinand Magellan first landed in the country.
Where to eat
- Baron’s Seafood Restaurant, J.C. Aquino Ave corner Elloso St; +63 905 318 1991. Sample melt-in-your-mouth tuna sashimi and the famous Butuan kinilaw (seafood cooked in vinegar).
- Bayan ni Juan, Diversion Rd; +63 85 341 6349; facebook.com/bayannijuanbutuan. Serves up delicious kare-kare (oxtail stew) and fresh lumpia (spring rolls).
- Boy’s Bar & Wine Room, Jose Rosales Ave; +63 85 342 2697. Sample a range of craft beers and wines from all over the world.
- Cafe Caliente, Montilla Blvd; +63 85 342 7496; facebook.com/CafeCalientebxu. Order delicious dishes like sizzling lechon sisig (roasted pork leftovers) and creamy beef salpicado (cubed beef sirloin or tenderloin).
- Gerry’s Grill, G/F Robinsons Place Butuan, J.C. Aquino Ave; www.gerrysgrill.com. Serves wallet-friendly Filipino dishes, such as beef kare-kare (beef stew).
- Goat 2 Geder Hotel and Restaurant, Montalban St; +63 85 341 7871. Serves a variety of mutton dishes, such as adobong kambing (goat meat adobo).
- House of Beef, DY Building, AD Curato St corner Del Pilar St; +63 85 341 7319. Order the bulalo (beef shank and marrow soup), which is good for two.
- Margie’s Kitchen Bakeshop, J.C. Aquino Ave; +63 85 342 1980. Order the Cookie Monster cake or sans rival (a cake layered with buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews) for a sugar rush that’s worth every calorie.
- The Watershed Café, San Francisco St corner JC Aquino Ave; +63 85 341 0989. Named after the city’s primary water source, Taguibo Watershed, this restaurant serves tasty meals – try the carbonara, club house sandwich or green tea lemon cooler.
- Weegol’s Garden, Doongan Rd; +63 85 342 5558. A Filipino restaurant that dishes up local cuisine, with bestsellers like chicken barbecue and halo-halo (a shaved ice dessert)
What to do
- Balangay Shrine Museum, 6th St; +63 85 527 4192. A museum that houses a balangay (outrigger boat) that dates back to AD321, making it one of the oldest artifacts in the Philippines.
- Balanghai Festival. Join in the fun and revelry of this colorful festival, which commemorates the arrival of the early migrants who settled in Butuan. Held every year in May.
- Bood Promontory 1st Easter Mass Eco-park, Pinamanculan. This gorgeous eco-park, which overlooks Butuan Bay and Masao River, commemorates Ferdinand Magellan’s planting of the cross.
- Butuan Museum, Jose Rosales Ave. A 10-minute walk from the city center, this regional museum houses artefacts such as gold ornaments, woodcraft, pottery and burial coffins, evidencing the city’s long history as a center of trade.
- Calo Horse Farm, Cabadbaran; facebook.com/calohorsefarm. Go horseback riding at this farm owned by the Calo family, located 30 to 45 minutes away from the city proper. It’s also a great place for other outdoor activities like trekking and camping.
- Carmen. Drive 32km west of Butuan City to visit the municipality of Carmen, which is home to beautiful beach resorts, lovely beaches and fascinating marine sanctuaries.
- Delta Discovery Park, P-7 Brgy. Bonbon, Libertad; +63 85 816 1875; facebook.com/deltadiscovery.park. Thrill seekers should not miss this park, where you can ride a whopping 1.3-kilometer zipline – currently the longest zipline in the whole of Asia! There’s also a shorter 400m ride.
- Guingona Park. This park, a favorite hangout of locals, is a great place to chill and just people-watch.
- Kimberry Beach Resort, Brgy. Vinapor, Carmen; +63 92 9824 8248. Its well-shaded beachfront makes for the perfect getaway. Approximately 30 to 40 minutes away from Butuan proper.
- Madyaw Karadyaw Shop, Jose C. Aquino Ave. A popular place for souvenirs, such as a replica of the iconic balangay boat and Golden Tara (a gold figurine of a Hindu female deity).
- Mount Mayapay. Go hiking or biking on this mountain, which stands 2,214 feet (675 meters) above sea level.
- Tagnote Falls, Remedios T. Romualdez. These spectacular falls are just a few minutes away from downtown Butuan. After sweating it out, take a well-deserved selfie atop Mount Hilong-Hilong.