General Santos

Kids on the beach in General Santos (Photo: Lester Ledesma)

Where to stay

  • Casa Rafael, 16 South Osmena, Brgy. Dadiangas South; +63 83 552-8186; www.casarafael.ph. The 26 rooms at this hotel come with ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning and flat-screen TVs.
  • Greenleaf Hotel GenSan, San Miguel St corner J. Catolico St; +63 83 552 1111; www.greenleafhotelgensan.com. A DOT-accredited 4-star hotel that’s inspired by nature — so expect plenty of plants and a Zen-like atmosphere.
  • Microtel by Wyndham, Valley High, National Highway; +63 83 553 8080; www.microtel-gensan.com. This hotel is part of the Valley High Complex, an agglomeration of specialty restaurants and cafes, wellness and medical establishments, and convenient stores.
  • Palm Woods Pensionne Home, 15 Camachili St; +63 932 863 6514. Simple and comfortable rooms in the heart of the city.
  • SunCity Suites, SunCity Complex, National Highway; +63 83 552 3333; www.suncitysuitesgensan.com. Situated just 30 minutes away from the General Santos City Airport. The hotel also houses CaffeFirenzo, the only 24-hour café in the city.

Where to eat

  • Aweng Balbacuahan, National Highway, Brgy. Calumpang. A cozy eatery for home-cooked fare like beef nilaga (boiled beef soup).
  • Bigben Steaks & Grills, Microtel Complex, Valley High, National Highway; +63 83 552 1724. Go for grilled meats such as roast beef, barbecued pork, barbecued chicken and deli sausages.
  • Cotton Bowl Grill and Steakhouse, San Pedro St; +63 83 554 7455. Offers some of the best steaks, burgers and fried chicken in town.
  • JoAnn’s Bakeshop, Santiago Blvd corner Bula Amao Rd; +63 83 552 3192. Indulge in snacks like siopao (steamed bun with a pork filling), chiffon cakes and more.
  • Kalogan Express, Casquejo St. Enjoy French toast and coffee or cocoa for less than P40.
  • Nikolai Grill and Seafood House, Naranjita St. Take your pick from seafood specialties like imbaw (clam soup) and fish roll (ground mackerel wrapped in tuna).
  • Ranchero Nuevo; various locations; +63 83 878 0468; www.rancherogroup.com. The beef kaldereta (spicy beef stew) at this chain restaurant is melt-in-your-mouth good. The Ranchero group has its own ranch and farm, so you’ll essentially be enjoying a farm-to-table dining experience.
  • Roland’s Steak House, Jose Catolico Sr. Ave; +63 83 552 8259. Sink your teeth into specialty steaks, beef burgers and fried chicken at this humble joint.
  • Tambilawan Kamayan Halal Restaurant, Pres Jose P. Laurel Ave; +63 83 552 3932. This is the first and only Halal-certified restaurant in GenSan. Must-tries include the chicken sisig (sizzling chicken), tuna belly, and halo-halo (shaved ice dessert).
  • Tiongson Arcade, Tiongson St; +63 949 818 8737. GenSan’s version of a dampa serves up delicious barbecued seafood, such as grilled tuna belly.

What to do

  • Adventure sports. Try paragliding at SAFI Ranch in Maasim, scuba diving in Sarangani Bay, or river tubing at New La Union Eco Park, Maitum, with Go Sarangani Travel (+63 83 552 8015; www.gosaranganitravel.com).
  • Citra Mina, National Highway; +63 83 554 1801; www.citraminagroup.com. Buy fresh tuna and other fish products as tasty souvenirs.
  • Dole Pineapple Plantation, Ah 26, Polomolok, South Cotabato. Make a side trip to the Dole Plantation, where you can sample fresh, juicy pineapples.
  • Glan. Head about 50 minutes east of GenSan to the municipality of Glan to enjoy unspoiled white sand beaches. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Boracay of the South”.
  • General Santos Fish Port Complex, Brgy. Tambler; +63 83 304 9474. GenSan is the largest producer of sashimi-grade tuna in the Philippines, so a visit to the port to watch fishermen unload their bounty is a must. Remember to bring your camera!
  • Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; www.lakesebu.southcotabato.org. An hour’s drive from General Santos. Marvel at the lake’s seven scenic waterfalls and purchase T’nalak fabric made by the weavers of the indigenous T’boli tribe (also called dreamweavers, as the designs they create are supposed to be based on their dreams).
  • Lemlunay Resort, Maasim, Sarangani; +63 83 228 1704; lemlunayresort.com. The perfect destination for sporty types. Try watersports like kayaking, banana boat riding, snorkeling and diving.
  • Mt. Parker. Explore this stratovolcano and the numerous caves that abound. There are two trails that you can take: the smooth Salakafe Trail, and the more strenuous San Jose Trail.
  • Plaza Heneral Santos, Pres. Sergio Osmeña Ave. Enjoy a scenic and relaxing stroll in one of the busiest parks in General Santos.
  • SAFI Ranch, Brgy. Tinoto, Makar-Siguel Rd, Sarangani; +63 917 327 0113. For a bird’s-eye view of the city, try paragliding — an introductory ride costs around PHP3,000.
  • Sanchez Peak, Sitio Balakayo, Brgy. Olympog. Hiking enthusiasts should head to the city’s highest spot, which stands 800 feet above sea level.The view both by day and by night is breathtaking.
  • Sarangani Highlands Garden, Purok Wal; www.saranganihighlands.com. A vantage point for great views of downtown Gensan, Mt Parker, Mt Matutum and Sarangani Bay.
  • Team Pacquiao Store, Robinsons Place Gensan, facebook.com/TeamPacquiaoStore. Fans of world-famous Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao should make a beeline for this store, which sells all sorts of memorabilia – from shirts to boxing gloves.

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