Backpacking Northern Mindanao: Iligan City

I posted my travel to Cagayan de Oro in CouchSurfing and a fellow couch surfer based in Iligan City offered me to show around Iligan City if I happen to go there. I told him that I am still drafting my itinerary and I will check if I can squeeze in my schedule to include Iligan City. I googled the things that I can do in Iligan City and to my surprise, I learned that Maria Cristina Falls is located there. The famous Maria Cristina Falls that I have been admiring since my elementary education is located a bus ride from the place that I plan to visit. I began to learned that Iligan City is known to be the City of Waterfalls of the country due to the fact that a lot of waterfalls can be found in the area.

I finalized my itinerary and communicated with Eeyoy, the couch surfer based in Iligan City. I told him that I will visit Iligan City first before Cagayan de Oro because the airport is located in between Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City. Further, my itinerary includes Bukidnon, Camiguin and Bohol– so it would East-West-Norht route.

When I arrived at the Laguindingan Airport (popularly known as Cagayan de Oro Airport), I took a van that dropped me at the Rural Bus Stopover. The stopover is located at the main road, which is about a kilometer away from the airport. I thought that I will be paying a separate fare for the van and the bus but it turns out that the fare that I paid for the van includes that fare for the air conditioned Rural Bus going to Iligan City.

Photo opportunity at the Laguindingan Airport.

Photo opportunity at the Laguindingan Airport.

The Rural Bus Stopover is located about a kilometer away from the airport.

The Rural Bus Stopover is located about a kilometer away from the airport.

The air conditioned bus going to Iligan City arrived at 8:58AM and we reached the Iligan City Integrated Bus and Jeepney Terminal at 10:34AM. The bus conductor instructed me to ride a Rural Bus going to Pagadian City, to which I did. But before getting on the bus, I double checked with the bus conductor if it will pass the drop-off point for Maria Cristina Falls. With my Google maps turned on, I monitored my current location to make sure that I will alight at the right location. To avoid any problems, I keep reminding my the bus conductor that I should alight at the drop-off point for Maria Cristina Falls. After an hour of travel, which includes a stopover for about 15 minutes, we reached the drop-off point for Maria Cristina Falls.

The Iligan City Integrated Jeepney and Bus Terminal is the last stop for all buses going to Iligan City. Buses going to Pagadian City which pass the Maria Cristina Falls jump-off point can be found here as well.

The Iligan City Integrated Jeepney and Bus Terminal is the last stop for all buses going to Iligan City. Buses going to Pagadian City which pass the Maria Cristina Falls jump-off point can be found here as well.

Buses coming from Iligan City is on the left side of the road. That said, right after this bridge is the jump-off point of Maria Cristina Falls.

Buses coming from Iligan City is on the left side of the road. That said, right after this bridge is the jump-off point of Maria Cristina Falls.

When I crossed the street, I was asked by a police officer on duty if I plan to visit Mimbalot Falls and Tinago Falls. I told him that I will. He offered me a habal-habal (motorbike) service, which was being operated by his friends in the area. He told me that I should opt to hire habal-habal of his friends to avoid any incidents of being held up or something. Apparently, there was a reported incident where a Vietnamese tourist lost his gadget and other stuffs from other habal-habal riders. Whether this is just a marketing tactic or not, it is still your discretion to take the offer. If you are two travelers and in a hurry, I suggest you take the offer as the amount you will spend commuting is almost the same plus it is more convenient.

At the Maria Cristina Falls main gate, you will need to pay for fees like the entrance and the shuttle. Regardless you came alone or with the other groups, you will be counted as 1 group and you will be asked to pay for the whole shuttle. Even though you paid for the whole shuttle, expect that employees inside the park will also share a ride with you or with your group. To be honest, this is not a good policy. Good thing they just charge you Php50.00 for the whole shuttle service. Further, once the driver drops you off to an attraction like the Botanical & Zoological Gardens, the shuttle will leave and when you are ready to go to other attractions, just go to the guard house and the guard on duty will radio the driver to pick you up.

The main entrance of the National Power Corporation Park.

The main entrance of the National Power Corporation Park.

The Botanical and Zoological Gardens at the NPC Nature's Park.

The Botanical & Zoological Gardens at the NPC Nature’s Park.

After I went to Botanical & Zoological Gardens, I asked the driver to drop me off at the Maria Cristina Falls. According to the guard on duty, the viewing deck is currently undergoing renovation. I was not able to see the full beauty of Maria Cristina Falls. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my visit there. There are activities that you can do in the park like zipline, wall climbing and others. Since I still need to visit two other falls, I decided to leave the park early. I roughly stayed there for an hour.

The famous Maria Cristina Falls located inside the NPC Nature's Park in Iligan City.

The famous Maria Cristina Falls located inside the NPC Nature’s Park in Iligan City.

From the drop-off point of Maria Cristina Falls, I took the offer of the police officer. I waited for his friend to arrived. Basically, there are two habal-habal riders in the area. We went to Mimbalot Falls first. This falls is just about 500 meters from the main road. There are jeepneys at the drop-off point that you can take to go to Mimbalot Falls. The jeepney fare is just minimum, about Php8.00.

The Mimbalot Falls has a foul smell already but that did not stop me from taking a dip. Well, I knew that there is still one falls that I will visit later that day so I did not mind at all. I stayed at Mimbalot Falls for just 30 minutes and asked “kuya” to go Tinago Falls.

Photo opportunity at the Mimbalot Falls. It is not the best falls to take a dip with but it is worth a visit.

Photo opportunity at the Mimbalot Falls. It is not the best falls to take a dip with but it is worth a visit.

The Mimbalot Falls in Buru-un, Iligan City.

The Mimbalot Falls in Buru-un, Iligan City.

My heart was captivated by Tinago Falls. I did not expect that I will experience to swim to a beautiful and stunning falls such as the Tinalog Falls. Apparently, Piolo Pascual and KC had shoot their movie here. Who would not? I mean, the location is perfect for photography and videography. It was also my first time to have a water massage under the falls. I was a bit worried because the water current is so strong that a rock may fall and hit my head. I should have brought a hard hat for protection– you will never know, right?

The jump-off point for Tinago Falls where guides are waiting for tourists.

The jump-off point for Tinago Falls where guides are waiting for tourists.

A few more swimming and taking photos and I am done with my waterfalls adventure. The biggest challenge here is the way up. I highly suggest that you take time getting up through the stairs. After all, you do not want to ruin your vacation by grasping for breath and eventually collapse.

By the way, hiring a guide down the Tinago Falls is optional but hiring one provides earning to the locals in the area. When I went there, I was assisted by two guides. I was surprised about that because that would mean a slash on my travel fund. Although there is no standard fee for the guide, Php50.00 or a US dollar, I think, is the fair amount. The reason why there were two guides who assisted me is because it was off-peak season and there 48 registered guides in their community. Most of them will not have a chance to guide a visitor. Thus, no earnings for that day. Just a reminder, do not forget to rent a lifevest as well or you may bring your own for your safety. You will also appreciate and enjoy your stay at the falls by swimming on its waters.

Kuya Jeff, the habal-habal rider was kind enough to take the long route to the main road. We passed to the bridge where the waters from Maria Cristina Falls flow through. It is a less traveled road and the experience is amazing. We reached the junction going to Marawi City. In Google maps, it looks like that the junction is the Overton Park.

Jeffrey D. Sasil or simply Kuya Jeff is a tour guide and a habal-habal rider that can drive you to Mimbalot Falls, Tinago Falls and back to Maria Cristina Fall jump-off point for an affordable fee. You can reach him at +639061079565.

Jeffrey D. Sasil or simply Kuya Jeff is a tour guide and a habal-habal rider that can drive you to Mimbalot Falls, Tinago Falls and back to Maria Cristina Falls jump-off point for an affordable fee. You can reach him at +639061079565.

The Tinago Falls in Iligan City.

From that junction, I rode a jeepney going to the city proper. I chose D’ Morvie Suites for my accommodation and the jeepney that I rode does not go there directly. I needed to transfer to another jeepney to get there. You may alight at the intersection when the jeepney will turn right going to the public market and from there, you can take another jeepney to go to your accommodation. Always navigate with Google maps, it is really helpful to avoid getting lost.

I took a rest at my accommodation for few hours before meeting Eeyoy. He showed me around using his motorbike. We went to Paseo de Santiago and stayed there for few minutes taking photos and selfies. We then tried halang-halang at the public market before we tour around the city. Since it was late in the evening, we decided to call it a night so that we can both take a rest for tomorrow’s activities.

Iligan City signage at Paseo de Santiago.

Iligan City signage at Paseo de Santiago.

Philippines signage at Pase de Santiago.

Philippines signage at Pase de Santiago.

Trying halang-halang dish made from beef with spicy broth.

Trying halang-halang dish made from beef with spicy broth.

Halang-halang and Bulalo eateries are commonly found in their public market. Locals usually frequents here at night after they had drinking session. Halang-halang believes to alleviate hangover.

Halang-halang and Bulalo eateries are commonly found in their public market. Locals usually frequents here at night after they had drinking session. Halang-halang believes to alleviate hangover.

I have plans of going to No-Name Falls, Pampam Falls, Kalubihon Falls and Dalipuga Falls. However, I was too tired the next morning and I feel like sleeping all day. Of course, I need to get up and decided to just go for lunch at Jaime’s Lechon and buy some pasalubong at Cheding’s Toasted Peanuts. I left Iligan City for Cagayan de Oro City at around 12:30PM.

I hate to break it but Jaime's Lechon Bayug is the tastiest lechon I have ever tried. Be sure to drop by at their branch in front of Gaisano Mall Iligan.

I hate to break it but Jaime’s Lechon Bayug is the tastiest lechon I have ever tried. Be sure to drop by at their branch in front of Gaisano Mall Iligan.

If there is one thing that you should bring home from visiting Iligan City, it is the Cheding's Roated Peanuts. It is like you are eating cashew nuts and without bloating.

If there is one thing that you should bring home from visiting Iligan City, it is the Cheding’s Roated Peanuts. It is like you are eating cashew nuts and without bloating.

Of all the places I have visited in Iligan City, I enjoyed the most my Tinago Falls adventure. Not only it was stunning and beautiful, I got to experience a real nature adventure by swimming on its water and a water massage at its foot.

For travel itinerary, please click here.

For travel expenses, please click here.

This is one of the destinations to my ILIGAN CITYCAGAYAN DE ORO CITYBUKIDNONCAMIGUIN ISLANDBOHOL trip with travel dates from 8th of October, 2015 to 14th of October, 2015.

By | 2017-02-26T12:27:26+00:00 November 11th, 2015|Local Travels|0 Comments

About the Author:

Elpi Garcia is a travel enthusiast who go for an adventure whenever his budget and time allow it. He is more into sight seeing for a nature-packed experience and city / town tour to understand the history and culture of the places he visit. Aside from travel, he is also interested in alternative medicine, business opportunities, website design and information technology. He maintains websites related to alternative medicine, business opportunities like eLoad Matrix and Payday Loan; and website design services.

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