Your Ultimate Guide to Sarangani, Philippines

Sarangani is like a thrilling novel with its usual ups and downs, sleepy long narrations and a surprising twist in every chapter that keeps you from putting it down. In each chapter are interesting twist of serene white sand beaches, caves and bat sanctuary, jaw dropping skyline, booming paragliding community, raging waterfalls, rich dive sites and a golf and country club.

What?! Yup, a golf and country club. Perfect for the golfers of the nearby Singapore and Malaysia to try their new putter.

Philippines will never run out of places to amaze every picky traveller from every corner of the planet and Sarangani is just one of those places. Sarangani is a quiet laid back province, located just further down south from the main city of General Santos City. And I mean quiet because arrival to this province is like getting jolted up from behind by your nasty sibling just as you enter your room. I didn’t even know what to tell the tricycle drivers where to take me first. 

The Sarangans have long welcomed every settlers from all corners of the Philippines, making Sarangani a melting pot of cultural diversity. Even their Visayan local dialect have been injected with a bit of Ilocano and Ilongo. 

Getting there

Tucked in the southern part of Mindanao, further down the famous Davao City is the province of Sarangani. Sarangani is dissected in the middle by Sarangani Bay, one of The Philippines most important life-giving port.

 

To get to any town of Saranani, the main gateway is the Domestic Airport in General Santos City. Van transfers can be found in malls like the city famous KCC Mall and also at the Bulaong Bus Terminal. 

The International Airport of Davao City is also a viable option if you’re coming from the neighboring countries of Singapore or Malaysia. If you are coming in via Davao City, get a transfer to Ecoland Bus Terminal, hop on the non-stop bus for General Santos City’s Bulaong Bus Terminal. In General Santos City, mention the mere name of Sarangani and they know where to take you. 

The farthest town to reach in Sarangani is Glan on the right side of Sarangani Bay. Van transfer to Glan is about an hour and will cost you PHP100.00. Imagine frolicking in the serene beach of Gumasa just an hour away from the noise of the city.

Getting around

Getting to Sanrangani from the outlaying cities and from town to town is by van transfers but getting around within the towns center is via tricycle. The usual fare is PHP10.00 per pax. If you want the tricycle driver to bring you to the out-of-the-way places like Gumasa Beach, the charge is PHP60.00 per pax. 

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Arrange for a pick up when visiting out-of-the-way places like beaches and viewpoints with the tricycle driver to bring you back to main road or van terminals before dark. Get their mobile number if need be. 

Safety & Security

As with the fine print in the non-existent universal travel manuals, your safety and security when backpacking anywhere in the world is in your hands. How safe you are in Sarangani is proportional to how much of common sense you packed within you. 

Most vans leave the main town terminals for the last trip at 4PM. This is so they don’t get caught up driving at night. Never leave your belongings unattended and be vigilant at all times. Always and I mean always follow the local tour guides’ instructions when visiting tourist sites. 

Sarangani is fairly safe and secure. I travelled mostly via tricycle around Maasim and Glan and find the Sarangans generally warm and happy. They are chatty and mighty proud that their sleepy town is slowly waking up to solo travelers and backpackers tourism demands.

sarangani

Places to Stay 

If you happen to find yourself in the middle of the town of Alabel, Glan or Maasim on a whim and without any arrangements, flag a tricycle drive to ask you to bring you the many homestays. Homestays and inns is the more popular means of accommodation here and most of Mindanao for that matter. 

One thing I can recommend is to stay within General Santos City and do daytrips to the many tourist sites of Sarangani. Since the closest town of Maasim, Sarangani to General Santos is just 30 minutes away and reachable via van transfer. That’s just what I did, I stayed in one of the decent inns in General Santos and did a daytrip to Sarangani.

Read: Affordable Recommended Places to Stay in General Santos City

Points of Interest

There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this. - Someone. Click To Tweet

Sarangani is so blessed with natural resources that travellers will have difficulty to decide which one to do first. For the more adventurous types, cross out the paragliding activity on your first day

  1. Gumasa Beach in the town of Glan
  2. Paragliding in Maasim. I booked with 3DOE Tours and they are very easy to deal with. Contact them at +63 922 8631962 and they reply pretty quick too.
  3. Kapatan-Lago and South Point dive spots in Maasim
  4. Pinol Cave and Bat Sanctuary in Pinol, Maitum
  5. Trek and rapel in Nalus Falls in Kiamba
  6. Sarangani Golf and Country Club in Pula-tana, Malungon

You check more tourist spots in this website ran by the local goverment of Sarangani.sarangani

Been-there tips

On a recent trip to Sarangani, I have been-there travel tips to share with you. Better keep in mind that;

  1. It is cash-only-transaction here and everywhere. 
  2. Banks and ATMs are hard to find. 
  3. Same with money changers. This is one of the reasons I always go back to General Santos City.
  4. The tricycle drivers are also the best companion going around. Get their mobile numbers and communicate with them your travel plans so they can help and guide you around.
  5. Van transfers are fairly easy to flag. 
  6. Pack light. You will be mostly going around in tricycles and in cramped van transfers. This means no bulky suitcases!
  7. No travelling at night!

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Lastly,

Sarangani is slowly waking up. It’s local government have stepped up and found the need to polish their hidden treasures and show it to the world. There’s a Sarbay Festival going on every May, to be held at the amazing beach of Gumasa and hopefully it becomes a crowd-drawing annual event. 

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Valen Dawson - 7 months ago Reply

It looks so pretty! And such a helpful post

Rob Taylor - 7 months ago Reply

Interesting that you call out not to travel at night several times. I’ve not been to the Philippines but have heard that the unsafe nature of much of the country is all hype. Of course be wary wherever you go, but is it really so bad to not travel at night? Sorry, weird question.

Firdaus Ysf - 7 months ago Reply

Philippines is such a gem. I didn’t know much about the country except for Manila and Cebu Island. Definitely, will add Sarangani to my holiday list!

Hra - 7 months ago Reply

Oh Philippines are like a paradise!! I want to go there so badly!! I love your photos 🙂

Victoria - last month Reply

My dad LOVES golfing so I grew up around it! I always associated it with America or Ireland so this is so interesting to hear! I guess it truly is worldwide!

Julien Mordret - last month Reply

The whole island of Mindanao is often considered a bit “dangerous” for western visitors, it’s nice to see that peaceful places still exist there. It looks like a beautiful gateway, interesting for me as I am regularly in Singapore!

Jackie@theglobetrottingteacher.com - last month Reply

I’ve not been to the Philippines, but I’d definitely be into the paragliding scene. Interesting that you call out not traveling at night a few times. Not knowing much about the specifics of the Philippines, are they unsafe or is it just Sarangani? Is this advice mainly directed at solo travelers? I’m not doubting your experiences or tips, especially given you’ve been there. But, I’ve lived in NYC for 20+ years and, of course as with any big city, you have to be careful and cautious. But I’ve also seen guides that warn NYC visitors to be SUPER careful at night when in reality it’s no more dangerous day or night.

Anna Faustino - last month Reply

I love your been there tips! Always something really useful that most people fail to write about. I’ve never been here but its definitely on the list!

Carrie - last month Reply

Super helpful to know that banks and ATMs can be hard to find…that’s something I always want to check on in advance. I’d love to rappel down those waterfalls, that sounds amazing!

Jose Harvey - last month Reply

Sarangani looks beautiful! Thanks for all the tips. It’s really good to know about the homestay situation. Seems like that would be the most excellent way to get an authentic experience.

Jenna - last month Reply

Sanrangani looks like a beautiful spot! I would have never guessed to find a golf club there, lol, but I suppose it does look like a great spot for one! 🙂 I would love to check out the beaches and the paragliding sounds like a blast too. Good to know about the ATM’s and banks and that you need to use cash–always best to arrive prepared!

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