Ultimate Guide for Budget Traveler and Adventure Seeker

If you are planning to visit Mindanao, I highly suggest to go to Isabela City , the capital of Basilan . The city is located on the north...

Isabela De Basilan Travel Guide For First Time Travelers

If you are planning to visit Mindanao, I highly suggest to go to Isabela City, the capital of Basilan. The city is located on the northern shore of Basilan, across the Basilan Strait to the north is Zamboanga City. Even it's within the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Isabela City is not part of the ARMM and is administratively listed under the Zamboanga Peninsula region.

For sure some of you are thinking what are the must see places in Isabela City. But before I show you some of the tourist destinations, let me tell you on how to get to this beautiful city.

From Manila, take a flight to Zamboanga City. You can choose either Cebu Pacific or Philippines. Both airline company offers daily flight Manila to Zamboanga City and vice versa. Travel Time is less than 2 hours. 

From Zamboanga city airport, you may take a tricycle going directly to the port /pier. Other option is to take a Jeepney going to Paseo Del Mar. From the terminal, you can walk going to port /pier which is around 15 minutes.

From the pier, take a fast craft going to Isabela City. The first trip is at 6:45 . Travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Tourist Spots

Malamawi Beach

Malamawi Beach in Isabela City is of one of the best beaches in the province of Basilan. It features a long white sandy beach and turquoise waters like the white beach in Boracay. I never thought that I could see this kind of beautiful beach in Mindanao. Malamawi Beach is an amazing place indeed.

Aside form the powdery sands and crystal waters, another attraction is a stilts bridge with overlooking view of the open sea. At the end of the bridge, there's an area with shades and chairs where you can relax while looking the waves.

Marang Marang Mangrove

The Marang Marang Mangrove is one of the newest attractions in Isabela City.  As you cruise down the calm river, you will enjoy a beautiful mix of well-protected green mangrove forests, flying birds and several water species. You will also see traditional Badjao (Sea Gypsies) homes.

Isabela City Forest Park

The Isabela City Forest Park in Barangay Maligue is like Pamulaklakin Forest in Subic, Zambales. It features several tropical tree species. Some of these are over 1000-year old. The forest park is said to be  the 'lungs' of Isabela de Basilan. We walked around the area for about 30 minutes. The greenery and pristine natural scenery was totally refreshing.

Mabarakat House

There are lots of mosques in the the province of Basilan but one of the newest mosques is Mabarakat House. Many Muslims pray in this mosque, where they can pray and share their faith with others. This was my first time to go inside.  There are no chairs and tables.It's clean, peaceful and spacious.

Sta. Isabel Cathedral

Even Islam the dominant religion in the city, you can still find a Roman Catholic Church like Sta. Isabel Cathedral. It's a small church located in the city proper. During Semana Santa (Holy Week), a lot of catholic join  the city procession known as the Santo Entierro (Holy Funeral) on Good Friday which highlights the observance of Lent.

Mat Weaving in Tausug House

Baníg often refers to the brown, handwoven mat commonly used for sleeping. Baníg weaving has been handed down from one generation to another as it is widely practiced in the country, with designs varying across the regions. We visited one of Badjao's house and they showed as how to make a beautiful banig. It looks easy but it's not.

James Strong Boulevard

Our tour ended in James Strong Boulevard. It's a food lover haven. You can find here a lot of street food and local dishes. The food are not only good, they are also very affordable. 

Where To Eat

Namis Satti

Namis Satti offers grilled chicken, grilled liver and pork barbecue. All of these comes with unique spicy sauce. It's also the home of Tamu Rice. The rice is formed int cubes and it tastes like a local version of non sticky Tikoy. 

Tamu Rice

Where To Stay

Basilan Business Hotel is conveniently located in the humble town of Isabela. It is just a stone’s throw away from the port area and some commercial establishments. The hotel is ideal for those seeking a pleasurable stay in the province of Basilan.

We stayed for an overnight in Basilan Business Hotel. Our air-conditioned room comes with two comfy beds with soft and clean bedding. It has also flat screen tv with cable channels, wooden cabinet, and mini refrigerator. The room also features a private bathroom with shower facility, a spray bidet, fresh towels and complimentary toiletries. More details HERE

Is It Safe To Visit BASILAN?

Yes, Isabela City is a safe place! Just coordinate first to the Isabela City Tourism to assist you and to give you a proper tour as you visit this province. Local are very friendly and accommodating. They gave us the best experience from the tourist spots, their authentic food and the culture itself. I highly suggest to stay here for overnight or three days and two nights to explore the beauty of the city. 

For inquiries, contact the Isabela City Tourism at https://www.facebook.com/isabelacitytourism/. #HAPIsabela