Assalamu Alaikum Sulu

by - 4:43 AM

If you are a daring and hard headed traveler (like me) then your next destination should be Sulu. We all know that Sulu is not the safest place for the travelers but if you behave well and plan your trip carefully you may definitely have a good time there. 

The view of Sulu from our ferry looks peaceful and I hope It will be a reality soon...

Most of the people there are Muslims, native tounge is "Tausug" but some of them can speak Tagalog and English. Jolo was the center of the "Sultanate of Sulu" and probably the safest place for the travelers in the Sulu Archipelago.

I don't suggest that you go to Sulu alone if you don't know anyone there. Yes there are a few hostels where you can stay at but I think it is better and safer if you have a local to host you and tour you around.

I admit I was a bit reluctant to visit Sulu, I mean, I've been hearing a lot of awful things about it. You got some people getting kidnapped, murdered plus it was like only a week ago when the gun battle between the Abu Sayyaf and MNLF guerrillas took place somewhere in the Sulu jungles. Such a perfect timing right?

I only used my phone to take pictures and didn't bother to bring my camera, it's too big and it attracts a lot of attention, I mean I don't wanna give them an idea that I'm a reporter or something.

Some of the places I was able to visit (and I hope you do too):

The Provincial Capitol of Sulu - with its Moorish inspired architectural design I reckon it's a must see.

Jolo National Museum - a must visit when in Jolo. You will learn a lof ot stuff about the Tausugs, the Sultanate of Sulu and the rich history of the Sulu Archipelago here. picture taking is not allowed inside. (sabi ni guard.... "sabi nya" hehe)

Bud Datu - translated as Royal Mountain. The tomb of Makdum is located somewhere here. This is sacred to many Tausug. This also serves as a camp for the marines. Will tell more about my trip here soon.

Tulay Mosque - For some time, this has been the largest mosque in Philippines until it was overtaken by the Sultan Bolkiah Mosque in Cotabato City. I was able to visit the top of this mosque which only a few non-muslim people were able to set foot on. (nah I'm not bragging about it.. hehe)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church - the biggest Roman catholic church in the Sulu Region. Bishop Benjamin de Jesus was shot outside this church and his tomb can be found here.

Houses of Samal Tribe - this one is just a bonus as my host lives a few blocks away from this scenic view.

How to go there

-Your starting point will be Zamboanga City. You can either take a boat at the port or plane 
(Airphil Expressvia Zamboanga International Airport.

-The cheapest way is traveling by sea. Go to the port a k.a Pantalan, pay the 11 pesos terminal fee and look for the boats going to Jolo, Sulu. Most of the boats leave at 8 pm so be at the port an hour earlier to secure yourself a ticket and a better spot inside the boat.

-The rates will depend on what boat you choose, it ranges from 350php to 500php only.

Be early and pick the best spot or you will end up sleeping in an akward spot just like what happened to me.

Travel time is 8-9 hours. Waves can be big and the boat may get a little shaky so be prepared and take a medicine or end up feeling sick (or even throw up. No, I did not throw up. I swear.)

and they were all waiting for us...

What to Eat

If you love eating fruits then Sulu is your cloud nine . Durian, Marang, Mangosteen or Lanzones are all sold here in a very (and I mean very) cheap price.


I was lucky because my host's neighbor were having a gathering for the 7th Day (Hafte) of their deceased one. It is a part of their tradition to serve these kind of meals. Yum!

Tiyula Itum or black soup it is like beef nilaga but Tiyula itum is tastier because it has more spices in it and also they put coconut oil in it. (sssssiiiippppp.....oh I miss it now!)

Sulu's version of Durian Jam (Mantikilya as called by the locals) is the bomb! make a room in your bag ang bring plenty of this home!

Getting around

I rented a tricycle to take me to the tourist spots for only 400 pesos. You may do this also but be sure that you pick someone you can trust and will take care of you the entire tour.

One of the windows of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, bombed a few times. 

Tips and Suggestions

-Wear appropriate clothes, simply to show respect to others, to fit in with everybody else there and so that you will not stand out from the crowd. (Trust me you don't need that there)

-Be attentive and vigilant to keep yourself away from danger. This one is pretty basic.

-They said you need an escort (for security) to roam around Sulu but I think it is not a good idea as it will just attract more attention.

-Do your research and stay away from the restricted areas. 

-Find a host. Someone who knows a lot about Sulu and the real situation there.

I learned that before you judge the place you need to come and visit it. See for yourself what the place has to offer. I realized that there are too much drama in the stories we hear about Sulu. Sulu is supposed to be beautiful but the war makes it an uninviting place for the people. I still hope peace will overcome the province soon. It is mesmerizing with a lot of beautiful spots waiting to be discovered. Yes I am lucky to be living in a safer environment but the people of Sulu are luckier to be living in a province with plenty of awe-inspiring places. 

If you wanna visit Sulu then go for it, 60% of the unpleasant stories you here about it is not true anyway. My trip in Sulu is one of the most memorable experiences I have had in traveling and I can't wait to tell you more about it!

You can check out more pictures of my Sulu Trip here: Assalamu Alaikum Sulu or watch out for my upcoming posts.

Breakaway! :)

Jan Ashlee

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