Discovering the Beauty of Basilan

by - 12:39 AM

A lot of people tell me I'm crazy to be visiting Basilan, they think that the place is empty, dangerous and that something crazy might happen to me but I guess they were wrong, yes Basilan may have a bad image to  most of the people but I wanna  know the truth, I wanna experience what it's like to travel there. I wanna see the true situation of the place and discover the beauty that's hiding behind the bad reputation. To see is to believe and so I am here, alive and excited to share my experience in Basilan.

Basilan is filled with potential spots for tourism, it is sad because the travelers are restricted to go in some of the areas because of various indigenous Islamic groups agitating, sometimes violently for autonomy. (Abu Sayyaf and MILF for example)

Most of the people can speak Tagalog here so no practicing of Tausug or Chavacano needed :) The three main ethnic groups here are Yakans, Tausugs and Zamboanguenio. 

Just so you know, Basilan is known as the "Treasure Islands of the Southern Seas" and I agree. 

Some of the fascinating spots I visited in Basilan:

Bulingan Falls

Malamawi Beach

Isawad Falls

How to get to Isabela City, Basilan.

There are no direct flights going to Basilan yet, so your starting point will be Zamboanga City which serves as the gateway for the ARMM Region.

From Zamboanga City Port (aka Pantalan) - Ask around, people should be able to tell you where the ferry going to Basilan is located. My choice is MV Weesam Express as it is the one that offers a more flexible schedule.

Here are the schedules for the ferry going to Basilan.
Contact Numbers: 992-3986 or 992-3756

Zamboanga to Isabela City

1st Trip - 6:45 AM
2nd Trip - 9:30 AM
3rd Trip - 12:45 PM
4th Trip - 3:30 PM

Isabela City to Zamboanga

1st Trip - 8:15 AM
2nd Trip - 10:45 AM
3rd Trip - 2:00 PM
4th Trip - 4:35 PM

-How much is the fare?

First Class: 190php Tourist: 170php Economy: 150php

-There is a terminal fee of:

11 php - Zamboanga Port
4 php - Isabela Port

Where to Stay?

The best place to stay in Basilan is in Isabela City which is the capital city of the province. Here are the hotels/Inns you can try:

Channel View Hostel - Achiong Tan Apartel
Brgy. Sunrise, Isabela City
Contact#: 09268213521

Anson's Hotel
Sumagdang, Isabela City
Contact#: 200-3302

Basilan Hotel
Peo Drive, Eastside, Isabela City

Royal Issra
Tugung St. Isabela City

Casa Rosario
Valderosa St., Port Area, Isabela City
Contact#: 200-3664

I stayed at Casa Rosario for 700php per night, it is located a few mins away from the port. Yes it is expensive, I was not lucky because all of the fan rooms were already taken, this room is fully air conditioned with Cable T.V though and this pension house is very accessible to most of the places I wanna visit so It didn't do a lot of damage on my budget.

Want to splurge a little on your hotel accommodation? try Farmland Resort which is 15 mins away from the city (60php Tricycle). Room rates here starts at 600php and up.

Panoramic shot of Farmland Resort

Where to Eat?

Most of the restaurants in Basilan serve Muslim food, my favorite is Font Restaurant just beside the Sta. Isabel Cathedral. Meals here will cost you around 60php, that's 2 viands of your choice and a cup of rice. The cool thing about this place is the free WiFi and the owner Ms. Larienette which serves as my tourist information desk. hehe.

I thought I'd be on "no pork" diet for the entire trip but I was surprised to see this in front of the Provincial Capitol. Yeah! Lechon and Dinuguan for sale!

There are food stalls everywhere and if in case you miss your favorite Chickenjoy, Joliibee is just around the corner of N. Balderosa St. 

The stalls around the central market offers heaps of local yummy delicacies you can try.

Getting Around the City

Tricycle is the main mode of transportation in Isabela City, the rate depends on the distance of the location your going to. Be smart and haggle as much as you can :)

Tips and Suggestions

-Do not be flashy. Wear comfortable clothes and pick the appropriate ones. Forget about being a fashionista in the mean time, remember you are going to Basilan not Boracay.

-Hide your gadgets and only take it out when you need to use it. 

-Flash a perfect smile all the time, it gives a good impression to the locals and it can gain you new friends that can help you with your trip in Basilan.

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

Fun Run? too bad I didn't bring my rubber shoes!
lechon de basilan

I was only able to visit Isabela City, Malamawi Island and Lamitan City but I reckon this province is pretty safe for the travelers. Do not be silly and stay away from the restricted areas and you are guaranteed to have a good time on your stay there.

If you plan to go to Basilan but you are filled with fear then it's better not to push through or else you are just ruining your own trip. Anything can happen to you at any place, any time so just have fun and enjoy!

I hope peace will take over this place soon because I believe that Basilan has a lot to offer for the travelers. I was happy and did not feel any fear during my 2 days of stay there and I hope you do too.

I will be posting more information about the places I visited in this province asap.

You can check out more pictures of my Basilan Trip here: Basilan in Pictures or watch out for my upcoming posts.
Breakaway! :)

Jan Ashlee

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