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9 Things to Do and See in Butuan City for Your Next Trip!

This is a list of the fun things to do in Butuan City for your trip itinerary. Visit this part of the Philippines on your next holiday!

I visited Butuan recently for the Mind the Now 2, a photography workshop and Photowalk organized by my friends at Mobile Perspectives. We had this event last year where I talked about blogging. This time around, I was a speaker and talked about Mobile Travel Photography.

Because of that, I got to stay in Butuan for 6 days, yay! Of course, I went exploring and I’m sharing here some of the great things to do and see in the area.

1. Butuan Plaza / Guingona Park

The Butuan Plaza or Guingona Park is a nice starting point for your Butuan City explorations. It is central, spacious enough, and a good place to hang out. This place is used by the locals as a meeting or waiting place and a hangout spot.

View from the plaza.

Entrance Fee: Free

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2. Butuan National Museum

Did you know that Butuan City, Philippines used to be the gold and boat manufacturing hub in our country? If our Filipino ancestors needed boats in the olden days so they could travel out to sea and trade with other Asian countries, they’d go to Butuan if they want high-quality boats made!

Butuan is the regional center of the Caraga Region and it holds so much history, you guys! If you love learning about history, our ancestors, and the like – drop by the Butuan National Museum. Displays include old farming and fishing implements, gold mining tools used back in the day, and Balangay relics.

Enjoying the artwork and creating photography art of our own – notice the reflection? ­čÖé

Fun fact: Balangays are the ancient boats our ancestors used and may soon be declared as the National Boat of the Philippines! The word “baranggay” is also coined from balangay. How cool is that?

Entrance Fee: Free, just register your name

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3. Balangay Shrine Museum

Butuan City has a dedicated museum for just the Balangay boat and it is located in Brgy. Libertad. It is called a shrine museum because it is built upon the grounds where one of the largest balangays was excavated. In fact, they excavated a town ruin there!

Contemplating the history of the balangay.

I visited this because I wanted to learn more about our boatbuilding history. The displays here are only a few but still worth adding to your itinerary if you’re curious about the Balangay.

Entrance Fee: Free, just register your name

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4. Banza Church Ruins

In the 17th century, there was a town or a pueblo established on the banks of the Agusan river running through Butuan. It was called Banza and the people erected a church. Unfortunately, at that time, Moro slave raids and piracy were rampant. As a town by the river, Banza was heavily affected.

It came to a point that the governor declared the forcible transfer of the town to a place called Baug, now known as Magallanes. There were protests and the priest during that time was even arrested. Still, the town was transferred.

Imagining what life used to be here.

Time and nature have now erased the traces of old Banza, except for the ruins of a belfry that currently stands like a silent sentinel by the riverside. Keeping it company through the years is a massive Balete (banyan) tree.

Today, Banza is a well-populated baranggay and the area around the church ruins has become a sort of hangout place. When I visited, though, there was construction going on with building materials littered around, and the church ruins marker was damaged. I couldn’t see any obvious signs of maintenance.

I super enjoyed taking photos here!

Hopefully, the local government and residents can preserve the whole place because the Church Ruins of Banza is a testament to our history. It will also make a great tourist spot. More than that, it is a witness to the lives of townsfolk that, despite the threats brought about by Muslim slave raiders, clung so strongly to their hometown.

Entrance Fee: Free

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5. Balangay Boat Building Site

The Balangay Boat Building Site can also be part of the tourist spots in Butuan City. Right now, it sits on a huge, for the lack of a better word, park. I use that term loosely though because there are really no park amenities.

For those of you who love nature and want to see a life-size replica of a balangay┬áboat, then this place is great. In fact, I loved visiting there. There are huge trees in the area and you’ll get a good view of the river. By the way, this place is also called the Balanghai Boat Replica Site. “Balangay” and “balanghai” are the same thing.

I wonder what it was like to sail on the river or out to sea on these boats.

However, if you’re looking for benches or proper nature trails and picnic areas, you’ll be disappointed. When I visited, the “trail” leading to the boat replica was very muddy. And, yes, I got my sandals dirty. The grass by the river is also overgrown. That place would have made a great picnic area. A boardwalk would also be nice.

The boatbuilding site could also use general cleaning. There wasn’t much trash, mind you, but you could see discarded plastic here and there.

Still, if you’re touring Butuan City, a quick stop here is recommended.

Watching the Agusan River flow by.

Entrance Fee: Free

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6. Sto. Ni├▒o Diocesan Shrine/Church

This church is also in Brgy. Libertad. You’ll pass by it on the way to the Balangay Shrine Museum. It’s an old church with a nice architecture. If you’re Catholic, a visit here would be nice indeed.

Photo op at Sto. Nino Shrine in Butuan City

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7 & 8. Magsaysay Bridge and Macapagal Bridge

If you are a fan of architecture like I am, checking out these two bridges won’t hurt. If you don’t care about bridges, just skip these.

I included them on this list though because they’re important landmarks in a sense that they cross the Agusan River, allowing Butuanons better transportation, and they are valuable to the efficiency of local trade and commerce.

Magsaysay Bridge (the red one) was the first bridge in the area that crossed the Agusan River. It was built in 1957 and is a truss bridge. Looks-wise, this is the more photogenic bridge.

Magsaysay Bridge - one of the things to see in Butuan City
The Magsaysay Bridge in Butuan City

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Macapagal Bridge, meanwhile, is newer and more stable. It is a steel cable-stayed bridge and was inaugurated in 2007. This bridge spans 908 meters and is the second-longest cable-stayed bridge in the country, the longest being the Marcelo Fernan Bridge connecting Cebu and Mactan Island.

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9. Cafe Hopping and Food Tripping

If you become tired and thirsty or hungry after all that touring, check out some of Butuan’s cafes and food establishments.

During my visit, I was able to try:

Manay Maling Restaurant – this is the restaurant inside Almont Inland Resort. They serve delicious lunch and dinner buffets. They also offer pizza and other ala carte items. There is a bar in the resort’s premises, too.

Treated like royalty at Manay Maling Restaurant

Gold ‘n Pearl Bakery Cafe – this is a coffee shop with a cozy ambiance located just a few steps near Guingona Park or the Butuan Plaza. They have a wide selection of coffee and delicious pastries. They also serve meals, including pasta and rice meals.

Coffee goodness at Gold ‘n Pearl

Tuna Republik – gorge on Tuna in this restaurant. They serve mouth-watering tuna dishes, including kinilaw (ceviche), grilled tuna belly, tuna panga, tuna soup, and more. Great for family and barkada (group of friends) meals.

Satisfy your hunger at Tuna Republik

Crispy Crust Pizza – my relative living in Butuan took me to this place. This is a homegrown pizza shop and, yes, their pizzas definitely had crispy crusts! Yum!

Had pizza with Ate Reggie at Crispy Crust

There are other restaurants and cafes in Butuan City, of course. Go and explore and let me know of your great finds and recommendations!

Other Butuan Attractions

That’s it, you guys. This is my list of things to see and do in Butuan. I have been to all of the above and definitely enjoyed my visit to the Home of the Balangays, The Timber City of the South, and Caraga’s Economic Hub – Butuan City, Philippines!

Of course, there are more nice places to visit, but I haven’t been there yet. So, I’m just listing out here some spots that the Butuanons I met have recommended to me:

  • Vinapor Blue Water Resort – a resort, technically not in Butuan but in Carmen, Agusan Del Norte. Definitely accessible from Butuan.
  • Delta Discovery Park – a park with a zipline
  • Robinson’s Mall – free aircon, haha. Check out the restaurants and cafes there.
  • Sample the local fruits at the wet markets (ex. Ampayon Public Market)

Visit Butuan City

Butuan City is a nice place to visit in the Philippines. I certainly enjoyed my time there. If you’re looking for another area to explore in our country, why not go here? Let me know about your visit!

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