This is the question that is most often asked by people, “is it safe to travel in Sulu?” I’ve been to this province as part of my ZAMBASULTA trip last February of this year. And I’ll be lying to you if I say that it didn’t chill a single bone in my spine or raise a single hair in my back. Creating this Sulu Travel Guide is probably one of the travel guides I am most proud of that I’ve been to and was able to explore to. I’m definitely convinced that Sulu has one of the best beaches in the country.
I know some of you might have considered a lot of times already if you’re going here or not. Especially if you’re completing the 81 provinces of the Philippines. Tell you frankly, Sulu is more than just “the most bad-ass place in the Philippines”. There are so much to see in this beautiful province that will truly make your visit 100% worth it. Continue reading and let’s get to know Sulu more!
“Is it safe to travel in Sulu?”
It’s true that Sulu is one of the province that scared the “solo traveler girl” inside of me and I don’t intend to be overreacting on this one. Before I make any statements about my recent experience, I would like to make myself clear that everything in this travel guide is purely based on my own experience. I do not intend to create any false facts or create a bad image about the province or the locals. Sulu has one of the best locals I’ve met who sincerely welcomed us to their beautiful province.
Now to answer the question that everyone has been asking me, the answer is both YES and NO. There are lots of reasons that contributed why it’s safe and why it’s not. But if I’m going to be frank with you then it would be 70% NO and 30% YES.
Let’s get into details why. Sulu is a province where a certain group lives. These people included in the group seek for violence and (1) hates the government and (2) hates the Christians. I will not sugar-coat the details but if you want to know if it’s safe to go there then these are the actual facts. Feel free to brush up on the local news in the province.
Why dis I say “YES and NO”?
Well YES because if you visit the province, the tourism office will take care of your stay and they will provide an escort for your whole tour. This is how they assist their visitors. I’m also convinced that it’s safe because according to the Muslims I spoke with in Sulu that the province is not always about terror and violence. I agree. I wouldn’t want the province to obtain that image too. Like I’ve said earlier, Sulu is more than just a place of terror. It’s a beautiful province with hidden pieces of paradise and where one of the most welcoming locals lives.
Bottom line, what you need to do is to brush up some facts and local news. Get in contact with the provincial tourism office and request for an escort when you visit. Remember, if you’re going there with a humble attitude and respect, you don’t have anything to worry about.
Below are some of the suggested relevant practices you should exercise:
- Respect our Muslim brothers and sisters. Please do not wear skin-revealing clothes. Wear modest clothes and cover your hair with a hijab.
- Less talking about the Government and Christianity. We don’t want the wrong ears to hear our thoughts.
- Respect their culture. Bring a humble attitude and respect the locals.
Pre-Sulu Travel Guide
About Sulu Province
Jolo is the capital municipality of Sulu province. Sulu is often regarded to as the southernest part of the Philippines but it’s actually just one of the provinces at the bottom. The most southernest province is actually Tawi-Tawi and not Sulu.
When is the best time to visit Sulu? If you want to enjoy the beach then the best time to go there is during summer season between the months of March – June.
How many days is the ideal days to stay in Sulu? The ideal days to stay in Sulu should you wish to explore the other beaches is 2 days.
The Tausug language is spoken widely in the Sulu Archipelago as both first and second languages throughout these islands. But since you’re going as a visitor, you don’t have to worry about communicating since the tourism office will be providing you an English-speaking tour guide. A lot of locals can communicate in tagalog as well.
Zamboanga to Sulu (Sulu Travel Guide)
There are 2 options to go to Sulu from Zamboanga. You can either book a plane to Jolo Airport (JOL) or ride an overnight ferry. The second option is the cheapest and most popular way to travel to Sulu. I highly suggest to take the night ferry especially if you are traveling in a time sensitive manner. Check the link below for the schedules of ferry to Sulu.
Insider tip: make sure to book ferry ticket to Sulu a day before to secure your slots.
How to Book Your Tour in Sulu?
A word of advice, it’s important to contact the tourism office at least 2 weeks before your trip. Below are the steps on how to book a reservation for Sulu tour:
- Contact the Sulu Provincial Toursim Office through their Facebook page OR contact Ms. Jainab directly through this contact number: 0917 592 9225. (Please say hi to Ms. Jainab and Ms. Merwa for me!)
- Send a letter of intent requesting for a visit. Don’t forget to include the date of travel and the number of people going.
- Wait for the quotation that will be sent to your email address.
- You will need to settle 50% as down payment which is non-refundable in case you will cancel.
- Once you have settled your balance, they will contact you for further instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sulu
- Can I travel to Sulu the DIY-way? No. You need to book tour and request for escort in Sulu.
- Can I travel alone? Whilst it’s possible to travel alone, I highly suggest to bring friends with you. Sulu is not like any other province in Visayas where you can backpack alone. As much as possible, bring travel buddies with you.
- Do I really need to dress up accordingly? YES. Please do not wear skin-revealing clothes and NO NUDITY in the beach please.
- Do you suggest to stay in Sulu for 2 days? YES. I’ve heard that the 2 famous islands in Sulu are really beautiful. If you can book a tour for 2 days, please do so!
- How do I make an advance booking of ferry to Sulu from Zamboanga? You can contact the Sulu Tourism Office for this assistance.
- Is Sulu worth it? 100% YES.
Things to do in Sulu (Sulu Travel Guide)
Last February, my friends and I spent the whole day traveling around the 2 municipalities in Sulu which are (1) Jolo and (2) Parang. Below are some of the places we visited.
Bask in the Sun at Tandu Beach in Parang
This beautiful beach located 45 minutes away from the municipality of Jolo is truly worth it! The feature of the beach is a stretch of powdery white sand and crystal clear water.
Explore the Municipality of Jolo
Some of the prominent list of sights in Jolo are: Provincial Capitol, Masjid Tulay (Central Mosque), National Museum, I Love Sulu signage, Souvenir Shop, Maubuh Beach and Jolo Market.
Taste Local Delicacies in Sulu
Ms. Merwa told us that the cuisine in Sulu has a touch of Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine as a result of being closest to these counties geographically speaking. This is why most of their food inSulu is associated with chilly spices. Yummy! Must try delicacies are the Kahawa Sug and Bangbang Sug.
Freediving in Sulu
Of course, my friends and I brought our fins with us and unlocked the reefs in Sulu!
Beach bumming in Panglima Tahil Island
Another beach that can be seen from Jolo is Panglima Tahil. To get here, you will need to ride a boat to this island.
Travel Vlog on Youtube
Here is a ZAMBASULTA travel vlog that I documented together with the friends I traveled with. Don’t forget to subscribe. 🙂
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