2024 Complete SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Itinerary & Budget: Everything You Need to Know

As far as I am concerned, this trip has one of the most exciting destinations I have been to in the country. One of the most unique as well if I may add. SOCCSKSARGEN is packed up with majestic waterfalls, stunning lakes and rich culture and traditions. Nothing like our common vacation trips at the beach. Don’t get me wrong but I truly love the ocean and the beach. But being in an island hopping for almost all my backpacking adventures surely made this South Central Mindanao a unique one. Continue reading this SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Itinerary & Budget to know the reason why!

SOCCSKSARGEN aka Region 12’s South Central Mindanao is an abbreviation for South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City. To add up on the list, the province of Maguindanao is also included and will be part of this backpacking adventure. Therefore, summing up a total of 5 provinces to tick off on your Project 81 list. In this SOCCSKSARGEN DIY travel guide, I will show you how to backpack these provinces for less than PHP6,000.00 budget in a 5 days and 4 nights itinerary. Yeap! You heard it right. A budget of less than PHP6,000.00 for 5 provinces. Sounds exciting? Because it is!

About SOCCSKSARGEN & Maguindanao

As I have mentioned earlier, SOCCKSARGEN is an abbreviation for the 4 provinces and city of Region 12: South Central Mindanao. These provinces are (1) South Cotabato, (2) North Cotabato, (3) Sultan Kudarat (4) Sarangani and General Santos City. Moreover, you can visit these provinces without having to allot longer days of stays. As a result, it makes it easy for the backpackers to tick these off their Project 81 list.

Let’s get to know more about these provinces! Check out some fun facts I’ve listed below:

  • Pastel or Pastil is a famous rice dish with dry shredded chicken – wrapped in a banana leaf. Read more about it here.
  • Languages spoken are Hiligaynon, Ilocano, Maguindanao, Cebuano and Chavacano.
  • Dominant religion are Roman Catholic and  Islam.
  • Soccsksargen is the home of the T’boli tribe – the tribe famous for their brand name as the “Land of the Dreamweavers” with T’nalak fabric as their main product.
  • The province of Sultan Kudarat was named after Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat, one of the greatest leaders who ruled this area under the Sultanate of Maguindanao. 
  • Sarangani was once part of South Cotabato, but it became an independent province in the year 1992. In addition, our very own boxing champion is the congressman of this province. And he has his own farm in Sarangani called “Pacman Farm“.
  • The people of GenSan are called the Generals or the Henerals. Moreover, this province is really famous because it is the hometown of our very own boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao.

How to Get There?

Take note that backpacking these 5 provinces requires a different entry and exit point. You may choose between General Santos or Catabato City as your entry or exit point. During our trip last March 2020, our entry point was Genreal Santos Airport (GES) and Cotabato Airport (CBO) as our exit point.


Davao City to General Santos

Alternatively, if you’re coming from Davao to General Santos just proceed to Ecoland terminal and board a bus headed to GenSan. The fare is approximately PHP240.00 – PHP300.00 and the travel time is 2 – 4 hours depending on the type of bus you will ride.

SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Itinerary & budget
The 7-Waterfall Zipline in South Cotabato

Important Tips/Reminders from Joan’s Footprints

  • The ideal days to complete this trip is 5-6 days.
  • In Cotabato City, almost every hostel and homestays are always full due to the airport is located in the city. Although walk-ins are common for us backpackers, it would still be better to book reservations in advance.
  • Whilst there are ATM machines available in most provinces, bring enough cash with you as there are areas that are limited with ATM machines.
  • Travel essentials: power-bank, water bottle (be a responsible traveler, no to plastic bottles please!) and a neck pillow for most land travels.
  • Visit Asik-Asik falls in Alamada first thing in the morning and spend the whole day in the falls. Bring your snacks and/or packed lunch with you.
  • When visiting the Mosque, no short skirts allowed. Please wear clothes that will cover your knees and legs. You may use a hijab if you have one.
  • For Lotus flower in Lake Sebu, take note that the flowers only bloom in the morning around 7 – 9 AM only.

Suggested DIY Itinerary For 5 Days & 4 Nights

This itinerary is assuming that you will enter General Santos airport and exit at Cotabato City airport. The ideal days for this backpacking trip is minimum of 5 whole days. (SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Travel Guide)

Day 1: General Santos and Sarangani

7:00AM Arrive in GenSan airport, ride a taxi going to the city.
8:00 – 10:00AM Visit the Fishport Complex and Tiongsan Arcade
10:00AM Proceed to New La Union in Sarangani for White Water Tubing
12:00NN Experience White Water Tubing
2:00PM Ride a van back to GenSan
4:00PM From GenSan, ride a van to Lake Sebu
6:00PM Arrive in SLT Homestay, Lake Sebu
7:00PM Dinner and prepare for bed
9:00PM Lights out

How to go to NLU in Sarangani from GenSan? From General Santos, ride van going to Maitum Ablog Terminal-2 hours. Subsequently, from Maitum proper ride a habal-habal to NLU. Just tell the driver that you are going to the White River Rafting. Going back to GenSan is the same.

How to go to Lake Sebu from GenSan? Proceed to Bulaong Terminal. Then ride a van bound to Lake Sebu – 2 hours. Note that the last trip for Lake Sebu is around 3:00 – 4:00 PM daily. Should you miss the van going straight to Lake Sebu, ride a van to Marbel and from Marbel transfer to a van going to Lake Sebu. Advise the driver to drop you off at SLT Homestay.

SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Itinerary & budget
sarangani mindanao

Day 2: South Cotabato’s Lake Sebu

5:00AM Wake up time, breakfast, prepare
7:00AM Lotus Flower Garden
8:00AM Lake Sebu Signage and T’boli Museum
9:00AM 7 Waterfalls Adventure and Zipline
12:00NN Lunch at Divine Mercy
2:00PM T’Daan Kini Falls
4:00PM Evelandia Overlooking Resort
5:30PM Back in Homestay, rest, wash up
7:00PM Dinner
9:00PM Lights out

How to get around? Proceed to Lake Sebu public terminal and hire a habal-habal for a day tour. Usual cost is PHP750.00 good for 2 person for a whole day tour.


Day 3: Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat

9:00AM Wake up time, breakfast, prepare
11:00AM Proceed to the van terminal going to Sultan Kudarat
12:30PM Arrive in Sultan Kudarat Capitol
2:00PM Proceed to Pink Mosque
3:00PM Check out Pink Mosque
4:00PM Ride a van to Cotabato City
6:00PM Arrive in Cotabato City, check in, rest
8:00PM Dinner
9:00PM Lights out

How to go to Sultan Kudarat Capitol from Lake Sebu? Ride a van to Surallah, fare is PHP40.00. After that ride a van from Surallah to Isulan terminal, the fare is PHP50.00. From Isulan terminal, walk towards Sultan Kudarat Capitol for 3-5 minutes.

How to go to Pink Mosque from Sultan Kudarat? From Isulan terminal, ride a Husky bus to Cotabato City and advise the driver that you are going to Pink Mosque. The travel time is about 1 hour and the fare is PHP72.00. Note that the Pink Mosque is just along the main highway.

How to go to Cotabato City from Pink Mosque? Walk towards the main highway where you drop off then wait for a van/bus going to Cotabato City.

SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Itinerary & budget
SOCCSKSARGEN DIY Itinerary & budget

Day 4: North Cotabato

6:00AM Wake up time, prepare, breakfast
7:00AM Proceed to Asik-Asik Falls in Alamada
10:00AM Arrive in Asik-Asik Falls
3:00PM Travel back to Cotabato City
6:00PM Back in Cotabato City, early dinner, rest
9:00PM Lights out

Read here: How to go to Asik-Asik falls from Cotabato City?

places to visit in SOCCSKSARGEN
The most beautiful falls I’ve seen in the Philippines!

Day 5: Maguindanao

6:00AM Wake up time, prepare, breakfast
7:30AM Proceed to Grand Mosque
8:00AM Check out Grand Mosque
9:00AM Proceed to Airport
12:00NN Flight back to MNL

SOCCSKSARGEN Budget Breakdown

This budget/expenses breakdown is assuming that you are in a group of 2 people travelling to these places. Excluding flight, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Also, for our meals we only ate in cheap restaurants around the area where the cost is around PHP50.00 – PHP60.00 per meal.

Day 1: General Santos and Sarangani

  • Meals x 3 = PHP200.00 per person
  • Taxi from airport to van terminal: PHP330.00 / 2 = PHP165.00
  • Van from GenSan to Sarangani: PHP130.00
  • Round-trip tric to White River Rafting: PHP150.00 / 2 – PHP75.00
  • White River Tubing: PHP200.00
  • Van from Sarangani to GenSan: PHP130.00
  • Then Van from GenSan to Marbel: PHP90.00
  • Van from Marbel to Lake Sebu: PHP80.00
  • SLT Homestay: PHP350.00
  • TOTAL: PHP1,420.00

Day 2: Lake Sebu

  • Meals x 3: PHP200.00
  • Lake Sebu Day Tour (habal-habal): PHP750.00 / 2 = PHP365.00
  • T’boli Costume Rent: PHP200.00
  • Lotus Flower entrance: PHP150.00
  • Entrance to 7 waterfall: PHP20.00
  • 7 Waterfall Zipline: PHP300.00
  • T’Daan Kini falls entrance: PHP20.00
  • Evelandia Entrance fee: PHP30.00
  • SLT Homestay: PHP350.00
  • TOTAL: PHP1,635.00

Day 3: Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao

  • Meals x 3 = PHP200.00
  • Van from Lake Sebu to Surallah: PHP40.00
  • Van from Surallah to Isulan terminal: PHP50.00
  • Bus from Isulat terminal to Pink Mosque: PHP72.00
  • Van from Pink Mosque to Cotabato City: PHP60.00
  • Hostel/Homestay: PHP800.00 / 2 = PHP400.00
  • TOTAL: PHP822.00

Day 4: North Cotabato

  • Meals x 3 = PHP200.00
  • Bus from Cotabato to Libungan Public Market: PHP72.00
  • Roundtrip habal-habal from Libungan to Asik Asik Falls: PHP750.00 / 2 = PHP375.00
  • Entrance fee to Asik Falls: PHP20.00
  • Van to Cotabato City: PHP60.00
  • Hostel/Homestay: PHP800.00 / 2 = PHP400.00
  • TOTAL: PHP1,127.00

Day 5: Maguindanao

  • Meals x 2 = PHP150.00
  • Motorcycle to Grand Mosque: PHP100.00 / 2 = PHP50.00
  • Motorcycle to the airport: PHP100.00 / 2 = PHP50.0
  • TOTAL: PHP250.00


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