Tawi-Tawi: Ultimate Travel Guide – Out of Town Blog

Tawi-Tawi: Ultimate Travel Guide – Out of Town Blog

Tawi-Tawi Journey Information: DIY Information, Easy methods to get there, The place to Keep, Issues to do and Extra

Often ignored due to its location within the southernmost a part of the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi has additionally been unreasoningly linked with safety issues previously that gave vacationers pause when planning a go to to this place. In actuality, although, Tawi-Tawi tells a special story of a province boasting a number of off-the-beaten-path locations teeming with majestic sights, colourful tradition, and traditions that has been superbly preserved for tons of of years.

Bud Bongao Tawi-Tawi Travel Guide
Bud Bongao Tawi-Tawi Journey Information

Shortly changing into a favourite among the many extra adventurous vacationers in search of ethnic wonders and noteworthy marvels to discover, Tawi-Tawi’s numerous attraction is sufficient to persuade one to put aside all misplaced preconceived notions of this place and embrace discovering its factual character. Here’s a helpful journey information that you would be able to bookmark for future use for these prepared to get to know the true Tawi-Tawi.

Going to Tawi-Tawi

Tawi-Tawi is nearer to Sabah, Malaysia, than mainland Mindanao. Going to the province was once troublesome. For the reason that building of latest infrastructures comparable to an airport and seaports and a rebranding that promoted tourism within the province, going to Tawi-Tawi has develop into so much simpler within the final a number of years. Listed below are some methods of going to Tawi-Tawi from main hubs in Manila and Zamboanga Metropolis.

By Air

Sanga-Sanga Airport in Bongao operates day by day Cebu Pacific flights from Zamboanga Metropolis. Apart from chartered flights, that is the one industrial air alternative going to Tawi-Tawi. Philippine Airways and Cebu Pacific additionally join vacationers from Manila to Zamboanga Metropolis, whereas AirAsia began flying to Zamboanga Metropolis from Clark and Cebu on March 28, 2020.

By Sea

Sea journey is the principle mode of passage going to Tawi-Tawi. Aleson Delivery cruises the waters of the Sulu Sea to attach passengers from Zamboanga Metropolis to Bongao each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Ship voyage normally takes 15 to 18 hours. 2GO Journey additionally has ferry routes going to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi from Cebu, and Manila. One other ferry from Semporna in Malaysia goes to Bongao as soon as per week.

Greatest Time to Go

Tawi-Tawi’s smartest thing is that it’s safely shielded from the “storm belt” of the Philippines, making it a super vacation spot to go to the entire yr with out worrying about excessive climate situations. Rain showers happen sometimes and just for a brief burst of time. To verify, all the time examine climate forecasts earlier than setting out on a sea journey to the totally different islands within the province.

Agal Agal Festival photos
Agal Agal Competition pictures

One other factor to recollect are the cultural festivals held each September in several cities in Tawi-Tawi. These are the Kamahardikaan Sin, which celebrates the province’s founding anniversary—and the Agal-Agal Competition, a jovial revelry celebrating the lifestyle of the native Sama folks. Each festivals are celebrated on the identical week each September.

Agal-Agal Competition | September

Agal Agal Festival in Tawi-Tawi
Agal Agal Competition in Tawi-Tawi
Agal Agal Festival
Agal Agal Competition

This competition encompasses a colourful road parade and dancing competitions participated by contingents from varied cities. The principle choreography facilities on the depiction of the lifestyle of the Sama folks. Spellbinding dance routines re-enact the normal courtships, harvesting seaweeds (agal-agal), and mystic rituals. Yearly, the competition is held in a special city in Tawi-Tawi.

Getting Round Tawi-Tawi

Getting round Bongao, Tawi-Tawi is handy because of it being a small island surrounded by well-paved roads. Jeepneys, motor taxis (habal-habal), and tricycles are the principle transport strategies on the island. There are additionally personal vans provided by tour firms. For inter-island connectivity, public ferries can be found on the island’s major port.

By Jeep

Jeepneys will be seen departing Bongao Public Market a number of occasions a day to shuttle passengers to the opposite cities in Bongao.

By Tricycle

Tricycle in Tawi-Tawi
Tricycle in Tawi-Tawi

Habal-habal” (motor taxis) and Tricycles are the mainland transportation in Bongao and within the different islands in Tawi-Tawi. In case you are exploring a city in Tawi-Tawi, one of the best ways is to experience a tricycle to simply cross slim streets. For hassle-free commuting, attempt renting one for a day-tour so the tricycle driver can take you to all of the vacationer spots within the city.

Fare ideas: Keep in mind to politely negotiate along with your driver however chorus from haggling an excessive amount of to the purpose that you could be short-change them.

By Boat

Whereas motor taxis and tricycles are the principle mode of transit on Tawi-Tawi islands, sea journey is one other major transportation of going from one island to a different. Public ferry boats can be found from Bongao going to Sitangkai, Simunul, Liyaburan, Sibutu, Sipangkot, and Languyan. Renting a non-public boat can also be accessible, particularly if you’ll go to the sandbar of Panampangan Island.

What to See and Do in Tawi-Tawi

Panampangan Island

Panampangan Island
Panampangan Island

An hour away from Bongao by a quick boat or add yet one more for a regular-speed boat, Panampangan is well some of the spectacular islands within the Philippines. The island is alleged to have the longest sandbar within the Philippines. In keeping with mapping advocate Ervin Malicdem “throughout low tide, the sandbar extends far out to about three kilometers to its neighboring islet, Basibuli; additionally, in the identical reef.”

Devoid of synthetic buildings apart from just a few small huts, the island is roofed in lush greens composed of towering coconut bushes and random vegetation. The remainder of the island is stretched by a scenic snaking sandbar framed by the crystal-clear waters of Celebes Sea. A day journey right here will certainly present you with a memorable seaside bumming expertise.

Journey tip: Boats going to Panampangan Island from Bongao will be rented for 8,000 – 9,00Zero pesos for the entire day of the tour. The boat can conveniently constitution to 12-15 folks.

Bud Bongao Peak

View from Bud Bongao
View from Bud Bongao

Thought-about a sacred mountain, Bud Bongao could solely tower 1,100 toes, but it surely holds a taller which means to the province’s native historical past, tradition, and faith. The mountain can also be the burial place of certainly one of Karim ul-Makhdum’s — the Arab preacher who first introduced Islam to the nation greater than 600 years in the past — followers.

At the moment, Bud Bongao stays a lot revered by the locals. It’s additionally a biodiversity hotspot spreading 250 hectares and is protected by each the native authorities of Bongao and the tons of of playful long-tailed macaques that may be seen alongside the path.

Outdated Chinese language Port

Old Chinese Port in Tawi-Tawi
Outdated Chinese language Port in Tawi-Tawi

Apart from the hurried seaside actions, one’s consideration may also be arrested by the colourful row of lantsa—motorized wood boats—docked on the previous Chinese language Port in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. This was once the middle of commerce amongst Arab, Malays, and Chinese language retailers tons of of years in the past. At the moment, it serves as a major fishing port and an necessary sea hub to the opposite island cities of Tawi-Tawi and, as some would say, even to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque

Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque
Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque

Discovered on the island of Simunul, this mosque is believed to be the oldest within the Philippines. It was in-built 1380 and named after its builder, Arab dealer, and Islamic preacher Sheik Makdum Karim. Though the mosque has been reconstructed a number of occasions, 4 unique wood pillars can nonetheless be seen inside.

Sama houses on stilts in Simunul Island Tawi-Tawi
Sama homes on stilts in Simunul Island Tawi-Tawi

The graveyard positioned in the back of the mosque is believed to be the place Sheik Makdum Karim’s stays have been buried.

Bajau Village in Bongao

Kids in Bajau Village
Children in Bajau Village

Get to know extra concerning the easy day by day lives of the Sama Dilaut folks residing in stilt homes that stand close to the wood footbridge resulting in the ocean. This group within the municipality of Bongao supplies guests a captivating glimpse into the Bajaus tradition (Badjao).

The Badjao and Samal mat, design-wise, is undisputedly the most interesting tradition in the whole country
The Badjao and Samal mat, design-wise, is undisputedly probably the most fascinating custom in the entire nation

Aside from studying about their oceanic model of residing, one will even be amazed by their craftsmanship in weaving, notably the assorted colourful banig (hand-woven mat) that many make on daily basis.

Sama Dilaut and Tausug Stilt Homes in Sitangkai

Stilt Houses Tawi-Tawi
Stilt Homes Tawi-Tawi

One other related enthralling group scene may also be seen on the island of Sitangkai, the place most Tausug and Sama Dilaut folks desire residing in stilt homes perched on the ocean than to decide on dry land. These stilt homes encompass the island’s turquoise waters and dot by the inside canals resulting in a number of of the island’s municipalities.

Sitangkai is also called Tawi-Tawi’s seaweed capital.

Tawi-Tawi Provincial Capitol

Stilt Houses Tawi-Tawi
Stilt Homes Tawi-Tawi

Constructed atop a hill, the Provincial Capitol of Tawi-Tawi encompasses a mosque dome that completely enhances its interesting Islamic structure design. A morning jog right here will reward you not solely a windy spot to catch your breath but in addition a sweeping view of Bongao city under.

Balobok Rock Shelter

This fascinating archaeological website is positioned inside Bolobok Cave. Earlier excavations within the cave have turned up quite a few historic artifacts like flake instruments, polished stones, human bones, and even animal stays which can be believed to this point again so far as 8,800 years in the past.

Tawi-Tawi Diving Spots

Additionally, an underrated diving vacation spot due to its distant location, the waters off Tawi-Tawi dots with an abundance of diving spots. As a part of the so-called Coral Triangle, greater than 600 species of corals and a couple of,00Zero species of fish will be seen underwater round Tawi-Tawi.

Go to the opposite lesser-known islands.

Apart from Panampangan Island, Simunul, and Sitangkai, there are different noteworthy islands comparable to Papahag, Bilatan, and Laa scattered across the immense Sulu Sea surrounding Tawi-Tawi. You may discover these islands for an entire day.

The place to Keep in Tawi-Tawi

Rachel’s Place Resort and Restaurant

The preferred lodging in Bongao as a result of it’s generally frequented by each backpackers and enterprise vacationers, Rachel’s Place is strategically positioned close to the middle of Bongao. It encompasses a spacious backyard the place friends can hang around or work utilizing the lodge’s Wi-Fi and a number of other air-conditioned rooms good for 2-Four folks. The lodge additionally has a eating space and a multi-purpose corridor.

Deal with: Ilmon Avenue Lamion, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Resort Juana Grill and Sandbar Restaurant

Located close to the middle of the bustling a part of Bongao, the place a lot of sea buying and selling actions occur, this lodge is right for vacationers in search of a no-frills however reasonably priced place to crash for the evening.

Deal with: Datu Halum St., Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Beachside Inn Resort and Restaurant

Mentioned to be the primary lodge to function in Bongao, this beachfront lodge is a favourite among the many locals to advocate friends from different components of the Philippines. Beachside Inn’s alfresco eating space can also be among the finest locations to eat in Tawi-Tawi.

Deal with: Sowangkagang, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Sandbar Lepa Seashore Resort and Restaurant

This newly-built lodge in Bongao, Sandbar Lepa Seashore Resort, options minimalistic rooms with twin beds, an air-conditioner, cable TV, and a convention corridor.

Deal with: Pasiagan, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Almari Seashore Resort

This quiet escape nestled alongside a quaint shoreline was additionally the place the music video of a Christian Bautista track about Tawi-Tawi was shot. A row of a dozen rooms sits in entrance of a scenic view of the ocean.

Deal with: Pahut, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

What to Eat in Tawi-Tawi

Tawi-Tawi’s culinary scene is closely influenced by its bountiful seafood trade and a mixture of Moro and Malaysian delicacies and the native dishes from different Filipino ethnic teams in Mindanao Tausug, Maranao, Jama Mapun, Banguingui, and extra. The satisfying product is a wealthy mix of scrumptious flavors that may make your journey to Tawi-Tawi produce a unprecedented gastronomical journey.

Tiyula Itum (braised beef in charred coconut meat)

Tiyula Itum
Tiyula Itum

A well-liked Tausug dish typically served in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Zamboanga, Tiyula Itum is distinctly characterised by a black sauce attributable to burnt coconut meat. This produces a singular style to the tender braised beef. Different components of this dish embody ginger, turmeric, lengkuas, onion, and garlic. Tiyula Itum can also be referred to as “Meals for the Royalty” as a result of it’s generally served throughout weddings and different particular occasions just like the Hari Raya festivities.

Rooster Piyanggang

A barely derived model of the Tiyula Itum additionally applies the cooking technique of burning coconut meat to provide a thick black sauce, this dish’s major star is the rooster. Cooked alongside the rooster are different components like chili, turmeric, lemongrass, onions, garlic, and coconut milk.

Kahanga Rendang

This mouth-watering dish composed of shellfish meat is ready by stirring it fried with seasonings of golden coconut meat, lemongrass, and onions.

Pickled Agal-Agal (Seaweed)

As a result of seaweed is the principle produce of Tawi-Tawi, locals have formulated an appetizing seaweed-based salad. They name it the Pickled Agal-agal, made with skinny slices of inexperienced mangoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and brown sugar.

Rooster and Beef Satti

Satti is one other native favourite in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and the Zamboanga Peninsula. It’s a grilled beef or rooster served in sticks and paired with sticky rice and a thick sauce. The yellow-colored sauce is made with turmeric, pepper, garlic, and curry components, combining to create a savory style.


Pastil seems like a slighter model of the empanada, however as soon as you are taking a chew, you’ll uncover that inside its fillings are rice noodles (pancit bihon) that style higher when paired with spicy vinegar.

Malaysian Delicacies

Mee Goreng
Mee Goreng

Tawi-Tawi is without doubt one of the few locations in Mindanao the place you possibly can style some Malaysian delicacies. A number of side-street eateries serve an array of favourite dishes from our Southeast Asian neighbor. These embody Nasih Goreng, Pataya Ayam Daging, Mee Goreng, Nasih Goreng, Mee Bandung, Mee Hailam, and many others.

Journey tip: consuming pork is strictly prohibited within the province of Tawi-Tawi by Islamic dietary legal guidelines

The place to Eat in Tawi-Tawi

Fatima Shara

Located within the downtown market space, this modest eatery serves varied native delicacies that features tiyulah itum, agal-agal salad, grilled fish, and kinilaw.

Deal with: Downtown, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Sandbar Seashore Lepa and Restaurant

The in-house restaurant of Sandbar Seashore Lepa Resort serves mouth-watering Mindanaoan delicacies that additionally contains a number of native favorites. Their enormous servings are excellent for a bunch of household or pals.

Deal with: Pasiagan, Bongao

Ibbo Seashore Resort

When you’re craving contemporary seafood, then you need to dine at Ibbo Seashore Resort’s restaurant, the place they serve a bevy of the freshest seafood catch of the day.

Deal with: Pasiagan, Bongao

Rachel’s Place

Moreover having the most well-liked lodging in Tawi-Tawi, Rachel’s Place’s in-house restaurant can also be recognized for its good meals, fraps, brewed espresso, and silog-types all-day breakfast.

Deal with: Lamion, Bongao     

King of Rooster

Like its identify suggests, that is the place to order rich-tasting chicken-based dishes, together with the native favorites: rooster sati, Rooster Piyanggang, and the Tiyula Itum.

Deal with: Downtown space, Bongao

Sameera Espresso

Thought-about by locals as Tawi-Tawi’s model of Starbucks however so significantly better, Sameera is a laid-back espresso place close to the city, the place you possibly can order brewed espresso as you sit and quietly observe the day by day way of life of individuals round you.

AMZ Snack Home and Juana Resort & Restaurant are additionally positioned within the downtown space of Tawi-Tawi.

Sensible Data and Ideas


Though Tawi-Tawi is now thought-about typically protected, it’s nonetheless extremely really helpful to register first on the tourism workplace earlier than continuing with Tawi-Tawi’s island-hopping exploration. After registering, the tourism officers led a brief briefing concerning the tips and different useful ideas in touring round Tawi-Tawi.

Foreign money

Regardless of its proximity to Malaysia, the principle forex used right here continues to be the Philippine Peso. Philippine Nationwide Financial institution (PNB), Metrobank, and Allied Banking Company as an ATM machine positioned within the downtown space of Bongao. There are not any ATM machines within the different islands of Tawi-Tawi. At the moment, there are only a few institutions that settle for credit score or debit playing cards, so it’s nonetheless a clever thought to carry sufficient money throughout the period of your keep in Tawi-Tawi.


The “Tausug” is the principle language in Tawi-Tawi, whereas many additionally communicate the native “Sama” language, particularly on Sitangkai. Nonetheless, you’ll by no means get misplaced in translation in Tawi-Tawi as nearly all residents additionally know how you can communicate Chavacano, Cebuano, Tagalog, Yakan, and English. Fairly just a few locals also can communicate Malay.


99% of Tawi-Tawi’s inhabitants, roughly 390,735, belongs to the Islam faith whereas the remaining, 0.7%, are Christians.

Tawi-Tawi Pattern Itinerary:

That can assist you plan your journey, here’s a pattern 3-day itinerary in Tawi-Tawi.

Day 1: Arrival in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

  • 07:00 am – Arrival on the lodge
  • 07:30 am – Test-in and breakfast
  • 09:00 am – 5:00 pm – Begin Bongao Tour: Outdated Chinese language Port, Provincial Capitol, Market, Bajau Village, and afternoon hike to Bud Bongao
  • 06:00 pm – Return to lodge to clean up
  • 07:00 pm – Dinner, socials, and lights out.

Day 2: Island hopping

  • 07:00 am – Wake-up name and breakfast
  • 08:30 am – Depart for Panampangan Island
  • 10:30 am – Arrival at Panampangan Island
  • 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Lunch, swim, and snorkeling at Panampangan Island
  • 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Proceed island hopping tour to Simunul Island to go to Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque and Sitangkai island to go to the Sama Dilaut village Tausug Stilt homes.
  • 7:00 pm: Again to Bongao

Day 3: Buying and Departure

Begin Planning your Tawi-Tawi Journey!

You should definitely bookmark this Tawi-Tawi journey information that can assist you plan your journey accordingly.

Need extra updates about new package deal excursions and vacationer spots in Tawi-Tawi, Philippines? Comply with #TeamOutofTown, on FacebookTwitterInstagramBloglovin, and Pinterest for extra journey concepts.

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