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48 Hours in Cagayan de Oro

by Anna Golez

What’s a better escape than a nature adventure? For adrenaline seekers searching for their version of paradise, Cagayan de Oro fits the bill.

INSTAGRAM: hnaallatan

The capital of Misamis Oriental—and the City of Golden Friendship—is also known as the White Water Rafting Capital of the Philippines, but it has even more to offer with its many eco-parks and one-of-a-kind sites for hiking, climbing, and diving. DG Travelers, here's your two-day itinerary for a quick, thrilling escape.

DAY 1

7 AM - Arrive in CDO

8 AM - Check in at your hotel

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious setting or more affordable accommodations, Cagayan de Oro has plenty of options.

INSTAGRAM: papersandflowersph

Seda Centrio is a business hotel conveniently located in a major commercial hub. Just next door is Ayala Centrio Mall.

INSTAGRAM: shyfgr

Limketkai Luxe Hotel has everything you need for a stress-free holiday. It also offers unparalleled views of the city, being the tallest hotel in the area. Limketkai Mall sits next to the hotel for your shopping convenience.

INSTAGRAM: redplanethotels.com

Red Planet Hotel is for the no-fuss traveler. Nights here are affordable for a hotel so close to the city’s most popular attractions. It also happens to be close to SM CDO Downtown Premier.

INSTAGRAM: ijajamjaz

Hip and budget-friendly accommodations are available at The Urban Pod. Rooms come with all the modern amenities you need, and the building is located in a convenient commercial area.

9 AM - Breakfast at Circa 1850

INSTAGRAM: redplanethotels.com

If you end up staying at Red Planet Hotel, look no further than the ground floor for your breakfast spot. The pleasant ambiance and healthy, eco-friendly meals of Circa 1850 will help fuel you for your action-packed first day in CDO.

Insider Notes:
- Their iced tea and fruit juices are all freshly made!
- The restaurant reflects the physical history of the region with recycled timber and bricks taken from the old Jacinto steel mill in Lugait, Misamis Oriental. The interior bricks were sourced from locations like Torpedo, Scotland; Sandy Bay, Devon, England; Pakistan and India.

Circa 1950
Claro M. Recto Avenue
(088) 852 1850
Daily, 7 AM to 2 PM and 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM

10 AM - Fly high with paragliding

INSTAGRAM: xxlychaxx

What better way to see the city for the first time than by flying up in the air? Sierra del Oro provides thrilling paragliding trips for you to experience CDO from the sky. You’ll have the clearest views of the city and Macajalar Bay.

Sierra del Oro
(0917) 709 4417
(0906) 085 3999

11:30 AM - Take a heritage tour

INSTAGRAM: sean_travels_philippines

Ease yourself into the history and culture of CDO by visiting heritage sites throughout the city.

Vicente da Lara Park or MacArthur Park is a scenic park just in front of the Provincial Capitol of Misamis Oriental building. This place is a favorite of joggers and for anybody wanting to enjoy a leisurely stroll under the ancient nara and mahogany trees.

Insider Notes:
- The two monuments, the Press Freedom Monument and the Heritage Monument of Misamis Oriental, were designed by national artist Eduardo Castrillo.
- The park was named after General Douglas MacArthur but later named after Governo Vicente de Lara, who served from 1954 to 1961.

Vicente da Lara Park
Don Apolinar Velez Street

INSTAGRAM: ang.lanada88

The first church structure built in present-day Cagayan de Oro is believed to be the Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral. The Neo-Gothic structure was erected in 1624 by the Augustinian Recollects.

Insider Notes:
- This cathedral is the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.
- St. Augustine is the patron saint of CDO. Devotees make offerings on his feast day every August 28.
- Kagay-anon legend says that underneath the church is a tunnel leading to Cagayan River. In this tunnel lives a giant fish named Oro, supposed to have inspired the name of the city. One story also claims that an American priest bathing in the river was swallowed by Oro.

INSTAGRAM: aeirishaclaire

Just across the cathedral is Gaston Park, which is considered the oldest landmark and heart of the city. The park is a popular spot for picnics and is the hub of CDO’s annual Agri and Trade Fair.

Insider Notes:
- The park is named after a pre-war Municipal Mayor of Cagayan de Oro, Segundo Gaston.
- The park has seen major historical moments over the centuries. It was the first settlement of the Spaniards together with the natives of Himologan, then later a place of execution for Spanish criminals, then a training ground for local revolutionaries during the Philippine-American war.
- There is a memorial dedicated to the lives lost during Typhoon Sendong in December 2011.

Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral and Gaston Park
Gaerlan Street

12:30 PM - Lunch at Cucina Higala

INSTAGRAM: yoowbecah

“Higala” translates to friends and Cucina Higala will certainly make you feel the spirit of friendship. The restaurant’s mission is to support local producers and suppliers of Northern Mindanao, by sourcing fresh produce from farmers in the area. They also support local artists by providing a space to showcase their talents.

Insider Notes:
- Their dishes are all local heritage recipes with a modern twist. Try their callos (stew with beef tripe, blood sausage, chickpeas, and bell peppers), humba de oro (highly spiced dish of pork or chicken), kare-kare, kinilaw (raw seafood dish), sinuglaw (grilled pork belly and fish ceviche) and surol (soup with coconut milk-dipped chicken).
- For dessert, get the sizzling binaki (a type of steamed sweet corn tamales) with caramel sauce.

1:30 PM - CDO’s natural wonders

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You don’t have to venture far from the city to explore the lush landscape of Cagayan de Oro. There’s no room for fear when you’re at Mapawa Nature Park, which is only 30 minutes away from the city proper. You can slide from 20-foot high waterfalls, jump from a 25-foot high cliff, and go rappelling.

Insider Notes:
- Wear sturdy rubber shoes and light, comfortable clothes you can bear to part with. You’ll be wet for most of the time and sliding down rocky surfaces.
- Even the faintest of heart need not worry! Experienced guides and facilitators will be there to provide equipment and help you every step of the way.
- The trek through the park will take about 2 hours.

Mapawa Nature Park
Malasag, Brgy. Cugman
(088) 850 2580
(088) 858 4402
(0917) 706 7206

INSTAGRAM: johnbunag

You could also try to brave the swirling whirlpools and ancient rock formations of Macahambus Adventure Park. The Macahambus Cave was the site of the historic Battle of Macahambus of 1900, or the Filipinos' first victory against the Americans during the Philippine-American War. It’s since become a popular spelunking site.

Insider Notes:
- You can also do the Canopy Walk, where you get to cross the 120-foot high bridge overlooking the gorge and many ancient trees.
- The eco-park has ziplining and rappelling activities as well.

Macahambus Adventure Park
Barangay Lumbia
(088) 310 8226

7 PM - Dinner with a view at High Ridge

INSTAGRAM: jenangelabee

Celebrate the end of your first day by taking in the spectacular view of CDO at night when you dine at High Ridge. The spacious al fresco area has a relaxed atmosphere, and the food is relatively friendly on the pocket.

Insider Notes:
- There is an entrance fee of ₱100 per person that's consumable at the restaurant.
- High Ridge offers free shuttle services from Brgy. Macasandig Covered court (in front of Corpus Christi School).
- Treat yourself to their steaks while you’re there!

High Ridge
Upper Macasandig
Open daily, 12 PM to 12 AM

DAY 2

6 AM - Breakfast at the hotel

You’ll want to be up bright and early for the day’s activities, so fuel up!

7 AM - White water rafting

INSTAGRAM: keemenerva

Cagayan River passes through the region, and the rushing waters have made for some of the most adrenaline-pumping experiences you can have in the Philippines. You and your crew members will brave these waters, making some steep dives, avoiding cliff walls, and maneuvering past rocks. Even if you’re not at all trained for rowing or outdoor adventure, it’s still great fun as it’s all about teamwork along with your highly capable facilitator.

Insider Notes:
- Travel light and bring a waterproof bag to store all of your valuables. Keep them extra safe, especially gadgets, by sealing them in plastic zip-lock bags.
- The rafting will take roughly 3 hours.
- Lunch is provided by facilitators, usually boodle-fight style with freshly-grilled seafood and meat.

11 AM - Freshen up at your hotel

12 PM - Shop for pasalubong

INSTAGRAM: mercedesbakery

CDO’s signature pasalubong is pastel, a tasty bun filled with creamy yema filling. You can find the best ones at Vjandep or Missy Bonbon. Vjandep also has different varieties, such as green apple filling, macapuno, chocolate, cheese, pineapple, and even durian. The pineapple crumbles from Mercedes Bakery also make for another souvenir treat from Cagayan de Oro.

Vjandep Pastel of Camiguin
Zone 2 National Highway, Bulua
(0917) 705 9518
Mondays to Saturdays at 4:30 AM to 12 AM; Sundays at 4:30 AM to 10 PM

Missy Bonbon Bread Shop
2/F Limketkai Mall
(0917) 706 2797
Daily, 6 AM to 10 PM

Mercedes Bakery
Robinsons Cagayan De Oro
Rosario Crescent corner Florentino St.
(088) 856 7773
Daily, 10 AM to 9 PM

1:30 PM - A quiet afternoon in nature

INSTAGRAM: aijra.teologo.morales

Take a moment to enjoy the natural bounty of CDO by visiting the gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village. Just 20 minutes from the city, this park has stunning views of Macabalan Bay and the hills of Malasag. It's a quick dive into the culture of the region, with an ethnic museum and reconstruction of tribal houses of the Talaandigs, Higao-non, Subanon, Maranaos, and Ifugaos. You can also relax in the campgrounds by the swimming pools or take a stroll through the butterfly garden.

4 PM - Afternoon coffee at Bean Voyage

INSTAGRAM: beanvoyageph

Before you say bon voyage to CDO, refuel for your last night in the city at Bean Voyage Coffee Roasters. The charming cafe is travel-inspired, with even a world map made of real coffee beans on the wall. Bean Voyage is known for the Selfie Coffee, which has an excellent replica of your face on top made of whipped cream.

Bean Voyage Coffee Roasters
27 Pabayo Gaerlan St., Marfori Compound
(0917) 702 0205
Daily, 8 AM to 10 PM

6 PM - Dinner at Kagay-anon Restaurant

INSTAGRAM: bibikharls

Savor the taste of Kagay-anon cuisine while you still can. At Kagay-anon Restaurant, you’ll be treated to authentic cuisine native to CDO.

Insider Note:
Ever tried ostrich meat? Now you can! Ostrich Salpicao is the restaurant’s specialty.

Kagay-anon Restaurant
Rosario Cres
(088) 856 3688
Daily, 10 AM to 2 PM, 5 PM to 10 PM

8 PM - Drinks at Burrow Bar and Brew

INSTAGRAM: bibikharls

Cap off your vacation with some drinks in the company of locals at Burrow Bar and Brew. Here, they serve lattes in the day, but at night, it turns into a chill bar serving wines and beers.

Burrow Bar and Brew
181 Jacinto Tan Building, Capistrano-Mabini Sts.
(0999) 408 9662; (0917) 670 0430
Daily, 11 AM to 2 AM

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About Anna
Anna L. Golez is a Bacolod-based writer who only likes to leave the house if there's good food, great company, extraordinary views, and interesting stories.

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