Cities & Towns

Cagayan de Oro City Visitors Guide

Written by Patrick

ABOUT SEE & DO EAT & DRINK STAY BUDGET ADVICE

Travel Insurance

ABOUT

Cagayan de Oro is one of the most popular cities in the southern part of the country.  After all, it is the gateway to Northern Mindanao so businesses and tourism are more active than its neighboring towns and city.

It is the capital of the province of Misamis Oriental and part of the Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro along with El Salvador City and the towns of Alubijid, Gitagum, Initao, Laguindingan, Libertad, Lugait, Manticao, Naawan, Opol, Balingasag, Claveria, Jasaan, Tagoloan, and Villanueva.

The city has been nicknamed The City of Golden Friendship, City of Gold, and eventually the Whitewater Rafting Capital of the Philippines.

This brief guide to Cagayan de Oro City will help you plan your trip. It contains information on what to do, eat, and drink as well as the must-see spots and the best hotels.

Location

Cagayan de Oro City

Best Time to Visit

It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season.  Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April.  These are the summer months in this country.

Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.

The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.

TIP:  This guide recommends that booking for Cagayan de Oro City summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.

The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances.  Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well.  This happens frequently so beware!

This guide recommends traveling to Cagayan de Oro City in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.

Fast Facts

Destination Name:
Cagayan de Oro City
Local Time:
PST (UTC+8)
Best Time of Year to Visit:
December – May
Population:
Approximately 728,402
Language(s):
English, Tagalog, Cebuano
Currency:
Philippine Peso (PHP)
Exchange Rate:
Approximately 1 USD = 50 PHP click for exact exchange rate
Location:
Geographic Coordinates:
8°29′N 124°39′E
Area:
412.80 km2 (159.38 sq mi)
Neighboring Cities:
El Salvador | Iligan City | Marawi City
Neighboring Islands:
Climate:
Tropical
Clothing:
Lightweight casuals
Religion:
Catholicism (majority), Protestant, other Christina denominations
Best Known For:
Gateway to Northern Mindanao
Major Industries:
Commerce, trade, service, and tourism
Electricity:
Standard voltage is 220V
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
International Phone Code:
+63-088-XXX-XXXX
Airport & Airport Code:
Bus Terminal(s):
Agora Bus Terminal

Getting Here

There are many ways to get here depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Cagayan de Oro City:  Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.

BUS TERMINAL

Bus Terminal

Agora Bus Terminal

SEAPORT

Seaport

Macabalan Port

PH Bus

Getting Around

The following are the modes of transportation available in Cagayan de Oro City …

Bicycles

Bicycles

Bus

Bus

Car for Hire

Car for Hire

Car Rental

Car Rental

Jeepneys

Jeepneys

Motorcycles

Motorcycles

Ride-Sharing

Ride-Sharing

Shuttle

Shuttle

Taxi

Taxi

Tricycles

Tricycles

Rome to Rio

SEE & DO

The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while in Cagayan de Oro City.

1 | Enjoy whitewater rafting

Promoted along with the Cagayan de Oro river, whitewater rafting is the most popular tourism activity in Cagayan de Oro City.  This activity is usually done in groups in which you will be riding a raft as you navigate the Cagayan de Oro river.  In whitewater rafting, you will need to conquer the rapids and risk falling off the raft as the course becomes more challenging.

You can find several operators who organize and arrange the activity for tourists.  These operators and guides are trained to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment at the same time.

2 | Try other river adventures

Aside from whitewater rafting, there are other activities to enjoy in the Cagayan de Oro river.  In river tubing, each person uses a donut-shaped tube instead of riding a raft together with others.  It is less exhilarating than whitewater rafting.  Kayaking, on the other hand, is as exhilarating as whitewater rafting but can be more tiring especially if you are kayaking solo.

Nevertheless, these activities make the trip more fun-filled and memorable.

3 | Learn about history and culture of Mindanao

One of the ways to know more about the history and culture of Cagayan de Oro and Mindanao in general is to visit the museums and historical spots.  Gaston Park was the venue of several events significant in the history of the Philippines.  It was the training ground of locals during the Philippine-American War and the site of the Battle of Cagayan de Misamis in 1900.  Currently, it’s a great spot to chill and enjoy the water-dancing fountain.  Less than a kilometer away is Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan where Museo de Oro is located.  The museum houses an amazing collection of archeological and historical items that showcase the culture and arts of Mindanao.

Other spots in the city that can give you a glimpse about the past are La Castilla Museum, Museum of Three Cultures, MacArthur Memorial Marker, and Plaza de Los Heroes.  Vicente de Lara Park, on the other hand, is a great spot for early morning runs, quiet evening strolls, or to just hang out with family and friends.

4 | See the Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral

Across Gaston Park is the Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral.  The Roman Catholic church with Neo-Gothic architecture was built in the 1950’s.

5 | Do more extreme activities

If you are craving for more adventures in addition to whitewater rafting and kayaking, head to Macahambus Adventure Park where you can try their zipline and rappel.  Another option is Larry’s Hill Adventure Hub where you can also do zipline, rappelling, and more like trampolines and high ropes adventure.

6 | Go on spelunking

Spelunking is another fun and exciting activity to do in Cagayan de Oro City.  Monigue Cave is known for its beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations with a challenging entrance which is too narrow to be passable hence people need to submerge themselves into the water one by one in order to enter.  Another challenging cave to explore is Kweba de Oro where you need to rappel down to get inside the cave.

7 | Spend a night at Malasag Eco-Tourism Village

Malasag Eco-Tourism Village is a 2.2 hectare bio-diversified sanctuary where you can enjoy various facilities such as miniature canopy walk, campground, swimming pool, ampitheater, and others.  You can also avail the therapeutic massage for that complete relaxation and rejuvenation.

8 | Nearby destinations

Cagayan de Oro City is truly the gateway to Northern Mindanao.  The city has easy access to Camiguin, an island province known for its pristine beaches, waterfalls, and other natural attractions.  Bukidnon can also be reached from Cagayan de Oro City.  Bukidnon is home to vast pineapple plantations and Mount Kitanglad, the fourth highest mountain in the Philippines and has one of the few remaining rainforests in the country.  Dahilayan Adventure Park which boasts of Asia’s longest dual zipline is also in Bukidnon.

NOTE: The Higalaay Festival occurs annually in August

Klook

EAT & DRINK

The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Cagayan de Oro City.

1 |  Kagay-anon Restaurant

One of the oldest restaurants in the city, Kagay-anon is the go-to restaurant for authentic local flavors.  The restaurant is spacious and is frequented by locals and tourists alike for their tasty dishes including ostrich salpicao, pinakbet, crispy pata, and kare-kare.

2 | Circa 1850

Circa 1850 is the ideal place for health-conscious diners as the restaurant serves dishes using organic produce from local farmers.  The interior of the restaurant has a European feel with brick walls, wooden furniture, and exposed ceiling.  It is reasonably-priced and the servings are generous.  Circa 1850 serves a variety of European foods such as beef brisket, tuna tartare, and croque madame.

3 | Cucina Higala

With beautiful old Spanish charm with homey ambience and tasty dishes, Cucina Higala is one of the top restaurants in Cagayan de Oro City based on user reviews.  The restaurant serves a great selection of local dishes, particularly Mindanao cuisine including sinuglaw, surol, and humba.

4 | Redtail Shrimps & More

For mouthwatering seafood dishes, one of the best places to be is Redtail Shrimps & More.  The restaurant is known for the disposable eating gloves and bib it provides to allow customers to enjoy the food without worrying about soiling their clothes. Aside from seafood platter of crabs, shrimps, and squids, the kinilaw and pork belly are great too.

5 | Bigby’s Cafe and Restaurant

With several branches all over the country, the first Bigby’s Cafe and Restaurant is actually in Cagayan de Oro City.  The concept of the restaurant is fusion between fine and casual dining and it offers a variety of international dishes to cater diners from around the world.  Their must-try includes belly buster platter and fisherman’s platter.  The restaurant is great for group dining as the serving is quite generous.

6 | Sentro 1850

The sister company of Circa 1850, Sentro 1850 is located across Redtail Shrimps in the down town area.  The restaurant, which serves a mix of Philippine and International cuisines, also has function rooms for intimate gatherings and parties.  The prices are a bit higher than most restaurants in Cagayan de Oro but it is worth trying.  The bestsellers include back ribs, harvest salad, tenderloin steak, and chocolate mirror cake for dessert.

7 | High Ridge

Good food and nice views – those are always associated with High Ridge.  This restaurant with indoor and alfresco dining areas serves Filipino, Asian, and American cuisines.  The restaurant has a classy ambience and is a great spot for date nights where you can indulge in a variety of high quality dishes while enjoying the lovely view of Cagayan de Oro City.

8 | Thai Me Up Restaurant

As the name implies, Thai Me Up is the best place in the city to satisfy your Thai food cravings.  Its pomelo salad and spring rolls are crowd favorites but their bagoong rice and sesame beef are good, too.  With good ambience and affordable prices in addition to quality food, Thai Me Up is surely one of the must-try restaurants while in the city.

9 | Panagatan

Can’t get enough seafood?  Another seafood destination in the city is Panagatan.  The main restaurant overlooks the sea while its two branches are conveniently located in SM Downtown and Ayala Centrio Mall. 

KNOWN FOR: Jamon de Cagayan, a local ham.

WHERE TO STAY

There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range in Cagayan de Oro City.

1 | New Dawn Pensionne (Budget)

2 | Seda Centrio (Mid-Range)

3 | N Hotel (Luxury | Resort)

This guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay in Cagayan de Oro City or for a specific destination:

Book your room with these trusted online booking sites.  Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive.  We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:

TIP: Seda Centrio is the best property to experience this destination.

BUDGET

Suggested Budget

Use the chart below to get an idea of how much to budget daily.  Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.

ACCOMMODATION
FOOD
TRANSPORTATION
ATTRACTIONS
AVERAGE DAILY COST
Budget
Accommodation: $7
Food: $5
Transportation: $5
Attractions: $20
Average Daily Cost: $37
Mid-Range
Accommodation: $30
Food: $15
Transportation: $10
Attractions: $25
Average Daily Cost: $80
Luxury
Accommodation: $70
Food: $30
Transportation: $15
Attractions: $30
Average Daily Cost: $145

Travel Costs

Accommodation

A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD).  For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).

Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast.  For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.  AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night.  For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.

Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD).  However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.

We use and recommend booking online to save money using HostelWorldAgodaBooking.com, and AirBnB

Food

Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD).  For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD).  For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD).  Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food.  Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.

Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD).  A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).

A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person.  However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!

Transportation

There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly. 

Public Transportation is cheap.  Bus services on the islands are inexpensive.  Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).

On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips. 

Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap.  Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.  

To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly.  There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option. 

Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD).  However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel.  It’s only recommended if you have limited time. 

We recommend booking online to save money using: SkyscannermomondoKayakkiwi.com.

Attractions & Activities

Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter. 

Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less.  You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!  

Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).

The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.

Always book your tours and activities when you arrive.  Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will.  Booking tours online is almost always more expensive. 

Typical Costs in Cagayan de Oro City in 2021:

  • Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
  • Budget Hotel:  700 PHP ($14 USD) night
  • Mid-Range Hotel:  1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
  • Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
  • Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
  • Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
  • 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
  • Jeepney Ride: 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD) ride
  • Tricycle Ride:  20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
  • Taxi: 75-500 PHP ($1.50-10 USD) ride – use GrabTaxi app
  • Long-Distance Bus Ride: 400-500 PHP ($8–10 USD) ride
  • Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
  • Domestic Flight: 2,000-3,500 PHP ($40–70 USD) flight

DOWNLOAD: Budget Planner Template

 

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ADVICE

The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Cagayan de Oro City.  Learn what you need to know BEFORE you go!

Tips & Hacks

he following are our Top 10 Tips when visiting this destination in the Philippines:

  • Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
  • Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
  • Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
  • Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
  • Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
  • Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
  • It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
  • Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
  • Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
  • Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.

For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Travel Tips & Hacks Guide for the Philippines

Money Matters

The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found on the island. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.

READ MORE: Money in the Philippines: Everything You Need to Know

Health & Safety

Crime

While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Cagayan de Oro City, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.

Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.

READ MORE: How to Avoid Scams & Thieves in the Philippines

Safety

There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:

TIP: The best way to avoid problems and stay safe is to travel with a local resident.

Health

Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines. 

The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to. 

The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:

  • Maintain a Balanced Diet
  • Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
  • Get Plenty of Rest
  • Allow Your Body Time to Adjust 
  • Keep Active
  • Sanitize Often 
  • Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
  • Take Your Vitamins
  • Practice Safe Sex
  • Be Prepared Should You Get Sick

READ MORE: Stay Healthy in the Philippines: How to Avoid Getting Sick

Staying Connected

You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.

While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province.  So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.

Recommended Travel Apps

Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling.  Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.

The following are our Top 10 most useful travel apps on our smartphones when traveling in the Philippines:

  1. Grab (taxis/ride shares)
  2. Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
  3. WhatsApp (phone calls)
  4. Skyscanner (flights)
  5. Rome2Rio (transportation)
  6. Agoda (accomodations)
  7. Booking.com (accomodations)
  8. AirBnB (accomodations)
  9. Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
  10. Klook (attractions & activities )

Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.

For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below.  Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.

READ MORE: The Ultimate List of Travel Apps for the Philippines

Itinerary

Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options. 

We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip.  Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.

VIEW: Cagayan de Oro City 7-Day Travel Itinerary

Packing Checklist

The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list.  This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing.   To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list.  Click the link below to download it for FREE now. 

Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: Our Ultimate Packing Guide & Checklist

Things to Remember

This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling in Cagayan de Oro City or in the Philippines in general.

Smoking

There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas.  Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.

Alcohol

The minimum legal drinking age is 18.  Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores.  The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold.  Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit.  Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.

Drugs

Drugs are illegal in the Philippines.  Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana.  It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children.  The penalties are severe … up to and including death.

Nudity

Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated.  Most locals consider it offensive.  There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.

Foreigners & Expats

If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly.  Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.

READ MORE: Practical Information about the Philippines

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About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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