Dapitan is a charming city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. It is known in Philippine history as the place of exile of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. There is even a shrine dedicated to this patriot whose works and execution helped start revolutionary activities to liberate the country from Spanish oppressors. Aside from that, the city has other attractions connected to Rizal.
Bounded on the north by Sulu Sea, Dapitan City boasts of both manmade and natural attractions. It has well-preserved historical houses, a theme park, and resort as well as beaches and a river where one can enjoy a leisurely cruise.
This brief guide to Dapitan 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.
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 Dapitan 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 Dapitan 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.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
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 Dapitan City: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.
The following are the modes of transportation available on Dapitan City …
SEE & DO
The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while in Dapitan City.
1 | Rizal Park and Shrine
Rizal Park and Shrine is located in the piece of land where Jose Rizal lived for four years after being accused of sedition and plotting the Philippine Revolution in Manila. During his exile, Rizal was able to build houses, start a farm, put up a school for boys, and build a hospital where he treated the poor free of charge.
The bamboo and nipa houses originally built by Rizal were reconstructed and are presently the main structures of the site. Other structures found in the shrine are a dam (also constructed by Rizal), an aqueduct, a water reservoir, an amphitheater, and a museum containing memorabilias.
2 | Rizal Landing Site
This is the site where Jose Rizal first set foot in Dapitan. The site features a monument recreating the hero’s arrival. Aside from its historic significance, the site also attracts locals and tourists with its scenic sunset.
3 | Dakak Beach
Aside from its historical significance, tourists are drawn to Dapitan City due to Dakak Beach which is known for its powdery white sand and clear water. The beach is great for swimming and you can also find offers for various activities such as jet skiing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and many other thrilling activities at Dakak Adventure Zone.
4 | Gloria’s Fantasyland
Dapitan is not a haven for Jose Rizal fans only. Kids will surely enjoy the city especially if they get to spend a night at Gloria’s Fantasyland, one of the biggest theme parks in the country. The theme park features more than 30 rides and attractions such as train ride, carousel, swinger, galleon ship, and many more. There is also a cinema, a horror house, and a commercial center where you can shop or stroll if you’re not into the fun rides.
5 | St. James Church
While the parish was established in 1631, the present church structure was finalized in 1964. It has a simple exterior while its interior is quite interesting. It has arches and dome ceilings painted with orange and white rectangles forming a swirling pattern and therefore creating an optical illusion that can be dizzying. The altar is simple with only a big crucifix hanging and chandelier on both sides. A marker is found inside the church indicating Rizal’s favorite spot.
Across the church is a Relief Map of Mindanao. Jose Rizal, along with the help of Francisco Paula de Sanchez, made the map and used it when teaching geography and history during his time in the city. The Relief Map is now considered a National Cultural Treasure.
Dapitan City Plaza is also found just outside the church. Jose Rizal also had a hand in beautifying the said plaza.
6 | Iligan Hill
Behind the church stands Ilihan Hill which offers amazing views of Dapitan City and the nearby Sulu Sea. It is also a great spot for anyone who wants to take a short hike as its height only measures approximately 60 meters. It even has concrete stairs covered with trees so hikers are shielded from the extreme heat of the sun.
7 | Beaches in Dapitan
Aside from Dakak Beach, there are other beaches to see in Dapitan. Guimputlan Beach and Bitoon Beach, although more than 20 kilometers away from each other, are blessed with white sand and pristine waters great for swimming.
8 | Dapitan River Cruise
Cruising along the Dapitan River is a great opportunity to see this side of the city – the relaxing sight of the lush surroundings, the scenic sunset reflecting on the water, and the daily life of the locals living near the river. The cruise comes with food, drinks, and local entertainment.
9 | Heritage Houses
Several heritage houses can still be found in the city up to this day. Just walk around the Dapitan Heritage Zone and you’ll find old houses or houses converted into offices or shops. Even the Dapitan Tourism Office is housed in a heritage house.
10 | Nearby Destinations
Aliguay Island, located approximately two hours off the shore of Dapitan, has fine white sand and clear water. It is blessed with pretty corals and some marine creatures which make it ideal for snorkeling and diving but newbies are discouraged from doing such activities as the current can be strong at times.
NOTE: The Kinabayo Festival occurs annually in Dapitan City from July 16 to 31
EAT & DRINK
The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Dapitan City.
1 | Kamayan ni Manay
The most popular restaurant in Dapitan, Kamayan ni Manay is known for its tasty food made of fresh and high quality ingredients. It serves Filipino favorites such as sinigang, kinilaw, ginataang alimango, and several other seafood dishes.
2 | Erlinda’s Food Haus
Erlinda’s Food Haus is a seaside restaurant serving satisfying yet affordable meals people love so much. Since it is overlooking the sea, the restaurant is a great place to unwind and enjoy the view and refreshing breeze.
3 | Virgie’s Snack & Restaurant
Virgie’s Snack & Restaurant is a small eatery made of bamboo and other native materials. It serves native dishes at reasonable prices.
4 | Kan-anan
Kan-anan is a lovely restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. It has a warm and homey ambience serving local favorites such as grilled seafood, stew, and others.
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 Dapitan City.
1 | Dapitan Travellers Inn (Budget)
2 | Dakak Park & Beach Resort (Luxury | Resort)
This guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay in Dapitan 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: Dakak Park & Beach Resort is the best property to experience this destination.
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.
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.
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 ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.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 ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.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 on Dapitan City in 2022:
- 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
- Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip
BEST NO-FEE INTERNATIONAL DEBIT & CREDIT CARDS
The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Dapitan 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.
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.
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Dapitan 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.
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:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
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
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.
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- 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.
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.
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.
Things to Remember
This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling in Dapitan City or in the Philippines in general.
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.
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 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.
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.
Don’t Forget …
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