Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cagayan de Oro and Bukidon: Unexpected Fun and Adventure- Epilogue

Cagayan de Oro and Bukidon
Unexpected Fun and Adventure
 (Epilogue of a 5 days 4 nights Itinerary)
 (CDO and Bukidnon Series 9)

              Despite the fact that my family have travelled
 extensively abroad in the past,


We have not seriously travelled locally,

…until we visited Iloilo and Guimaras last year
that we tremendously enjoyed - we started
routinely including local travels in our calendar
every year after the holy week frenzy.

Although we have been to Mindanao in the past
(Davao three times in particular),
it was our first time to be in Cagayan de Oro
which we heard nothing about except for the
White Water Rafting that the kids wanted to try.

Cagayan de Oro has never been extensively promoted
as a preferred tourist destination in the Philippines
so we weren’t expecting much-

…but surprisingly-
 we had one of the best vacations of our lives.

Day 1.

We arrived late at CDO from Naga City
after a brief stop- over in Manila,

-and we were picked by a rented van from the airport
which we would be using for the rest of our stay
and took us to Seda Hotel in downtown CDO.

Philippines has the most chaotic and disorganized
transportation system so we make it a point to
pre- arrange our transportation to suit our itinerary.

It would be the same van that we would be using
for the rest of our stay in the city.

Stay, Play and Feast

We had planned the trip as early as December
and we initially booked at NHotel

I rely on reviews on the net regarding a hotel and
N hotel has been getting good reviews on the web.

When I learned that Seda Centrio had opened
I cancelled my original hotel reservation and
booked at Centrio instead-

It’s a new hotel, yes but it is owned
by a very reputable company- the Ayala Group,
so I knew all the while that we got the right hotel
nothing could go wrong with our choice.

The hotel is connected to an upscale mall called Centrio.
Their best room, the Premier Room
was beautiful and was surprisingly affordable.

It had decent spread of good food
on their breakfast buffet at the Misto,

...and had varied choices of delicious dishes
for their in room dining.

It also had a beautiful swimming pool
that kids had a great time swimming.

The gym located just beside the pool.
was well equipped and  very modern.

We are very fussy when it comes
to choosing on which hotel to stay.

I don’t care much about the price as 
we are always looking up to a hotel
 with Family friendly amenities
but it wouldn’t  hurt a bit when
 a great hotel comes with a bargain price

Staying in a good hotel is one big factor
for a wonderful and comfortable vacation
and Seda Hotel had a five star look,
top notch amenities but at 3 star hotel tag price.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast at the Misto we packed
an overnight bag on our second day on CDO,

...we were picked up by the rented van
to take us for an overnight stay in
Forest Park in Dahilyan, Bukidnon.

We did not check out at Seda Hotel
as we would be back the next day anyway.

We asked the driver to take us on a city tour

....and we were off 
to a scenic ride to Dahilayan,


...to the Forest Park Resort 
where we pre- booked for an overnight stay
 in the wonderful mountain paradise.

Stay, Play and Feast

Forest Park  is a picturesque mountain resort
in Dahilayan,Bukidnon located at the
second highest peak in the Philippines
the Kitanglad Mountain Range.

It had a charming hotel tastefully
decorated with various hues
of earth colors…

...and had a magnificent view of the mountains

...and of the verdant Pine Forest.

It had a beautiful interactive playground,
and the kids couldn’t get enough playing
day in and day out.

This playground alone makes this hotel
unsurpassed and incomparable when it comes
to family friendly amenity category.

For very affordable fees there are other
exciting attractions like the Zorbit

...ATV rides,

ATV & Buggy Trail Adventure

...a tree top obstacle course called
Tree Top Adventure

...but one should not miss the very first Luge
in the Philippines and probably
the most scenic in Asia.


The resort also has a quaint Picnic Grove
with a heated spa in the midst of the pine forest,

...and an old fashioned restaurant called Forest Café
where they serve delectable dishes.

Stray and Feast

Dahilayan is home to three great charming hotels.
Way down the road is The Cowboy Inn,

...they offer no frills budget accommodation
and an unforgettable Bonfire Barbecue Buffet.

One may also relax while sipping hot Choco
and roasting marshmallows with your family
by the bonfire on cold Dahilayan evenings.

They also offer horseback riding
and get to be a cowboy for a day.

Midway between the Cowboy Inn and Forest Park
is the nearby Dahilayan Adventure Park

...that offers a posh accommodation called
Pine Grove Lodge- a log house inspired hotel.
We would have stayed in this hotel
had it not for the playground in the nearby Forest Park.

This adventure park offers more extreme
attractions  but one should not miss the
longest double zip line in Asia,

...where one gets a Certificate of Survival
after completing the ride.

It is also a must to try the delicious
Raisin Cinnamon Bread found in this hotel.

Every Dahilayan tourist should also try
the sweet corn and fresh strawberries
sold in the street by the natives.

Day 3
Stray and Feast.

Centrio Mall

We left Dahilayan at exactly 12 noon
and arrived at CDO exhausted and starving
craving for a much needed lunch.

Off  we went to the Centrio Mall
and feasted on huge burgers

...and yummy fried Chicken,

Army Navy is just what the family needed
after the tiring but exciting Dahilayan sidetrip.
Their humongous burgers are what we have been craving for-
and boy, Cagayanons are lucky for having one in their city.

We spent the rest of afternoon at the Centrio Mall.
The mall offers a wide range of local and international brands,

...fancy restaurants inside the mall
and at the Al Fresco Area,

...we were also able to buy a sturdy pedometer
 at the Chris Sports- something we have been looking for

... it had a great choices of signature brands,

,,,and local OTOP Pasalubong Shops,

...and it spared us from going out of way
just to buy something that we could bring home.

We returned to the hotel at night
and ordered in room dining
before retiring to bed.

It was our third day in the province
and we were having a great time.

Day 4

This is what we came here for.
My wife and young son were still asleep
when me and my fifteen year old daughter
woke up for the White Water Rafting we
booked upon arriving in the city.


We were picked up by men from Bugsay,
(the rafting company that Seda Hotel booked for us)
and I savoured my first jeepney ride after about 20 years,

...and what I thought was my daughter’s first time
but she said she took several jeepney rides in school before.

We were joined by a Singaporean family of four
and we were off to our adventure of a lifetime.

These videos immortalized those magical
moments  at the Cagayan de Oro River

After a exhilarating rafting experience,
We dropped by N Hotel for their popular
buffet and with the glorious spread of good food.

They may not have the extensive spread
found in most of Manila’s hotel buffet,
but the quality, rather than the quantity
of food served was more important.

I could say that it was one of the
best buffets lunch that we ever had.

We returned to the hotel and spent some time
shopping for souvenirs at Centrio- but found out later
that they did not have any souvenir shops.

We were referred by the guard to the nearby Gaisano Mall.
It  was hot and humid that day and  we did not want to cross
the busy street anymore so  we decided take the easy way out-
took a taxi and headed to the LimKetKai Mall few blocks away.

LimKetKai Mall

Aside from the comfort of taking a taxi,
we really wanted to see the LimKetKai Mall
as it is the biggest mall in the city
 and an original Cagayan de Oro  mall icon.

It is in LimKetKai Mall that we found
numerous souvenir shops...

...where we were able to buy souvenirs
to take back home to Naga City.

We strolled at the mall for a while
and what do you know?
They have a Marks and Spencer Store.

I was ecstatic this is the only store that I shop
as I am 'color blind' literally not clinically
 when it comes to fashion.

I only wear shades of black, gray and white
and I have a pretty unimaginative fashion sense.
That exactly was MS’s specialty- to please
 the fashionless color 'blind' shoppers like me.

It was a pleasant surprise to learn that
there are high end stores in the city.
Cagayanons must be very rich-
as they also have high end car delearships.

We returned to Seda Hotel after shopping at LimKetKai
and feasted on hotel food via room service .

We retired to bed satisfied on our
fourth and penultimate day in the city.

Day 5

On our last day in the city, we needed a quick
lunch before heading to the airport.

Off we went to the nearby Centrio
and we debated on dining either on

...we dined on both restaurants
I ordered my food to go from Sbarros

...and later joined my family at Pancake House
for a literally and figuratively fused cuisine.

We were later picked up again by the van
to the dilapidated and chaotic CDO airport –

...but with the new one opening very soon
in Lagundingan- this inconvenience
would be a thing in the past in this
booming and progressive city,


Just like in our experience in Iloilo last year
there is no information available to the tourists .
This problem is true to almost all major cities in the country.

No brochures and no leaflets about important
tourist attractions in the province
at strategic locations like in airports and hotels.

The hotel staff in Seda Centrio are not aware
of any historical or city tour packages,

...but they exactly know what to do
when asked about White Water rafting
and we didn’t had any problem booking for one.

The Dahilayan leg is something that the kids enjoyed very much
and  I would recommend to have an overnight stay
in this laid back town when traveling with the whole family.

CDO and Bukidnon have all the indications of becoming
of  a great tourist destination in the Philippines

They have the trimmings of an all in one vacation package
suited for the whole family for all ages.

Have a great shopping experience in a modern
and progressive city center that is CDO...

...and an exciting adrenalin rush
and still commune with nature during the

...and later bond with the whole family
while sipping hot choco drinks
and roasting marshmallows by the bonfire
amidst the pine trees in cold Dahilayan evening.

What else can we ask for a perfect vacation?

CDO I believe is under rated and under promoted
and a treasure throve in the Philippine tourism industry
waiting to be discovered.

I’m glad we stumbled in this goldmine
before everyone else did.

Watch out for my Blogs on
Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon Series

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 1)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 2)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 3)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 4)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 5)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 6)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 7)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 8)

(CDO and Bukidnon Series 9)


  1. nice blog sir...:D I'm proud to be kagay-anon.. two thumbs !!!

  2. Nice! Been waiting for the epilogue for the past days. Thank you for visiting and sharing Northern Mindanao. High five?
    -Gene Eric

    1. You forgot the reply? It's Bugsay! Bugsay is a visayan word that means paddle : )
      -Gene Eric

    2. Bugsay! Bugsay!

      Hi Gene Eric, were you with us during the the rafting?

      Were you our guide?

    3. No, no. I rafted twice and both with Bugsay Rafting. After every successful rapid traverse, the guide will shout- High five? And everybody will respond in unison- "bugsay!" Haha, capital FUN. Each rapid has a story and on the snake cliff, after the guide told that sometimes there are snakes on the cliff, he threw a shoelace onto the raft causing a female to go berserk, haha, luckily, she didn't jumped overboard :D
      -Gene Eric

  3. cdo wouldn't be a foodie tourist destination but they do have some surprisingly great food! there's this hole-in-the-wall capt ---- *something (i forgot the name) ribs that are huge and yummy! and speaking of huge food, I'm sad to know you only got to taste Army-Navy... Chub's Diner (also a small place but very near seda) offers way better burgers and waaaaay bigger servings! hope to go back there soon when i visit again!

    1. Indeed. We did not ave a chance to try much of the culinary treats the CDO had to offer. We are a family with two young kids we we eat most of our meals in the hotel.

      Since it's a vacation, we usually wake up late, so we take our brunch on the hotel buffet.

      We also avoid going out at night as the kids had to sleep early, so we take our dinner in the hotel, kist if the time, in room dining.

      I have just done some of my First Anniversary Blogs which included the best culinary destination here and abroad. I have chosen Berlin (http://camsurstaystray.blogspot.com/2013/06/best-culinary-destination-abroad-best.html), and Iloilo (http://camsurstaystray.blogspot.com/2013/06/best-culinary-destination-in.html).

      Ironically we stayed on hotels (http://camsurstaystray.blogspot.com/2012/10/hotel-indigo-berlin-alexanderplatz.html and http://camsurstaystray.blogspot.com/2012/06/iloilo-and-guimaras-stay-stray-play-and.html) that we didn't really like so much do we ended eating out all of the time.

  4. When your kids are old enough and confident enough to swim in the rapids, let them try Whitewater Kayaking in CDO. It's more intense and the adrenalin goes sky high. It's a confidence building experience that you don't want to miss.
    Just search "kayak cagayan" on Youtube to find out more.

    1. I googled it and it looks extremely exciting.

      We would definitely try it . We will surely return to CDO in the near future, and by that time my son would be old enough to try white water rafting and kayaking.

  5. thanks for visiting our place,its true our government didn't give cdo a recognition as one of the tourist destination, thanks for promoting our city...laguindingan airport is already operational its more spacious compare to lumbia....Hope you will come back to our humble little town...

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog Miko.

      We have tremendously enjoyed your city and it is in our bucket list of the palces that we must re-visit and stay a little much longer.

  6. Can i possibly have cp num. of van rental?

    1. Hi. I'm sorry that I do not have the number of van rental anymore. I git it from a travel agent based in Bicol.