10 days SOLO backpacking in Central Mindanao: A JOURNEY to REMEMBER.  

I’ve always dreamed to have a longer solo backpacking, but due to my works demand and responsibilities in the office I couldn’t make it. But God might have heard me pleading and asking for this, and finally it happened. I got the opportunity to do solo backpacking in Mindanao this year and I’ve visited 3 provinces. How was this made possible despite owing a busy schedule in the office? It is always an advantage to look for a holiday and familiar with holidays every year so you could plan beforehand. Yes, I filed for a 5 day leave in the office and made it nearer to the weekend and luckily there was a holiday that time, so eventually I was blessed to own a 10 day freedom for my solo backpacking in Mindanao.

Yes, I’ve traveled a lot according to my friends, but I know it’s not much compare to those that really go a lot and traveling has been their life. Way back then, I traveled to some places and provinces in the Philippines cause I aim to complete visiting the 81 Provinces in the Philippines. This 10 day solo backpacking of mine is a long allotted days I’ve traveled and the most exciting travel I had so far. I always wanted not to kill my excitement, hence I didn’t bother to make an itinerary during this trip, but I had places to visit in mind. I set down in the peaceful General Santos International Airport with an Idea of just purely excitement cause I didn’t expect anything, but truly just enjoy and explore wherever my two little itchy feet bring me.

I’ll be sharing with you how I’ve traveled 10 days in Mindanao without being broke and how I’ve able to visit some remote spots in Mindanao. Exactly like what I’ve said,  this sojourn was not a well planned trip since that’s how I usually deal with my travels. I simply have a few places that I wanted to visit and this is what I’m going to share with you all.


The first province I’ve visited was the Province of South Cotabato. Among the beautiful spots that this province has to offer, there are some places that I always wanted to visit and would always love to come back.

Municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato 

Lake Sebu is nestled in the hilly land of South Cotabato, home of an endemic people like the Tboli, Ubo and some Blaan tribes and becoming widely known for their eco-tourism and adventure destination in Southern Mindanao.

The 7 falls and the Zip line is what pulls in my whole experience amazing. I also visited one of the cleanest Cold Spring in Lake Sebu, the Sepacca Spring. I too have checked some of their amazing lakes and the only Divine Mercy Shrine located in Brgy. Lamdalag, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Hikong Benti – One of the 7 falls in Lake Sebu.

Sepacca Cold Spring


Municipality of Tboli, South Cotabato 

One of the amazing nature’s wonders that you really have to visit and see is the Lake Holon. Lake Holon or formerly known as Lake Maughan is marked as the cleanest lake in Region 12 and one of the National finalist in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and ranked first in the 2003 and 2004 search for the inland bodies of water in the whole Philippines archipelago. The crater lake has an area of 304 hectares and more or less at an elevation of 4,700 feet above sea level and had a turquoise clear water, free from trash and dirt and offers panoramic view that will surely give you a pure bliss and tranquility.

Lake Holon

While I was on the viewing deck, I couldn’t elucidate how I got myself in awe as I’ve viewed the lake like as if, I’m gazing at the beautiful painting executed in fresco. Truly, mother nature never fails to amaze me.  A complete travel guide to Lake Holon here.

Lake Holon

Municipality of Tupi, South Cotabato When you travel from General Santos City to Koronadal City, you’ll get to find out the most prominent scenic view of Mount Matutum. You’ll as well see the 12,000 hectares of purely pineapple fruits that are peacefully nestled at the foot of Mt. Matutum. You can always drop by and take a picture of it, just inform the bus Conductor or the Bus driver.

Mount Matutum


Eating your fear, fight with your doubts and instilling your prowess may lead you to a destination you have never imagined you could have ever discovered.

Truly that there’s always something lies in one place that will surely leave you speechless as you blend to its comeliness and innate beauty. Truly,  when I visit Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat with a help from Esperanza Tourism office, I was able to find out that behind my artistic thoughts there’s always something a thought can never paint. My naked eyes opened with awe, taking me so deeply while hearing myself saying wow and my inner self remain muted with just an amazement marking my thoughts.

Visiting the Province of Sultan Kudarat have opened my eyes to different nature’s beauty. Some of these places I’ve visited was really amazing. The Panigan Underground River and Waterfall, Marguez Hot and Cold Spring, Marawir Peak and Quetuban Waterfall. Check the complete travel guide to Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat here.

Panigan Underground River and waterfall

Marguez Hot and Cold Spring

Marawir Peak

Quetuban waterfall


I was kind of confused on which part of Sarangani Province should I travel to because of the time constraints that time. Baffling on the suggestions of local to whom I have asked with. I was about to visit Tuka Marine Park in Kiamba, but ended up visiting Gumasa beach which was my original plan.

Gumasa Beach

Gumasa Beach is near one kilometer of a long stretch of powdery white sand beach with turquoise waters and known to be a Small Boracay of the Southern Mindanao. You can check my complete travel guide to Gumasa Beach here.

Gumasa Beach



My whole journey was truly fun and way beyond compare. I came across with different people along the way and make friends with them. I know this was something I truly have to treasure and remember since this was the longest days of my solo travel since I started solo backpacking. I learned a bunch during this trip and this is something I can look back in the future that I have survived my 10 days being with different people whom I have just met. I hope in the future I can get another trip just like this if not here in the Philippines then it might be outside the Philippines. I hope you had enjoyed reading my 10 day journey in Central Mindanao. I’ll be sharing my whole itinerary and travel expenses for this 10 day solo backpacking in Central Mindanao very soon.


54 thoughts on “10 days SOLO backpacking in Central Mindanao: A JOURNEY to REMEMBER.  

  1. Mindanao is my dad’s hometown particularly in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte. However, I haven’t been there. Good thing, chanced to visit your blog bacause it excites me to explore more of the beauty of Mindanao. #MindANow

    Soon enough will discover and will do backpacking there. I would like to comment on how you narrated your story and showed your photo. It’s interesting and gratifying. So much fun and excitement!


  2. 10 days. And you did yourself a favor by picking some of the most beautiful places in the country. Or perhaps, even the world. I have been reading up on some of your posts and you have been to places not a lot of people have heard of. And yet, they are more beautiful than the more popular ones.


  3. Damn. 10 days with 5 days leave? Good thing your boss approved! I’ve been to your blog for a number of times and I am never disappointed with your entries. It’s always filled with great captures, details and your personal insights 🙂


  4. Wow! I’ve always been afraid of visiting Mindanao because of what the media tells us. However, your post is just so inspiring. The way you tell the story makes my heart at ease and the fear is now replaced with excitement and yearning to visit Mindanao.
    Thank you, Lai for showing the real beauty of Mindanao!


  5. Wow! What an adventure you have in Mindanao. Thanks for the photos, I saw glimpses of Mindanao. I love it when you say “just enjoy and explore”- that’s my idea of travel too. More power


  6. I love how you managed to see such different places in only 10 days. I love backpacking myself as the same as you, I would end my trip on a beach somewhere, to relax before I go home. Lake Holon looks like such a special experience, I have read before your post from there and I remember dreaming about visiting it myself too. And the waterfall from the underground river… what a sight!


  7. Wow! I am actually from Mindanao and to be honest, I haven’t been able to go to the places you just shared. It’s also brave of you to do it, since most of my friends from the north are afraid to go here. On a picture of you with a tree, I laughed because it looked like a vagina. lol


  8. These places are a few of the so-called “dangerous” parts of mindanao and yet you were brave enough to go solo. Looking forward to the expenses and itinerary of your solo trip. I love the most here is the Lake Sebu. Ireally would like to try their zipline to to see the seven falls in bird’s eye view. Would be an awesome thing to watch!


  9. I think it’s nice to travel without set plans. It makes it more exciting. I think that way you are open to more experiences and opportunities. This trip looks stunning. I would love to see the waterfall and the beautiful beach!


  10. God’s creation at its best…I have never done solo backpacking although your posts are making me want to do one. The place is beautiful beyond words


  11. What a great adventure! I just spent a month in the Philippines and fell in love. I hope you get to do this again – your photos are lovely.

    Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones is where the magic happens.


  12. So amazing! Lovely photos too. You really inspire people with your travel attitude. I like your idea of traveling. Being spontaneous with travels is so much fun and enriching. Although I’m the planner type, I usually chill when it’s travel time and try not to worry too much about where I’d go. Hope mag abot ta sa Gensan puhon. 🙂


  13. So fun!! When I see this post, I’m like wow!!!! I love the greens and the crystal clear water. I wished I’m there at Lake Holon and Panigan underground river and waterfall personally. Too bad my dad wouldn’t allow me to travel solo. I really look up to those who can travel alone and explore different places with a carefree attitude. My parents are over protective of me. So I will not be able to do that.


  14. I really want to go to South Cotabato. I booked a flight to Gensan last year hoping to visit SC after, but shit happens, so wala na pud ko nadayun. Hahaha. Hopefully, I can visit all these beautiful places you’ve been to.


  15. 10 days solo backpacking is so amazing! It looks like such an amazing journey and I wish I was brave enough to do something like this. But I am the type that has to travel with someone and I don’t think I could fit all my belongings into a backpack. But I can live through the journey with posts like yours 🙂


  16. How have I never heard of this place before! Looks incredible and I’m so happy for you that you got to have 10 days there. Makes me even more grateful for the flexibility of my own job, although i have to continue working while I’m travelling and it would be nice to sometimes just take some time off!


  17. Adding this to my list!! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this place. The waterfalls are so beautiful! I’m so jealous you got 10 whole days to yourself!


  18. That’s incredible. I have never quite done the backpacking thing. Looks like you saw some pretty incredible natural beauties though. All of those caves and waterfalls must have made it worth any hardships!


  19. Wow, you’ve really covered alot of area in 10 days! You’ve also seen some stunning sites! Those views are breathtaking and that waterfall seems like something out of a dream! This makes me want to pack my bags and head to Mindanao now!


  20. Wow this is absolutely stunning!! Your photos are so beautiful. I love ECOTOURISM – I think it’s great to see it happening and also that you are visiting these places for a richer experience. Thanks for sharing such a great post 🙂


  21. Solo trips can be tricky I think. My first one was for ten days and by the end, I was happy to see some friends to share the stories with. It can be a bit lonely I think. It looks like you had a great time though. Glad you ended up with some holiday and TIME OFF… way to add it all up together and enjoy the time. ^^


  22. What an amazing journey you went into there. Philippines is so huge, I wonder how much time I will actually need to do such adventures you did. I feel like in my lifetime I will not ever have the chance to visit the country properly!


  23. Pingback: An ultimate TRAVEL GUIDE to LAKE  HOLON including the new RATES of FEES and CHARGES.  | The Little Lai: Beyond limits

  24. Pingback: 13 UNEXPECTED and AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES in 2016 that I’m truly THANKFUL for. | The Little Lai: Beyond limits

  25. I am envied with your bravery for solo backpacking Central Mindanao. Soon I’d embarked into a level higher adventures just like yours. There’s no such thing as fulfillment if you were able to crash out each item in the bucketlist. Way to go Master Lai!


  26. I don’t think I have the guts to be traveling solo. I don’t know, I just prefer to do it with my friends and family, than alone. BUT THOSE PICTURES OMG HEART-EYES-EMOJI ALL OVER THIS. It look sooo fun and pretty and… untouched. Loved it, truthfully!


  27. I am glas that you showcased these places in your post Master Lai. This would simply mean that Mindanao has been underrated for so long. I can see based on your pictures how magnificent these places are and how close to pristine state most of them. I would love to take on a challenge to go solo for that span of time. You’re such an inspiration.


  28. I just finished traveling through the Philippines as well. However I didn’t get to do nearly as many hikes as you. Wonderful photos!


  29. Good write-up, I am regular visitor of one’s blog, maintain up the nice operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.


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