Butuan is a city in the province of Agusan del Norte in the Philippines. Located in the northeastern part of Agusan Valley sprawling across the Agusan River, the city is known for its colorful history and culture.
This article also covers the nearby towns of Buenavista and Nasipit; both towns used to be barrios (present-day barangays) of Butuan until they were made separate municipalities in 1929 and 1936, respectively.
Butuan is governed separately from the province of Agusan del Norte (locals do not vote for provincial officials), but for practical purposes, Butuan belongs to the province. Butuan remains the de facto capital of Agusan del Norte, even after the capital has been moved to Cabadbaran.
What's the meaning of Butuan?
Butuan is believed to be derived from the sour fruit "Batuan". Others say it came from the chieftain's name who once ruled Butuan "Datu Buntuan". Other insist it was derived from the word "But-an" which literally means a person who has sound and discerning disposition.
Butuan’s history, culture, arts and people date back to the 4th century as showcased in museums which makes Butuan an exciting source of cultural artifacts in Mindanao. As early as the 10th century, according to Chinese historical documents, people from Butuan had already established trading relations with the kingdom of Champa in what is now South Vietnam. By the 11th century, Butuan was the center of trade and commerce in the Philippines. The best evidence of this is the discovery of 9 balangays (called the "Butuan boats") and other archeological finds in the vicinities of Butuan City, particularly in Ambangan, Libertad near the Butuan and Masao rivers.
Butuan is usually dry from March to September while the wet season stretches from October to February. Temperatures range as low as 19 °C (66 °F) while the maximum is 35 °C (95 °F). With the humidity it will feel more like 38 °C (100 °F) to 40 °C (104 °F).
- 1 Bancasi Airport (BXU IATA). Flights from Manila (one hour) or Cebu (45 minutes), either by Cebu Pacific or PAL Express.
Ferries call at Nasipit, a port town 27 km (17 mi) west of downtown.
- 2GO Travel. Ferries depart from Manila, with a stop at Cebu.
- Cokaliong Shipping Lines. Services from Cebu City
- Lite Ferries. Operates the Jagna-Nasipit route
- Trans-Asia Shipping Lines. One ferry departs from Cebu City.
By bus or minivan
- Butuan City Integrated Transport Terminal, Salvador Calo St, Obrero (North of downtown). There are three terminals: one for buses, one for UV Express (minivans), and another for jeepneys. Each of them is within walking distance from each other.
Bachelor Express, whose buses are in a bright yellow livery, is the main carrier for trips within Mindanao, from the stations at Cagayan de Oro (₱400, 8 hours) and Davao (₱490, 6 hours). Philtranco has one bus daily from Manila, via Maharlika Hwy.
Both terminals have rather squalid surroundings, abounding with vendors and slums. The roads around the bus station are paved with concrete, but nearby is a slum, and across the street is a noisy and smelly public market. The minivan terminal is unpaved and dusty, alongside the overall atmosphere, being near two bustling public wet and dry markets.
The bus station building has indoor stalls, which primarily sell snacks to take in the bus, and just behind the bays are a row of shops. Just nearby is a Puregold, which may have a better selection of food and drinks.
- Butuan City South Market and Bus Terminal, Villa Kananga. Under construction. It will be somewhat smaller, but cleaner than the present terminal.
- Robinsons Butuan Bus Terminal, Capitol Dr, Bayanihan (Behind Robinsons Place Butuan. To downtown, catch a jeepney from the mall.). Some Bachelor Express buses, especially from CDO, use this better but simple bus station over the older and crowded central bus station.
There are no taxis in the city. But there are multicabs and motorized tricycles that can take you anywhere in the city. The bus terminal is (1 km) from downtown. and the airport is (2 km) from downtown.
There are historical and famous places in Butuan City you must see.
- 1 Balangay Shrine Museum. Graveyard of the Balangay 1 dated 320 AD. This wooden plank-build and edge-pegged boats measured an average of 15 meters in length and 3 meters wide across the beam. Nine balangays have already been discovered in Ambangan, Libertad sites. Three have been excavated and others are still in situ.
- 2 Butuan Regional Museum. This museum is the repository of historical and cultural materials and artifacts that proves Butuan's prehistoric existence and rich cultural heritage. There are two exhibit galleries. The Archaeological Hall and Ethnological Hall specimens of stone crafts, metal crafts, woodcrafts, potteries, goldsmith, burial coffins, and other archaeological diggings are exhibited. At the Ethnological Hall are exhibits of contemporary cultural materials the Butuanon or every Filipino for matter used for a living.
- Mount Mayapay: Looming southwest of the Agusan Valley is this majestic mountain plateau. It rises to 2,214 feet (675 m) above sea level. Mount Mayapay got its name from the ancient Madjapahit Empire. The history behind the Sri-Vishaya period bears much meaning and influence of Butuan's pre-historic and archaeological discoveries.
- Agusan River: Butuan River is the widest, deepest and longest navigable river in Mindanao. A cruise along the river barangays reveals much about Butuan's history, culture, arts, and people, and as a tribute to the Patroness of the Agusan River Senora Sta. Ana, the Abayan Festival was born – a day-long celebration of baroto races and fluvial procession at the Agusan River.
- 3 Bood Promontory 1st Easter Mass Eco Park. This historic site is where Magellan and his men erected a cross and celebrated the 1st Mass on Philippine Soil on March 31, 1521. It is the highest elevation and promontory overlooking the whole of Butuan bay then. Today, the indigenous “Hadlayati Tree” still abound lording over a Clonal nursery and tree park, and the serpentine Masao River (El Rio de Butuan) amidst fishponds and archaeological treasures.
- 4 Banza Church Ruins. This site was one of the old poblacion of the city. The church built here in 1625 by the Recollect Friars was reduced to ashes in 1753 by Moro pirates. What remains of this church is its bell tower banyan (balete) trees. Now enveloped by as the most beautiful church in the region before its destruction. Today, it is the oldest ruin of a stone church in the entire island of Mindanao.
- 5 Magellan's Landing Site. Every year on March 31, the city celebrates Mazaua Discovery Day to commemorate a historic milestone, the 1st Easter Mass on Philippines' soil on 1521, celebrated by Ferdinand Magellan. No matter what, Butuanons proclaim with pride that such historic event took place in Butuan, not in Limasawa.
- Nipa Wine Distillery: Laksoy is a local wine made out of the indigenous Nipa palm that abounds in Butuan. It goes through the process of fermentation from a crudely-made vat only a native Butuanon can ingenuously produce.
- 6 St. Joseph Cathedral, Ester Luna St, ☏ . This is like an iconic landmark for Butuan, even though there are Catholic churches everywhere in the Philippines. Also there's the opportunity to see the Filipino flag flying from a tall mast in Guingona Park across the way.
- Mountain hiking in Mount Mayapay. Make sure, though, that you are accompanied by an experienced hiker and that you have the complete necessary gear.
- Go to beaches in nearby towns of Carmen, Buenavista, and Cabadbaran.
- See the various historical sites and museums mentioned above
- Meet, mingle and make friends with nice and hospitable Butuanons
- Go to bar and clubs, particularly those near the Gaisano Mall.
- Listen to concert of local bands at Caraga Square
- Watch for cultural presentations on 9 May – City Fiesta (in honor of St. Joseph) , 2 Aug – Adlaw hong Butuan (Butuan Day), or the Kahimunan Festival, Butuan’s version of the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, it is celebrated to pay homage to the city’s patron, Sto. Niño. Kahimunan is from a Lumad word for “gathering.” The annual fiesta is a mixture of Christian and folk elements celebrated with pomp and pageantry.
- 1 Delta Discovery Park, ☏ . Zip-line course through the tropical hills and swimming pool.
- Flavored otap. Buy flavored otap (a Filipino delicacy) with flavors Durian and Ube.
- Balangay souvenirs. Models of Balangay (an ancient boat used by first native Filipinos) are particularly popular as souvenirs.
Shopping malls & supermarkets
- Gaisano Mall, J C Agino Avenue and National Highway. 10AM-8PM. Has a McDonald's, a Jollibee and a Pizza Hut.
- Robinsons Place Butuan, J c Aquino avenue. Libertad. 10AM-9PM.
- Puregold Hypermarket, San Jose Street. 9AM-9PM.
- SM City Butuan, Jose C Aquino Aveune Brgy Lapu-lupa. 9AM-8PM. 33.214 sm shopping mall. with a savemore supermarket
- [formerly dead link] Unitop Deparment Store, San Jose Street. 9AM-8PM.
Banks & ATMs
- BPI. Bank of the Philippines Islands. 24-hour ATM. Has a Master Card/Visa Card ATM. ₱250 fee for overseas cards.
- BDO Bank has Master Card/Visa Card ATMs. Max ₱10000
- Metro Bank has Master Card/Visa Card ATMs. Max ₱10000
- PNB has Visa Card ATMs. Max ₱10000
- RIBBS. Their specialty are ribs BBQ & seafoods
Butuan has a number of hotels, you can try sleeping on various lodges and inns at the downtown part of the city.
- 1 Almont Inland Hotel/Resort, ☏ . Nice breakfast; nice pool.
- 2 Balanghai Hotel and Convention Center, Bacolod City Street, ☏ . Has a big circular pool with a waterslide.
- 3 Hotel Karaga, 51 Villanueva St, ☏ . Good location downtown, clean. Air conditioned room with hot shower. ₱700.
- Wayfarer Pension House & Dormitory, T. Calo St. Brgy Limaha, ☏ . From ₱560.
- Hensonly Plaza Inn, 2040 San Francisco St (Downtown), ☏ . Only fan rooms with outside bathrooms. ₱180.
- Imperial Hotel, San Francisco Street ((downtown]), ☏ . Fan rooms with own bathroom. A/C rooms with own bathrooms. hot water and cable TV. ₱300/₱560.
- Albecks Inn, Ochoa Ave (Llibo building near city hall), ☏ . A/C room with outside bathroom. ₱300.
- Julians Inn Annex, Nangka Rd, ☏ , . Fan room with outside bathroom, cable TV and free Wi-Fi. ₱280.
- Mejestic Pension, Pili Drive, ☏ . A/C single double rooms with own bathroom and cable TV. ₱400/₱500.
- Uccp Guest house., 850 R Calo St, ☏ , . Fan dorm beds. ₱120 per person.
- Jets Inn, 25 villanueva street, ☏ . A/C single or double rooms with bathrooms. ₱450/₱550.
- Flor-al-Mansion, Jose s Aquino avenue (near Jollibee.). A/C double room with own bathroom. 40-inch cable TV. Free Wi-Fi. 12/24 hours ₱300/₱550.
- 4 Watergate Hotel Butuan, Jose Rosales Ave, ☏ . Has a chic designer-type pool you can dip your toes in but not much else. Limited free breakfast and wifi. ₱2230.
- 5 Almont City Hotel, 22 J Azote (In center of town, across from cathedral and Guingona Park). Restaurant/bar, free breakfast, a/c, wifi, airport shuttle. ₱1745.
- 6 Grand Palace Hotel, ☏ . Establishment and pool are pretty basic. Has restaurant. ₱2084.
Cebuano/Bisaya is the main language used in Butuan. Some of the old native-born inhabitants still speak a language called Butuanon. Most of the people understand English.
- Butuan Medical Center. Km5 Baam. +63 85 3417490. (Government Hospital).
- Bureau Of Immigration Butuan Office. 3rd Floor. Rural Bank Bldg. AD Crato Street. +63 85 3000052.
|Routes through Butuan|
|Surigao ← Remedios T. Romualdez ←||N S||→ Sibagat → Davao|
|END ←||E W||→ Buenavista → Cagayan de Oro|