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Cotabato City Travel Guide: Exploring Cotabato City

After exploring Lake Agco at the foot of Mount Apo in Kidapawan City, Gael and I went straight to our hostel to pack up and prepare for our bus ride to Cotabato City. From Kidapawan City, It took us 4 hours to reach the City of Fortress Stone.

Cotabato City Travel Guide The Cotabato Grand Mosque
The Cotabato Grand Mosque

Cotabato City Travel Guide

Although Cotabato City is politically part of SOCSARGEN, the city serves as the administrative center of the ARMM or Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Cotabato City is distinct from and should not be confused with the province of Cotabato.

Its my third time visiting Cotabato City but its my first time exploring the City as an independent traveler. My first two visits took place many years ago for a familiarization trip sponsored by the Department of Tourism.

Ako’y isinilang sa isang bayan ng Cotabato
Kasing gulo ng tao, kasing gulo ng mundo
Dahil di magkasundo sa relihiyon at prinsipyo, nagkagulo.

This phrase from Cotabato song performed by Asin left an impression that Cotabato is not a safe place to visit due to conflicts among its constituents.

Eat Pastil
Eat Pastil

After my first visit in 2006, I personally think that Cotabato City is a tourist friendly destination. Sometimes, travel advisories are just meant to be ignored. Honestly, I think Cotabato City is one of the most underrated destinations in the country.

Hand Woven Fabrics in Cotabato Barter Trade Center
Hand Woven Fabrics in Cotabato Barter Trade Center

Things To Do in Cotabato City

Visit the Old Cotabato City Hall
The old City Hall is located in the heart of the city fronting the city plaza. Its a century old structure which houses almost all of the city government offices. The building is famous for its unique architectural design depicting the Muslim Art.

Grilled Chicken Gizzards
Grilled Chicken Gizzards

The New Cotabato City Hall / People’s Palace
A majestic structure located at Malagapas, Barangay Rosary Heights 10, combining ethno-modern architectural with Muslim-inspired roof symbolizing its royalty and Roman art symbolizing the existence of Christianity in the City . The entire bureaucracy of the Executive Department are now housed under one roof.

Mindanao Arts and Crafts
Mindanao Arts and Crafts

Visiting the Kutang Bato Cave
This cave is located at the foot of PC Hill. This cave was also the source of the city’s present name KUTA means FORT and WATO means STONE. Hence, the name ‘fort of stone’ which later on became Cotabato. It’s wall of white, beige and brownish shade glitters in the dark and echoes a colorful past dating back to the days when no foreign foot yet trampled upon this land.

New Cotabato City Hall
New Cotabato City Hall

Metal and Brass Ware House
Take a look at Brgy. MB Kalanganan, Cotabato City to have a glimpse of how a brassware like gongs, traditional Muslim jars, etc. are being crafted using traditional methods (meaning manually) by the oldest and the only remaining brassware makers in Cotabato City – the Mang Family. According to them, a single brass jar as big as this can take up to 3 months to complete.

Rio Grande de Mindanao
Rio Grande de Mindanao

Rio Grande de Mindanao
Located along the city wharf about 410 meters from corner Sinsuat Avenue and Quezon Avenue. This is the second largest river in the Philippines and the longest in Mindanao estimated to be 182 kilometers long and 96 meters wide. Water sports and boat racing are the popular attractions of the river, usually held to coincide with the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival, Guinakit Festival of Maguindanao Province, ARMM and the Feast of Penafrancia.

Kutawato Cave
Kutawato Cave

The Grand Mosque
Also knowns as the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid (Muslim center of worship) Mosque. This Mosque measure 43 meters high (141 feet) on top of which are pilot’s lights to avoid aerial accidents at night. The height is equivalent to a 15-storey building. Crescent moons adorn the domes painted in gold. The mosque can accommodate 800 male and 400 female worshippers.

The Old Cotabato City Hall
The Old Cotabato City Hall

Cotabato Barter Trade Center
A typicall shopping area where you can find locally produced and imported products like garments, kitchenwares and groceries. This shopping area is famous for tourists since this is the marketplace for local handwoven fabrics from various parts of Mindanao.

Eat Pastil
Pastil is one of the most popular Maguindanaon delicacies. Its a steamed rice with shredded chicken that is wrapped with banana leaf. Pastil is available in food stalls near the Old Cotabato City Hall in front of Hotel Filipino.

Means of Transportation: Jeepney, Bus and Tricycle.

Where to Stay

Estosan Garden Hotel
Cotabato City
+63 64 421 6777

Pacific Heights Hotel
Don Teodoro V Juliano
Cotabato City
+63 64 421 7517

New Imperial Hotel
Don Rufino Alonzo, Cotabato City
+63 64 421 2076

Grand Rio Hotel
Don Rufino Alonzo St
Cotabato City
+63 64 421 8770

Delfah Lodge
General Salipada K. Pendatun Avenue,
Cotabato City
+63 64 421 2869

Hotel Castro
Sinsuat Av, Cotabato City
+63 64 421 7523

Hotel Cirilio
Cotabato City
+63 64 421 3583

Hotel Filipino
S.K. Pendatum Avenue,
Cotabato City,
Phone:+63 64 421 2307

Tourist Assistance

Department of Tourism
Regional Office XII,
Tel no. +6364 4211110.
Address: 2nd Flr., Hua Hing Bldg.,
#17 Sinsuat Ave.
Cotabato City

How to get there

There are daily direct flights from Manila to Cotabato City. The Cotabato City airport is located at Brgy. Awang in the neighboring municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat in the province of Maguindanao.

Cebu Pacific has a daily flight to Cotabato City. The Manila-Cotabato flight departs Manila at 6:50 a.m. and Cotabato at 8:55 a.m.

By Bus

From Davao to Cotabato City 6 hrs
From General Santos City to Cotabato City 4 hrs

Airconditioned Mini-Vans are also available from Lanao Sur, General Santos City, Tacurong, Marawi City, Kidapawan City to Cotabato City

Source : Wikipedia, Department of Tourism

Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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