General Santos City Travel Guide: DIY Itinerary, Activities + How to get there and more

Tuna Festival by Constantine Agustin via Flickr CC
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The Ultimate General Santos City Budget Travel Guide

General City is the home of the Generals. They got that name when kababayans from Luzon and Visayas under the leadership of General Paulino Santos discovered GenSan, hence the name General Santos. Its name used to be Rajah Buayan in 1948 then named General Santos in 1968 when it attained its cityhood.

Aerial view of Makar Wharf, the main international sea port of General Santos by Jakemonte80 via Wikipedia CC General Santos City Travel Guide
Aerial view of Makar Wharf, the main international sea port of General Santos by Jakemonte80 via Wikipedia CC – General Santos City Travel Guide

GenSan is rich in agricultural produce like corn, coconut, pineapple, asparagus, banana and rice, and tuna; making it the ‘Tuna Capital of the Philippines and having the world record for having the largest tuna display in the world.  Shopping in GenSan is popular and so does is its food items, water activities, and festivals.

In this General Santos City Travel Guide blog, we listed helpful DIY GENSAN travel tips and advice on how to get there, get around, fun activities, restaurants, best hotels, tour packages and more.

Best Time to Visit

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General Santos enjoys sunny weather almost all year round that it’s considered to be one of the provinces in the Philippines that has dry weather. It’s outside the typhoon belt so anytime is a good time to visit.

Currency and Accessibility to ATM Machines

ATM machines from various Banks are widely available in General Santos City

General Santos International Airport by Bluemask via Wikipedia CC
General Santos International Airport by Bluemask via Wikipedia CC

How to Get There

From Manila

Flights from Manila to General Santos are available through Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific has daily flights and each flight takes about 2 hours. Philippine Airlines also flies to General Santos City but travel time varies.

From Cebu

Cebu Pacific has direct flights from Cebu to General Santos City which takes about an hour.

Connectivity

It was reported that General Santos is now the first ‘Fibr City’ in Mindanao; thanks to PLDT. Through these efforts, locals and visitors can enjoy uninterrupted internet usage. There are also places where there’s free WIFI.

Things to do in General Santos City

Attend Festivals

Tuna Festival by Constantine Agustin via Flickr CC
Tuna Festival by Constantine Agustin via Flickr CC

GenSan is a bustling city and its locals like to embark in festivities all year round. If you come in September 1-5, you can attend the Tuna Festival where you can watch tuna parades and enjoy eating tuna especially sashimi. Other notable festivals are National Tourism Week which showcases what the city has to offer and Kalilangan sa GenSan which happens in February and celebrates the tri-people heritage of the city through textures, rhythm, and culture.

Shop in GenSan

Tuna Chicharon by George Parrilla via Flickr CC
Tuna Chicharon by George Parrilla via Flickr CC

The city has the best products from corn husk products to native doll, native decors, hats, bags, slippers, and orchid flowers. Visitors can also buy t-shirts, preserved fruits, juices, and vegetables. For visitors who are interested to buy tuna products, tuna tocino, embutido, nuggets, hotdogs, chicharon, etc. are available to buy in many stores. There are more products that General Santos City has to offer and visitors can find them in public markets.

Dine in GenSan

Grilled Tuna Belly
Grilled Tuna Belly

Most restaurants in the city offer menu that’s centered on their precious tuna fish. The tuna of General Santos is of premium quality thus it can be used as sashimi and tourists should try that. Other dishes of tuna that everyone must try are kinilaw, sinugba and tuna lechon. While tuna is its main fish offering, there are a lot of seafoods for everyone to try and rest assured, these seafoods are fresh.

Water Activities

GenSan is the ‘City by the Bay’ that’s why there are different ways to get some adventure in the water. For a more laid back adventure, visitors can try paddle boarding and kayaking or just go swimming while for the risk takes; jet skiing, scuba diving and skim boarding are the water adventures to try. There are other activities like snorkeling and banana boating. There’s also the Dragon Boat adventure during the Tuna Festival.

Where to Eat

Being a city makes General Santos a place where there are many choices in terms of dining, shopping, and attractions. Here are some of the restaurants worth visiting.

Ranchero’s Grill and Seafood Restaurant

Rancheros Grill and Seafood Restaurant photo by Cj Argonitas Masocol via FB
Rancheros Grill and Seafood Restaurant photo by Cj Argonitas Masocol via FB

Location: National Highway, General Santos, Mindanao, Philippines

The reviews of this restaurant show that they have good food. They serve tuna but people particularly love their Baby Back Ribs. They serve different seafood meals which include Pampano fish and baked oysters. They also serve dragon fruit which is gaining popularity all over the Philippines. They’re open daily from 9:00am to 10:00pm.

Lola Sisay Seafood House

Lola Sisay Seafood House
Lola Sisay Seafood House

Location: Jose Catolico Avenue, General Santos City, Mindanao, Philippines

Lola Sisay is a buffet restaurant offering a wide variety of dishes with strong focus on fresh seafood. Guests also love their vegetable dishes like Ginataang Langka and Chopsuey and they also put lechon on their menu for an additional price. They serve their buffet selection at 11:00am to 2:00pm and 6:00pm to 10:00pm daily.

Tiongson Arcade

Tiongson Arcade Paluto photo by Xian Lee Young via FB
Tiongson Arcade Paluto photo by Xian Lee Young via FB

Location: Tiongson Street, General Santos City, Mindanao, Philippines

Much like Dampa sa Libis, Tiongson Arcade offers the best raw seafood and you can have them cooked for you in different ways. This place is good for large groups of people and visitors looking for budget meals that are delicious. Don’t forget to order grilled tuna from this place.

Itinerary and Tours Offered by the Local Tourism Establishments

Histocultour

Places to visit include the old city hall, Plaza Heneral Santos, Pioneer Avenue, NDDU Museum, The Hadano Park, MSU Museum, GPS Landing Site: Pioneer’s Park, Queen Tuna Park, GenSan Public Market, GenSan Bagsakan, Biggest Japanese Bunker and Barangay Ligaya.

Tuna Adventour

Fresh Tuna at the General Santos Fishport Complex photo by Andy Maluche via Flickr CC
Fresh Tuna at the General Santos Fishport Complex photo by Andy Maluche via Flickr CC

This tour include GSC Fishport Complex, tuna canning factory, Calumpong Dried Fish Market, HorizonCan (tin can factory), Mt. Sabrina Panoramic View and Resort, Ten Point Factory, Queen Tuna Park, Makar Wharf and a visit to Tuna Value Added Products Outlets.

High Hill Tour

Joiners of this tour will visit Sarangani Highlands Resort, Mt. Sabrina Panoramic View & Resort, 5th Mt. Adventure View and Resort, Nopol Hills, Sanchez Peak, Snipers View Deck (optional).

Agricultour

Tourists will go to Sarangani Highlands Resort, Asparagus Plantation, Dragon Fruit and Honey Dew Plantation, Hito Farm, coffee plantation, grapes plantation, orchid farm, and other farms.

Where to Stay in General Santos City

Green Leaf Hotel

Green Leaf Hotel in General Santos City
Green Leaf Hotel in General Santos City

Location: San Miguel St. cor J. Catolico Avenue, General Santos City

Deluxe Twin Room price starts at USD69++

[Check Rates and Availability]

This is GenSan’s luxury hotel with 111 rooms and suites to choose from. The hotel has restaurants, wellness facilities, swimming pools, sauna, and spa onsite. Their grand ballrooms and multi-function halls can hold meetings and other events.

East Asia Royale Hotel

East Asia Royale Hotel
East Asia Royale Hotel

Location: National Highway, Lagao, General Santos City

Price for Standard Room starts at USD31++

[Check Rates and Availability]

The hotel is just a few steps away from many attractions of the city like Mabuhay IT Park and Saint Paul Novitiate Park. There’s free WIFI in the guestrooms and they offer airport transfer to and from the hotel.

Sun City Suites Hotel

SunCity Suites Gensan
SunCity Suites Gensan

Location: National Highway, Lagao, General City

Price for Superior Room starts at USD34++

[Check Rates and Availability]

Experience world-class service and comfortable stay at Sun City Suites Hotel and enjoy its close proximity to what the city has to offer. They offer 24-hour room service, security and a convenience store in the area.

Travel Tips

When traveling, don’t forget to pack light, bring enough cash and be on time for tours and flights.

Contact Info

  • Tourism Division, CEMCDO Tel.nos. (083) 302 2595/ (083) 553 8338
  • Police Station Tel.nos (083) 301 0200/ (083) 3016728/ (083) 301 6672
  • Hospital Tel.nos (083) 552 4808
  • CDRRMC Tel.nos (083) 552 3939
  • Fire Station Tel.nos (083) 301 3111/552 3111

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