8 Things to do in Cotabato City

The Road to Cotabato City's Grand Mosque
The Road to Cotabato City’s Grand Mosque

Let’s forget about the violence or the unrest that Cotabato City is known for. This post will sum up what I have posted about this much maligned city and would focus on things you could see and do. While I could say that this city, found at the heart of Mindanao, locked between Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao, is generally safe, caution is still recommended and I would suggest to ask assistance at the local tourism office.

The Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
The Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

1.  Marvel at the Magnificent Grand Mosque

No doubt the Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (or the Grand Mosque) is the main draw now in Cotabato City that it is attracting Muslims and non-muslims alike. And who wouldn’t? This beautiful piece of architecture looks magnificent and grand. It’s the largest mosque in the country.

Exploring Kutang Bato Cave
Exploring Kutang Bato Cave

2. Go Caving in Kutang Bato Cave

It’s the cave where Cotabato got its name from. Grab a pair of boots and get ready explore it watery caverns and multi-network of chambers some filled with bats. Kutang Bato is a unique cave found within the city with multiple entrances but the entrance at Baranggay Bagua is the recommended safe entrance. While inside, imagine how our guerrillas hid and fought the Japanese using this extensive network of caves.

Witness the intricate process of Inaul Weaving
Witness the intricate process of Inaul Weaving

3. Buy Inaul Weaving

Head over to Al Jamela Weaving Center and discover the intricate art of Inaul Weaving. Learn from the disadvantaged women, now working with the organization, in keeping this dying tradition alive. No doubt you’ll be impressed with the colorful patterns and quality of their weaving that it would be hard not to take one back home.

Brassware making the traditional way
Brassware making the traditional way

4. Visit a Brassware Community

Interested on how gongs, urns or some cooking wares are made? Head over to Baranggay Kalangalan and witness how a community painstakingly produce these high quality brassware. What is interesting is their method – done traditionally as they have done in the sultanate days.

At Cotabato City's Super Market
At Cotabato City’s Super Market

5. Join the Hustle at the City’s Lively Markets

Cotabato City’s main livelihood is trade and one can see a whole slew of products from the tasty coffee from nearby provinces, fresh catched fish and even a large number of Ukay-ukay (used clothes shop) in a lot of area. See some early morning market action at the Bagsakan by the Matampay River.

Cotabato City's Pastel
Cotabato City’s Pastel

6. Try out the local delicacies

Cotabateños seem to love to have snacks. A visit to one of the numerous corner coffee shops, one would see numerous pastry treats on the table. Their brewed coffee at P10 a pop is better than any 3-in-1s out there. My fave breakfast treat is their pastel, a sticky rice with mashed chicken meat inside wrapped in leaves. It’s a great food on the go.

The People's Palace
The People’s Palace

7. Check out the City Landmarks

The city may not have much in terms of beaches or nature escapes but they do have some interesting structures worth a look. The Tamontaka Church, the oldest in the city is historically significant. The Old City Hall at the Plaza have traditional Islamic design while the People’s Palace, the seat of the government stands proud and welcoming.

Night life and good food at Al Nor
Night life and good food at Al Nor

8. Chill out and Dine at Al Nor

Seafood is great in Cotabato City, their crabs and shrimps living on brackish water seems to meatier and tastier than the usual. Al Nor Complex have a number of restaurants serving them. The complex added a nice lifestyle twist to the city now people have a place to chill after work with commercial coffeehouse there.