Seven kilometres from the town of Bislig lies the small town of Mangagoy, a popular stop for all visitors to two major tourist spots- Tinuy-an Falls and Enchanted River. There are several buses from Butuan city to Mangagoy everyday, but most of them are non air-conditioned. Mangagoy is the final stop for these buses, so travellers prefer to stay here. We stayed at Mangagoy for 2 nights at Paper Country Inn, a small but clean hotel good for 1-2 nights’ stay.
Checking in at Bislig
We reached Paper Country Inn at nearly 8 pm and saw many families and tourists checking in. After settling in, we asked the receptionist how to get to Enchanted River from Mangagoy, but she wasn’t really helpful; she insisted on hiring a private habal-habal for 1000 pesos or a private van for 3000 pesos. When we said that we didn’t want to spend so much, she suggested we go to the bus terminal and figure out a way there. Our first option was to rent a bike for a whole day but sadly there are no bike rental stores in Mangagoy.
So the next morning at 9 am we reached the bus terminal in Mangagoy. It was a rainy day so there weren’t many commuters that day. Many habal-habals were waiting for tourists. We asked one of them how much he would take for a day visit to Tinuyan Falls and Enchanted River, he quoted 1000 pesos. We haggled and finally settled for 800 pesos for the round trip.
Starting our day with Tinuyan Falls
We first visited Tinuyan Falls, about 16 kms from Mangagoy. The road is mostly bumpy, so the habal-habal ride is highly uncomfortable. But the greenery made everything pleasant- the countryside of Mindanao island was beautiful. We reached Tinuyan Falls in about an hour, paid the entrance fee of 50 pesos each and stayed there for two hours, interacting with the natives and enjoying the falls.
By the time we set out for Enchanted River it was past noontime. We took the same road out and after a few kilometres, took a diversion to the state highway. The rest of the journey to Hinatuan is smooth as the condition of the roads is very good. Enchanted River was about 40 kilometres from Tinuyan Falls and it took us 1.5 hours to reach there on the habal-habal. The river itself is about 15 minutes away from Hinatuan main crossing, where we take a different lane. We spent only an hour at Enchanted River because it was extremely crowded and there was no space to even stretch our legs.
We started to head back to Mangagoy around 2:30 pm. Our driver asked us if we wanted to go through the countryside road again, to which we replied no. So he took us back to Mangagoy from Hinatuan on the highway, and it took about 1.5 hours to reach, for a distance of about 40 kms again. We reached back at the hotel by 4 pm.
There are three major ways to see Enchanted River and Tinuyan Falls in one day
1) Bus: There are no direct buses to Enchanted river, but you can take a bus headed to Butuan and ask them to drop you at Hinatuan. From there you can take a habal-habal to Enchanted River (about 40 pesos). There are no buses going to Tinuyan Falls and finding a habal-habal from Enchanted River to Tinuyan Falls may be difficult.
2) Habal-habal: This is the best option for budget-travellers. Hire a habal-habal for the whole day for 800 pesos or less. Go to Tinuyan Falls first, as it gets crowded post-12 pm. The Enchanted River, on the other hand, becomes extremely crowded by 10 am so go there first only if you can reach before 8 am.
3) Private van: For those who can afford it, hire a private van for the full day at 3000 pesos (negotiable) and go to Enchanted River as early as possible (preferably by 8 am).