Welcome to the ultimate travel guide to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). This guide explores Bangsamoro, a place with a deep history and a path to self-governance. It’s a mix of Muslim and native cultures. We look at their traditions and way of life, closely tied to nature. We see its beautiful mosques, beaches, and jungles, each with its own story.
Morning sellers greeting the morning ferry in BARMM
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a curious explorer, Bangsamoro offers a unique experience that is both enlightening and unforgettable. Join us as we delve into the heart of this remarkable region and uncover the stories that make it so special.
The History of Bangsamoro
The Bangsamoro area in the Philippines is special because it has mostly Muslim people, unlike the Christian-majority north. In the 1970s, the local Muslims wanted their own region, which led to fights and the forming of a group called the Moro National Liberation Front. They fought for their rights. After many discussions, the Philippine government agreed in 2019 to create a new administrative region called Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
This gave the Bangsamoro people more control over their land and let them keep their culture and way of life. This decision was important for peace in the area. Now, the Bangsamoro region can make its own rules and protect its traditions, while being part of the Philippines.
Photo by Riza Rasco
Why Visit Bangsamoro?
It’s a region of cultural richness and natural beauty. Every corner has a story, a tradition, or a stunning view.
Bangsamoro is a vibrant mix of cultures, deeply rooted in Muslim traditions. Visit the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque and enjoy lively festivals. Explore Sitangkai, the ‘Venice of the Philippines’, with its busy canals.
Sitangkai, the ‘Venice of the Philippines’
Explore untouched landscapes, from serene Tawi-Tawi beaches to lush Lanao del Sur jungles.
Taste the region’s flavors in dishes like spicy beef rendang and aromatic chicken piaparan.
Bangsamoro cuisine – photo by Riza Rasco
Join local crafts, explore markets, and meet welcoming locals.
Getting To & Around Bangsamoro
Travelling to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region offers various options, each providing a unique experience of the journey. Whether you prefer the sky, the sea, or the road, getting to this remarkable region is part of the adventure.
The quickest way to reach BARMM is by air. The region’s main gateways are the airports in Cotabato City and Zamboanga City, with regular flights from Manila and other major cities in the Philippines.
Tawi-Tawi is a major airport in Bangsamoro itself; the airport in Jolo may or may not have flights.
For those who enjoy journeys over water, ferries and boats are available. Sea travel offers a scenic route, showcasing the Philippines’ stunning coastline and allowing you to experience the tranquil beauty of the sea.
Major ports in the region include those in Jolo and Bongao, providing access to the region’s island provinces.
Beach in Jolo
If you’re up for a road trip, bus services from various parts of Mindanao lead to BARMM. Traveling by land allows you to witness the changing landscapes and the daily life of the locals as you pass through different towns and provinces but you may not be allowed everywhere – this is something to always check on.
Must-Visit Spots in Bangsamoro
For travelers seeking to chart new territories and experiences, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region offers an array of must-visit spots that resonate with the adventurous spirit of NomadMania members. This region is not just about ticking off destinations; it’s about immersing in a journey that’s rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.
Main mosque in Jolo
Historical and Cultural Sites
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque – Marvel at this architectural wonder in Cotabato City, a grand symbol of the Islamic heritage in the region.
Marawi City – Explore the resilience and rich history of Marawi City, a place of rebuilding and remembrance.
Tawi-Tawi’s Historic Mosques – Visit the Sheik Karimol Makhdum Mosque, one of the oldest in the Philippines, and other historical sites reflecting the region’s deep Islamic roots.
Locals at Sitangkai – westernmost Philippines
Sulu – The perfect interplay between natural beauty with simply amazing beaches and pristine mountains, and the human element.
Sulu has been out of bounds for many years and being able to visit means you will be one of the only travelers there. Note: Maria Cristina Falls, previously mentioned, is not in the BARMM but in Lanao Del Norte province.
Sulu, The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region – photo by Riza Rasco
Natural Wonders of Bangsamoro
Pristine Beaches of Tawi-Tawi – Discover the unspoiled beaches and the longest sandbar of Panampangan Island, a haven for beach lovers.
Waterfalls of Lanao del Sur – Be captivated by the beauty of waterfalls showcasing the region’s natural splendor.
Sulu – Photo by Riza Rasco
Experiences for Culture Lovers
Vibrant Festivals – Immerse in local culture at the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival and the Agal-Agal Festival, celebrations of history and tradition.
Artisanal Crafts – Witness the craftsmanship of local artisans in weaving centers, where traditional techniques create exquisite fabrics like T’nalak.
Bustling Marketplaces – Dive into the heart of local commerce at places like the Barter Trade Center in Jolo, a hub for unique finds and cultural exchange.
Philippine Global Explorers
As you plan your journey to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, connecting with local explorers can enrich your experience. One such community is the Philippine Global Explorers, a non-profit organization led by a proud member of NomadMania, Riza Rasco, is dedicated to bringing the Bangsamoro region to the forefront of international and local tourism.
Now that you’re equipped with the essential insights on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), isn’t it time to consider it for your next adventure? Imagine immersing yourself in its rich culture, soaking up the beauty of its landscapes, and creating memories that will enrich your travel stories
As you plan your trip, remember that each visit to a new place is an opportunity to add to your personal travel map. For our NomadMania community, exploring Bangsamoro is a chance to experience a unique place which has for a long time been shut out from the rest of the world. Make sure to update your NomadMania map with this new destination, sharing your experiences and inspiring fellow travelers.
Explore, experience, and embrace the wonders of this unique region, and be part of a community that celebrates the spirit of global exploration.