Dipolo g City is a small city with a population of around 130.000. The city of Dipolog is the capital of the southern Philippines province called Zamboanga. Because its location is in the north, it’s called Zamboanga del Norte. The people speak in three or four different languages. From Tagalog to Cebuano and some more local languages, but the majority speaks or understand English enough to make yourself clear.
Once a year there is a special festival in Dipolog City which runs from the 1st of June till the 6th of June. The location of the festival is at the boulevard along the sea. Although you will hear people in Manila saying that Dipolog is unsafe because of terrorists, the real area where that plays was in and around Marawi which is on a far enough distance to the east. Motorcycles cannot be rented in Dipolog, in case you think about touring the area or provice. Another important thing to mention is the unstable internet connection. Both wifi as well as 4G aren’t working properly all the time. Even not in hotels.
The Philippines exist of many different and separated islands. Therefore there is no other way to get there than to fly from Manila to the airport in Dipolog. As per June ’19 there were two airlines flying. Cebu Pacific and Philippines airlines. The price varies, depending on the season and day but it can easily cost you around 6500 php ($130) for a two ways ticket. The airport itself is very small for arrivals. You walk by stairs out of the plane and walk the short piece to the small building which you pass before realizing it. The runway of the airport lies at the seaside. A bit confusion is there about the waiting area, as there are people waiting both inside the building as well as outside with name boards. There is only one baggage claim side to collect your checked in luggage.
Then there is a bus terminal in Dipolog city. As on many Asian bus terminals, there are somewhat annoying guys trying to lure you for a ride in their tricycle or by motorbike taxi. The so called ‘My friend’ guys can be ignored and when you look for the bus to Dapitan City, don’t say that you’re going to Dakak (5 star resort) after they ask you. You pay the ticket in the bus so you don’t need to search for an office. To be sure you can always ask the guys (driver/conductor) staying near the bus. The bus station is located on your left hand side between the town center and the City Mall. Just before a bridge and the police station.
Shopping & Food
Dipolog City itself doesn’t really have much at all. Bakeries, some good restaurants with both local and western food on the menu for a price of below 200 php ($4) for a steak or a rice with side dish. To name a few. There are Jollybee drive thru places (PH McDonalds) and there are many local restaurants with local food. Those places aren’t the most comfortable ones but surely the most affordable ones and good food too. Many of these local shops have 4 to 8 local food items to choose from which are served in small bowls. Fish, meat and veg items are available and cost not more than just over $1 for two items plus rice. Below $2 for that plus a small water and a coke. Good places are Sunburst and Altissimo.
For shopping you can go to the edge of town where the City Mall is located. The City Mall is also a good place to find food as at least half of the places in the mall are food places. There is one store to buy clothes and there is a convenience store. A furniture store, phone store and beauty shops make the mall somewhat complete. Per June ’19 there are still empty spaces to let and the mall could improve quite a lot to raise to a higher standard. A tricycle from the center of town to City Mall for shopping cost around 35 php. When you visit on a Sunday morning, you can join a well populated Catholic Sunday Mass going on.
Linabo Peak 3003 steps is just out of town. See our post of Linabo Peak on this website.
Dapitan City on just over 10 km distance and for the rest there is hardly anything more in and around Dipolog City than the boulevard at the sea. There is no beach in town. The boulevard is the best place that this city has to offer. This doesn’t mean anything at all because the boulevard is a perfectly wide made walking place. There are hardly any people to find and there are even less restaurants or other hangout places to find other than the benches on the boulevard. The length is pretty long for a walk from one end to the other end. Especially in the heat.
Only at the side of the pier where some people are fishing you will find a building with some restaurants. The problem even with those three outlets is that only one is open around lunchtime and The Boss opens around 3 pm. Customers are lacking even though the location is fantastic with sea view. A basketball field for youth can be found along the boulevard road and (maybe occasionally) a stage for healing.
The only other thing in town for sightseeing and religious purpose is the church. The official name is Our lady of the most holy rosary cathedral. Don’t be fooled here. It has the design and size of nothing more than a local church and not what you would imagine by a cathedral. Still, the place should be visited when you’re in Dipolog anyway. There is always a high possibility of a wedding ceremony going on, which is at least somewhat special and interesting to see.
Overall is Dipolog City a boring place with little to none attraction. As a foreigner you might not feel welcome or comfortable with the skeptical staring of really all the people. Not one exception. A video impression can be seen here https://youtu.be/XU_g2oB5L5g