EXPLORING NEGROS: Bacolod, Lakawon, Sipalay, Apo Island and Dumaguete!

This blog post is about exploring the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental in four (4) days. Starting from the northern part of Negros Occidental (entry point is Bacolod City, then going shortly to Lakawon in Cadiz City) and eventually going southwards to visit Sipalay City, Apo Island and then Dumaguete City of Negros Oriental, this trip is definitely a lot of fun but tiring at the same time. Haha. Imagine going to the aforementioned places in only several days and what you’ll have is a very memorable trip! Oh, and did I forget to say that I went here solo? Yes, I did travel in Negros on my own. But I met a few friends along the way as well as met new ones who made my stay in the whole island really remarkable.

I also visited the province of Siquijor after Negros but that’s for another blog post. Continue reading, guys, and learn how you can explore Negros in four days!

THE NEGROS ISLAND

Philippine Map with Negros Island highlighted (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Philippine Map with Negros Island highlighted (courtesy of Wikipedia)
The Map of Negros Island (courtesy of rappler.com)
The Map of Negros Island (courtesy of rappler.com)

The island of Negros is the fourth largest island in the Philippines (after Luzon, Mindanao and Samar) for having an area of 13,309 sq km. It comprises of the provinces of Negros Occidental (capital city: Bacolod) and Negros Oriental (capital city: Dumaguete). From May 2015 to August 2017, the island was declared as the Negros Island Region (NIR), which was made to accelerate social and economic development and improve the delivery of public services. However, due to insufficient funding, the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, has dissolved the NIR. As a result, Negros Occidental went back to being a part of the Western Visayas Region while Negros Oriental a part of Central Visayas Region.

An interesting fact about Negros is that both provinces have different predominant languages. The people of Negros Occidental mostly speak Hiligaynon, which is also the language of Ilo-ilo and Guimaras (the provinces nearest Bacolod) while most of the people of Negros Oriental speak Cebuano, due to the province’s proximity to Cebu.

Residents of Negros are called Negrenses. I have heard before that they are some of the friendliest and kindest people and I must say that this is true after exploring the place for several days!

 

 

 

HOW TO GO TO NEGROS?

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL

  1. If you’re coming from Manila (and other major cities in the Philippines), you can take a direct flight going to Bacolod.
  2. If you’re coming from Ilo-ilo, you can charter a boat from the Port of Ilo-ilo going to the Port of Bacolod.

HOW TO GO TO NEGROS ORIENTAL

  1. If you’re coming from Manila (and other major cities in the Philippines), you can take a direct flight going to Dumaguete.
  2. If you’re coming from Cebu, you can charter a boat from the Port of Liloan in Santander in the southern part of Cebu going to the Port of Sibulan, a nearby town north of Dumaguete.

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL

This is the view that you'll get at the countryside. Large areas of sugarcane fields!
This is the view that you’ll get at the countryside. Large areas of sugarcane fields!

Occupying the northwestern part of the Negros Island, Negros Occidental is called Sugarbowl of the Philippines as it produces more than half of the sugar in the country. Its capital city as aforementioned is Bacolod City, which is home to some of the sweetest delicacies and most mouth-watering food. I am guessing it is called the City of Smiles not just because of its friendly people (they’re some of the kindest, I promise!) but also because of the smiles the city brings to the people who visit because of their food! Haha.

WHAT TO EXPLORE IN NEGROS OCCIDENTAL

LAKAWON ISLAND

Chilling at the beach of Lakawon!
Chilling at the beach of Lakawon!

One of the best places to go to when visiting Negros Occidental, Lakawon Island features creamy, fine sand along its beaches that teem with beautiful blue waters. It has structures like a bridge in stilts, swings, inflatable banana beds among others that are perfect for a chill island vibe. Don’t forget to take pictures when you are here in this beautiful island!

TAWHAI

Tawhai is the perfect place to chillax!
Tawhai is the perfect place to chillax!

One highlight of going to Lakawon Island is its floating bar dubbed as the biggest in Asia, the TawHai Floating Bar. Tawhai, which means “calm and relax” in Hiligaynon, is a good description of the place as it really brings calmness and relaxation to the people who go here. Even in the middle of a hot, sunny afternoon, I got to be relaxed with newfound friends in the floating bar’s decks! By the way, don’t hesitate to buy yourself a drink while you are here!

THE RUINS

The Ruins in all its glory at night!
The Ruins in all its glory at night!

The remains of the ancestral mansion of a wealthy family in Talisay City, The Ruins gained fame and recognition because of its interesting history as well as its beautiful architecture. The house was originally built in the early 1900s by the sugar baron named Don Mariano Ledesma in honor of his wife, Maria Braga Lacson, who died during her delivery of their 11th child. This fact is what drew the comparison between The Ruins and the Taj Mahal of India.

The Ruins is beautiful to look at anytime of the day.
The Ruins is beautiful to look at anytime of the day.

The guide in the area said that what led to the mansion’s ruin was the family’s Japanese gardener who spied for the Japanese during the Second World War. However, it was the American colonial masters that burnt it down to prevent its use as a military office for the Japanese forces. Even though it burnt for three days, some of the original materials used in the construction of the house remain until this day.

The Ruins is beautiful whether you visit it in the morning, afternoon or evening. However, it can really get too crowded even during ordinary days! So, try to go there as early as possible (it opens at 8 AM) or take pictures close to its closing time (8 PM). That’s a good tip, I’m telling you!

BACOLOD CITY HALL

This is the city’s new government center. Located along Carlos Hilado Highway, the Bacolod City Hall is really beautiful at night! It is a place where people can run or jog around, just stroll in the place or marvel at its fountain. It can really be crowded especially in the afternoon so you can just choose to go here at night where it is already more quiet and peaceful.

The Bacolod City Hall at night!
The Bacolod City Hall at night!
Here's my doctor/explorer friend, Archie, who toured me around the city! Follow him and his adventures in Instagram: @archieoffduty!
Here’s my doctor/explorer friend, Archie, who toured me around the city! Follow him and his adventures in Instagram: @archieoffduty!

DINE IN MANOKAN COUNTRY

Undoubtedly, Bacolod has the best chicken inasal!
Undoubtedly, Bacolod has the best chicken inasal! Head to Aida’s in Manokan Country to eat this superb meal!

I’ve always heard good things about Bacolod and one of them is their food! Their chicken inasal, which inspired lots of restaurants offering roasted chicken marinated with vinegar, calamansi, pepper among other ingredients, is superbly delicious! Eating it with rice drenched in chicken oil while using the hands is very much recommended for you to have a great gastronomic experience!

EAT DESSERTS IN FELICIA’S PASTRY SHOP AND CALEA

Bacolod City’s two of the most popular desserts places are Felicia’s Pastry Shop and Calea.

Coffee time in Felicia's!
Coffee time in Felicia’s!

You should try them both when you go on a trip here in the City of Smiles! I am sure you’ll be this all-smiles when you eat their desserts!

Calea's chocolate cake and mocha coffee are a perfect match! Who won't be smiling after eating them?
Calea’s chocolate cake and mocha coffee are a perfect match! Who won’t be smiling after eating them?

Here’s my travel itinerary during my first day in Negros:

NEGROS TRAVEL ITINERARY Day 1: LAKAWON ISLAND AND BACOLOD CITY
DAY 1: LAKAWON ISLAND AND BACOLOD CITY:30 AM
Flight from Manila to Bacolod City I went to Bacolod City via Cebu Pacific Air.
8:30 AM ETA in Bacolod City The flight only took us about an hour.
  Ride a shuttle from airport going to North Bus Terminal (Ceres Bus Terminal with northbound buses) P150 is the cost of the shuttle ride. Travel time is about 40 minutes.
9:30 AM Ride a bus in Ceres going to Cadiz City. Ask to be unloaded in Bgy. Burgos, which is the jump off point going to Lakawon. P100 is the cost of the bus ride. Travel time is about 1 hour.
10:30 AM Ride the tricycle going to the port. Special trip costs P120.
  Register and pay for the Lakawon Island entrance fee and boat ride going there in the port office. Entrance fee is P130. Boat ride is P150.
11 AM ETA in Lakawon Island. Explore the place. Take pictures. You may choose to rent huts or rooms or even check in if you plan to stay overnight. Because I only planned to stay there for several hours, I opted to leave my bag in the Lakawon Island office while exploring the place. Just ask for their permission and certainly the people there will allow you to. J
12:30 PM Go to Tawhai, the largest floating bar in Asia. Relax, order a drink and chill here. Entrance fee to Tawhai is P250
2:30 PM Prepare to leave Lakawon Island. The bus ride paid a while ago is already two-way.
3 PM Ride tricycle going back to the highway of Bgr. Burgos where you can ride the bus going back to Bacolod. Tricycle fare: P120. Tricycle ride would only take about 10 to 15 minutes.
3:30 PM Ride bus going back to Bacolod City. You have two choices here, air-conditioned bus (P100) or deluxe (ordinary) bus (P60). One advantage of riding the air-con bus is it only travels along the highway making for a faster travel unlike the deluxe bus, which mainly stays in the highway but also goes to different towns to accommodate more passengers.
5 PM onwards ETA in North Bus Terminal in Bacolod City.

It’s time to explore the City of Smiles!

I met with a good friend in Bacolod who toured me around the city, from exploring The Ruins to dining in Aida’s at Manokan Country and eating desserts along Lacson Street.

Available modes of transportation include jeepney and taxi.

SIPALAY CITY

Perth Paradise Resort

Relaxing in Perth!
Relaxing in Perth!

One of the most popular resorts in Sipalay City, Perth Paradise Resort provides an infinity pool for people to swim in while giving them a fine view of the nearby lagoon found in that part of Negros Occidental.

You can choose to stay overnight in this resort or just spend sometime relaxing its pool. Word of advice: it can get too crowded during peak season (holidays, summer break) and the resort currently has just one pool so you might want to go here during regular, ordinary days.

White Beach (also called Punta Ballo Beach)

Sipalay's White Beach!
Sipalay’s White Beach!

Sipalay’s White Beach has this whitish, creamy sand that invites any beach lover who’s visiting the city. While seaweeds gather at the White Beach this time of the year, it still is a good place to go to if you just want to relax along the beach while watching the sea and hearing its waves.

Tinagong Dagat

Another beauty in Sipalay: Tinagong Dagat!
Another beauty in Sipalay: Tinagong Dagat!

Similar to Romblon’s Tinagong Dagat where a part of the sea is hidden due to land and rock formations, Sipalay’s Tinagong Dagat is a beautiful mesh of the land’s lush greenery and the water’s bluish beauty.

CampoQuino Bay (Hi Jo Beach Resort)

CampoQuino Bay!
CampoQuino Bay!

Not anyone who goes to Sipalay gets to visit this resort and I was fortunate to have the chance to visit as my guide at that time insisted. I really was planning to stay overnight in Sugar Beach, one of the more popular beach destinations here in Sipalay but due to time constraints and budget issue (my guide said it would cost me more if I head to Sugar Beach), we went here in CampoQuino Bay instead.

And what a good decision it was! The beach may not be as white or as creamy as the other beaches that I have visited so far in this trip, but the view atop the nearby mountain was breathtaking! The hike up the mountain was relatively easy and would only take about 15 to 20 minutes (though people are not allowed to go up if the weather is bad) so it would be a missed opportunity if you don’t go up here when you come and visit Sipalay!

Processed with VSCO with fp8 preset
Look at that view!

You can choose to stay overnight in this resort. As I wasn’t planning to, I just ordered ice candies and drinks from them before heading on to our next destination.

Poblacion Beach

Beautiful sunset in Sipalay!
Beautiful sunset in Sipalay!

Also called Sipalay’s public beach, Poblacion Beach is the go-to place of everyone in the town center if they want to take a dip or just stroll along the beach. As for me, I have just ended the day while watching a beautiful sunset!

Where to stay in Sipalay?

BIMD5305Aside from the resorts that I have mentioned a while ago, there are many inns and lodges in the city of Sipalay so you don’t have to worry on where you’re going to stay while you are here. As I was planning to leave early the following day, I opted to choose an inn just near the bus terminal. I headed to Sealey’s Inn where I paid P800 for an overnight stay in an air-conditioned room with its own comfort room, 2 well-furnished beds and a cable TV. Wi-fi is present, though you might want to avail the room nearest their eatery/store area to get a stronger connection.

NEGROS TRAVEL ITINERARY- DAY 2: SIPALAY CITY
8 AM Head to Southern Bus Terminal of Ceres. Cost of the bus ride going to Sipalay City is P265. I was able to ride the bus at past 8 am but it only started its travel at around 9 AM when it has loaded a lot of people.
1:30 PM ETA in Sipalay City. Bus will stop at the Ceres Bus Terminal. The tricycle stand is nearby and here is where you can talk to drivers who can guide you in the different travel destinations in Sipalay.

Travel destinations include: Perth Paradise Resort, White Beach (also called Punta Ballo Beach), Tinagong Dagat, CampoQuino Bay (Hi Jo Beach Resort), Poblacion Beach.

I contacted my guide, Kuya Dado (contact number: 09217865615), before going to Sipalay. He was already waiting in the terminal when the bus I was riding in came.

Transportation and guide fee would depend on the passenger. My friend said when they went here in Sipalay, they paid P300 for the transportation. As for me traveling solo with Kuya Dado helping me with my itinerary and picture-taking until evening, I gave him P500. It was worth it because we were able to visit the key travel destinations in Sipalay. He also helped me decide where to stay overnight in the city.

6:30 PM Check in Sealey’s Inn. Air-conditioned rooms good for 2 pax cost P800. Wi-fi is available, though, intermittent. Avail the room nearest their eatery/store area to get a stronger connection.
7:30 PM Dinner. There are lots of choices to dine in Sipalay City. Restaurants like The Mixed Food Restaurant, PAKALS Bar and Grill and Groogies are found in Alvarez Street and Rodrigo R. Chua Boulevard. I wanted to try The Mixed Restaurant but ended up dining in Groogies, which offer local food like cansi, as well as Western food like pasta and pizza.

NEGROS ORIENTAL

Covering up the southeastern part of the Negros Island, Negros Oriental is blessed with various natural landforms and water forms that one visit isn’t enough to explore all. Its capital is Dumaguete City, which is dubbed as City of the Gentle People, because of its friendly, soft spoken and hospitable people. The city is also called University City of the province because it has four universities (the most popular of which is Silliman University, the country’s first Protestant university and the first American university in Asia), a number of colleges, public high schools and elementary schools.

WHAT TO EXPLORE

APO ISLAND

Welcome to Apo Island!
Welcome to Apo Island!

Apo Island is one of the most popular travel destinations in Negros Oriental. Located 7 kilometers from the southernmost tip of Negros Island, it would take about 30 to 45 minutes to reach it.

Apo Island is a volcanic island that has an area of 74 hectares and it is surrounded by marine reserves and fish sanctuaries. According to http://www.apoisland.com/, the island is home to over 650 species of fish and 400 species of corals, from tiny bubble corals to huge gorgonian sea fans and brain corals. Its main draw, though, is the presence of large turtles where travelers and tourists can swim with!

Apo Island’s old lighthouse

You can climb up the mountain in Apo Island if you want to see their old (and new) lighthouse as well as its network satellite. It’s a good place, too, to see the nearby islands of Negros and Siquijor.

Apo Island's old lighthouse and network satellite
Apo Island’s old lighthouse and network satellite

Sunset in the island!

Here are some of the pictures that I’ve made capturing the beautiful sunset in Apo Island. 

Where to stay?

I stayed in Ronor’s Home Stay as it is the most budget-friendly lodging for solo travelers. Their room rate is P500, and this includes one big bed (good for 2 pax), an electric fan (though it can only be opened from 6 to 10 pm, the time when their generator is being opened), a table where you can put your things (there’s even a Bible on mine and that’s a plus) plus free breakfast. Bathroom is shared and it is located just outside of the room.

Dinner in Apo Island!
DINNER IN APO ISLAND. Here’s me and my newfound friends in Apo Island, Tim and Monica, as we were having dinner in Liberty Lodge.
NEGROS TRAVEL ITINERARY- DAY 3: APO ISLAND
7:30 AM Head to Ceres Bus Terminal. Ride a tricycle from the inn to the terminal. Fee is P15.
  Ride the bus going to Hinobaan. Bus fare is P32.
8:15 AM ETA Ceres Bus Terminal in Hinobaan.

Transfer bus going to Dumaguete. Ask the conductor/driver to unload you in Malatapay in Zamboanguita where the port going to Apo Island is located.

ETD is 9 AM.

Bus fare is P85.

You may eat your breakfast in the terminal if you haven’t eaten yet. Also, you can buy food that you’d be eating for later in the nearby stores if you want to save up while in Apo Island.

1 PM ETA in Malatapay. Walk from the highway towards the port for about 10 minutes. As a solo traveler, I asked the officer in the registration center if I can join groups in their boat ride towards Apo Island. Fee for this is P300. It is not recommended to rent a boat on your own going to the island because it would cost you P2,700.
2 PM ETD from the port going to Apo Island. The weather may be sunny when you venture to Apo Island but do not be deceived. The boat is bound to be greeted with big waves so make sure your bags are well covered in the safe container of the boat.
2:45 PM ETA in Apo Island

Check in Ronor’s Home Stay.

You’d have to walk for quite some time to reach your lodging in Apo Island. I opted to stay in Ronor’s Home Stay as it is the most budget-friendly for solo travelers. The room rate is P500, but I was able to ask the owner to lower it down to P400. She agreed but she’d have to remove the free breakfast that is included in the P500 original accommodation fee.
3:15 PM Head to the beach area where the Apo Island Marine Reserve is nearly located. It’s best to head here in a group. If you’re traveling solo, you can ask other groups if you can join them.

Here are the fees that you’re going to pay for snorkeling and swimming with the turtles:

P300 guide fee, P100 goggles, P100 life vest, P1500 underwater camera (this is really expensive so it’s best if you can bring one on your own)

5 PM Explore more of the island.

Creamy sand, limestone boulders and rocky cliffs are present in the island. Do not also forget to visit the lighthouse atop the island’s mountain.

Hiking up the mountain can take up to 30 to 45 minutes. You can see the old and new lighthouses, as well as a network satellite and the solar panels where solar energy is harvested.

7 PM Dinner time. I, together with my newfound friends who were also staying in Ronor’s, dined in Liberty Lodge. The lodge is near the station/jump off point towards the lighthouse. Should you decide to dine here, expect the meals to be a bit pricey. Try their pancit and seafood meals. They’re the best-tasting among the ones we have ordered!
10 PM Lights off in Ronor’s. Ronor’s Homestay offers a room with one big bed meant to be shared. It has electric fan that can be operated from 6 to 10 pm. Shared bathroom is located a few meters away from the rooms.

Other places of interest in Negros Oriental:

SILLIMAN UNIVERSITY

RIZAL BOULEVARD

SANS RIVAL CAKES AND PASTRIES

SYLVANAS!
WHEN IN DUMAGUETE! Never forget to buy sylvanas once you set foot in Dumaguete. Theirs is the best-tasting one there is!


***

NEGROS TRAVEL ITINERARY- DAY 4: DUMAGUETE
7 AM Boat ride from Apo Island going back to Negros Island. Boat ride is P300.
7:30 AM Take a bath in the tourism center’s public bath room. That is, if you haven’t taken a bath yet in Apo Island before heading out. Fee is P10.
8 AM Ride a bus going to Dumaguete. Bus fare is P50. Riding time is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
9 AM onwards ETA in Dumaguete is 9 AM.

Decide on what you’re going to do. In my trip, I was really planning to go to Siquijor. After eating breakfast near the bus terminal, I headed to the port to go and ride a boat.

If you do not have an extra day to stay, you can opt to explore more of Dumaguete before heading home. You can ride the tricycle and ask to be taken to the following key places: Silliman University, Rizal Boulevard and Sans Rival Pastries where you can but their famous sylvanas.

You can buy snacks inside the bus terminal or you can walk for a few minutes to go to the nearby 7-11. ATM machine is also available nearby. Don’t hesitate to ask the guards in the terminal if you have questions about what or where to go.

Tricycle fare is not that expensive in Dumaguete. You need to just pay for about P10 to P15 for each destination you are heading to.

***
I hope this travel post has helped you decide on what to do when you visit Negros. There are other places to explore more in both the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, but you can do what I did if you want to use your days well while being here. In four days, you can explore Bacolod, Lakawon, Sipalay, Apo Island and Dumaguete. You can also choose to explore Siquijor, which is what I did on my fourth day. Check that out on my next blog post! 🙂

 

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Jonathan says:

    Will definitely use this Itinerary.. Thanks… Power!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Jonathan! Thanks for reading! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jonathan says:

        I will actually visi Bacolod in November, though I already have a solid IT for my trip your blog added new ideas to visit as much places possible.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s nice! I hope you do enjoy your trip there. 😃

        Like

  2. Jennifer Tingson says:

    Thanks I will use your 1st day IT.. More power..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Jennifer. 🙂

      Like

  3. courageousvirtualprofessional says:

    Hi Karl! I am looking for a day trip in Lakawon Island & saw your blog post. I’m just curious about the schedule of boats leaving in the island. We want to catch The Ruins before sunset. Does the boat leave anytime? I hope you’d reply.

    Like

    1. Hi! What I know is that there’s no definite schedule of boats going to and leaving the island. What is sure is that they go as early as 8 AM (one blog post says 6 AM) and leave only as late as 5 PM. I was able to catch the sunset in The Ruins even if I left the island at 2:30 PM. 🙂

      Like

  4. Kharen says:

    Hi! Just a question which is better to have longer time, lakawon or sipalay? Thanks! 🙂

    Like

    1. Definitely Sipalay City. It’s got more tourist attractions than Lakawon. 🙂

      Like

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