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NEGROS BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (with itinerary, expenses and top attractions)

UNDERSTANDING NEGROS ISLAND

Grab a Philippine map and look for that boot-like shape island, that definitely is NEGROS, which is situated between the islands of Panay (to its left, where Boracay is) and Cebu (to its right). Its location tells you that as far as tourism goes, Negros has quite a competition so it is often left out by travelers. However, like its neighboring islands in the Visayas, Negros is a hundred-attraction offering that caters to different points of interest –  from beaches, historic sites, nature areas, and architectural buildings. Some of it are still underdeveloped and remain off the beaten trail, an ear candy for travelers who prefer the less discovered attractions.

Go through each content and see what’s in store for you in this laid back yet equally attractive island.

Poblacion beach of Sipalay, a public beach that has been a  major come on to the wanderlust for its long stretch of ivory sand which makes for an excellent site for camping. Pitch your tent here for free while watching the fascinating sunset. Beside the beach is the Sipalay Food park where there is a lineup of affordable grill and restaurant. Visit the food park at sundown for dinner and taste some of the city’s delicacy.

QUICK FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT NEGROS ISLAND

Here are few facts and tips to consider while traveling around the island of Negros.

  1. The island of Negros is the fourth largest in the country. It is divided into two (2) provinces: Negros Occidental to its west with Bacolod City as its capital and Ilonggo as the main language; and Negros Oriental to its east with Dumaguete as its first city and Cebuano as the native tongue.
  2. Negros is known today as “Sugarlandia” as it produces more than half of the country’s sugar cane.
  3. One notable peak in the island is Mount Kanlaon, the third most active volcano in the country which can be accessed by two major trails that would last for about 2 days.
  4. Generally, the island of Negros is laid back. The main modes of transportation are buses if you are traveling from one town to another, and jeepneys and tricycles if you go for short distances. Taxis are only available in Bacolod city.
On the way to Pulangbato falls in Valencia, Negros Oriental is a mountain with geothermal vents of sulfuric smoke. Check out this pure delight for free especially during rainy season when the vents produce more smoke than usual.

HOW TO GET TO NEGROS ISLAND

Here are your options in getting to the island of Negros.

By Air

There are two entry points for Negros by air, one for each capital. The Bacolod-Silay International Airport for Negros Occidental which is located in the city of Silay and the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport for Negros Oriental which can be found in the town of Sibulan.

Local destinations that offer plane trips to Bacolod-Silay International Airport

  • Angeles
  • Butuan
  • Cagayan de Oro
  • Cebu
  • Davao
  • Puerto Princesa
  • Manila

Local destinations that offer plane trips to Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport.

  • Manila
  • Clark (New entry)
  • Cebu

By Sea

Access to Negros by sea is also commonly done through its two capitals. Here are destinations that travel to:

Bacolod (click here for the shipping line, schedule and fare.)

  • Manila
  • Iloilo

Dumaguete (click here for the shipping line, schedule and fare.)

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN NEGROS ISLAND

Here are top tourist spots that you can cover in 2 days or more in the island of Negros. These are just a few of them. If you want to know more, click the link for top 25 attractions that can be found in Negros.

Negros Occidental Top Attractions

Perth Paradise of Sipalay

Arguably, the one to blame for the influx of tourists in Sipalay. Not that it’s meant in a bad way, but the resort is a magnet for a fascinating view of an infinite azure that stretches from the waters of its pool to the horizons of its seas where awaits an iconic sight of dotted, limestone hills. The resort is a 15-minute ride from the town proper. Entrance fee is P80, with a separate fee for use of pool for P100. Cottage is P500 and kayaking activity per person is P250. Contact them at +63 946 059 0076.

Sugar beach of Sipalay

It is yet another long stretch of sand in Sipalay, but sugary brown in color, that gives the right sweetness for those who love to find themselves in a quiet and secluded beach front. The beach is located at barangay Nauhang, outside the city proper, and can be reached by either going on a boat ride for 20 minutes from Poblacion beach (fare is P300 per boat) or by chartering a tricycle (for P100) from the town to brgy. Nauhang where you can find small boats that will take you to the beach in a minute (the entrance to the beach is only a sight away) for P10 per person. You will be met by a mix of low to mid-range resorts – some offer a snorkeling and scuba diving activity (like Takatuka and Driftwood village resorts) which is a must-do while here because of the strong sense of marine life and underwater attractions at the off coast of the beach. Sugar beach also faces the west and is suitable for a sunset experience. Give it a twist, hike up the hill and watch the sunset as it slowly dives deep down the horizon of a 360-degree Sugar beach view.

The Ruins of Bacolod

The then-mansion-turned-to-ruins was built by a sugar baron for his Portuguese wife upon her death. The place is considerably one of the most famous heritage landmarks in the country and is a premier destination for events in Bacolod. The Ruins welcomes visitors from 8:30AM to 8:00PM daily. Entrance fee is P100. The best time to visit is in the evening when the entire structure is lit up. After enjoying the Ruins, roam around the 400-hectare mansion and find yourself a comfortable seat at its park.
To get here by public transport, take a jeepney en route to Bata from the downtown area. Drop off at the tricycle terminal near a Pepsi factory. There is a sign showing the way to the Ruins. If you haven’t spotted the sign, ask any motorcycle driver in the area for directions. Some drivers would offer to take you to the ruins but the better way is to charter a tricycle which is only around the corner. Take note that there are no available transport from the Ruins back to the main road. It is best to ask the tricycle driver to wait. The round trip on a tricycle would set you back about P80-100, depending on your negotiation with the driver.

Campuestohan Highland Resort of Bacolod

A sweet escape from the busy streets of Bacolod, Campuestohan is a rural theme park that sits on a 5-hectare highland overlooking mountains. It features a lineup of Native American inspired teepees that can accommodate 6 people. The resort has a garden, restaurant, outdoor pool, kid’s play area, ice cream shop, and a cafe. Activities available here are zipline and cable hamster wheel among others. Contact them at +63 915 211 1406; +63 917 300 5007 or visit their website for more details.
There are two options to get here: 1) By shuttle service which stations at Caltex Circumferential road in front of McDonalds or at i-Mart convenience store. Trip starts goes in an hourly basis from 7:00AM-3:00PM. Last trip from the resort to the city is at 5:00PM. One way fare is P50. 2) By public transport, ride a jeepney to Burgos Market. Fare is P8. At the market, ride another jeepney that goes to Alagilan terminal. Fare is P20. At the terminal, charter a tricycle to Campuestohan. Round trip is P400.

Lakawon Island of Cadiz

At the coast of Cadiz, outside Bacolod city, is an imposing, banana-shaped island that brags of its sublime, white sands that extend to 13 hectares. Book for an overnight stay (by room, hut, cottage or canopy tent) and jam at the evening party or enjoy a good drink on its floating bar (the bar operates until 5PM Monday to Thursday, until 8PM Friday to Sunday). To get here, make way to the Ceres North terminal in Bacolod. Catch a bus that goes to Burgos public market for P250. Transfer on a tricycle going to the port for P120, travel time is 15 minutes. Book for a boat to the island and pay all fees for P270 . For day use guests, last trip back to mainland is 5PM. Travel time is 30 minutes. Contact them at +63 917 555 6979, +63 939 969 7574 or visit Lakawon Island website.
Note: Food items here can become pricey so bring your own food. Corkage fee is P50. Also, customer service and amenities in the resort sometimes require extra patience. Pack a load of it. 😉

Negros Oriental Top Attractions

Apo Island of Dauin

A modest work of nature and human geniality that is APO ISLAND lies 30 minutes off the coast of Malatapay in Dauin, Negros Oriental, less than an hour away from Dumaguete city. It stretches for about 72 hectares terrestrial area, and 619 hectares marine area. What draws most tourists are the soft coral gardens that are well-orchestrated from the shallow waters of the island down to the steeps of its ridges; and the turtles that are exceedingly just about everywhere because of the abundance of algae and seagrass that make up for their food. These two create a brimming beauty of underwater scenery that launches Apo island as a premiere snorkeling and diving destination in the Philippines.

Mount Kanlaon

Kanlaon Volcano, located in the central-northern part of the island is the third most-active volcano in the Philippines and overlooks bordering communities and the city of Bacolod to the west. It is the highest peak of the whole island and of the Visayas. Other notable peaks on the island are Mount Silay and Mount Mandalagan in Negros Occidental and Mount Talinis (also known as Cuernos de Negros) in Negros Oriental. There are also lakes that dot the island, among the most notable are the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes in Negros Oriental.
The volcanic activity in Negros is harnessed into electricity through two geothermal power plants in the island. One is located in Palinpinon of Valencia in Negros Oriental and the other is in Mailum of Bago City in Negros Occidental, but was eventually shut down.

The Twin Lakes of Danao and Balinsasayao of Sibulan

The tranquil and relaxing lakes of Danao and Balinsasayao. Getting here from the junction in San Jose, Sibulan requires a long motorbike ride of steep, curvy yet scenic road up at the highlands for about 30 minutes. Entrance fee to the lake is P30, P100 for foreigners. From the entrance, you can hike through the outskirts of the mountain or paddle a boat through the vastness of Balinsasayao lake (the first lake from the entrance) for P250 per boat to the viewpoint section where both lakes meet.

Casaroro Falls of Valencia

You are looking at one of the sought after gems in Valencia, Negros Oriental. Casaroro falls is nature’s finest. To get here from Dumaguete city, take a jeepney at the downtown area and drop off at Valencia town proper. There are regulated tourism tricycle drivers that will offer you a tour to the falls for P200. At the jump off point to the falls, you will hurdle through steep, long staircase and go over rocks and boulders before finally able to view a scenic waterfall with its majestic cascade.

Manjuyod Sandbar of Bais

Manjuyod at its gloomy disposition. Visit the sandbar on a low tide during new moon between the months of April to October to get a glimpse of its full beauty. To get here, take a bus bound for Bais at Dumaguete city near Robinsons mall. Drop off at Jollibee beside a gymnasium and take a tricycle that goes to a small port where outrigger boats that go to the sandbar await for guests.

MUST-TRY ACTIVITIES IN NEGROS ISLAND

Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in Negros island.

  • Scuba diving in the marine reserves of Dauin, Danjugan or Sipalay.
Julien’s wreck at the coast of Sugar beach in Sipalay can be explored even by snorkeling or free dive since the tip of the shipwreck is only a few feet away from sea level during low tide. If you are at Sugar beach (the nearest beach to the shipwreck), arrange your snorkeling experience with Scuba Planet for a fair and affordable underwater experience. Contact them at +63 908 128 6766.
  • Quench the thirst of your gastronomic delights by going on a food trip in Bacolod city.
Lies few meters away from SM Bacolod is Manokan country. A food market composed of stalls serving Bacolod’s front runner in the culinary scene – chicken inasal (roasted chicken)! The top choice among these stalls is Aida’s Restaurant which is usually occupied with a jam-packed of visitors, both locals and tourists. Aside from chicken inasal, try out Bacolod’s kansi and KBL or desserts in Calea and souvenir food items in Bongbongs and Merci.
  • Go chasing waterfalls in Valencia
Aside from Casaroro, Pulangbato falls is also a major attraction in Valencia. Go to the town and arrange a tricycle tour for only P400 which would include other attractions like Forest Camp, Smokey mountain and Red Rock Hot Spring.
  • Experience the Tawhai floating bar of Cadiz.
Jam at the evening party or enjoy a good drink at Tawhai floating bar in Lakawon island. The bar operates until 5PM Monday to Thursday, until 8PM Friday to Sunday.

NEGROS ISLAND SAMPLE ITINERARY

Try some of these sample itineraries for Negros Occidental and Oriental that are good for a quick tour or 2 to 3 days.

The Ruins (Mansion) of Bacolod all lit up at night time.
Tinagong Dagat  of Sipalay with its wooden footbridges connecting two islets.
The amphitheater of Silliman University. The place was built in 1921 and will turn a century old 3 years from now.

WHERE TO STAY IN NEGROS ISLAND

Here is a mix of average to budget accommodations from the three major cities of Negros.

Bacolod

  • Mainstreet Pension House: (034) 476 4367
  • The Suites at Calle Nueva: (034) 435 6080
  • Star Plus Pension House: (034) 433 2960

Dumaguete

  • Hotel Essencia: +63 917 700 7735 | (035) 422 1137
  • Bethel Guest House: (+63) 917 320 1484 | (035) 422 8000
  • Hotel Palwa: +63 917 771 1600 | (035) 226 2775
  • Vintage Inn: (035) 225 1076
  • White Knights Dumaguete: +63 915 952 7594

Sipalay

  • Jewel Guesthouse: +63 998 950 8031
  • Manna Pension House:  +63 998 950 8031
  • Big Bamboo beach resort:  +63 926 825 4159
  • Driftwood Village Resort: +63 920 252 9474
Kayaking activity at Perth Paradise in Sipalay for P250 per person, good for an hour.

USEFUL PHRASES

English to Hiligaynon (main language used in Negros Occidental)

Good morning – Maayong aga
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gab-i
Thank you – Salamat
Where is… – Diin ang…
How much – Pila

English to Cebuano (main language used in Negros Oriental)

Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
Thank you – Salamat
Where is… – Asa ang…
How much – Tagpila

BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Lastly, have fun and don’t forget to be awesome! 😉

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