SIPALAY: A PRACTICAL TRAVEL GUIDE FOR DIY & BUDGET TRAVELERS [UPDATED as of 2021]

Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Sipalay Tourism office at sipalaytourismoffice@gmail.com or at (034) 476 0084 or Negros Tourism office at tourism_negocc@yahoo.com or at (034) 433 2515 to know the latest update.

Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!

Traveling to Sipalay for the first time? This detailed DIY travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!

START HERE!

SIPALAY AT A GLANCE

The city of SIPALAY in the province of Negros Occidental was once a mining center and the copper belt of southern Philippines for more than five decades until 2001 when the industry faced its tragic slowdown. The open-pit mining operation, which had catapulted the thriving community into greater heights of a city life, dwindled and left Sipalay into the rustic feel of a rural village. Nowadays, the city of Sipalay while trying its best to rise above its economic setbacks, is all but farmlands and fields of green.

Sipalay rice field
A usual scene in the morning: the locals of Sipalay on a rice field.

On a brighter side of things, what has happened to the city somehow is more of a blessing than a catastrophe for it kept what beauty has remained to the place. Sipalay is home to verdant land masses and photogenic waterfronts. At its seas are rich marine life and natural wonders which make it a go-to-destination for diving enthusiasts.

Read through and learn more about this another well-hidden gem in the Philippines, the city of Sipalay.

WHERE TO STAY IN SIPALAY

Sipalay is a laid-back city so expectedly most of the accommodations are at a local standard. Apart from the resorts cited in the list of top attractions, here are other recommended accommodations:

Manna Pension House at Quirino Street, Sipalay City (dorm type at the town proper, near the plaza). Click here for rate and availability.

EASY DIVING & BEACH RESORT
Rating: 8.5 | Price: P1,865 for a room good for 3 adults and 1 kid, with free breakfast

More accommodations in Sipalay: (click the link for more details)

Tinagong Dagat with its wooden footbridges connecting two islets.

HOW TO GET TO SIPALAY

Sipalay is between the cities of Bacolod and Dumaguete (the two capitals of Negros, respectively one for Occidental and the other for Oriental) which are the only points of access by plane and ferry. Once you arrive to any of the city, you will embark on a 4-hour bus ride to Sipalay.

The Capitol hall of Sipalay which can be located outside the city proper.
  • For Bacolod:  Head out to the SOUTH bus terminal and take a bus or van bound for Sipalay, which leaves in an hourly basis. You can also take a bus bound for Hinoba-an and get off at Sipalay bus stop. Fare is P300.
  • For Dumaguete:  Go to the bus terminal near Robinsons mall. Take the only Ceres bus bound for Sipalay which leaves once a day at 1PM. If the bus has left, you can ride a different bus bound for Hinoba-an or for Bayawan (P145.00) then to Hinoba-an (P85.00), and take another on its stop for Sipalay (P45.00). Total fare is P275.00.

Local destinations that offer trip to Bacolod:

  • Manila (by ferry and plane)
  • Cebu (by ferry and plane)
  • Iloilo (by ferry only)

Local destinations that offer trip to Dumaguete:

  • Manila (by ferry and plane)
  • Cebu (by plane and ferry. For ferry, travel to Liloan, Santander port from South bus terminal. Travel time is 4 hours)
  • Siquijor (by ferry only)
  • Bohol via Tagbilaran (by ferry only) 
  • Dipolog (by ferry only)
  • Zamboanga via Dapitan (by ferry only)

TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN SIPALAY

Here are ten (10) of the best places and top tourist spots in Sipalay which can be covered on a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days.

POBLACION BEACH

Poblacion Beach

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 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.

Rating: 3/5

SUGAR BEACH

Sugar Beach

It is yet another long stretch of sand, 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 either by 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 of these resorts can service 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 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.

Rating: 3.5/5

PUNTA BALLO BEACH

Punta Ballo Beach

Punta Ballo beach is frequented by tourists not only for its kilometer strip of white sand and cool blue waters, but also with its first-class diving resorts that assemble as backdrop to its fine shores. Some of these diving resorts are Artistic Diving, Easy Diving, and Nataasan beach resort. The beach is another spot to grace the sunset. While going to its waters, be wary of the sea urchins that seem to form like gardens in the little holes of its seafloor.

Rating: 3/5

PERTH PARADISE RESORT

Perth Paradise Resort

Arguably, the one to blame for the influx of tourists in Sipalay. Not that it’s meant in a bad way, but Perth Paradise 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 await 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.

Rating: 3/5

TINAGONG DAGAT

Tinagong Dagat

Tinagong Dagat resort is on the same level when it comes to offering a fabulous view of the green mounds which Sipalay is known for. Yet, unlike Perth Paradise, Tinagong Dagat is more affordable with only P30 as entrance fee. The resort is hidden – by which it gets the name “Tinagong” Dagat resort – but is easily accessible from the main road of sitio Latasay, the same area where Perth Paradise is situated. The resort is composed of clustered islets that are connected by wooden footbridges. The first islet connected to the mainland offers a full view of the surrounding resort when you climb up to its top. Contact them at +63 920 902 2300, +63 917 304 1748.

Rating: 3/5

C VIEW HAVEN RESORT

C View Haven Resort

C View Haven Resort is the newest addition to the resorts that share the view of clustered islets at the waterfront of Sipalay. It is nearby Tinagong Dagat but closer to Perth Paradise. The resort also offers a swimming pool that makes for a fair vantage point for sunset viewing. Use of pool is P100 for adults, P50 for kids (free use for checked-in guests). Contact them at +63 923 612 1555, +63 923 460 6977.

Rating: 3/5

M/V GUIMARAS JULIENS WRECK

M/V Guimaras Juliens Wreck

Sipalay is easily a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts. What makes it a standout is its underwater attractions that are only few minutes away from mainland. Julien’s Wreck is one of the diving sites which can be explored even by snorkeling or free diving 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.

Another shot of the shipwreck which is now shrouded with a strong presence of marine life.

Rating: 3/5

ANHAWAN TURTLE ISLAND

Anhawan Turtle Island

One of the protected areas in Sipalay, Anhawan Turtle island is often visited by turtles to lay eggs, thus, the island’s name.

Rating: 3/5

PANAON PULO

Panaon Pulo

A small cave at the far left of Poblacion beach that works like a window dispensing a view of cool blue waters splashing through the clustered rocks at the caves foreground.

Rating: 2/5

MARICALUM MINING VIEW

Maricalum Mining View

Maricalum Mining View is one of the abandoned open pit that has slowly turned into a basin of stagnant water. It is massive in scale that is surrounded by a lush vegetation, giving life to a now dead land form. Entrance fee is P20.

Rating: 2/5

Click the link for the top attractions that can be found in Negros Island. 

TOP THINGS TO DO IN SIPALAY

Here are the top activities to do in the city of Sipalay.

Dive Safari – A 5 or 6-day diving experience that covers 40 of the dive spots in the Visayas including the ones in Apo, Sumilon, Panglao and Pescador. The safari is exclusively offered by Easy Diving and Beach Resort at Punta Ballo which requires that you are a certified diver to join. Contact them at +63 918 979 2804.

An underwater shot of the pass going to the cave, as one of the featured stops in the snorkeling adventure.

Beach bumming

Water bending at the white beach of Punta Ballo. *wink

Kayaking – Go round the clustered green mounds on a kayak and see for what makes Sipalay the hidden jewel of Negros Occidental.

Kayaking activity at Perth Paradise for P250 per person, good for an hour.

Sunset Viewing – It is a cliche of an activity that never loses its charm. Spare some time for it as Sipalay makes for one fascinating sunset experience.

The Golden hour at Sugar beach.

SIPALAY SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET

When making your Sipalay itinerary, you have to consider that the top attractions around the area are easily accessible so going on a DIY is the more practical thing to do than arranging a tour if you want to give more value to your money.

The sample 2-day Sipalay DIY itinerary below assumes a party of two and sets back a P2,850.00 budget per person excluding cost for accommodation and airfare. It covers both land and island hopping tour. Contact information for tour providers are also found below.

DAY ONE

ActivityTimeBudget
Arrive in Sipalay1:00PM
Tricycle TourPhp750
Tinagong Dagat2:00PMPhp30
C View resort3:00PMPhp100
Perth Paradise4:00PMPhp80
Maricalum Mining5:00PMPhp20
Depart to Sugar Beach5:30PMPhp60
Chill until Sunset
Lights Out
Having the entire Sugar beach to myself.

DAY TWO

ActivityTimeBudget
Snorkeling tour at Sugar beach8:00AMPhp700
Julien’s shipwreck
cave
marine sanctuary
Lunch12:00PMPhp200
Island Tour1:00PMPhp750
Punta Ballo beach
Campomanes Bay
Back to Town Proper4:00PMPhp60
Sunset at Poblacion beach5:00PM
Sipalay Food park7:00PMPhp200

Sipalay Tour Operators:

  • Fremand Agravante +63 936 773 6953 P500 only for 2 persons
  • Edison Militante +63 999 391 8411
  • Boatman +63 912 677 4562
  • Tricycle Driver +63 921 786 5615
An assembly of palm trees at Poblacion beach.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT SIPALAY

  1. Even on its early recorded history, Sipalay had been frequented by locals and Chinese traders for its abundance in rice which gave birth to its name: Sipalay, derived from the native phrase Si Palay which means There is rice.
  2. Some barangays have suffered water issues brought about by 5 decades of open-pit mining operations. The town proper and areas for tourists however are safe and have enough source of potable water.
  3. During Charter day which happens every March, Sipalay celebrates Barongoy fish-tival where everyone grills and eats fish for free. It is a sort of thanksgiving for the abundance of fish and sense of fellowship that locals and tourists can both enjoy. The festivity happens at Poblacion beach.
  4. Sipalay also observes the Pasaway festival every December (since 2011). The festivity honors bounty for copper and gold, and features street dancing and merry-making where contingents from each barangay wear costumes in the guise of the said minerals.
  5. Sipalay food park at Poblacion beach is the go-to place for good and affordable eats. Enjoy the sunset while you munch on some favorite local cravings.
  6. Cellular reception is patchy in some areas. Before finalizing your booking, contact your accommodation to gather information about mobile and internet connectivity.
  7. Be aware of the topography to where your accommodation is. Some resorts at brgy. 4 of Sipalay can be challenging for the unfit and old.
  8. There is only one (1) ATM servicing Sipalay. Withdraw a considerable amount of cash as you go on a tour or if you are staying outside the city proper.

USEFUL PHRASES

Generally, the locals in Sipalay can understand and speak English. However, here are phrases that are proved to be useful when endearing with them.

English to Hiligaynon (main language)

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

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

Visit top tourist destinations from Sipalay that are only few hours away by bus.

MEET THE BLOGGER

Leaning on our boat at Punta Sibaring 1. This photo was taken during a high tide.

Hey there! I’m Ker, The Fun-sized Traveller. Fun-size because I’m a short guy from the Philippines. Thanks for checking out this virtual block I have started building since my 30th birthday to document my 2nd quarter life. Yup, it’s more of a personal pursuit, but a part of me also wants to give back to the travel community that is why I make it a point to share travel articles out from my trips around Asia.

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