Looking at the Philippine map has always been a habit of mine while I’m in the office. I then realized that most of the travels I did was 300 miles away from Cebu through flights yet I have never done a real backpacking through the sea to explore nearby islands of Negros and Siquijor.
Inspired to do solo travels, I started planning the trip but unexpectedly, my other travel half @mikeaunzo got excited knowing the details and was able to get a couple of our college mates to join the adventure.
We’ve (me and Michael) never done any travels with friends that are not used to budget traveling and we were all pinched with our schedule differences that we had last minute changes on our itineraries but we trusted our guts and at the end of this adventure, we say #comewhatApril!— since it is still not yet May.
Negros, the fourth largest island of the Philippines is divided by two provinces namely Negros Oriental, whose capital is Bacolod and speak mainly Ilonggo and Negros Occidental, whose capital is Dumaguete with Cebuano as their native tongue.
The province is greatly known as the Sugar Capital of the Philippines where you can clearly see the vast lands of sugarcane farms and plantations.
HOW TO GET THERE?
You can book daily flights to Bacolod or Dumaguete but I’ll strongly recommend that you go for Bacolod as your first stop to do traversing from Negros Oriental to Siquijor.
However if you prefer to do it from Cebu like what we did, you need to set foot from Cebu North Bus Terminal and ride a bus to Bacolod via Toledo (Don Salvador) to take the 7 hrs trip. The fare should be P510, that includes the barge transfer from Toledo.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get the full schedule of Ceres bus trips to Bacolod but I’ll surely make an update as I plan to go back by June for #foodgasm and more #adventuretime in Negros.
I’ll recommend though that you do the 2 AM trip like what Michael did but to set the right expectation, it would be best to come early at the terminal or call their Cebu Office at (032) 345 8650 as trip schedules are subject to change without prior notice.
WHERE TO STAY?
Since this is all about budget traveling, I researched on the internet and found a lot of accommodations to stay at when you’re in Bacolod but out of all the list, I highy recommend to stay in 11th Street Bed and Breakfast because of its homey ambiance and its location which is quite nearby the Capitol.
Outside your room you’ll see tables and chairs ready for a long evening talk with your friends. They serve breakfast meals too and has a pretty friendly staff who can do your laundry at a reasonable price.
I stayed with their most affordable non-aircon room that has its own bathroom and free Internet which I didn’t expect at P400 a night for single occupancy.
I made a reservation through chatting on their Facebook page and I was able to get a response in a couple of minutes however you can also reach them out through these numbers, (032)433-9191 or 0922-8433919 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If by any chance you would like to spend a night in Dumaguete too, Gabby’s Bed and Breakfast right at Rizal Boulevard is the best place I could suggest because of its interior design that’s Instagram worthy and their rooms will costs you P600 a night.
WHERE TO GO?
Mambukal Mountain Resort
I separately traveled from the group as I needed to be there in Bacolod by April 8 to watch the Tchoukball Tournament of a friend. While Michael and Ivon traveled the next day via Don Salvador to get the drop off point to Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia, Negros Oriental.
They asked the bus conductor to make a stop for their next ride to Mambukal through a jeepney that goes directly to the area.
The resort lies at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon where you’ll surely get a good view of the fruit bats around the lush forest surrounding the place. Take a rejuvenating bath at their hot sulfur springs too, trek their 7 breathtaking waterfalls and experience the outdoor activities they offer at an affordable price.
Though the place offers budget accommodation, they decided not to spend the night and just meet up with me at The Ruins by the afternoon through taking a Bacolod-bound mini bus parked outside Mambukal that will cost you a P20 fare.
While Ivon and Michael are enjoying the mountain scenery, I’m up for another adventure with newly meet Instagram friends @berting_gala and @michell_mari where I have known through the #fotografiaunited sessions. Since the group is fond of the app, we’re excited to explore our creativity to an underrated destination.
Molocaboc can be reached through a 15 minutes boat ride from Vito Wharf. We haggled a boat for 4 people at a costs of P800 and leave our things at the watch house while we spend the afternoon at the sea diving and collecting some starfish.
The gang ended the adventure with a fun road trip to The Ruins as to drop me off to reunite with my college mates.
The Ruins, Talisay
Built by a sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, this mansion was burnt down to prevent the Japanese forces from utilizing it as their headquarters. Every corner and fine edges of it has precise details that makes it the picture-perfect icon of Bacolod.
You can ride a trike at the North Bus Terminal going to the Ruins and it should cost you P40 and an entrance fee of P95 for adults.
We stayed there until the sun was setting down which has colored the mansion into gold.
Gabby’s Bistro by Florentina Homes
A fancy restaurant with a personal touch which will surely be an Instagrammer’s top destination when in Dumaguete. Every corner of the place has a different interior design and concept, but the best thing about them is their pocket-friendly menu with the price range of P100 to P300 that will surely make you come back.
You can hire a trike to bring you to this astonishing place and you’ll surely not regret choosing this among all the food havens in the City of Gentle People.
Negros still has a lot of sceneries that I’m wanting to discover so I promise to make an update on this list right after I’ve gone through them.
Once called by the Spaniards as Isla de Fuego due to the fireflies that abounds the island at night. Famous for witchcraft and the unknown, travelers have long been afraid of coming to Siquijor making it the perfect destination to find hidden treasures and scenery. Now the province has been popular for bewitching travelers with its pristine white sand beaches, century old trees and structures, and spectacular waterfalls.
HOW TO GET THERE?
You have two choices, it would be either to take the easier path which Quennie and Jes took or join the crazy rough ride which we (me, Michael and Ivon) choose.
All the way down from Bacolod to Siquijor is where our patience was measured. From Bacolod’s North Bus Terminal where we dropped off from the Ruins, we rode the Shopping-Libertad and another jeepney ride to reach the South Bus Terminal of Bacolod where we can ride a bus going to Dumaguete.
We were lucky enough to arrived in the terminal at 7:00 PM right before the last trip went off and the fare will costs you P275.
Since we didn’t have dinner, we asked the bus conductor to let us buy the fried chicken sold at the street to eat while on the road and it was pretty delicious yet cheap at only P12. After filling in our stomachs, we’ve gone to sleep as we spend the rest of the night in this crazy winding road to Dumaguete.
The drive lasted for 6 hours and we have reached the city at 1:00 AM which leaves us clueless on what to do while waiting for sunrise. First choice was to find a coffee shop in this ghost town but we ended up going to a spa to get an hour rest with a massage.
Dumaguete serves as the gateway to Siquijor with its scheduled ferry trips. We took the earliest trip to the island via GL Shipping Lines at 7:00 AM and reached Siquijor by 8:00 AM. The ticket will costs you P130 excluding the terminal fee of P5.
HOWEVER, if you prefer to take the easier path, you can travel to Dumaguete from Cebu without bothering to visit Bacolod.
Just take the earliest trip at 6:00 AM in Cebu’s South Bus Terminal and the fare will cost you P170. Drop off at Liloan Port, Oslob and ride either a ferry or pump boat to Sibulan Wharf.
The pump boat ride will cost you P45 including the terminal fee and it will only take you 15 minutes to reach the island of Negros. Once you arrive, hire a trike then to Dumaguete Port to buy your ferry or barge ticket to Siquijor.
I strongly suggest that you give enough time for your travel plans as the scheduled trips does vary and are subject to change again without prior notice.
WHERE TO STAY?
We intended to stay at Tori’s Backpackers Paradise however it was fully booked since we didn’t make any reservations before going. Luckily, we were given a suggestion to stay at Czar’s Place which is right across Baha Bar.
We were able to haggle a non-air conditioned room with a bathroom for a price of P200 per person a night. The staff namely Ale and seriously forgot the other one was nice and easy to approach. The place have its own bar, a swimming pool and a billiard table yet it’s pretty quite and seems like we owned it on our stay.
HOW TO GO AROUND?
Right when you arrived at the port, you’ll see a tent for the Tourism officers who’ll give you a paper copy of Siquijor’s tourist map and trike taripas (pricing).
The trikes are pretty expensive and since we’re making the most out of what we have, we rented a bicycle for P200 a day as we don’t know how to drive a motorbike.
Unfortunately, going around Siquijor in a bicycle will take up most of your time though it is a pretty good exercise as the roads are mostly uphills.
We got exhausted after biking for 16 kms in two hours to the Century Old Balete Tree and ended up renting a motorbike for P350 a day. Thanks to Jes, our part-time habal-habal driver college mate!
WHERE TO GO?
Since Ivon is going home earlier than the others, we decided to spend our first day in Siquijor with her itinerary to follow. She only wanted the beach to feel the summer days so we asked the trike driver to take us to the best beach in town and he did took us to an enchanting long pristine white sand beach where we bummed ourselves all afternoon.
Trust me! You’ll surely have this bar on your bucket list.
This restaurant reflects the traditional island wood designs with a lounge, informal laid-back atmosphere that reminds me of the nostalgia I felt in Siargao.
They serve the best breakfast in town at the most affordable price. You can enjoy watching the sunset with a bottle of beer too at their Honesty Bar/ Sunset View Deck which is right at the back of the villas they offer for P6,000 a night with a pool facing the sea.
Most of our dinner in the island was spent at this place as it was right across where we stayed at. It was quite memorable since we cry our hearts out to the live band at evening and the magnificent sunset we saw at the deck.
Century Old Balete Tree
Balete trees are believed to be haunted by the unknown and Siquijor does have one which is believed to be 400 years old. Frightening as it looks, this tree has a mystery underneath it as water flows with fishes swimming straight to a man-made pool or stream. The locals couldn’t tell where the water comes from and the fishes are quite good in giving the visitors a foot spa.
It took us two hours to get to this tree since we were crazy enough in doing an experiment to go biking up and down the hills of Siquijor. Great thing some locals sell fresh cocos at the spot to quench our thirst from the long hot morning ride.
San Isidro Labrador Parish and Convent
This church and convent is considered as one of the oldest and biggest Baroque churches and convent in the Philippines that was erected in 1877. A reminiscent of the old Spanish settlement in the country, it has taken a great part of the historical and religious side of our country.
Surely you won’t miss taking photos at it since you’ll passed by the area before going to Cambugahay Falls.
Who won’t dare to jump on this dazzling waterfall?
It has been a popular destination for travelers who loved to chase waterfalls. Its refreshing water is surely enticing because of how crystal clear it was and the splashing sound that comes from the streaming water will soothe your soul. The locals have found a great spot to do a monkey swing right at the waterfall basin. We then climb up the top of the waterfall and discovered some smaller pools where you can dip in and chill.
We did a couple of jumps and swings yet we didn’t need to shell out a big amount of money. They’ll only ask you for donations and a heads up too, don’t leave your things unattended.
Salagdoong Beach Resort
A 30-minutes drive from Cambugahay Fals, we are excited to check and see for ourselves the cliff jumping at Salagdoong.
Reaching the road that leads to the beach, never did we think twice on stopping by the man-made Molave forest as we were overwhelmed on how dramatic the photos we get on this natural archway. The forest which is 60 years in the making and stretches nearly two kilometers gives a comforting shade to passerby.
After filming a stupid dancing video with the casts and taking a couple of Instagram worthy shots, we drive to the end of the road and reached Salagdoong Beach Resort.
Before entering the resort, you will be asked to pay an entrance fee of P20 per person and a parking fee of P25.
I completely agree on how freedomwall.net described Salagdoong beach on their article:
“The sand isn’t that imposing. It was coarse and pebbly. However, the water was stunningly clean and impressive, especially in the cliff diving area. Its color is like a gem which shades cover everything in between green and blue.”
We immediately went to the hummock to face our fears with their two cliff jumping ledges— the highest is 20 feet. From above, you’ll see how translucent the water is and it will give you the chills of jumping off. But once you take the leap, you’ll never forget how fulfilling the experience was which I felt myself as I have acrophobia.
To put this adventure in a nutshell is giving nostalgia to my heart. The kind of touch where you reminisce the reason why you started traveling and how much you loved it that it has put yourself into dismay right after you’ve grown tired of competing to survive in this world that misjudged your decisions. I’ve discovered though that no matter how much you think the grass is greener on the other side for other people, contentment will only satisfy the depths of your soul as life will always be unfair. You just need to take the time to water your own grass to let it grow so I’m picking up my lazy ass to write my travel stories and trips.
Grateful enough that someone’s reading this post until the end of it, I’ll make your trip worthwhile through giving you the easiest itinerary you can follow based on the experience we had which includes the expenses too. Just drop a comment and I’ll surely give you a hand with your Negros and Siquijor adventure.