Negros Philippines – The Ultimate Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Long known for its sugar industry, Negros Island is now a vibrant tourist destination that boasts of mountain ranges, marine sanctuaries, pristine beaches, and a rich cultural heritage.
Where to go in Negros Island
Negros has probably some of the most diverse attractions in the country.
Culture & history
Cultural and history buffs will love Silay City for its well-preserved ancestral houses like Balay Negrense and Hofilena Heritage House.
The Ruins which are located in Talisay City is possibly one of the most photographed historical sites in Bacolod. The structure is both magnificent and bittersweet. The highly urbanized city also boasts of underrated gems like the Negros Museum and San Sebastian Cathedral.
For more cultural forays, visit Silliman University and the historic Belfry in Dumaguete City. This city also offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the locals via Rizal Boulevard and Malatapay Market.
Pumpering & relaxation
Nature lovers will definitely have a grand time here with mountain resorts, marine reserves, beaches, secluded islands, majestic falls, among others. The Municipality of Murcia takes great pride in Mambukal Mountain Resort which is famous for its bathhouses, hot spring and sulphur pools, butterfly garden, flying foxes, 7 waterfalls, boiling mud, and other exciting activities.
Meanwhile, situated between Talisay and Bacolod is the trending Campuestohan Highland Resort, a year-round theme park where kids and kids at heart can take turns playing at the wave pool, rope courses, trampoline, and more.
Sea, beaches and underwater
Negros has world-class marine sanctuaries too headed by Danjugan Island, a 43-hectare marine and wildlife sanctuaries located about 3 kilometres west. It is the perfect place to rejuvenate and get educated on the different ecosystems like mangroves, coral reefs, idyllic beaches, caves, limestone cliffs, and verdant forests, just to name a few.
Explore the underwater paradise of Apo Island Marine Reserve and Juliens Wreck and take in the picturesque sight of Sugar Beach in Sipalay.
Frolic in the stunning shores of Punta Ballo, Campomanes Bay, Manjuyod White Sandbar, and Lakawon Island.
Nature & outdoors
If freshwater is more your thing, Dumaguete will not disappoint with its Casaroro Falls, Pulangbato Falls, and Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao & Danao. The City of Kabankalan has the enchanting Mag-aso Falls.
One of the most active volcanoes in the country, Kanlaon Volcano, is also located in Negros. Climbing it is not for the faint of heart but you will be rewarded with a trek through a thick tropical rainforest and possibly a chance encounter with endemic wildlife species such as a civet cat or hawk eagles.
When to go to Negros
This really depends on your planned activities. Negros Occidental typically experiences its driest months between the months of December to May and the rainiest from June to November.
Negros Oriental is characterized by a tropical climate.
If you plan to witness a festival then get here in October when Bacolod celebrates Masskara Festival or in April for the Panaad Festival.
Where to stay in Negros
Some of the popular destinations in Negros like Bais and Apo island have very limited accommodation options. A popular alternative is to simply set up base in either Dumaguete in Negros Oriental or Bacolod City in Negros Occidental and then just organize day trips from there. These two cities are full of a myriad of hotels from budget to luxury but do take note of major festivals as these normally hike up the rates and availability might be a challenge.
Where to eat in Negros
Negros takes its food to heart and it shows. Whether you like fresh seafood, smoky barbecued meat, or decadent desserts, it's all here.
You can sit down in fine dining places and feast on blue marlins or crabs or you can visit the local market for the day's catch and have it cooked in eateries nearby or in your accommodation.
Perhaps, the island's most popular dish is its chicken inasal (roast chicken). Even the locals can't seem to get enough of it so make sure to have a bite when you're here. Runner-ups would be their piaya (muscovado-filled flatbread), lumpiang ubod (fresh vegetable egg roll), empanada (stuffed bread), kalamayhati (sticky rice cake), cheesecake, and dried fish.
How to get around Negros
A series of interconnected highways link the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
Buses operate on the daily with Ceres Bus Liner as the largest land transportation company on the island.
There are bus terminals in most cities and towns as well as ports for fast crafts and RORO services bound for the province's coastal villages and island destinations.
Tricycles and jeepneys are the common mode of transportation for short distances within the city, towns, or barangays.
Taxis are not that common in Dumaguete but it is more widespread in Bacolod with a flag-down rate of PHP30 plus PHP2.50 for every succeeding 300 meters. Taxi-hailing services such as Grab now also operates in the city.
How to get to and from Negros
There are two airports that currently serves Negros Island, Bacolod-Silay Airport for Negros Occidental and Dumaguete–Sibulan Airport for Negros Oriental.
In under 2 hours and for less than PHP6000, you can fly to Dumaguete directly from Manila via Cebu Pacific Air or Philippine Airlines. If you book months ahead, it is possible to score flights with Cebu Pacific for as low as PHP800 for a Cebu/Davao - Dumaguete itinerary.
Flying from Manila to Bacolod meanwhile takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes and costs less than PHP4500 if you go with the budget carrier CebPac, expect to pay more for PAL. There are also direct flights from Cebu to Bacolod daily.
Both Dumaguete and Bacolod are also accessible by sea from Manila. Unless you have a fear of flying, we do not recommend this option because the small savings you get from the ticket price aren't enough to justify the gruelling travel time. This is your best option though if you're coming from nearby provinces like Iloilo. Various fast craft ferries like Weesam Express, Supercat 2Go, and Oceanjet ply the Iloilo–Bacolod route daily. Fare ranges from PHP160 to PHP365 and travel time last between an hour to 2 hours.
If you are coming from Cebu to Bacolod, you can take a fast craft in Toledo Port going to San Carlos City. The entire trip all the way to Bacolod should take approximately 6 to 7 hours and costs less than PHP600.
There are also several ways to get to Dumaguete from Cebu. You can go to the South Bus Terminal and board a RORO bus which will get you there in under 3 hours. Alternatively, you can head to Liloan Port and board a fast craft then take a tricycle from Sibulan to Dumaguete City. All in all, this trip should take roughly 6 hours and costs about PHP300.
Is Negros a safe place to visit?
Security is sometimes heightened amid terrorism threats but the danger is nowhere near that of some parts of Mindanao. Most of the threats in the Visayas though are from the communists that have random run-ins with the military and do not target civilians.