This brief guide to Negros Island will help you plan your trip. It contains information on what to do, eat, and drink as well as the must-see spots and the best hotels.
ABOUT SEE & DO EAT & DRINK STAY BUDGET ADVICE
Negros Island is found in the central part of the country, particularly in the Visayas area. It is the fourth largest island in the Philippines and composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
The island is known as the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines as it is one of the top producers of sugar in the country. Additionally, it is also home to several tourist attractions both natural and manmade such as beaches, mountain, dive sites, resorts, and heritage sites.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season. Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April. These are the summer months in this country.
Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.
The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.
TIP: This guide recommends that booking for Negros Island summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.
The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances. Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well. This happens frequently so beware!
This guide recommends traveling to Negros Island in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
There are many ways to get here depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while on Negros Island: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.
The following are the modes of transportation available on Negros Island …
Car for Hire
SEE & DO
The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while on Negros Island..
1 | Explore Bacolod City
Bacolod City is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental. Apart from the vibrant MassKara Festival, it is also known for its culinary delights being the origin of the famous chicken inasal and sweet treats including piaya and napoleones. The biggest malls on the island are also located in Bacolod City.
2 | Don’t miss Talisay City
Sharing the border with Bacolod City is Talisay City, a city in Negros Occidental that recently gained nationwide popularity due to The Ruins, the historical mansion that was set fire during World War II and is now used as museum after it has been restored. Campuestohan Highland Resort is also located in Talisay City.
3 | Hike Mt. Kanlaon
The highest peak in the Visayas, Mt. Kanlaon has an elevation of 2,465 meters above sea level. It is also the third active volcano in the country therefore attracting mountain climbers and hikers who are up for a new challenge. There are two trails leading to the summit – Guintubdan trail is easier while Wasay trail is considered one of the most demanding and lengthy trails in the Visayas. Mt. Kanlaon takes two days to complete.
4 | Spend a night at Mambukal Mountain Resort
Mambukal Mountain Resort is located next to Mt. Kanlaon. It is a government-owned and managed resort and a protected area where several species of flora and fauna inhabit. Giant golden-crowned flying fox, Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat, Visayas warty pig, and the Negros bleeding heart pigeon are some of the endemic animals found in the area. The resort is also blessed with hot springs, natural pools, and seven waterfalls which attract thousands of visitors every year.
5 | Discover the beauty of Dumaguete City
In addition to being a popular tourist destination in this part of the country, Dumaguete City is also a favorite retirement destination among expats. It has easy access to the big city of Cebu and is the jumpoff point to several natural attractions around Negros Oriental. Silliman University, the first American University in Asia, is also located in Dumaguete City. The city has several other universities and colleges thus the nickname the University City.
6 | See Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park
Experience the beauty and tranquility of nature at Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park along with Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao. The lakes are surrounded by lush greenery and the calm water is teeming with fish which makes it ideal for fishing. This natural park is a protected area and is home to various species of birds including the critically endangered Negros bleeding-heart and Visayan wrinkled hornbill.
7 | Soak up the sun in Manjuyod Sandbar
Due to its charm and beauty, Manjuyod Sandbar is fast-becoming a popular tourist destination in Negros Oriental. This hidden gem only appears when the tide is low so make sure to plan your trip accordingly. The sandbar is located in the town of Manjuyod but the typical jump-off point is in Bais. Manjuyod Sandbar is typically included as a stop over when doing the Bais dolphin watching tour.
8 | Visit the natural attractions in Valencia
The town of Valencia is located 9 kilometers west of Dumaguete City. It is blessed with several natural attractions including Casaroro Falls, Pulangbato Falls, Red Rock Hot Spring, and Mount Talinis along with its several volcanic lakes and extensive biodiversity.
9 | Enjoy the beaches in Sipalay
Sipalay is a coastal town blessed with pristine beaches and rich marine life that have been attracting tourists throughout the year. Tinagong Dagat which literally translates to hidden sea is surrounded by lush greenery while Sugar Beach is an unspoilt beach with a long stretch of sugary brown sand. Other beaches to visit in Sipalay are Poblacion Beach and Punta Ballo Beach. These two have long stretches of ivory sand perfect for beach-bumming. There are also several diving spots in Sipalay and one of the most popular is the Julien’s Wreck which is now covered in barnacles and corals serving as home to various aquatic species.
10 | Nearby destinations
Apo Island, which is also part of the province of Negros Oriental, is located seven kilometers off the southeastern tip of Negros Island. It is a protected marine sanctuary inhabited by over 650 documented species of fish and over 400 species of coral therefore attracting divers of various skill levels.
Other attractions on and near the island are Campomanes Bay, Danjugan Island, Lakawon Island Resort, Mag-Aso Falls, and Sagay Marine Reserve.
NOTE: The Buglasan Festival occurs annually in Dumaguete City in the middle of October. The MassKara Festival occurs annually in Bacolod City every fourth Sunday of October.
EAT & DRINK
The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while on Negros Island.
1 | 21
21 Restaurant is a nice choice for fine dining experience in Bacolod City. The restaurant used to be a hole-in-the-wall snack house serving batchoy but due to its popularity, it expanded into what it is today. Their menu is a mix of Western favorites such as burger and roast beef to local dishes like binakol, kare-kare, and sinigang. Looking at its impressive and elegant design, the restaurant seems expensive but it’s actually reasonably-priced and worth it.
2 | Aboy’s Restaurant
The top restaurant in Bacolod City based on reviews, Aboy’s is a Filipino restaurant known for their fresh seafood. The restaurant has a nice friendly ambience and the space is big enough to accommodate several people without being cramped. You can order from the menu or choose among the already-cooked dishes carinderia (local eatery) style. The price is a bit expensive for local standards but considering the quality of foods, ambience, and service, it’s definitely worth it. Try the grilled blue marlin, grilled squid, and sautéed mushrooms.
3 | Calea
If you have sweet tooth, you can’t just leave Bacolod City without going to Calea, the most popular cake shop in the city. This spot in Lacson St. is a haven of extensive collections of cakes – from the creamiest cheesecake to decadent chocolate cake, you will surely find something that will make your heart truly happy. Their bestsellers include chocolate cake, white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, and fruity cheesecake.
4 | Casablanca Restaurant
Aside from European and other international dishes, Casablanca Restaurant also serves vegetarian dishes such as vegetarian curry and salad. They boast of their cold cuts, over fresh breads from Casablanca bakery, imported cheeses, exquisite selection of wines, and imported beers. The price is a little higher for Dumaguete but the quality, freshness, and taste of food as well as service are worth it.
5 | Chicken House
Wondering where to get your fix of authentic chicken inasal while in the city? Head to Chicken House where the chicken inasal is the best in the city. Apart from chicken, they also serve spare ribs and pork barbecue, all at reasonable prices. The quality of food along with good ambience as well as friendly and accommodating staff make the restaurant a great place to enjoy with family and friends.
6 | Kri Restaurant
Kri is an upscale restaurant offering international dishes guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating palate. Their bestseller is the Samurai Salmon but their chicken and pasta dishes are a must-try too. They strive to provide healthy dishes by having vegan options, using canola oil, and avoiding the use of MSG.
7 | Manokan Country
Manokan Country is an open-air food complex lined with restaurants where chicken inasal is the main offering. There are several hole-in-the-wall restaurants within the complex but the most popular ones are Nena Beth’s and Aida’s. Aside from chicken inasal, these restaurants also serve other dishes such as fish sinigang and steamed oysters.
8 | Mooon Cafe
Mooon Cafe is a Mexican-inspired restaurant in Dumaguete City. It serves a variety of Mexican comfort foods including taco, nachos, pasta, pizza, and their bestsellers which include Baby Back Ribs and Angus Steak. The restaurant also serves drinks, shakes and fruit juices, wines, coffee, and many more.
9 | Sans Rival Bistro
Sans Rival Bistro is in an old colonial house facing the ocean along Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant serves burgers, sandwiches, seafood, and other Filipino dishes. They offer al fresco dining so it’s a great spot for sightseeing and people-watching in this touristy part of the city.
10 | Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries
Just behind Sans Rival Bistro stands Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries. This is where you’ll find the famous sans rival and silvanas of Dumaguete – the most popular pasalubong to take back home to family and friends.
KNOWN FOR: Chicken inasal, Piaya, Sans rival, and Silvanas
WHERE TO STAY
There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range on Negros Island.
1 | Golden Gate Suites (Budget)
2 | GT Hotel Bacolod (Mid-Range)
3 | L’Fisher Hotel (Luxury | Resort)
This guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay on Negros Island or for a specific destination:
Book your room with these trusted online booking sites. Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive. We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:
TIP: Golden Gate Suites is the best property to experience this destination.
Book Online & Save Money
Use the chart below to get an idea of how much to budget daily. Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.
A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD). For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).
Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast. For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night. For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.
Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD). However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.
We use and recommend booking online to save money using HostelWorld, Agoda, Booking.com, and AirBnB.
Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD). For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD). For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD). Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food. Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.
Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD). A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).
A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).
On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips.
Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap. Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.
To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly. There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option.
Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
We recommend booking online to save money using: Skyscanner, momondo, Kayak, kiwi.com.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter.
Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less. You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!
Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.
Always book your tours and activities when you arrive. Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will. Booking tours online is almost always more expensive.
Typical Costs on Negros Island in 2023:
- Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
- Budget Hotel: 700 PHP ($14 USD) night
- Mid-Range Hotel: 1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
- Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
- Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
- Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
- 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
- Jeepney Ride: 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD) ride
- Tricycle Ride: 20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
- Taxi: 75-500 PHP ($1.50-10 USD) ride – use GrabTaxi app
- Long-Distance Bus Ride: 400-500 PHP ($8–10 USD) ride
- Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
- Domestic Flight: 2,000-3,500 PHP ($40–70 USD) flight
- Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip
- Diving with Whale Sharks: 1,250 PHP ($25 USD) trip
DOWNLOAD: Budget Planner Template
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The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Negros Island. Learn what you need to know BEFORE you go!
Tips & Hacks
he following are our Top 10 Tips when visiting this destination in the Philippines:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.
VIEW & DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Travel Tips & Hacks Guide for the Philippines
The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found on the island. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.
READ MORE: Money in the Philippines: Everything You Need to Know
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Negros Island, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.
Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.
READ MORE: How to Avoid Scams & Thieves in the Philippines
There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
TIP: The best way to avoid problems and stay safe is to travel with a local resident.
Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines.
The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to.
The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Allow Your Body Time to Adjust
- Keep Active
- Sanitize Often
- Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
- Take Your Vitamins
- Practice Safe Sex
- Be Prepared Should You Get Sick
READ MORE: Stay Healthy in the Philippines: How to Avoid Getting Sick
You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.
While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province. So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.
Recommended Travel Apps
Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling. Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.
The following are our Top 10 most useful travel apps on our smartphones when traveling in the Philippines:
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- Klook (attractions & activities )
Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.
For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below. Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.
READ MORE: The Ultimate List of Travel Apps for the Philippines
Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options.
We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.
VIEW: Negros Island 7-Day Travel Itinerary
The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list. This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing. To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list. Click the link below to download it for FREE now.
Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.
VIEW & DOWNLOAD: Our Ultimate Packing Guide & Checklist
Things to Remember
This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling on Negros Island or in the Philippines in general.
There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas. Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.
The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores. The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.
Drugs are illegal in the Philippines. Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana. It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children. The penalties are severe … up to and including death.
Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated. Most locals consider it offensive. There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.
Foreigners & Expats
If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly. Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.
READ MORE: Practical Information about the Philippines
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