One summer ago, I aimed to conquer different scenes. If you have enough money and all the time in the world, I suggest you take the “Great Visayas Trip“.
By doing my homework and pulling some ties, I was able to hop to five different towns in one week.
First, my posse took a flight to Bacolod. This was our entry point as flights to BCD are cheaper than that of Iloilo and Dumaguete. Plus, families and friends who are willing to adopt us for a few days were there. 🙂
As we were picked up at the airport, our first stop was Bob’s Cafe. (WARNING: Ditch your diets.) Located downtown, Bob’s Cafe is a famous restaurant known for its Ilonggo food and coffee. Bob’s serves good coffee, for half the price of Starbucks. Another popular favorite is their sate, while I, on the other hand, ordered lechon macau; and both did not disappoint.
To burn the calories our hosts took us to the Silay Heritage Site. It was not only a street, but an entire village filled of old houses. We also stepped into the Balay Negrense House for a P60 fee. The said house was Victor Fernandez Gaston’s Ancestral House, filled of memorabilia from the Spanish era. We saw an old bike model, artworks, antique furniture and even porcelain dolls. We even learned the difference of tsokolate-eh and tsokolate-ah. You’re not welcome! 😛
Right now, the Balay Negrense’s façade is under renovation, but tourists can still learn from it, especially with the very knowledgeable tour guide.
After a touch of history, we decided to continue the quest by going to The Ruins (P95). Known as the Taj Mahal of Negros, Don Mariano Lacson built this mansion for Maria Braga who passed away carrying their 11th child. The Ruins is a reminder of Don Mariano’s great love for her. Until now, the love (and structure) remains strong.
The best time to visit this is 4-6 PM. It now carries kiosks to serve hungry guests, and the sugar cane juice (P50) is a must-try. Before we left The Ruins, we made sure to capture a mirror shot from one of the tables in the garden to this effect:
To live by my “no diet” warning before, we took a trip to Diotay and Felicia’s for a sumptuous dinner and dessert combo. Diotay (small) is not your typical dampa. It has a wide variety of seafood and the price is right! Because of this, Diotay has long queues, so prepare to wait in line for minutes. My personal favorite is the Blue Marlin Belly, and I could say we could forget about lechon! Why eat pork when the belly is so much toothsome? Honestly, I couldn’t get enough and even had two full slices. 😀
Meanwhile, Felicia’s is a place the titas of Manila would enjoy. It’s a cute pastry shop downtown, perfect for chill nights. Felicia’s has the best chocolate sans rival and ensaymada in Negros, but you should never count the calories. 🙂 For tweens, I would recommend Calea for their sweet escape. The latter is known for its signature chocolate cake, and we’ll add the black samba to the list. Most cakes in Calea are priced at P85.
After carbo loading, we slept to recharge for tomorrow’s adventure!
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Day 2 consists of partying at the beach! By car, we had a 4-hour ride to Sipalay. If you’re planning to commute via Ceres bus, add at least an hour of travel time. It will cost P120 to find that good diving spot.
Sipalay is full of resorts, who’s warm with accommodating divers and newbies. We stayed at Inyam Haven, hosted by Tita Pilar very generous to give us a room beside the pool.
Sipalay also has little rocks for trekking, leading you to a cute beach front. There were some rocks on the shore, sea urchins and starfishes too. So take extra care.
In the afternoon, we stayed at Easy Diving Resort for drinks and knew of snorkeling and kayaking adventures. The water activities range from P250-P500 per head. What’s good about Sipalay is its serenity. The beach is never too crowded, perfect for introverts or peace-loving persons.
Inyam Haven is even well-lit at night and we loved the food: steak, fries, broccoli and pizza! No room for bikini then! But our cottage was close to perfection.
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From Sipalay, we now proceed to Dumaguete. Our target was the Manjuyod Sandbar, recently featured in the viral Facebook video (HYPERLINK). If you plan to go to Manjuyod, the Ceres Bus to Bais is the best way by land. From Sipalay, it will be a 3-hour trip, while from Bacolod, it’s a long 6-hour drive. (Take note that blogs would say Bacolod-Manjuyod trip will be four hours. This is not true. The Ceres bus stops at all its terminals, at least 6-8 bus stops for the whole trip.)
Anyway, from Bais, take another bus to Manjuyod (P10) and a trike (P10) to Aroma Beach Resort. The hotel would offer a P3500 rate for an island tour to the sandbar itself. But with our good social skills and a little Ilonggo, we were able to find our boatmen who offered a P1800 island tour to the sandbar, coupled with a dolphin watching venture. You may contact our boatman, Kuya Ian, at 0935-843-7189.
This is very important: the Manjuyod Sandbar can only be seen at 6AM and/or 6PM. Unlike other sandbars which usually show up at 2PM or low tide, Manjuyod now seldom appears because of the ever-changing waters. Our boatmen, as well as other blogs, say that one time, the sandbar would disappear. Visit it before it’s too late! Trust me, it’s worth it!
The waters are pristine. In fact, it’s one of the clearest waters I have ever seen. As we arrived in the sandbar late afternoon, we weren’t able to walk on it or take IG-worthy posts. All we did was swim in the open seas, without any life vest or so – that’s the price we get for paying half the price. (BUWIS BUHAY! LOL.) The waters on the shallow part was around 6-8 ft. deep. The waves were too big and it’s not for the faint-hearted. But for those who are not swimmers per se, cottages at the sandbar are also available (P3000-P4000/night).
We stayed overnight in Manjuyod and went home to Bacolod the next day.
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Our next stop is Guimaras Island. This beach moves up to the top spot of my favorite islands. (TOP 2 is still Tikling, Sorsogon). From Bacolod, a car drove us to Pulupandan Wharf. The first trip is at 9:00AM, and costs P100 for 45-minutes. As we arrived at the Guimaras port, we cramped in a L300/van to take us to the town of Jordan. (Do some stretching before riding the van! It kinda hurts, for it’s akin to car stuffing. Haha.) From the town proper, we rode a trike to Raymen Beach Resort for P300.
The moment we arrived in Guimaras, we were greeted by this view.
Ravishing beauty. What a wonder!
And it’s not just the view! The prices are also easy on the pocket! The island tour per boat costs P450 for the first hour, and P150 for the succeeding hours. Ideally, it takes 3-4 hours to explore the whole island. We visited the Ave Maria island and experienced snorkeling and fish feeding. How those little fishes came to my side. 🙂
I also found a blue starfish for the very first time in my life. This starfish is on a diet, its longer than usual! Hahaha. 🙂
I am full of awe! ❤
The other islands are for swimming, some are for view-decks and some are for caves. Our boatman also mentioned an island for FREE cliff diving, but we weren’t able to do it because of the peril brought by the high tide. What a fortuitous event! 😦
In all parts, I fell in love with Guimaras’ tidy waters! There’s also this Guimaras City Tour via trike: Mango Research Institute, the Capitol, Trappist Monastery of the Benedictine Monks and the Smallest Plaza. We hired Kuya Nonoy (09075734900) for half a day, and paid only P500, contrary to the P1200 price said in blog posts. Do not forget to buy Mango bars or try the mango pizza – if you love bizarre food. Hehehe.
With all these, maybe 3D 2N in Guimaras won’t be enough. It’s a place we all agreed to go back. ❤
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Then again, we move on to Iloilo. We took a boat for P14 for 15 minutes. The cabs in Iloilo are cheap. We only shelled out P60 per ride, and since we are tres marias, only P20 per person. The Iloilo escapade was a whopping food trip!
Of course, we tried the batchoy at Netong’s – Atria. You may order the super special batchoy with pork, beef and egg. It’s like the usual Filipino mami, but no regrets as it is only around P100. Then, we tried Madge Café on the same walk. For P55-P100, you get to taste the oh-so-delicious hot chocolate and even their awesome brewed coffee. 🙂
For pasalubong, we went to Calle Real and we were amazed with its old buildings. It may be compared to Manila’s Carriedo area, only safer! The architecture from the 1920s was preserved, and it’s wonderful how we can buy my favorite biscocho (P65).
From Iloilo to Bacolod, the boat fare is P150, with a P30 terminal fee.
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And as we’re home in sweet Bacolod, we decided to devote our last day to a city tour and more pasalubong shopping! But before that, we ate at Manokan Country, specifically Aida’s, for Inasal. The inasal is best paired with a large serving of garlic rice. The locals also suggested to sprinkle it with salt, and P130 goes a long way. During my entire Visayas stay, I ate 3 servings of this chicken inasal. It’s that good!
On walking distance, we went to the Capitol Park (Kilometer Zero) and the Bacolod Cathedral right in front of it. Bongbong’s pasalubong is also nearby. Buy piayas (P38) and reheat them at home. Or buy those big coconut shells aka kalamayhati, ala big kulangot ng intsik, for P50. Napoleones is also a must try at P130/box.
Then, we took a P7 – Bata jeep to the Lagoon. We fed the tilapia there with cheap bread from the bakery and visited the Capitol. A few blocks away is the Negros Museum, ending our trip with an artsy vibe. 🙂
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By land, air and sea, the Great Visayas Trip was a strong summer highlight! 🙂
Click this link to download my Great Visayas Itinerary! 🙂