|Negros Occidental: (L-R) Silay City, Bacolod City, Talisay City and Sipalay City|
|Jamont Hotel in Sipalay City|
N E G R O S
T O U R
Visiting Negros Occidental for the first time and Bacolod City seems to sum up all that you think you know of the province?
You're in the right direction anyway because it's the neighboring city where you'll deplane from Cebu or Manila. It's also where the Port of Bacolod is located for tourists who opt to travel by sea from the Port of Manila or Port of Iloilo. The city is the capital of the province after all and it's where the provincial museum called Negros Museum is also located for that time capsule experience. If your date of visit doesn't coincide with the city's annual Masskara Festival that's held every third weekend of October, the place is really just good for a hotel layover and food trip of Chicken Inasal at the Manokan Country. What you need to do is to weave through the countryside to extract the sweet juice out of the terrain like how the locals have been crushing sugar cane for decades to filter and treat the collected juice at the Sugar Island.
Beyond Bacolod City's famous festival lies other cities and towns that you can visit on a tight itinerary or even on a whim. Check out the following attractions I've personally experienced when I toured the province for 5 days:
|Cinco De Noviembre|
|Teodoro Morada Ancestral House|
Although pockets of sugarcane fields can be seen in parts of Bacolod City, the more vast ones are located in the neighboring city of Silay where the Bacolod-Silay International Airport is. If you arrived by plane, it's the perfect welcome you'll receive -- the dulcet sound of rustling grass from scattered plantations.
At the city proper, though, sits a charming neighborhood of more than 30 ancestral dwellings, most of which are well-kept. There are some crumbling ones but they only add an authentic texture to the gloss. The upkeep entailed in freezing time for these old houses come naturally to the locals as they're aware of the value of tangible heritage. As a result, strolling this place is a quaint experience while munching on tasty products from the city's 1920-built bakery called El Ideal.
|Hofileña Heritage House|
|Hiking in Talisay City|
|A guestroom at Melba's Farm in Talisay City|
Thirty minutes from Bacolod is the city of Talisay which doesn't only have its own version of sugar mills and plantations. It also has a rural hillside where the fruit-growing hamlet of Cabatangan sits. Should you want to linger for more than a day, spending the night at Melba's Farm is the most ideal way to go.
During the day, I had a fulfilling 30-minute hike surrounded by bamboo and mahogany trees. The same route can also be an interesting ATV trail if ever Melba's Farm decides to have that add-on to its guests' wilderness experience.
|A river in Sipalay City|
|Jamont Hotel's La Veranda Suite|
|En route to Sugar Beach in Sipalay City|
A good three-hour commute from Bacolod City is the underrated destination of Sipalay City. Next to Dumaguete, it's fast becoming the alternative place to retire in the Philippines by foreigners because of its laid-back beaches, 22 islets for island-hopping, and shipwreck sites for diving. It has the tourist-thronged Tinagong Dagat which can feel timeless because the serene cove is naturally tucked away from the harsh waves of the sea. Most foreign tourists who have grown tired of Boracay hie off to the more relaxed Sugar Beach which is just a few minutes from the city proper. It's also where the quirky Takatuka Lodge Beach & Dive Resort is located with its odd-themed rooms that are Instagram-worthy. An interesting side trip is a visit of the Maricalum Mines which is a few minutes from the coast.
Negros Occidental is worth a revisit if 5 days can only accommodate that much destination in one's itinerary. Heck, I was not able to visit Sipalay's caves during my overnight stay. I will definitely check out Mount Kanlaon next time and even explore the town of Cauayan where the marine sanctuary of Danjugan Island is located. For sure, the province can be sweeter the second time around.
Check out my Negros Occidental-related blog posts:
• Melba's Farm in Talisay City
• Jamont Hotel in Sipalay City
• Exploring The Maricalum Mines of Sipalay City• Best and Worst of Bacolod City
• Where To Stay In Bacolod?
More Photos Below:
|Aida's Chicken Inasal at the Manokan Country in Bacolod City|
|Silay City sugarcane plantations|
|Balay Negrense in Silay City|
|The scenery at Sitio Cabatangan in Talisay City|
|El Ideal Bakery in Silay City|
|Tinagong Dagat in Sipalay City|
|Hofileña Heritage House in Silay City|
|Pink House in Silay City|
|Felicia's ensaymada and sans rival|