7 days in Negros Oriental, Philippines

Asia

A suggested itinerary which highlights Negros Oriental, Apo Island and Siquijor Island

When planning a trip to the Philippines, most visitors tend to stick to the usual local destinations like Palawan, Boracay and Cebu. Sure, these places are awesome, but there are more treasures just off the beaten track in the Philippines to feed your wanderlust. In a tropical country made up of 7,107 islands, it is impossible not to find a private patch of paradise. This 7-day suggested itinerary will introduce you to Negros Oriental, a province in the Negros Island in the Visayas. If you are traveling in the Philippines, why not visit Negros Oriental as an extension of your trip?

Things to know before traveling to the Philippines

Language – The national language was labeled Filipino to acknowledge and embrace the existence of many English and Spanish-derived words. Foreign tourists might be confused with Filipino language as Tagalog is also widely spoken in most parts of Luzon. Filipino language is basically Tagalog with inclusions of languages other than Tagalog. Communicating is relatively easy as most Filipinos, especially in urban areas, can speak a decent level of English.

Social Norms and etiquette – Being a Spanish Colony for over three hundred years and being under the United States for 50 years, foreign values have been adapted by Filipinos in their own peculiar fashion. For a foreign traveler, it is important to know that Filipinos, like most Asians, stress public harmony and overt conviviality. Any indication of conflict is readily buried and confrontation is frowned upon. Filipinos are extremely tolerant people, and are generally happy, generous and gregarious.

Money and costs – The official currency of the Philippines is the Peso (). Exchanging money in the Philippines is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Asia. The Philippines is well serviced by a mixture of local and international banks offering widespread ATMs and online services. International credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express, are widely accepted at big establishments. Make sure to bring Philippine peso if you are traveling to rural or remote areas.

Philippine peso currency bills

Philippine peso currency bills (small1 / Shutterstock.com)

Getting Around – Getting around Manila and taking public transportation might be a shocking experience to foreign visitors. Transportation options include Light Rail Transit (LRT), Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT), cab, bus, jeepneys and tricycle. If you prefer to take a cab, take note of some reputable taxi companies such as MGE Transport, Basic Taxi, EMP, Dollar Taxi and Sturdy Taxi. Uber is a great alternative to taxis that is becoming extremely popular in Manila. In Negros Oriental, public transportation is limited to buses (Ceres Bus Line), ferries, jeepneys and tricycles.

Where to Stay – Manila has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. Budget hotels, bed and breakfasts, apartment and condo rentals, youth hostels and guesthouses are aplenty in the capital. Ermita or Malate District is a great choice where the best and exciting nightlife can be found. It is also a great base for exploring the best attractions of Manila. Bonifacio Global City and Makati are among the trendiest of places. In Dumaguete City, you can choose from luxury hotels, vacation rentals to budget hole-in-the-wall accommodations. In Apo Island, there are currently 4 accommodations to choose from – Apo Island Beach Resort, Liberty Lodge and Dive, Ronors Lodging House and Mario’s Homestay. In Siquijor Island, there are plenty of resorts depending on which town you would like to explore. In Bais, there are a very limited number of accommodations and you should book in advance.

Detailed Itinerary: 7 days in Negros Oriental, Philippines

Day 1: Manila

Colonial Building In Intramuros

Colonial building in Intramuros district oldest district and historic core of Manila known as the Walled City

Assuming you had to cross an ocean to get to Manila, your first day will be rife with jet lag. Take a flight that arrives in Manila as early as possible and check in to your preferred hotel/hostel. To walk off your jet lag, walk around Manila’s ancient walled city of Intramuros. You may join Carlos Celdran’s Walk this Way tours of Intramuros. Tour fee is PHP 1100 for adults and PHP 350 for children (3-5 years old). You may also try Bambike Ecotours of Intramuros where visitors will be riding through the streets on bamboo bikes that have been handmade by Gawad Kalinga villagers in the Philippines. Ecotours costs PHP 1,200 (24 USD) inclusive of bike, helmet rental, bottle of water and entrance fees.

Bambike Ecotours store, Manila, Philippines

Bambike Ecotours store (Lisa-Lisa / Shutterstock.com)

Where to stay in Manila:

Pan Pacific Manila (M. Adriatico corner General Malvar Streets | Malate, Manila, Luzon 1004, Philippines)

New World Manila Bay Hotel (1588 Pedro Gil corner MH del Pilar | Malate, Manila, Luzon 1004, Philippines)

The Manila Hotel (One Rizal Park, Manila, Luzon 0913, Philippines)

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila (CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Luzon 1300, Philippines)

The Bayleaf (Muralla corner Victoria Streets | Intramuros, Manila, Luzon 1002, Philippines)

After your historic tour of Intramuros, head to for a gastronomic adventure. Did you know that the oldest Chinatown in the world is in the Philippines (very run down but still has tons of character)  Aside from the historic places you will see in Binondo, you can also get loads of cheap goods from stores selling different variety of Chinese products ranging from fruits to lucky charms.

Binondo, Manila, Philippines

Dirty and stinky but yet charismatic place – Binondo or the oldest Chinatown in the World (Kim David / Shutterstock.com)

Day 2: Dumaguete

On day 2, take a short domestic flight to Dumaguete, the capital of the province of Negros Oriental. The Philippines’ main international airport in Manila is plagued by congestion, thus getting the earliest flight possible to Dumaguete is recommended. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, both operate at least two flights a day to Dumaguete City. One-way airfare with Cebu Pasific starts at 25 USD which is a steal for a 75 minute fligh.

After your arrival at Sibulan Airport, also known as Dumaguete Airport, check into your preferred hotel/guest house. The airport is conveniently located in Sibulan and getting to Dumaguete takes approximately 15 minutes depending on traffic situation. Rest and settle in before you start the tour. Assuming you arrived in the morning, you will probably arrive at your accommodation just before lunch time.

Where to stay in Dumaguete:

Mike’s Dauin Beach Resort (District 3, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

Acqua Dive (Maluay, Zamboanguita, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6218, Philippines)

Thalatta Resort (Maluay, Zamboanguita, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

Atlantis Dive Resorts Dumaguete (Lipayo, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6217, Philippines)

Liquid Dumaguete (Km 12.5, Bulak, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

Day 6: Dumaguete to Siquijor Island

Belfry clock tower, Dumaguete, Philippines

Belfry clock tower is one of the oldest structures and the most recognized symbols of Dumaguete (jejim / Shutterstock.com)

Don’t get out of Dumaguete like most tourists do because the capital boast a few wonderful attractions. Some of the attractions you can visit in the afternoon are Belfry Clock Tower, Saint Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Quezon Park, Rizal Boulevard and Siliman University. No trip to Dumaguete would be complete without going on a gastronomic adventure. You can try some of the top rated restaurants in the city like Lab-as Seafood Restaurant (located on Flores Ave), Hayahay Treehouse Bar and View Deck (located on Flores Ave and Piapi, Escano Beach), Sans Rival Bistro (located on Rizal Blvd)  and True Love Cafe (located on Bacong Rd).

Day 3: Apo Island

Apo island, Philippines

Traditional Philippine boat “Bangka” anchored in the waters of Apo island. With views like these, no wonder Apo Island is the Paradise for photographers in Instagram addicts (Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock.com)

On day 3, beat the heat and go on an overnight trip to Apo Island, situated off the coast of Dauin, Negros Oriental. From the Tourism Office in Malatapay, Zamboanguita, hire an outrigger boat (bangka) that will take you to the island. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes and 2-way boat rate is PHP 2,700 for up-to 4 persons. The island is secluded and not spoiled by commercialism that’s why you won’t find any fancy hotels or restaurants. If you are staying overnight, do not forget to pack your food and drinks that will last until the next day. There are only a few guesthouses in the island, so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.

Where to stay on Apo Island:

Apo Island Beach Resort (Negros Oriental 6217, Philippines)

Liberty Lodge and Dive (Negros Oriental 6217, Philippines)

Ronors Lodging House (Negros Oriental 6217, Philippines)

Mario’s Homestay (Lagoon Ave, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

This island is a landscape photographer paradise as it boast stunning rock formations and clear aquamarine waters with pristine corals. That being said, it is home to a great number of marine species like sea turtles (pawikan) and other tropical fishes. Consider booking a tour to explore the underwater beauty of Apo Island. Aside from its blessed underwater, it is also abundant with unspoiled beaches. It may not have the finest beach sand, but it has a wild serene beauty.

turtles underwater, Apo island, Philippines

Do not miss to swim with turtles in the waters of Apo Island (Davdeka / Shutterstock.com)

Day 4: Apo Island to Bais

On your fourth day, catch the dynamic colors of the morning sun at the beach. Take a one last whirl of the island before you board the boat back to Malatapay. Then, board a bus or jeepney to Dumaguete City. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch at the city before you hit the road again for Bais, Negros Oriental.

Where to stay in Bais:

Casa Sandoval Pension (National Highway, Villanueva Subdivision | Barangay Talungon, Bais City, Negros Oriental 6206, Philippines)

La Planta Hotel (Mabini Street, Bais City, Negros Oriental, Philippines)

Campuyo Aroma Beach Resort (Brgy. Campuyo, Bais City, Negros Oriental 6208, Philippines)

Bahia de Bais Hotel (Dewey Island | Hiiltop, Capiniahan Port, Bais City, Negros Oriental, Philippines)

Day 5: Bais – Manjuyod Sandbar to Dumaguete

Wake up early on Day 5 and join the local runners and speed-walkers at Bais Plaza. It’s a great way to start the day and meet up with friendly people of Bais. Enjoy a quick breakfast at one the local carinderia (small family-owned restaurant) before your guide picks you up. You won’t find any restaurants or bars in Manjuyod so you have to pack food and drinks.

Just 15 to 20 minutes away by boat from the Capinahan Wharf, you will find Manjuyod Sandbar. Aside from its jaw-dropping white sandbar, it’s also a popular place to see wild dolphins. The best time to swim with dolphins and the best time to see them depends on the season and time of the day. According to local boatmen, dolphins around Manjuyod Sandbar and Tanon Strait normally appear in the morning hours just after sunrise. After dolphin watching, you can spend the rest of the afternoon in Manjuyod Sandbar. The sandbar is also a perfect place to sample freshest sea foods, from oysters, squid, crabs, scallops, sea urchins and many more. Travel back to Dumaguete in the evening.

Where to stay in Dumaguete:

Mike’s Dauin Beach Resort (District 3, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

Acqua Dive (Maluay, Zamboanguita, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6218, Philippines)

Thalatta Resort (Maluay, Zamboanguita, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

Atlantis Dive Resorts Dumaguete (Lipayo, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6217, Philippines)

Liquid Dumaguete (Km 12.5, Bulak, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200, Philippines)

Day 6: Dumaguete to Siquijor Island

Siquijor island, Philippines

A well-kept secret – Siquijor Island (soft_light / Shutterstock.com)

On day 6, rise early and embark on one of the most exciting overnight trips from Dumaguete City. Siquijor is not a very popular destination for foreign travelers as well as local tourists. Since the old days, Filipinos associate Siquijor with sorcery and witchcraft and still to this day many people prefer not to visit the island. Myths and legends aside, the island boasts beautiful beaches, lush forests and friendly people. From your accommodation in Dumaguete, charter a tricycle to Dumaguete Port. At the port, there are several ferries en route to Siquijor Island. Travel time is approximately 1 hour and one way fare is 210 to 360 PHP (4.20 to 7.20 USD) . Once you reach the island, hire a Habal-Habal, the only mode of transportation, and check into your preferred accommodation.

Habal-habal, a very Unique Transport

A driver and his passengers in a unique public transport in the country where a motorcycle is modified to carry more than three people called Habal-Habal or Skylab

Where to stay on Siquijor Island:

Coco Grove Beach Resort (Tubod, Tubod, San Juan 6227, Philippines)

Infinity Heights Resort (Provencial Road | Barangay Pili, Siquijor, Philippines)

Charisma Beach Resort (Charisma Beach Resort Solangon | Siquijor, 6227, Philippines)

Kawayan Holiday Resort (Kawayan Holiday Resort Cangmunag, Cangmunag, San Juan 6227, Philippines)

Casa de la Playa Beach Resort (Sandugan Beach, Larena 6226 , Philippines)

In the afternoon, hire a tour guide with a tricycle to take you around the island’s most famous attractions. Do a half day tour of Lazi, one of the municipalities of Siquijor. Do not miss to visit the Enchanted Balete Tree, Cambugahay Falls, Lazi Convent and San Isidro Labrador Church.

Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor Island, Philippines

Cambugahay Falls (Ozerov Alexander / Shutterstock.com)

Day 7: Siquijor Island to Dumaguete

Savour your last morning in paradise with a relaxed breakfast in your room or at a nearby restaurant. Spend the rest of the morning at Salagdoong Beach in the town of Maria. You may also check out  Kagusuan Beach, still in the town of Maria and just before the town of Lazi. In the afternoon, head back to Dumaguete to catch your domestic flight to Manila or other parts of the Philippines (check out our selection of what is worth seeing in the Philippines).

Have you been to Negros Oriental or anywhere else in the Philippines? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.

Featured image: Seaside life of Negros Oriental island, Philippines (Davdeka / Shutterstock.com)

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