Negros Oriental lies on the southeastern part of the island of Negros. The province's diverse landscapes and terrains have almost everything a tourist would want in a destination in the Philippines—beaches, caves, falls, mountains, impressive wildlife, and friendly locals. In addition to its natural attractions, Negros Oriental is also full of history and culture, making it the ideal destination for all sorts of trips and travelers.
Students all over the region go to Negros Oriental to study in the first American university in Asia. Founded in 1901, Silliman University started out as an elementary school for boys, and eventually became a college in 1910. It was named after Horace Silliman, an American businessman and philanthropist who funded its establishment. Over the years, Silliman University has produced quality graduates. It is among the top 150 universities in Asia and one of the most beautiful Christian university campuses in the world. Former Philippine President Carlos P. Garcia and business magnate John Gokongwei, Sr. are some its respected alumni.
Famous for its underwater world, Apo Island is located south of Negros Oriental. The remote island offers tourists an amazing and vast diving experience courtesy of its 15 dive sites. Apo Island possesses a protected marine sanctuary that provides habitat for hundreds of species of fish and corals. Sea turtles, starfishes, and sea snakes are also some of the underwater finds to enjoy.
Bais City also has an impressive marine life. Tourists flock to the city because of the dolphins that inhabit its seas. Dolphin spotting tours are its major tourist attraction.
You can travel by air to Negros Oriental by landing at Dumaguete City, the provincial capital. There are many flights between the major cities in the Philippines and Dumaguete. Travel time is also fast: the flight from Manila to Dumaguete only takes about one hour and 15 minutes.
Traveling by sea is also another option. Shipping companies like 2GO Travel offer trips to Dumaguete from important cities like Manila, Dipolog, and Zamboanga. From Manila, travel time takes about 22 hours.
If you’re coming from Bacolod or Cebu, you can take the bus from Ceres Liner to Dumaguete. The trip from Bacolod will take five hours, while the trip from Cebu will board a RORO barge that will cross Tañon Strait from Bato in Cebu to Tampi, Negros Oriental.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys are available all over Negros Oriental, especially when traveling between towns and cities. For shorter distances, motorized tricycles are more commonly used.
What to See
Located about eight kilometers away from Dumaguete City, the Church of Saint Augustine of Hippo in the town of Bacong has been around since 1865. Its belfry stands out as the tallest among all the churches in the province as it served as a watchtower hundreds of years ago. But its main attraction is its pipe organ, which was installed in 1894 and imported all the way from Zaragoza, Spain. In November of 2001, the National Museum declared the church a National Cultural Treasure.
In the town of Ayungon lie the remains of an old Spanish fortification on the shorelines of Tampocon II. Like Intramuros in Manila, the fortress served as a military base by Spanish soldiers back in the day to guard against marauders coming from the river.
Some 40 minutes away from the city in the town of Valencia is the Fil-Am Jap Amity Shrine. It was built on top of the Sagbang Hill, where many Filipino, American, and Japanese soldiers were killed during a fierce encounter during World War II. The shrine serves as a reminder of the bravery of the soldiers who have risked their lives to fight for freedom and the peace and friendship that that currently bind the Philippines, USA, and Japan together.
No one visits Dumaguete City without seeing its esteemed institute of higher learning—Silliman University. Founded in 1901, it is the oldest American university in Asia. The Silliman Hall is one of the university’s main attractions—a three-story structure that was fashioned after old American mansions and one of the first buildings ever built within the university grounds. During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese army took over the hall and used it as their sleeping quarters. Now, it is an anthropological museum where artifacts that date back 2,000 years ago are on exhibit.
The Saint Paul University Dumaguete is also another landmark of the province. Built in 1904, the university is the first Paulinian school in the Philippines and the oldest Catholic school on the Negros island.
Apo Island in the town of Dauin is a popular diving site not just for the locals but for international divers as well. The island has over 650 species of fish and about 400 species of corals. Snorkelers will also have a grand time exploring the island’s marine sanctuary, where bubble corals, gorgonian sea fans, and brain corals can be found. Diving at the island is so popular that it was listed one of the top 100 diving spots in the world by Sport Diver Magazine.
Meanwhile, White Sand Reef in Bais City is ideal for those who want a tropical getaway. The beach is known for its fine white sand and clear blue waters that seem to stretch endlessly. Camangyawon Beach in Basay and Antulang Beach in Siaton are other scenic spots that beach lovers will simply fall in love with.
There are also quite a number of falls throughout Negros Oriental where you can be surrounded by lush greens and the soothing sound of cascading waters. Casaroro Falls in Valencia, Niludhan Falls in Bayawan, Quipot Falls in Canlaon, and Laka Balanan in Siaton are some of the must-visit bodies of water when in town.
The town of Mabinay is known as the “Cave Capital of the Philippines.” It is home to about 400 caves, though only seven can be explored. Bulwang Cave and Pandalihan Cave are perfect for beginners, while Crystal Cave is highly recommended for those who want to feast their eyes on stunning rock formations.
The Sinco Memorabilia Museum in Dumaguete City is home to the works of Vicente G. Sinco, the former Philippine Commissioner of Foreign Affairs and one of the signatories of the United Nations Charter. On the other hand, the Mariyah Gallery has been the central venue for exhibits of the visual artists of Negros Oriental.
For those who love the theatrical productions, Dumaguete City has two world-class auditoriums: the Fleur de Lis Hall at Saint Paul’s University Dumaguete and the Claire Isabel McGil Luce Auditorium in Silliman University.
The Rizal Boulevard is also another favorite spot in town where locals and tourists alike can jog, take a long leisurely walk, dine, or even watch the sun as it sets at Dumaguete City Bay.
Events and Festivals
There are over 24 festivals celebrated in Negros Oriental every year. Of all the festivals, the Buglasan Festival is the most anticipated. Known as “festival of festivals,” the city of Dumaguete comes alive during this feast with float parades and street dance competitions.
Where to Eat
Sans Rival is a favorite dining spot in Dumaguete. It is known for its mouthwatering desserts like cakes and pastries, but their silvanas has become the restaurant’s biggest draw. Of course, their sans rival cake is a must-try, too.
The Hayahay Treehouse Bar and Viewdeck is another recommended place to dine when in Dumaguete. From pizzas, to sisig and even their pork chop, squid, and oysters served on sizzling plates, you’ll have plenty of delectable choices in this restaurant. They serve alcoholic drinks as well. Other places to check out include KRI, which serves international dishes, and Gerry’s Lechon, which has been roasting pigs since 1982.
But if you’re into healthy eating, then you should definitely stop by Lokal Organic Cafe Restaurant. Their ingredients are organic and locally sourced, so you are assured that everything they serve is fresh.
Head to Dumaguete Public Market if you want to try budbud kabog, a famous rice cake among Negrenses. It is best enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate.
Where to Shop
Those who are looking for a place to shop for local products can visit Sidlakan Negros Showroom. This tourism center has numerous booths where novelty items, household decors, garments, accessories, and delicacies from the different parts of Negros Oriental are available.
Fare: PHP 3,500.00++
Airfares from Manila and Dumaguete City are usually priced at PHP 3,500.00 round trip. Watch out for seat sales and promos so you can score great deals where you can save PHP 1,000.00 or more. Boat fares range from PHP 1,300.00 to PHP 4,500.00 depending on the accommodation type.
When going around the province, the base fare for a jeep ride is at PHP 7.00. A tricycle ride is PHP 20.00 per head.
Food: PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00
When dining out, the recommended budget for a meal is around PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00, but the serving portions are usually good enough for more than one person.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 200.00
Key chains, ref magnets, and various accessories can be bought for PHP 60.00 apiece. Souvenir shirts are PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00, depending on the design and quality. A box of 10 silvanas from Sans Rival costs PHP 125.00 only!
Accommodation: PHP 800.00 to PHP 4,500.00
There are many hotels and accommodations for any budget in Negros Oriental. There are rooms for as low as PHP 800.00 a night for budget travelers. For those with a bigger budget, the more upscale hotels offer rooms for PHP 4,500.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 50.00 to PHP 2,000.00
Entrance fees to the museums cost about PHP 35.00 per person. For those going to Apo Island, the boat rental costs PHP 2,000.00 for up to four people. Don’t forget to allot PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00 for marine conservation fees.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Tipping is no longer needed especially if a service charge is already included in your bill when you dine in restaurants. But if you insist, you can leave behind PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00.
||ETA in Dumaguete City
||Visit the Dumaguete Public Market to have bodbod and tsokolate for breakfast.
||Head to Apo Island for snorkeling and diving.
||ETA in Apo Island. After you’ve settled the fees, have lunch at one of the eateries along the beach.
||Start snorkeling and diving.
||Depart the island for Dumaguete City.
||ETA in Dumaguete City
||Have dinner at Hayahay Treehouse and then retire for the night.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Visit the Church of Saint Augustin of Hippo in Bacong.
||Visit the Fil-Am Jap Amity Shrine in Valencia City
||Head back to Dumaguete City and have lunch at Sans Rival Bistro.
||Visit the Silliman University Museum.
||Visit the Sinco Memorabilia Museum.
||Have snacks at the Rizal Boulevard and wait for the sunset by the promenade.
||Have dinner at Sans Rival Bistro.
||Have breakfast at the hotel.
||Buy souvenirs and pasalubong at Sidlakan Negros Showroom.
||Prepare for checkout at the hotel.
||Have lunch at Gerry’s Lechon.
||Check in at Dumaguete Airport.
||Depart Dumaguete for Manila.
||ETA in Manila
The average temperature in Negros Oriental is 25 degrees Celsius. The dry season lasts for only about two months, while the rest of year is quite rainy. When visiting the province, its best to bring clothes breathable clothing. Jackets and scarves should come in handy especially when it becomes cold at night. Don’t forget to bring umbrellas, too!
There are several tertiary and public hospitals available in the province. The Silliman University Medical Center is the leading hospital in Dumaguete. There is also Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital and Holy Child Hospital.
While there are pharmacies and drug stores available throughout the province, it is recommended for you to bring medicine, especially if you have certain medical conditions.
While Negros Oriental is a safe province, vigilance is still expected from visitors. Avoid being a victim of petty crimes by being constantly aware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye on your valuables especially when visiting crowded places.