Craving for a much needed break from work, I felt the need to avail a vacation leave, pick a place to travel, and just go. Living in an archipelagic country, choosing a place to visit was not a hard decision. Besides, I already have places waiting to be scratched off my bucketlist. So I texted my high school bestfriend about my plan, and we agreed on Negros Occidental, the Sugarbowl of the Philippines. Due to limited time and a tight budget, we only visited four cities which are Bacolod, Talisay, Cadiz, and Sagay.
Our trip was not as easy as we thought it would be. For starters, it was our first time to travel outside Cebu together. We were clueless about the people and the place itself that we relied on Google and Waze. Also, the language barrier was evident. Getting to Bacolod City by landtrip takes about five to six long hours.
Note: travel time for each destination are not accurate and depending on the traffic
Expenses for getting from Cebu to Campuestohan & The Ruins
- Cebu South Bus Terminal to Toledo – P70 (1hr 30mins)
- Trike from Toledo Bus Terminal to Pier – P20
- Fastcraft to San Carlos – P150 for students; P180 regular fare + P15 terminal fee (1hr 30mins)
- Trike from San Carlos Port to Bus Terminal – P50 (I know!)
- V-Hire to Bacolod City – P140 (2hrs)
- Trike to Campuestohan to The Ruins to hotel – P600 pakyaw (40mins)
Day 1: CAMPUESTOHAN HIGHLAND RESORT // THE RUINS
From Bacolod City, going to Campuestohan is a good 40mins tricycle ride. One can have fun under the sun while looking at a breathtaking view of the province. The resort offers a variety of activities for kids and kids at heart including ziplines, rope course, sky bicycle, hamster wheel, and they even have large swimming pools for those who want to cool down from the heat.
We only tried the sky bicycle though because 1.) it would be a new experience for us, 2.) the staff pushed us to go for it, and 3.) we did not have more time to try the other rides because 1.) we wasted 30mins deciding to go or not, and 2.) another 10mins crying (oops) and trying to convince ourselves that we would make it to the other end. No regrets though! It was fun. And scary. But fun.
Overnight stays are also offered in Campuestohan. One can either avail their stylish rooms, or pitch a tent in the campsite. And yes, inside King Kong is a spacious room for overnight guests!
The vibrant colors of the Indian Village and the fantasy feels of the Hobbit-themed rooms make the place insta-worthy!
Expenses in Campuestohan:
- Entrance fee – P150
- Lunch – P250
- Sky Bicycle – P100 (it was less P50 compared to the rates on their website)
Our next stop was The Ruins. This ancestral mansion is located in Talisay City. Our trike driver offered to bring us to The Ruins, with additional fare of course, since it was obvious we were clueless how to get there (haha oops). They say the perfect time to go to The Ruins was during sunset. Too bad we didn’t catch it though. It was already dark when we got there we only got a few good shots. The entrance fee is P50 for students, and P100 for adults.
Considering it was already dark and not much public vehicles pass by the place, we asked our trike driver to drop us off at the hotel. We stayed at a budget hotel, Royal Am Rei, which is a walking distance to the restaurants and cafes we wanted to try. After freshening up, we felt a little touristy that we just had to have a taste of Bacolod! So we had dinner at Nena’s Chicken Inasal, and had dessert at Calea. And gah, it was a taste of heaven! Yum!!!
Day 2: MAMBUKAL RESORT
Going to Mambukal Resort was a challenge. It took us approximately one hour to get to the place.
Tip #1: you have to be persistent in haggling with the tricycle driver because most of them are not willing due to the distance.
Tip #2: always research ahead on how to get to the places you plan to go. We didn’t know there is a minibus to Mambukal from Libertad Market so we ended up taking a trike, which cost us more.
Anyway, when we got there, we were in awe. The place was truly tranquil and naturally calming. Surrounded by a lake, a butterfly garden, swimming pools, and sulfur hotsprings, one can definitely relax from the busy life in the city. We checked out the resort and had lunch at their restaurant. Make sure to try their cheeseburger! For a place like Mambukal, I didn’t expect the food to be that good. Well of course, the greasier, the yummier!
The hike within Mambukal Resort
After, we decided to hike to the seven waterfalls. There is no fee for this activity. Just give a good tip to the tour guide, and you’re good to go. Though the atmosphere was cold because of the water and the trees, the hike was uphill so it was a real physical challenge for us that we were non-stop sweating!
The hike was good for an hour and 30mins. And nope, you cannot swim in the first to the fourth falls because of “falling debris” as what our tour guide said. But boy was I relieved when we finally got to the fifth and sixth falls. I badly needed to plunge into the water or else I would no doubt faint. The water was just as cold and calming as I hoped it would be and it was all worth the long hike! We didn’t push through the seventh waterfall though because it will take another 40mins to get there and all hikers should head back to the main road by 5pm for safety purposes.
Tip #3: if you’re staying overnight, make sure to bring food with you because the restaurant closes during the evening. (I know!)
Expenses in Mambukal Resort:
- Trike to Mambukal – P300 (ugh!) (2hrs due to traffic)
- Entrance fee – P50
- Accommodation – P450 (P900/2pax)
- Lunch – P200-250
- Waterfalls Tour Guide – P200 (optional)
- Bus from Mambukal to Libertad Market – P35
When we arrived at the Libertad Market, we went to Merzci to buy pasalubongs. Bacolod is known for their tasty delicacies and it is no excuse not to try them! Since we were on a tight budget, we only bought napoleones (P135/dozen), and biscocho (P70 big, P40 small)
Day 3: LAKAWON ISLAND
Lakawon Island was pure paradise! From Facebook videos to online blogs, I honestly did not expect the island to be just as beautiful and amazing.
From Libertad, we rode a jeepeney to Ceres heading for Lakawon Island. The main attraction there was TawHai Floating Bar so naturally, the first thing we did once we got off the pumpboat was head to the reception area and paid the entrance fee for the bar. And oh my god, it was the highlight of the trip!!! Floating bar + good music + sun + sea breeze is the perfect combination and it was just what I needed. Oh, and we went there on a November weekday so we had the bar to ourselves when we arrived. Yay!
Aside from cocktails and beer, the bar also serves pasta, burgers, wings, and more.
After having our lunch and being able to relax that we almost fell asleep, we decided to check out the beach and get our tan lines on.
Note: if you’re backpacking, you can leave your bags at the bar. Just let the staff know.
The last trip back to Cadiz from the island was at 5pm. At around 4pm, we started changing and packing. From Cadiz, we hopped on a bus to Sagay (Suh-guy! not Saaah-guy) to meet with our friends. Sagay is a very small town that a pizza parlor closes at 7pm. We tried Tazza Cafe and I loved the place in an instant. For a cheap price, their coffee and waffle are actually really good! We then had barbecue for dinner at the plaza. Food stalls are available at the plaza during the night. After an hour of catching up, it was time to go.
Expenses in Lakawon and going back to Cebu:
- Jeep to Ceres Bus Terminal – P8
- Ceres Bus to Cadiz – P100 (1hr)
- Trike to Lakawon port – P30 (P120/4pax)
- Boat to and from Lakawon – P300
- TawHai Floating Bar entrance fee – P250
- Lunch at TawHai Floating Bar – P350
- Trike to bus terminal – P60 (P120/2pax)
- Bus to Sagay – P40 (1hr 30mins-2hrs)
- Bus to San Carlos – P85 (1hr 30mins)
- Trike to port – P15
- Fastcraft to Toledo – P150 + P20 terminal fee (1hr 30mins-2hrs)
- Van to Cebu City – P100 (1hr)
With all the places we visited and the food we tried, we got short on our budget so we decided to go back to Cebu instead of staying another night. We got on the 9pm bus to San Carlos, bought a 1am ferry ticket to Toledo, and rode a van back to Cebu City. Even though the whole trip took all my money, I’d rather be penniless and go on adventures!!!