Miles, Negros Oriental, Siquijor

Backpacking Central Visayas: Dumaguete (Negros Oriental)-Siquijor DIY Trip

I booked for Bohol earlier this year to take a chance on Danao’s The Plunge and to visit Alona Beach. But since getting around Bohol is more convenient when you are in a group, I ditched the beautiful B. Instead, I planned for another solo backpacking trip going to Negros Oriental and Siquijor, the last 2 provinces in Central Visayas I haven’t been too.

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What I do best: escaping the city

Game Plan
Day 1 Nov 18 – Tagbilaran City to Apo Island, Dumaguete (overnight)
Day 2 Nov 19 – Apo Island to Manjuyod Sandbar (day trip) to Dumaguete City
Day 3 Nov 20 – Dumaguete City to Siquijor Island (daytrip) to Tagbilaran City
Day 4 Nov 21 – Tagbilaran City (visit relatives) to Manila

Day 1 | November 18 | Friday

7:30 AM Tabilaran Airport Arrival
From the airport, I went straight to Tagbilaran Port to secure ferry ticket going to Dumaguete. I booked through OceanJet Fast Ferries which has only 1 daily trip going to Dumaguete and vice versa.

Since the only trip is not until 10:30 AM, I was left with 2 options:

  1. From Port, do a side trip to Tarsier Sanctuary located in Sikatuna. Ride a trike going to Island City Mall where buses bound for Sikatuna are. Though the ride lasts for only 30 minutes, it’s the bus’ waiting time that prolongs it. You may hire a trike instead. Drivers offered me PHP 250 RT which I turned down.
  2. Just stay inside the boarding area and wait

I chose the latter. The sun was excruciating and I would rather reserve my energy for later. At 10:40AM, the ferry left Tagbilaran and sailed to its nearby province—Negros Oriental.

12:30AM Dumaguete Port Arrival
As a backpacker, I learned the importance of haggling and commuting. So instead of hiring a trike for a private trip, I walked towards the main highway and waited for a trike that passes by Ceres Bus Terminal. PHP9 is way cheaper than PHP60 private trip.

I met a fellow solo female backpacker back in Tagbilaran Port. Good thing we have the same itinerary.

By 1PM, we arrived in Ceres Bus Terminal and yet again met another traveller heading to Apo Island. We rode the bus en route to Bayawan (can also be Zamboangita or Siaton). Just tell the driver to drop you off Malatapay, Zamboangita going to Apo Island. The trip lasted for 30 minutes.

Our arrival to Malatapay was just in time since public boats (Helius and Hercules) were just getting ready to board public passengers. Luckily, we met 4 more travellers. We formed a group of 7 and just chartered a private boat instead.

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Giant sea turtles feed and breed inside the yellow mark. Visitors can swim within the orange mark given they have a local guide.

The afternoon waves in Malatapay shores were bit playful. The boat ride from mainland going to Apo Island lasted for 1 deafening hour.

There wasn’t much visitors in the Island. We headed directly to the tourism office, paid for the registration fee and looked for cheap lodge.

Day 2 | November 19 | Saturday

Before our morning swim with giant sea turtles (Pawikan), we visited the Lighthouse first. It was just a quick ascend from Liberty Lodge and no need for guides.

It was 9:45AM when we left the Island. After grabbing our quick lunch, we hopped on the bus going back to Ceres Bus Terminal in Dumaguete City. By 12:15PM, we’re on board for our daytrip to the so called “Maldives of the Philippines.”

Manjuyod Sandbar in Bais City can be accessed by another 1 hour boat ride. Upon arrival at Bais, we headed first to the market to grab some fresh and cheap seafood (PHP 120/kg of shrimp, how’s that!). The boatmen cooked it for us as part of the fee.

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Thanks, @wandertwinsofficial for this dome shot!

We arrived in Manjuyod at 2pm and the tide was waist-deep. Too bad we weren’t able to witness its white sandbar. So we opted to chill and just enjoy the day.

The cottages in Manjuyod can be rented. I believe it costs PHP 3,500 for an overnight stay. I wonder if it’s worth it because there’s nothing much to do in there.

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Traveling has taught me to chase after priceless moments.

After our chill day in Manjuyod, we headed back to the wharf by 5pm. Our mini group parted at this point. Half chose to go back to Cebu while I, together with 3 more, pushed through with Siquijor adventure.

We let the night pass by staying in Pamela’s Pension House.

Day 3 | November 20 | Sunday

To catch the earliest trip from Dumaguete to Siquijor, we checked out at 6:30AM and got on board 30 minutes after. The ride going to Siquijor was about an hour and a half.

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Hello, Siquijor!

Since my plan is to get back to Tagbilaran by 5PM, I had squeezed in the beauty of this province in just 3 hours.

day-3-siquijor
One of the attractions in Siquijor is the 400-year old Enchanted Old Balete Tree. There is also a fish spa you can enjoy after.
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A peek inside Siquijor’s oldest church – San Isidro Labrador Church.
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Cambughay Falls
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In a world full of princesses, dare to be Tarzan.

 

There is a direct ferry trip to Tagbilaran costing PHP 910. I did a cheaper way by getting a trip from Siqui to Duma (PHP 130) and from Duma back to Tagbilaran (PHP 700).

Complete Itinerary for 3D2N Dumaguete-Siquijor DIY Trip

Day 1
7:30 AM – Arrival at Tagbilaran Airport, ride trike going to Tagbilaran Port
8:00 AM – Arrival at Tagbilaran Port, secure ferry tickets going to Dumaguete
10:30 AM – Boarding time
10:40 AM – Departure for Dumaguete
12:30 PM – Arrival at Dumaguete Port, walk towards the highway for cheaper trike fare
1:00 PM – Arrival at Ceres Mart, beside bus terminal
1:30 PM – Departure for Apo Island, Malatapay, Zamboangita
2:00 PM – Arrival at Malatapay, just walk towards the registration area, skip riding tricycles
2:30 PM – Departure for Apo Island
3:30 PM – Arrival in Apo Island
4:00 PM – Afternoon with Pawikan
5:00 PM – Socials, there’s a nearby Karaoke from lodge

Day 2
6:30 AM – Trek to Lighthouse
7:30 AM – Breakfast and prep for morning swim
9:45 AM – Departure back to Malatapay
10:30 AM – Arrival at Malatapay
11:00 AM – Departure for Dumaguete City
11:30 AM – Arrival at Robinsons Mall, walk towards Ceres Bus Terminal
12:15 AM – Departure for San Carlos, Bais City
2:00 PM – Arrival at Bais City, head to wet market for supplies
2:40 PM – Arrival at Manjuyod Sandbar
5:00 PM – Departure from Manjuyod Sandbar
5:45 PM – Arrival at the wharf
6:00 PM – Departure back to Dumaguete City
8:00 PM – Arrival at Dumaguete City, used google map to look for Harold’s but since full house, we tried other cheap lodging
8:30 PM – Checked-in at Pamela’s Pension House

Day 3
6:30 AM – Lodge check out, proceed to Port
6:40 AM – Arrival at Dumaguete Port
7:30 AM – Departure for Siquijor
9:00 AM – Arrival at Siquijor Port, start of less than half day tour (sad)
11:30 AM – Departure back to Siquijor Port
12:15 PM – Arrival at Siquijor Port, charge gadgets while waiting for boarding
1:00 PM – Departure back to Dumaguete
2:30 PM – Arrival at Dumaguete, secure tickets going back to Tagbilaran
3:30 PM – Departure back to Tagbilaran
5:30 PM – Arrival at Tagbilaran Port

I stayed in my Lola’s house, thus no expenses for accommodation.

Expenses:
Day 1
PHP 10 – Trike from Tagbilaran Airport to Tagbilaran Port
PHP 700 – OceanJet Fast Ferry fare from Tagbilaran to Dumaguete
PHP 20 – Tagbilaran Port terminal fee
PHP 100 – Brunch
PHP 9 – Trike from Dumaguete Port to Ceres Bus Terminal
PHP 20 – Chips
PHP 50 – Aircon bus fare from Dumaguete City to Malatapay, Zamboangita
PHP 480 – RT boat fare for 5 pax (2,400), let the boatman know what time to pick you up if you are planning for an overnight stay in Apo Island.
*there is a fixed rate for private boats, we had ours at 2,400 because the locals charge the 2 foreigners with PHP 300 per head – the regular fee of public passengers
**should you want to ride the public boats, fare is PHP 300/head
PHP 25 – Mineral water
PHP 100 – Apo Island registration fee
PHP 200 – Lodge overnight rate (haggled 600 per room for 3 pax)
PHP 30 – Dinner, just look for ihaw-ihaw

Day 2
PHP 100 – Snorkel gear rental
PHP 100 – Swimming shoes rental
PHP 60 – Guide fee (haggled PHP300 for 5 pax), required if you want to swim within the area where most Pawikans are
PHP 50 – lunch
PHP 33 – Aircon bus fare from Malatapay back to Dumaguete City
PHP 63 – Aircon bus fare from Dumaguete City to Bais City
PHP 50 – RT trike fare (Bus station-wharf-bus station), 100 for 4 pax one-way
PHP 225 – Boat fee for Sandbar only (haggled 1,800 for 8 pax)
PHP 83 – Individual share for food bought in the market
PHP 53 – Rrdinary bus fare from Bais City back to Dumaguete City
PHP 300 – individual share, 1,200 room rate for an overnight stay good for 4
PHP 140 – dinner at nearby Inasal house

Day 3
PHP 9 – Trike fare from lodge to Dumaguete Port
PHP 130 – Ferry fare from Dumaguete to Siquijor via Montenegro Lines
PHP 15 – Dumaguete Port terminal fee
PHP 500 – Individual share for habal tour (it’s really 1,200 for 2 pax. I just had to head back to port early, skipping Salagdoong Beach. Hence the cheaper fare)
PHP 5 – The Old Enchanted Balete Tree entrance fee
PHP 70 – Souvenir
PHP 100 – Goodies 😀
PHP 75 – Lunch in Cambughay Falls
PHP 10 – Habal parking fee
PHP 5 – Donation to Cambughay Falls
PHP 20 – Individual share for Cambughay Falls guide (getting a guide is optional)
PHP 130 – Ferry fare from Siquijor to Dumaguete via GL Lines
PHP 15 – Siquijor Port terminal fee
PHP 700 – Ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran via OceanJet Fast Ferries
PHP 15 – Dumaguete Terminal fee
PHP 280 – 2 packs of Silvanas (pasalubong)
PHP 120 – souvenir
PHP 30 – merienda
Contact Persons:
Ronor’s Loding in Apo Island
PHP 500 for 2 pax, breakfast inclusive
0915-775-2422

Boatman for Manjuyod Sandbar Day Tour options:
Kuya Kokoy – 0997-229-5841
Kuya Reyboy – 0917-369-7356

Tricycle (Bus station-wharf-bus station) – 0906-174-9894

Quick tips:
1. If you weren’t able to book a direct flight from Manila to Dumaguete, options are:
Bacolod-Dumaguete (via bus)
Cebu-Dumaguete (via ferry)
Tagbilaran-Dumaguete (via ferry)
2. Electricity in Apo Island is from 6pm to 9pm only everyday. Make sure to charge your gadgets between those hours.
3. Better bring a tumbler on your trips so you can just refill instead of buying another bottle.
4. Best time to swim with Pawikans is during high tide.
5. Best time to go to Manjuyod Sandbar is in the morning when it is low tide. Boat fares differ also when you just want to avail a sandbar day tour or sandbar + dolphin watching.
6. Siquijor can be accessed by ferry from Dumaguete. Their local airport is only for small planes/ private planes coming from Dumaguete, Tagbilaran and Camiguin.
7. Haggle haggle haggle!
8. Learning few Bisaya words can be of big help.
9. Look for joiners to lower your expenses especially for boat rides.
10. Don’t even think of touching the Pawikans, a PHP20,000-fine is waiting for you if you do so.

Huge thanks to solo and couple travelers I met on this trip! Especially to Jyra who made it easier for us to haggle since she is Bisayan-speaking. 🙂

And to Wander Twins who were on their 14-days Visayan Backpacking adventure when we bumped them. Follow their adventure on their FB and IG pages. You may also check Port Light on Instagram!

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What’s not to love about solo traveling? 🙂

More of my travel photos on my Instagram: @catlichamen 🙂

Meanwhile, here’s my adventure squeezed-in in 3 minutes. 🙂

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