Sea views of small islands off the coast of Sipalay Philippines

WIT: A Sipalay Guide

Sipalay, perfectly located in the south-west of Negros, isn’t exactly built for international visitors. The closest airports are 4 hours away and there are no convenient ferry routes. It can be a mission to get to and there isn’t much information online – but that’s exactly why you should go.

Just because backpackers aren’t including Sipalay in their ‘top 100’ Philippines lists, it doesn’t mean it there’s nothing to see there. Far from it. In fact, Sipalay is a popular holiday base for many Filipino holidaymakers. They know their country best, and turns out, they’re keeping Sipalay a secret for a reason.

How to Get to Sipalay

Sipalay isn’t easy to get to! Little-visited Negros is noticeably less touristy than other popular backpacker destinations in the Philippines. It may be more difficult to get around, but it’s 100% worth it.

Sipalay is one of the bigger cities in Negros Occidental, located in the island’s south-west. If you’ve just come from Siquijor or Bohol, there’s a good chance you’ll be arriving in Dumaguete. Otherwise, your journey to Sipalay will begin in Bacolod.

AIR

There’s no airport in Sipalay. You’ll understand when you visit. Your best two options are Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport and Bacolod-Silay Airport.

Even then, you’re still 4 hours away from Sipalay. Both airports are well served by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Cebgo, with frequent flights to and from Davao, Manila and Cebu.

A view of Tinagong Dagat resort, Sipalay
The walkway from the viewing platform
BUS

Whether you arrive by plane or ferry, you’ll need to get the bus from either Bacolod or Dumaguete. We came from Dumaguete, so these are your options from there.

First, you’ll need to get a trike from Dumaguete to Ceres Bus Terminal (P10pp).

We believe there’s a direct bus from Dumaguete straight to Sipalay. It’s supposed to leave around 11am, but we found no sign of it. Instead, we got the bus to Bayawan, then to Hinobaan, then to Sipalay. You might have to as well.

Dumaguete – Bayawan
  • Pay with cash at the counter
  • No luggage fee
  • First departure 07:30, then hourly with Ceres
  • 3 hours

Bayawan Bus Terminal is a busy place, and there are loads of food and fresh fruit stalls in the streets around it. A short walk away there is also a handy ATM.

Bayawan – Hinoba-an
  • Pay with cash at the counter
  • No luggage fee
  • We left at 10:45, there are regular buses again with Ceres
  • 1hr30

There is absolutely nothing in Hinoba-an. Nothing whatsoever. It’s honestly not even worth getting off the bus! Now for the last bus of the day.

Hinoba-an – Sipalay
  • Pay with cash on the bus
  • P10pp luggage fee
  • We left at 12:30, there are regular buses again with Ceres
  • 30 minutes

On our last bus, the conductor was a little surprised to see us, but asked where we were going. Naturally, we said Sugar Beach. If you do, they’ll drop you on the outskirts of Sipalay City. The conductor will shout for his mates on trikes and they’ll suddenly become very interested in your onward journey.

Things to Do in Sipalay

It may not be the prettiest place, but Sipalay is a convenient base to explore some of the best attractions in Negros Occidental. Most Filipino holidaymakers will make their way to one of many holiday resorts in the area and see little else.

If you’re stretched for time (and on a tight budget), then you can visit some of the best things to do in the Sipalay area while saving the resort for another time. Here’s what we believe you can’t miss.

Poblacion Beach

We’ll start with an easy one! Poblacion Beach is the main beach in Sipalay. It isn’t the best beach you’ll visit in the country (it isn’t even the best beach near Sipalay), but it’s certainly not a bad one. The Philippines is a country filled with some of the world’s best beaches – it’s easy to end up a little spoilt.

The of Poblacion beach from the sea
Poblacion Beach from a slightly different perspective

This beach has a great atmosphere and some real peace and quiet too. It’s a huge beach where you’ll find your own spot without a problem. Poblacion Beach is a great place to meet local people, hop on a ferry to Sugar Beach or simply relax for the day. On a coastline which has some incredibly high-end resorts, this is as local as it gets. Don’t be surprised if you’re the only international visitor there.

Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach was one of the highlights of our entire trip – never mind our time in the Philippines. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve created a whole blog post about it. Check out our Quick Guide to Sugar Beach, Sipalay, and find out why you can’t miss this glorious stretch of sand.

A view of the sand from the water, with boats on the sand and trees in the background, Sipalay
It doesn’t get much better than this
Tinagong Dagat

Now for another one of the best things to see in the Sipalay area – Tinagong Dagat Island Resort (P30 entry). This is a holiday resort frequented mostly by Filipino guests. There are comfortable rooms, several swimming pools and fantastic views over the sea.

A bridge across the water to Latasan Island Resort, Sipalay
The walkway to Latasan Island Resort

While many visitors will stay within the resort for the entirety of their holiday, you can visit for the day. It may offer guests a comfortable and relaxed stay, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t visit just to make the most of the views and the picturesque bridge.

A sign welcomes visitors to Latasan Island Resort, Sipalay
Welcome!

When you walk across the bridge you’ll reach Latasan Island Resort. This is where the majority of the pools and accommodation are (but they’re strictly for guests). From there, keep heading up and follow the path. After 120 steps, you’ll reach the highest viewing platform which has great views out to the Sipalay coast and some islands further in the distance.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to spend more than half an hour here, but it’s still worth seeing. Don’t be surprised to find local teenagers offering a tour you didn’t necessarily ask for. Regardless, they’re polite, inquisitive and genuinely surprised when you hand over a couple dollars.

A sea view from Tinagong Dagat viewing platforms
Look closely and see if you can find Perth Resort

If you look west, you’ll even be able to spot Perth Resort, which is next on the list.

Getting There

Trikes from the Bus Terminal cost P150 per person, but motorbike taxis can be haggled down to P75 per person. If you walk down to the crossroads, motorbike taxis will be quick to find you.

Perth Resort

Perth Resort (P80 entry) also offers resort-style rooms with gorgeous views and high-end food in their kitchen downstairs. They also offer boat trips along the Sipalay coast from their bridge dock by the water.

That’s all well and good, but the main reason everybody comes here is to get their perfect Instagram picture in the infinity pool.

A couple enjoy an infinity pool with a sea view, Sipalay
Look how candid we are

We’ve never been to an infinity pool before, so we’re not exactly sure what good-value infinity pools look like. But for what you pay, the views are pretty amazing from the spectacular Perth Resort pool.

A couple sit in the infinity pool at Perth Resort, Sipalay
Does IG love us yet?

You won’t need more than a couple hours to visit the pool, get your IG photos and relax in the sun. Even after you’ve paid your entry, it’s another P100 to use the pool if you’re not a hotel guest.

Getting There

Either walk from Tinagong Dagat, or pay P70 per person on a trike to or from Sipalay.

Other Things to See in Sipalay

There are so many other things to see in Sipalay, but sadly we couldn’t find the time. There are countless holiday resorts all along the Sipalay coast and you can take your pick from luxury beach escapes to resorts with traditional nipa huts.

Punta Ballo is another spectacular beach in the area with plenty of dive schools, high-end resorts and things to see.

If you have even more time in Negros, then heading north to Carbin Reef, Lakawon Island (Cadiz City) and Guimaras Island would be great ways to spend your time. We plant to visit when we’re next in town!

Moving On

You’ll find plenty of buses heading to Bacolod. In fact, buses leave roughly every half an hour with Ceres, and you’ll pay around P282 for an AC bus. Expect your journey to take around 5 hours.

Another way to get to Bacolod is to head to the improvised ‘van terminal’ at the 7/11. Once there are 6 passengers ready to go, you’ll enjoy a speedier journey in just under 4 hours. P250 per person.

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