Solo Backpacking in Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental is a part of Negros Island in the Visayas Region of the Philippines. It occupies the southeastern portion of the island of Negros with Negros Occidental as its half in the northwestern part. The provincial capitol of Negros Oriental is Dumaguete City.

Exploring Negros Oriental is a part of my 4 Days and 3 Nights Siquijor-Negros Oriental solo backpacking. Right after spending a day in the alluring Siquijor Island, I went back to Dumaguete City to spend my remaining 3 days of solo backpacking.

To be honest, this was my first solo travel in a very far province from Manila where I grew up. My first solo travel was in Biri Island in Northern Samar, but Negros Oriental is much farther. As a woman, it’s not very easy going solo. There is a high risk that people might take advantage of you because you’re a woman. I’ve encountered different reactions from friends such as “Aren’t you scared?”, “Will it be safe for women?”, “Wow! You are so brave! I could never do that.” Solo traveling for women is really terrifying, that’s given, and it’s not always safe so you have to take precautions and plan your journey very carefully. Find helpful guides on the internet and research thoroughly about the place. While solo backpacking for women is dangerous and scary at some point, it doesn’t hide the fact that it is incredibly empowering too.

Where to stay

There are literally many hotels and hostels around Dumaguete City but for a budget solo traveler, it is challenging to find a place that is cheap but is good and secure. Dastraum Guesthouse in San Jose Extension, Dumaguete City is a perfect find. It is a newly constructed guesthouse that offers clean, good and secure rooms at a reasonable price. I got a room that’s good for 2 people actually for only Php 750.00/night.

Dastraum Guesthouse in San Jose Extension, Dumaguete City

Where to go and what to do

Valencia, Negros Oriental

From Dumaguete City, ride a jeepney going to Valencia. Fare costs Php 12.00. From Valencia town proper, there are many tricycles and habal-habal (motorbike) that will offer you to have a tour of Casaroro Falls or Pulang Bato Falls or both. Since my time was limited and Casaroro falls couldn’t be traveled because of the rain and flood, I only went on for the Pulang Bato Falls tour. A tricycle tour costs Php 150.00 and the driver would also be your tour guide and would wait up for you.

Pulang Bato or Red Rock Falls

Pulang Bato Falls

Pulang Bato or Red Rock Falls is situated in Valencia, Negros Oriental. It’s been called Pulang Bato or Red Rock by the locals because the rocks and boulders surrounding the falls are literally red. Pulang Bato is often called Twin Falls too by the locals because of the presence of another waterfalls near it.

Pulang Bato’s twin waterfalls
The yellowish and orange-red rocks and boulders

Geothermal Vents

Along the way going to Pulang Bato falls, there are geothermal vents that spew sulfuric smoke. These geothermal vents became one of the tourist spots on the area. They said that the geothermal properties probably come from the potentially active Mount Talinis.

Geothermal Vents

Red Rock Hot Spring

Red Rock Hot Spring is a natural warm spring located near Pulang Bato Falls. The rocks beneath the natural pool are highly noticeable because of its different form and colors, though all of those are natural and have been there for a long time.

Red Rock Hot Spring

Apo Island, Dauin, Negros Oriental

Apo Island is one of the best snorkeling and diving spots because of its abundant marine life and sea turtle encounters. It is a volcanic island that’s located in the municipality of Dauin at the southern east tip of Negros Oriental. You can do a DIY tour of Apo Island in a lesser cost but you have to bring your own food during the tour which is a little hassle for me so I booked an Apo Island tour at Harold’s Dive Center which costs Php 1,200.00 for a whole-day tour of Apo Island using a traditional Filipino boat. The tour includes the use of snorkeling and diving gears and guides, light breakfast, lunch, some light snacks and transportation from Harold’s Dive Center to Dauin and back to Harold’s Dive Center.

Apo Island is famous for its sea turtle sightings and close encounter. Though there are certain areas for snorkeling and diving, the island’s colorful coral reefs and abundant marine life is astounding.

The highlight of the Apo Island tour is the close encounter with the sea turtles. It was really tempting to touch them because they were so close to me but the local municipality of Dauin prohibits everyone to touch the sea turtles as they were classified as endangered.

All species of sea turtles are classified as endangered.
Close encounter with a sea turtle.

Manjuyod Sand Bar, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental

Manjuyod Sand Bar is a long stretch of white sand that is often called as the “Maldives of the Philippines” because of its pristine white sand and floating native huts that resemble Maldives. Although geographically located in the municipality of Manjuyod, Manjuyod Sand Bar’s jump off point is at the municipality of Bais, Negros Oriental. From Capiñahan Wharf, there’s an outrigger boat that can be rented going to the sand bar.

Manjuyod Sand Bar

The best time to visit the sand bar is from 7 am to 10 am while its low tide but it varies depending on the weather too. I arrived at 8 am but since the weather was not good, the tide was already high. Knee-deep to be exact. Nevertheless, the picturesque creamy white sand bar and floating huts are still a majestic sight. I asked the boatman to bring me to the farther part of the sand bar where the white sand was still barely visible.

The farther stretch of Manjuyod Sand bar where the sand bar was still barely visible.

There were freshly caught seafoods and coconut juice being sold by the locals.

Freshly caught seafood

Dumaguete City

Dumaguete City is the capital of Negros Oriental and is dubbed as the The City of Gentle People. It’s not difficult to get around the city as there are tricycles that will take you to the tourist destinations. Tricycle is the main form of transportation in Dumaguete City.

Rizal Boulevard

Afternoon stroll in Rizal Boulevard

Shaded with huge acacia trees, Rizal Boulevard is one of the cool spots in Dumaguete City. Facing the sea and the port, Rizal Boulevard is a perfect place whether you want to have a morning run, stroll or just relax because of the cool sea breeze and fresh air that will surely relieve your stress of living the city life.

Dumaguete Port at night
Tempurahan in Rizal Boulevard

A visit in Dumaguete City wouldn’t be complete without eating at the Tempurahan in Rizal Boulevard. The Tempurahan are small stalls beside Rizal Boulevard where street foods like tempura and balut (boiled developing bird embryo) are being sold.

And speaking of foods, don’t forget to drop by at Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries to have a taste of their famous sansrival and silvanas.

Sansrival and calamansi juice.

Silliman University

Built in 1901 by the american protestant missionaries, Silliman University is considered to be one of the best and biggest universities in Asia.

Silliman University

Quezon Park

Located in the city center across the cathedral, Quezon Park is a place for family and friends who want to spend quality time. It is surrounded by old century trees making it a perfect spot for strolling and picnics.

Quezon Park at twilight

Belfry Tower

Built in 1811, the Dumaguete Bell Tower is the oldest known Belfry in the province. It served as a watchtower before when there were Moro pirates from Mindanao, nowadays it is one of the main tourist attractions. Visitors and devotees regularly light candles and solemnly pray at the grotto at the base of the tower.

Bell Tower

The bell tower is standing next to St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral.

St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral

Getting Around

Getting around Negros Oriental is easy. There are Ceres buses, jeeps and mostly tricycles that will take you to wherever place you like.

My overall solo traveling experience in Negros Oriental is really exciting. There are too many places to go to and people to get to know more. Who says that if you’re a woman you can’t travel alone? 🙂 Traveling is fun. Traveling makes me feel more alive.

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