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It is not your typical 'city that never sleeps' nor the one with towering concrete buildings. It is a city where beaches are accessible, where waves that can be surfed exist and are just few minutes away from the city proper, where islets are among the major attractions, where diving sites are just around the corner and hillside resorts are a thing. This is Sipalay City - what I have dubbed as a laid-back city of Negros Occidental.

Sipalay City is situated in the Southern West coast of Negros Occidental. The wonders that can be found in here gradually became known to everyone thus frequently visited despite the long drive that it takes to finally get into the town. A variation or dialect of Ilonggo is widely spoken in the town. People, though, could communicate fluently in Tagalog and some in English making it easy for the tourists to interact with them.

The bridge connecting the resorts nestled at the hill side surrounding the Tinagong Dagat

How I ended up in Sipalay, Negros Occidental

Some things tend to happen unexpectedly. Some ended up being hated while some being loved and cherished til the end of time. Either way, it teaches us really good stuff. This is what my solo travel in Negros Occidental has taught me.

I initially planned to do a Negros loop after attending the Masskara Festival in 2018. I was indeed stoked with the idea of going around solo for more than a week. Prior to my trip, itineraries, budget, OOTD and contacts have been prepared. I was more than ready. Or I thought I was? If there was one thing I did not anticipate, it's the weather. The first three days were perfectly fine. Sun was up, I soaked in a lot and got a good tan in Lakawon Island (Read: Travel guide to Lakawon Island). I witnessed the colors of Masskara under the sunshine in Bacolod City. I was able to visit cafes and enjoy a cup of Negros Occidental's finest brew with a good view the hills and breath taking landscape in Silay City. Until the next day when I was supposed to be bound for Dumaguete for Apo Island. I woke up in pouring grey skies. Drops fell heavily on the glass window panes of my room. I knew my itinerary was fugged up. Right there and then, the never-wanna-be-idle traveler in me had to change the messed itinerary. I called my friends up and searched places to visit online. So I ended up choosing Danjugan (Read: Travel guide to Danjugan Island). However, reservations days before the visit had to be made! The last resort? Sipalay, that's it. In a snap, I found myself stepping into a bus south bound that rainy morning and though of places to be visited and look for contact persons while on the road. I had four hours of planning.

Places I visited in Sipalay City

If it was a sunny day, I could have enjoyed basking in the sun and getting a good tan and dive at the beaches and ocean of Sipalay. However, due to a lot of constraints like time and bad weather, I was only able to visit a few. Among those are the following:

1. Perth Paradise Resort

The iconic pool of Perth Paradise Resort and its iconic view of the ocean and the islets

This iconic resort is known for its infinity pool on the hillside with a view of the vast ocean and islets of Sipalay. It was around 2 in the afternoon when I came and it was raining. Yet, the resort didn't fail me. It was among the most breathtaking view I've had. The water in the pool was warm so I enjoyed both the dip and the view on a cold rainy afternoon.

The 5-ft pool is open to guest up to 10:00 PM. The resort on the other hand, is open from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. For those who will be checking in for a night, check in time is at 2:00 PM and check out at 12:00 PM. There's a swimming area with floating cottages several steps down from the pool area. 

RATES

Resort entrance fee: 80 php
Use of infinity pool: 100php
Cottage (by the infinity pool) use: 500php 
Corkage fee: 500php


ROOMS

1. CABANA ROOM - Php 1,300.00
a non air-conditioned room good for two persons (particularly backpackers) with shared bathroom
2. STANDARD ROOM - Php 2,700.00
air-conditioned room equipped with television and selected cable channels that is good for four persons with 2 single bed and 1 matrimonial bed. It also has its own bathroom.
3. FAMILY ROOM - Php 4,500.00
an air-conditioned room with two matrimonial beds, 2 extra beds, kitchen and television with selected cable channels.
*Take note that guests may be charged 200php for excess heads and extra beds.

The floating cottages of Perth Paradise Resort

ACTIVITIES

1. Kayaking - 250 Php
2. Island hopping  (good for 6 to 10 persons for 3 hours with 150 Php for excess pax) - 1,500 - 2,000 Php
3. Snorkeling ( 1 hour) - 250 Php
4. Floating Cottage (unlimited use) - 700 Php
5. SCUBA diving (for reservation) - 1,600 Php

CONTACT DETAILS

For more inquiries and reservation, you may reach their management at the following:
Instagram: @perthparadiseph
Gmail: perthparadiseph@gmail.com
Mobile: +63 946 059 0076

2. Tinagong Dagat

The view at the viewing deck of Latasan Resort in Tinagong Dagat

According to my tour guide, this place was called as such as there is a portion of the sea that is partly enclosed by land and is surrounded by islets and hills; hence, 'tinago' (hidden). It has an extremely distinct charm for it gives a closer view of the hills and islets which are seen afar if you are in Perth Paradise Resort. It also has a long hanging wooden bridge that connects the resorts located at the other hillside to another. The other resort, on the other hand, provides quite an astounding view as it has a view deck atop the hill. I was lucky enough that my tour guide knows very well the spots that are good for taking photos so I really had good ones. The two resorts from each hill side offers room equipped with air-conditioning, television and hot and cold shower. Room rates range from Php 1,200 to Php 1,650.
Entrance fee: Php 20.00/ head

3. C-View Resort

The long wooden walk way of C-View Resort

For only Php 10.00, you can enjoy a long wooden walkway that stretches from the resort down to the waters. The end of the walkway is a ladder down to the shallow part of the sea where swimming and kayaking is possible. They also have rooms for rent.

Suggested Sipalay Day Trip Itinerary

03:00 AM - ETD to Sipalay City
08:00 AM - ETA Sipalay City/ Meet tour guide
08:15 AM - Breakfast
09:00 AM - Start Tour
Places to visit:
-Tinagong Dagat
-Perth paradise Resort
-C-View Resort
-Surf at Sipalay (depending on the waves and season)

Should you want to visit the points of interest in the town, two days or three may suffice. Danjugan Island in Cauayan or Dumaguete City can also be explore next to your visit in Sipalay City.

The bridge going to one of the resorts in Tinagong Dagat

Other Places you can visit in Sipalay

1. Sugar Beach
2. Punta Ballo Beach
3. Campomanes Beach Resort
4. Mangrove Forest
Take note that some of these attractions may require boat transfers. Exploring the wonders of Sipalay may take two or three days. Thirty minutes away from the town is the jump off to Danjugan Island which is located in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

Sample Day Trip Budget

Bus fare (Bacolod Cit to Sipalay City) - Php 250.00
Tricycle tour - Php 500.00
Perth Paradise Resort Entrance fee - Php 80.00
Pool Use - Php 100.00
Lunch - Php 100.00
Tinagong Dagat Entrance Fee - Php 20.00
C-View Resort Entrance Fee - Php 10.00

TOTAL EXPENSES  - Php 960.00
This might be lessen if you have someone to share with the tricycle fees

Where to Stay 

1. Sealey's Inn for as low as Php 890.00
Facebook: The Sealey's Inn
Mobile: +63 930 137 7600

2. Easy Diving Beach Resort for as low as Php 1,822.00
Mobile: +63 917 300 0381
Email: diving@sipalay.com

Mobile: +63 919 603 0045 

4. Sugar Beach House for as low as Php 1,065.00

5. Perth Paradise Resort for as low as Php 1,300.00
Gmail: perthparadiseph@gmail.com
Mobile: +63 946 059 0076

6. Lasatan Island Resort

Some useful information when visiting Sipalay

1. There are ATMs in the town proper but nowhere near the resorts I have visited.
2. There are various cheap and quality accommodations like pension inns and hotels near the terminal and around the town. You may ask your tour guide for recommendations. 
3. Convenience stores are located only at the town proper
4. Main means of transportation is tricycle
5. Buses arrive and leave every thirty minutes at Sipalay City

A viewing deck on the other side of Tinagong Dagat with the view of the 'Turtle' island

Getting to, around and away

From Manila:

1. Fly from Manila to Bacolod City or Dumaguete City. Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines and Air Asia have several flights on a daily basis from and to the said provinces.

From Bacolod City:

1. From Sipalay Airport, take a cab to South Bus Terminal. This might take more or less an hour with 350-500php fare. There are also buses outside the airport that travels to Bacolod City.
2. From the South Bus Terminal, take a bus or van bound for Sipalay or Hinobaan. Tell the driver to drop you off Sipalay City. The trip takes four to five hours.
3. The driver will drop you off the Sipalay Terminal. From there you can look habal habal or tricycle that you can charter to tour you around Sipalay.

From Dumaguete City:

1. Take a bus or van bound for Kabankalan.
2. From Kabankalan, take another bus or van going to Sipalay or Hinobaan.
3. If getting dropped at Hinobaan, take another van going to Sipalay. If taking a bus bound for Bacolod City, ask the driver if they will pass by Sipalay. You may either take that one.
4. From the drop off point, you may charter habal habal or tricycle to tour you around.

In getting around, I looked for contact details of tour guides posted on Facebook travel groups. My tour guide waited on me at the drop off point and we got off to the tour right away after. I found JM's contact details posted. He charged me Php 500.00 for a day trip where we visited Perth Paradise Resort, Tinagong Dagat, C-View Resort and a beach where waves are good for surfing.

This island is shaped like a turtle! Fascinating, it is!

The province of Negros Occidental, most especially the quiet town of Sipalay City, is a solo travel-friendly destination. I rode shotgun and solo and it's seriously one for the book! Planning to go solo? I highly recommend Negros Occidental. 

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