I just got back from a four-day vacation in Negros Island and Siquijor. It was my second time doing this combination; the first one was in 2012. Except for the Siquijor leg, the places that I visited in Negros were different from those during the first time I went there. One of the trip’s highlights was our visit to Sipalay City, a long drive from Dumaguete City which was our port of entry in Negros. Initially, I thought that traveling to Sipalay was a waste of time since the trip is very long yet our only planned destination was Perth Paradise Resort. But after a series of go’s and no’s, we finally included Sipalay City in our itinerary. Good thing we gave it a go as there were no regrets in going to the city at all—just pure fun and bliss.
Sipalay is a fourth class city in Negros Occidental, located west-southwest in Negros Island. I’ve read somewhere that there is only one direct trip plying the Dumaguete-Sipalay route daily. In case you miss that or if you are way too early for the schedule, you may opt to ride a bus for Hinobaan, then ride another one in Hinobaan to finally reach Sipalay. Some of my travel companions did not want to experience the possible hassles of public transportation, so we had decided to rent a car (2500 pesos per day for a sedan, excluding fuel; it’s a good time to rent a car as fuel prices are at rock-bottom) to make the trip more comfortable. The road from Dumaguete to Sipalay is well-paved (except for a few portions that are under construction) so getting to our destination was convenient despite the long distance (about 170 kilometers according to my navigation app).
I was assigned as the driver of the group, and being a slow one (just trying to be extra careful), it took us almost five hours to reach Sipalay (add to the travel time a few stopovers). Being a city, we expected Sipalay to have an urban setting, although on the modest side. We thought wrong. Sipalay did not have that city vibe at all. I’ve seen barangays that looked and felt more urban than Sipalay. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, though. As a matter of fact, it was pretty cool. The city actually had that rural vibe that kind of reminded me of Kalibo back in the day where I used to spend my summer vacation as a kid. I am just informing those who haven’t gone to the city just so you know what to expect when you pay a visit.
For our accommodation, I contacted Sipalay Suites (which is now known as Jamont Hotel) a week before our trip and reserved an Executive Suite. At 5,100 pesos per night for six people, it wasn’t bad at all! The room that we booked was facing the beach and was located on one end of the third level of the building. Two sides of the room had floor-to-ceiling glass walls which provided stunning views of the Poblacion beach, so beautiful my friends no longer wanted to go out and explore the rest of Sipalay. Haha. And our room had a Jacuzzi, too—perfect for cooling down and relaxing after a long day of driving and exploring.
We arrived in Sipalay past lunchtime, so after checking in and dropping our bags off at the hotel, we headed straight to Perth Paradise Resort to have our super late lunch and to finally start our tour of the city’s tourism treasures. The resort was about ten minutes away from the city proper/hotel. If you are not bringing a vehicle, you may rent a habal-habal or a tricycle to take you to the resort.
Perth Paradise looked pretty basic to me, except for the gorgeous infinity pool that overlooks a good number of islets and the sea. The restaurant located past the entrance serves a variety of affordable dishes. The service was really slow, though, which was really disappointing because we were already starving. Good thing the taste of their food made up for the poor service. We asked if we could have the food served at the top beside the pool so we could already swim while the food was being prepared, but we were informed that they charge 100 pesos to have the food delivered to the upper deck. By the way, the entrance fee for a day tour at Perth Paradise is 75 pesos and you’ll be charged an additional 100 pesos for the use of the infinity pool. Was the experience worth the fee? Definitely. It was a bonus that we had the entire resort to ourselves. Just before the sun had finally set, we traveled back to the city proper, bought some stuff from the supermarket, and drove to our hotel.
By the way, Jamont Hotel also features a big swimming pool. Upon arriving at the hotel, we went for a swim as we waited for our dinner. Food at the hotel may disappoint you as they are far from being special. Breakfast the following day was good, but service was also a bit slow considering that we were the only people in the restaurant during that time.
We did not have any plans the next morning. Some wanted to stay in the hotel and enjoy its amenities, but they finally got convinced to join our short tour. We only had about 2 or 3 hours allotted for the tour as we were bound to leave for Bayawan City at noon, so we had to choose which one to visit among the remaining spots—Sugar Beach, Punta Ballo Beach, or Tinagong Dagat. We chose the last one because we were scheduled to visit beaches in the remaining days of our vacation anyway. Tinagong Dagat is a resort that is composed of several islets. One has to cross bridges from the mainland to get to these islets. There’s nothing much to do there except to climb the steps going to one of the islet’s peak and marvel at the amazing views of other islets and the vast sea. There were a number of pools in the resort, too, but they were all under renovation when we visited. Even if they were available, I am also not sure if the use of the pools was included in the 30-peso entrance fee (per person) that we paid. I guess not. After a few photo snaps here and there, we decided to go back to the hotel to pack our things and depart for Niludhan Falls in Bayawan City.
I know that there is so much more to Sipalay than what we have seen or experienced, but I think I have seen enough to say that, even though the city is quite far both from Bacolod or Dumaguete, it is a must-visit for its natural beauty, rustic ambiance and, well, for a photo opportunity at the infinity pool at Perth Paradise Resort. Haha. Since Sipalay is located halfway between the two capital cities of Negros Island, visiting the city is more ideal for people who intend to travel from Dumaguete to Bacolod or vice versa, stopping occasionally in cities and towns in between that have tourist attractions, which include Dauin, Siaton, and Bayawan in Negros Oriental and Cauayan, Bago City, and Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental.