A favourite among travellers, Dumaguete is far more hip and urbane than your average provincial capital, partly because it is a university town, and partly because 4000 expatriates live here (as opposed to 400 in Bacolod). It’s a confident place that really knows how to be a town, with a cosmopolitan harbourfront promenade lined with upmarket bars, restaurants and food stalls.
San Carlos is the main port city connecting Negros to Cebu, with daily ferries heading to Toledo, on Cebu’s west coast. It's not overflowing with charm, but is fine for an overnight stay, particularly during the wild Pintaflores Festival, a parade of people dressed in amazing flower costumes.
Valencia & Around
Valencia is a clean and leafy town with stately tree-lined avenues and a large, grassed central square. It sits at the foot of Mt Talinis (1904m), whose twin peaks are known as Los Cuernos de Negros (The Horns of Negros). There are four trails to the summit. Guides can be arranged by the Provincial Tourism Office in Dumaguete and Harold’s Mansion.
Bais City & Around
About 45km north of Dumaguete (P50, one hour by Ceres bus), Bais City is one of the country’s top spots for dolphin and whale watching. More species of cetaceans (including killer whales) have been seen in the squid-filled, 3000ft deep Tañon Strait between Negros and Cebu than anywhere else in the Visayas.
Mt Kanlaon Natural Park
Mt Kanlaon Natural Park is 24,388 hectares of cool, dense forest surrounding a towering active volcano with a deep crater. The park is home to diverse wildlife, including wild boar, civet cat, leopard cat, spotted deer, hornbill, hawk eagle and bleeding-heart pigeon. However, most of these are rare, endangered or nocturnal, making spotting them difficult, even with a guide.
Bulata & Danjugan Island
The little town of Bulata is the doorway to southern Negros. Turn off here and a 3km track will lead you to the swish Punta Bulata Resort & Spa, which occupies its own kilometre of golden sand facing a set of islets. Designed by its architect-owner, the main complex is an attractive modern-Asian style with local touches.
The sugar plantations that surround Silay have their own colourful histories. To arrange a visit you’ll need to arrange a tour through the Silay tourist office. Sadly, Victorias Milling Company was closed to tourists at the time of research, but enquire to see if things have changed.
Like neighbouring Sagay, Escalante is a city of two parts – with Old Escalante on the coast and New Escalante on the highway. City Hall, the town plaza, the bus terminal and BDO bank are all in New Escalante; the port of Danao, from where the boats to Cebu leave, is in Old Escalante. It’s 7km between the two, and a tricycle will cost around P10 (15 minutes).
This tiny 12-hectare volcanic island, with its one beachfront village, is known for having some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Philippines. You'll also find gorgeous white coral-sand beaches, some fine short walks, a friendly island community, and excellent views back to Negros, crowned by Mt Talinis.