Moalboal to Bacolod – A Journey Less Traveled: Unveiling the Visayas by Scooter

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vladislav

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Calling all adventure enthusiasts with a free spirit! Moalboal might be a diver’s paradise, but why not expand your Philippine adventure with a thrilling scooter expedition to Bacolod, the “City of Smiles,” on Negros Island?

This off-the-beaten-path journey offers breathtaking panoramas, hidden waterfalls, hotsprings and a taste of the authentic Negros countryside. Sample local delicacies at roadside eateries and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the Negrense people.

Highlights of this Scooter Adventure

  • Conquer the majestic Salvador Mountains: Experience the thrill of riding your scooter through winding roads and breathtaking mountain vistas.
  • Cool off at Malatan-og Falls: Take a refreshing break at this cascading waterfall, and enjoy a delicious local meal with a stunning view.
  • Unwind at Bambukal Hot Spring Resort: Soothe your muscles and ease away the day’s adventure in the naturally warm waters of the hot spring.
  • Tantalize your taste buds in Bacolod: Indulge in the city’s famous “inasal” (grilled chicken), fresh oysters, and a steaming bowl of Cansi, a hearty Ilonggo/Negrense bone-in beef shank soup.
  • Explore Bacolod’s rich heritage: Step back in time at a charming heritage house and museum, and delve into the city’s fascinating history.

The Journey Unfolds:

Moalboal to Toledo City (1.5-2 hours): Start your adventure with a scenic scooter ride from Moalboal to Toledo City. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the coastal views as you cruise along.

Ferry Across the Tañon Strait (2 hours): Docking in Toledo City, hop on a ferry and enjoy a relaxing two-hour journey across the majestic Tañon Strait, the narrow body of water separating Cebu and Negros islands.

San Carlos City to Bacolod via Don Salvador Benedicto (2h Scooter Time!): Once you arrive in San Carlos City, Negros, it’s time for the real highlight – the scooter ride to Bacolod via Don Salvador Benedicto. This legendary route is famed for its breathtaking beauty. Imagine yourself weaving through winding roads with panoramic vistas unfolding before you. Cascading waterfalls add a touch of magic, and the crisp mountain air, is scented with the invigorating aroma of pine trees.

Traveling by scooter from Moalboal to Bacolod City offers a scenic 190-kilometer (117-mile) journey. The ride consists of three stages: Moalboal to Toledo City (2h and 47 kilometers), a ferry ride from Toledo City to San Carlos City (2h and 18 km), and finally, San Carlos City to Bacolod City (2h and 52 kilometers) © OpenStreetMap contributors

Bacolod Beckons

Reaching Bacolod, the “City of Smiles,” will be a sweet reward after your epic journey. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history at the Negros Museum, witness the vibrant MassKara Festival in October, or indulge in the city’s culinary delights like the famous Inasal (barbecued chicken). For nature lovers, there’s the Mambukal Mountain Range with the Seven Falls hike.

Good to know:

The ride from Moalboal to Toledo City Port takes approximately 2 hours, though this can vary depending on your riding style and traffic conditions. Remember, it’s crucial to arrive at the Toledo port at least 1 hour before your chosen ferry departure to avoid any last-minute stress.

The wait at Toledo Terminal can be a delightful experience. The port area boasts a vibrant market overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables. Treat yourself to a sweet coconut or indulge in some delicious local street food from a nearby “carenderia” (eatery) – the perfect way to fuel up before the next leg of your journey!

Lite Ferry to Bacolod
Toledo Fish Market

On the left picture, there’s a Lite Ferry, a RORO (roll on and roll off) vessel, offering air-conditioned room, double beds on two decks, and an outdoor deck at the rear. The journey typically takes about two hours. On the right picture, The Toledo Port Market boasts a variety of fresh seafood from local vendors. 

Lite Ferries Daily Schedule From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

Departures from Toledo:

Departs FromArrives InDeparture Times
ToledoSan Carlos1:00 AM
ToledoSan Carlos7:30 AM
ToledoSan Carlos10:00 AM
ToledoSan Carlos1:00 PM
ToledoSan Carlos4:00 PM
ToledoSan Carlos6:00 PM

Departures from San Carlos:

Departs FromArrives InDeparture Times
San CarlosToledo5:00 AM
San CarlosToledo10:00 AM
San CarlosToledo3:30 PM

Lite Ferries Passenger Rates From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

Passenger Rates / DiscountsDescriptionRate
Standard(Non-Aircon)₱240
Tourist(Lying Aircon)₱280
Children (3-11 years old)50% discount applicable
Senior Citizens & Students50% discount applicable (Present valid ID for discount)

Lite Ferries Cargo Rates From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

CategoryRate (RORO)
SEDAN, MULTICAB₱ 1,820
SUV, AUV, WAGON₱ 1,820
FB, VAN, K2700₱ 2,110
MOTORCYCLE₱ 820
399 CC AND BELOW₱ 1,520
400 CC AND ABOVE₱ 1,520
W/SIDECAR₱ 1,640
TRICYCLE₱ 260
San-Carlos-near-Ferry-Terminal

Waiting for your ferry in San Carlos doesn’t have to be a bore! Just a short walk from the terminal, Pantalan Boulevard offers a vibrant escape. Breathe in the fresh sea air, savor mouthwatering grilled seafood, and soak up the local atmosphere. This charming waterfront strip transforms your wait time into a delightful pre-ferry experience.

Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved in obtaining a ticket for yourself and your scooter on a Lite Ferry:

  1. Gather Your Documents: Make sure you have a copy of your scooter’s registration readily available.
  2. Get Cleared by the Coast Guard: Head to the Coast Guard office at the port and obtain a stamp for your motorbike registration.
  3. Purchase Your Ferry Ticket: Visit the Lite Ferry office to buy your ticket, which typically costs around ₱820 for one driver and one motorbike (price subject to change).
  4. Terminal Fees: Pay the terminal fees at two locations:
  5. Boarding Time: Approximately 30 minutes before your ferry’s departure, you can enter the terminal and wait for boarding instructions.

FastCat Daily Schedule From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

FastCat: If you prefer a faster option, head to the FastCat office for their ticket prices. Expect to pay around ₱1030 for a motorbike under 400cc and a driver (price subject to change). FastCat schedule and price list.

Departures from Toledo:

Departure Time (Toledo)Arrival Time (San Carlos)Estimated Travel Time
7:00 AM8:00 AM1 hour
11:00 AM12:00 PM1 hour
7:00 PM8:00 PM1 hour

Departures from San Carlos:

Departure Time (San Carlos)Arrival Time (Toledo)Estimated Travel Time
5:00 AM6:30 AM1 hour 30 minutes
8:30 AM10:00 AM1 hour 30 minutes
4:30 PM6:00 PM1 hour 30 minutes

FastCat Passenger Rates From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

SEAT CLASSIFICATIONFULL FARESTUDENTS / SENIOR CITIZENS/PWDS (WITH VALID ID’S)CHILDREN (4-7 YEARS OLD)CHILDREN (3 YEARS OLD AND BELOW)
BUSINESS CLASSP 386P 309P 276FREE
PREMIUM ECONOMYP 312P 250P 223FREE
ECONOMYP 234P 187P 167FREE
Lite-Ferries

After approximately a two-hour ride, Lite Ferry is nearing its arrival at San Carlos Port to unload their passengers and cargo.

FastCat Cargo Rates From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

Absolutely! Here’s the table with “P” and a space before the amount:

CLASSIFICATIONPRICE (₱)
BICYCLEP 252
BICYCLE WITH SIDECARP 420
MOTORCYCLEP 1,008
MC 400 CC AND ABOVEP 1,512
TRICYCLEP 1,512
LIGHT CARS/MULTICAB/OWNER/SEDANP 2,016
VAN/PICKUP/SUVP 2,520
4W ELF/PASSENGER JEEPP 3,024
6W ELFP 3,528
MINI BUS/COASTER/BONGGOP 4,032
FORWARDP 4,536

Aznar Ferries Daily Schedule From Toledo To San Carlos and Vice Versa

DirectionDeparture TimeFrequencyVessel
Toledo – San Carlos9:30 AMDailyFASTCRAFT
Toledo – San Carlos3:30 PMDailyFASTCRAFT
San Carlos – Toledo8:30 AMDailyFASTCRAFT
San Carlos – Toledo10:30 AMDailyFASTCRAFT

Terminal Fees At San Carlos:

Vehicle TypeDescriptionTerminal Fee
TYPE 1Motorcycle Tricycle, ScooterPhp 65.00
TYPE 2Car, Minivan, SUV, AUV Owner-type Jeep, PUJ (16pax)Php 129.00
TYPE 3Light Delivery Van, Pick-up Truck, PUJ (+16pax)Php 258.00
TYPE 4Stake Truck, Heavy Equipment Delivery Truck, Passenger/Tourist Bus, Prime Mover/Tractor Head (with or without trailer/chassis)Php 516.00

Port fees: These fees vary depending on the specific departure and arrival ports you choose.

Disclaimer: Ferry schedules and fares are subject to change without prior notice. We strive to provide accurate information, but please refer to the official website of your chosen ferry company for the most up-to-date details. Additionally, ferry trips may be cancelled due to bad weather or safety concerns.

Driving-Via-Salvador-Mountains

Each twist and turn of the scenic path unveils a breathtaking vista, a testament to the raw beauty of the region. This journey is more than just transportation; it’s a full sensory immersion into the heart of the Don Salvador Mountains.

Once you leave the ferry, we’ll head towards Don Salvador Benedicto on the scenic route. I will point out some great spots to stop for a quick coffee break and admire the landscape. Jilla’s at the Peak, Kurvada Cafe and Cafe La Guada

Time for lunch

Kusinata in Don Salvador Benedicto is a must-visit! This restaurant isn’t just about the food (which is amazing, by the way – everything we ordered was great!), but the view. Imagine slurping down delicious unique Filipino dishes while overlooking the Malatan-og Falls – pretty epic, right? The staff is super friendly too, and they support the local indigenous people which is awesome. It can be a bit pricier than other spots, but the portions are big and the whole experience is worth it.

After your meal, leave your scooter in the designated parking area at Kusinata. From there, take a walk up towards the registration viewing deck. Your next destination: Malatan-og Falls.

Kurvada-Cafe
Kusinata-in-Don-Salvador-Benedicto-

Bottom Image: Kusinate, a rustic restaurant perched on a mountainside, its open-air deck jutting out to frame a breathtaking vista.

Malatan-og Falls

Malatan-og Falls, also known as “Cigarette Falls” due to its wispy appearance from afar, is a hidden gem tucked away in the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto. Cascading down from a height of 200 feet, the falls offer a majestic sight and a refreshing escape with its cool waters at the base.

Registration and Entrance Fees

Upon reaching the viewing deck, you’ll find the registration area where you can pay the entrance fees:

  • Adults: 50php/pax
  • Children/Students: 25php/pax
  • Foreigners: 150php/pax
  • Guide: 300php for a group of up to 5 people
Malatan-og-Falls-1
Malatan-og-Falls-2

The Hike: A Moderate Challenge

The trek down to Malatan-og Falls is a 700-meter adventure. The trail can be steep and slippery, especially during the rainy season. The hike typically takes 30-45 minutes depending on your fitness level. While the descent is easier, the climb back up can be more tiring, so pace yourself accordingly.

Once you reach the base of the falls, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the cascading water. The pool at the bottom is perfect for a refreshing dip.

Feeling adventurous and have some extra time? There’s another guided trek you can consider – Kawa Falls! Located upstream from Malatan-og Falls, it offers a different perspective of the beauty in the area. Round trip that takes about 4 hours, so plan accordingly.

Next Stop Pinewood Forest

Chill vibes under the pines! Don Salvador Benedicto’s Pine Forest is the perfect spot for a quick nature break. Cool breezes rustle the towering trees, filling the air with a fresh pine scent. Take a deep breath and unwind. Local vendors got you covered with yummy fruits and refreshing coconuts to keep you going.

Fruit-Stand-Pine-Forest
Pine-Forest
Don-Salvador-Benedictos-Pine-Forest

Perfect pitstop to recharge! Grab some juicy fruits and a refreshing coconut from local vendors at the Pine Forest. Refueled and revitalized, continue your adventure down to Mambukal Hot Spring Resort.

Heading to Mambukal Hot Spring Resort

Mambukal Hot Spring Resort, nestled in the mountains near Murcia, Negros Occidental, offers a unique blend of relaxation and nature exploration. The resort’s main attraction is its therapeutic hot springs, fed by naturally heated volcanic water originating from the mighty Mount Kanlaon. Multiple pools with varying temperatures cater to your preference, allowing you to soak and unwind amidst lush greenery.

The resort is also a sanctuary for a thriving bat population, including the endangered Golden-crowned flying fox. Look out for these fascinating creatures emerging from the trees in the late afternoon.

Extend your stay in a cozy cottage, bookable online at reasonable rates. Mambukal makes a perfect stop before exploring Bacolod City, but pack some snacks or a picnic lunch as dining options are limited. Mambukal offers a budget-friendly escape. Don’t miss the chance to conquer the 7 Waterfalls hike or pamper yourself with a relaxing spa massage for just 550 pesos per hour. Remember, some pools close early Kiddie & Adult at 5 PM, while Warm Sulfur closes at 10 PM.

EntranceEnviromental FeeTotal
AdultP 120P 20P 140
Child (Up to 11 Years Old)P 60P 20P 80
Negros-Sugar-Cane

Sugarcane plantations have been a mainstay of Negros Island’s economy for centuries. The island’s rich volcanic soil and tropical climate create ideal conditions for growing sugarcane.

Almost There! The Last Leg to Bacolod City

After unwinding and soaking up the beauty of Mambukal, it’s time to hit the road for the final leg of our adventure to Bacolod City. The drive is a breeze, taking just under an hour and covering approximately 30 kilometers.

Feeling hungry after the drive? Bacolod presents a delightful array of culinary options to tantalize your taste buds:

  • Lions Park Grill Haus: This esteemed establishment is renowned for its delectable Bacolod chicken inasal. Tender chicken, marinated in a vibrant blend of calamansi (local lime), annato, vinegar, and pepper, is grilled to smoky perfection, capturing the essence of Bacolod cuisine.
  • Beljan Seafood and Talabahan Restaurant: If your cravings lean towards fresh seafood, Beljan Seafood offers a delightful array of oysters, grilled fish, and calamari. Indulge in the bounty of the ocean in a vibrant simple setting. A whole basket of steamed oysters cost just 100 pesos.
  • Pat-Pat’s Kansi Restaurant or Sharyn’s Cansi House Must-try dish is Kansi or Cansi, a slightly sour soup dish that offers a unique flavor profile, striking a balance between the richness of bulalo (beef marrow stew) and the sour tang of sinigang (sour soup). The slow-cooked beef shanks melt in your mouth, while the lemongrass and jackfruit add depth and complexity to the broth. It’s a truly comforting and delicious dish that will warm your soul.

Finding Your Perfect Place To Stay: From Luxe to Budget-Friendly

  • $$$ Seda Capitol Central consistently ranks high for its modern rooms, excellent service, and a rooftop bar with stunning city views. It caters to travelers seeking a luxurious stay with convenient access to the city center.
  • $$ Park Inn by Radisson Bacolod offers a great balance of affordability and quality. It features comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool, a gym, and on-site dining options.
  • $ The Suites at Calle Nueva is a well-rated 3-star hotel in the heart of Bacolod City. It offers modern, air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, plus on-site dining.

Don’t forget to check Airbnb, they often have hidden gems! I’ve personally had some excellent stays in Bacolod using Airbnb.

Bacolod City, fondly nicknamed the “City of Smiles,” boasts not only friendly faces but also a rich history beautifully preserved in its heritage houses. These ancestral abodes stand as testaments to the city’s prosperous past, offering a unique glimpse into the lives and architectural styles of a bygone era.

If you crave a truly immersive experience beyond the typical hotel stay, consider booking a room in one of Bacolod’s heritage houses.

German-Unson-Heritage-House

The German Unson Heritage House offers an experience beyond just a comfortable bed and breakfast. It’s a portal to Bacolod’s rich history and a chance to connect with the city’s vibrant cultural heritage.

German Unson Heritage House, this charming bed and breakfast (B&B) offers more than just a place to stay; it provides a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the life of a prominent Bacolod family.

The heritage house boasts several well-preserved rooms, each one offering a glimpse into a bygone era. Adorned with antique furniture, family photographs, and personal belongings, the rooms tell the story of the Unson family. You can almost imagine the lively conversations and gatherings that once took place within these walls. Guest rooms are air-conditioned and offer basic amenities.

German-Unson-Heritage-House-Master-Bedroom-1

Each room is tastefully decorated, offering a glimpse into the private lives of the Unson family. Pay close attention to the details – antique dressers, hand-stitched linens, and maybe even a vintage gramophone in a corner.

Start your day with a delightful Filipino breakfast included in your room rate. Savor dishes prepared using cherished family recipes passed down through generations, offering a true taste of Bacolod’s culinary heritage.

Book your stay in German Unson Heritage House via Facebook

Unleash Your Inner Explorer: Top Things to Do in Bacolod

Give golf a shot! It was my first time playing a nine-hole course at Negros Occidental Golf & Country Club , and I must say, it was a blast, especially with friends. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Luckily, the staff were incredibly helpful and guided us through the whole process. We played for about 3 hours, and it was a fun and social experience. Who knows, maybe golf will become your new favorite activity after all.

Negros-Occidental-Golf-Country-Club

This prestigious private golf club, formerly known as Marapara Golf & Country Club, boasts a challenging 18-hole. Nestled amidst scenic greenery in the heart of Bacolod City, the club offers a premier golfing experience for seasoned players.

  1. Provincial Capitol Lagoon: Start your day amidst serene beauty at the Provincial Capitol Lagoon. This picturesque spot boasts manicured gardens, walking paths, and the imposing Neoclassical Provincial Capitol building, the seat of the Negros Occidental provincial government.
  2. Negros Museum: Immerse yourself in Negros’ rich history and culture at the Negros Museum. Established in 1927, the museum houses fascinating artifacts – indigenous pieces, religious objects, historical documents, and exhibits showcasing the sugar industry’s significant role in the island’s development.
  3. San Sebastian Cathedral: San Sebastian Cathedral, also known as “The Pink Church” for its captivating rose-colored facade. Completed in 1882, this magnificent structure boasts impressive neo-gothic architecture and a peaceful atmosphere.
  4. Pope John Paul II Tower: Commemorate the late Pope John Paul II’s visit to Bacolod in 1981 with a trip to the Pope John Paul II Tower. This seven-story building serves as a pilgrimage center, embodying the Pope’s ideals and offering a glimpse into his life.
  5. Millionaires Row: Burgos Street, once known as Millionaire’s Row, is a must-visit for anyone seeking a glimpse into Bacolod’s opulent past. Reminiscent of famed avenues like San Francisco’s Lombard Street or Paris’ Champs-Élysées, Burgos Street is lined with grand ancestral homes, and testaments to the city’s sugar baron heritage.
  6. New Government Center: Modernity meets history at the New Government Center. This complex houses various government offices and boasts a striking architectural design.

Side Trip to Silay (Optional):

Considering Silay City is just a short drive away, you can extend your itinerary to include these historical gems:

  1. Silay Heritage Houses: Explore the grandeur of Silay’s heritage houses, meticulously restored ancestral abodes offering a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of Negrense sugar barons. Some notable houses include:
    • Balay Negrense: A museum-like setting showcasing the lifestyle of a wealthy Negrense sugar planter family.
    • Hofilena Ancestral House: Neoclassical mansion, featuring a collection of antiques, furniture, and artwork, including a sketch by a young Jose Rizal.
    • The Bernardino Jalandoni Museum: Pink mansion that belonged to a prominent lawyer and politician. The house displays period furniture and artifacts reflecting the life of a well-to-do Filipino family in the early 20th century.
  2. San Diego Pro-Cathedral: This early 20th-century church, formerly known as San Diego Parish Church, is a prominent landmark in Silay City.
  3. The Ruins: End your historical and cultural exploration with a visit to The Ruins. This haunting yet captivating landmark is the skeletal remains of a grand mansion that once belonged to a wealthy sugar baron family. The dramatic silhouette against the evening sky provides a truly unique experience.

The Bacolod tour was arranged and coordinated by our skilled tour guide, Lorelie. She meticulously planned and arranged for our golf outing, visits to two heritage houses, a lunch stop, visit Merzi Bake Company, a trip to Bambukal Hot Spring, and dinner. Reach out to Lorelie to tailor your day according to your interests; she can expertly organize every aspect for you.

Lorelie Bacolod Tour Guide

Trip Duration and Returning Back to Moalboal

The itinerary outlined above spans approximately 4 days and 3 nights, offering ample time to explore the various attractions listed. Upon your return journey to Moalboal, you have several options. You can retrace your steps via San Carlos and Toledo, or if time permits, take a ferry to explore nearby Iloilo City. Alternatively, you could opt for the scenic coastal route through Sipalay and Dumaguete, adding a touch of adventure to your return journey.

Bacolod-City-To-Moalboal-Via-Dumaguete

When heading back to Moalboal, opt for either the familiar route via San Carlos and Toledo or take a scenic detour through Sipalay and Dumaguete! © OpenStreetMap contributors

Stay tuned… In the following days, I’ll provide suggestions for activities and accommodations along the way.