There are tons of place to go here in the Philippines that give you a perfect summer vacation. However, why not try to stir away to the common or usually travelled to places in the country, and visit someplace else that is equally or even more breathtaking than your typical Boracay or Palawan trip.
In Central Visayas, Negros Oriental is abundant with amazing tourism destinations, mostly are still undiscovered and not yet popular – just perfect for long holidays and summer vacation. Two of the gems you should not miss out in this beautiful province are the Mabinay Natural Spring and the more than 1000 years old Balete Tree in Canlaon City.
A first class municipality in the province of Negros Oriental, Mabinay is famous for the number of caves found in it but one of its treasured sites is the Mabinay Spring. This natural spring is located in Barangay Tadlong – a more or less 1 kilometer away from the town proper.
No matter what day it is, and the weather that occurs on that day, the spring remains to have its refreshing and cool waters that is extremely inviting. Plus because the water is crystal clear it gives it such a majestic feel. It has been preserved and unfazed by the modernization around it.
Locals consider them as one of their prized possessions, because more than just the natural beauty it has, the spring is also the main water source of the city due to the unlimited water supply it provides.
There is more to do here than just swim in it, but swimming in itself is very relaxing. People can also do kayaking if they’d like to explore the spring in a different way. It is relatively cheap. And just in case you still can’t get enough of its beauty, you can opt to stay overnight. There are cottages available around the spring that can be rented for your overnight stay. So imagine watching it from your window and seeing the moonlight glisten in the spring’s water. How breathtaking!
Merely 87 kilometers away from Dumaguete City, Mabinay is considered as the second largest town in the province of Negros Oriental and also known as the cave capital of the Philippines – with more than 400 caves!
“Millennium” Balete Tree in Canlaon City
From experiencing the cool waters of Mother Nature through taking a dip in a spring, your next stop is to a place that takes you back in the past but through the natural wonders of the Mother Nature.
In Canlaon City, there you will find a tree that can be said “tale as old as time”. This old tree has lived for more than 1300 years, enough to witness the lives of many people.
From a far, you can already see the tree. There might not be much to do there but just sit down and gaze upon its beauty but seeing the tree gives you a different perspective of the world. Just allowing yourself to have that time with this side of Mother Nature can give you a sense of peace that you will definitely not get anywhere else.
Just sit at the bottom near the roots, look up and see how the sunlight tries to pierce to the leaves and how the branches and the leaves sway with the wind. Nothing can be as calming and soothing as this sight. If you feel like all you’ve been needing is a bit of peace and quiet in your life, then look no further, this century old tree will give you the serenity you have been looking for.
Possibly the oldest recorded tree in Visayas and possible in the Philippines, botanists from Silliman University based at Dumaguete City estimated the tree to be more than 1300 years old. The "millennium" balete tree is located in the middle of the farm within the OISCA Farm at Barangay Lumapao, Canlaon City [source:wiki].
And if you still want to see more, you can also visit the rice terraces which is literally just close by. Given that the city’s primary source of income is farming, you would understand as to why the rice terraces in Canlaon City looks magnificent because of its well-maintained and properly taken care of structure and form.
HOW TO GET THERE
Excited to visit these places? Here is how you will get here. You first have to know that Dumaguete or Bacolod City will be your official starting point on getting to Mabinay or Canlaon City.
Since there are no direct flights to Mabinay and Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, you can first get a flight that is headed to Dumaguete City or Bacolod City. It is, more or less, an hour flight. There are many airlines offering flights from Metro Manila to these cities. Or you can also get a ferry going to Dumaguete or Bacolod. However, riding a plane is faster and more convenient.
Going to Mabinay Spring
In Dumaguete, you can ride a Ceres bus headed straight to Mabinay or Bacolod City. The bus terminal is located before Robinson’s Mall, travel time from Dumaguete City to Mabinay is more or less 2 hours. Ask the driver to drop you at Mabinay Spring – no need to worry, the location is just along the highway and there is a big signage along the road.
You can take a Ceres bus headed to Lilo-an ferry terminal. From this terminal, ride a fast crack to Sibulan Terminal. Finally, from this terminal you can already ride a tricycle to Dumaguete city. Then follow instructions above.
From Bacolod City
Just find your way to Bacolod City South Bus Terminal, there will be buses there headed to Mabinay – more or less 3 hours travel. From Mabinay town proper hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) going to the location of Mabinay Spring. You can also take the Dumaguete City route then ask the driver to drop you in Mabinay Cold Spring.
Going to the Millennium Balete Tree of Canlaon City
From Dumaguete City
Ride in a bus or van directly bound to Canlaon City - that would be a 4-hour ride. You can also ride in a bus bound to Bacolod City (via Canlaon), just tell the driver/conductor to drop you at Canlaon proper.
- Once you get to Canlaon City proper, hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) going to OISCA Farm in Barangay Lumapao – travel time is more or less 30 minutes. Going to the location of the Balete tree you’ll be passing in the rice terraces area.
From Cebu City
You can take a Ceres bus headed to Lilo-an ferry terminal. From this terminal, ride a fast crack to Sibulan Terminal. Finally, from this terminal you can already ride a tricycle to Dumaguete City. Then follow instructions above.
Cebu – Kanlaon City via San Carlos City
From Cebu South Bus Terminal, you can take a bus going to San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. From San Carlos City, ride in the Ceres Bus going to Canlaon City. Then follow instructions above.
From Bacolod City
Ride in a bus or van directly bound to Canlaon City - that would be a less than a more or less 2-hour ride. Once you get to Canlaon City proper, follow instructions above.
So how do you get from Mabinay to Canlaon?
There is no direct route from Mabinay to Canlaon City as of this writing. The best way to explore these two interesting spots plus other interesting tourist destinations in Negros Oriental (including spots of nearby cities and town of Negros Occidental) is to rent a motorcycle or scooter – a distant travel but I can assure, it’s a beautiful experience! But, if you prefer to commute on visiting both these 2 interesting spots, allot more time for travel. I recommend to visit first Mabinay Spring then find a bus going back to Dumaguete City or Bacolod City and from there, start again the trip going to Canlaon City.
Read my previous article/feature about other tourism destinations in Negros Oriental: