When in San Carlos City

May 10, 2011 Travel

I've always wanted to write an article with this title, and it's a pleasure to finally do it, focusing on San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, my mother's hometown.

Exploring San Carlos City offers a unique blend of local charm and vibrant activities. Here are some must-try experiences:

1) Visit the Center Mall

Long before the football craze, San Carlos City embraced the sport with open arms. Center Mall boasts several football fields that host numerous local tournaments. 

Spend an entire afternoon here, soaking in the lively atmosphere and cheering for the enthusiastic young players.

Center Mall boasts the finest, unobstructed vista of the mountain range encircling San Carlos, providing a perfect backdrop for families relaxing in the park and friends enjoying a few rounds of beer. As night falls, Center Mall transforms into a vibrant watering hole, becoming an ideal meet-up spot for friends to gather and unwind.

2) snorkel at Sipaway Island

Snorkeling at Sipaway Island is a must-do activity, even if your stay is short. The boat ride to Sipaway Island costs only Php 10.00, while habal-habal rides range from Php 5.00 to Php 10.00.

Sipaway boasts fine, white sand beaches and is rich in colorful corals and marine life, making it a truly unspoiled paradise. With a limited number of tourists and only a few resorts, the island offers a serene escape.

3) Take the 70 million highway

San Carlos City is accessible through various routes, particularly from Dumaguete and Bacolod City (as well as Cebu if you opt for the boat). When coming from Bacolod, you have two main choices. You can either travel along the coastal road or take the route that passes through the renowned 70 Million Highway, named after the significant amount invested in its construction. This highway traverses a picturesque mountain range, offering travelers a scenic journey.

The journey along the 70 Million Highway is truly breathtaking. Initially bordered by majestic pine trees, the road takes you through a series of zigzagging paths, completely enveloped by towering mountains. Along this route, you'll be treated to panoramic views of San Carlos' rice terraces and chocolate hills. As the road descends, a splendid vista unfolds, showcasing San Carlos City, the sparkling sea, and the charming Sipaway Island. It's a scenic ride that captures the diverse and picturesque landscapes of the region.

4) Visit the Mercado

Exploring the market is fun, especially for those seeking the freshest catch of the day. The stalls offer a diverse array of shellfish, a staple on many local dinner tables. In addition to the selection of fish suitable for grilling or frying, there's an abundance of crustaceans to choose from. Another family favorite available here is seaweed, a delicious treat when soaked in vinegar with onions and garlic. The market boasts a clean and inviting atmosphere, with vendors known for their friendliness and warmth. It's a culinary adventure for seafood enthusiasts.

On Thursdays and Sundays, the Ceres Bus Terminal becomes a bustling hub for fresh produce from Kan-laon during the market day.

This lively event is a great chance to discover and buy locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other farm products. The market day at Ceres Bus Terminal brings energy to the city's food scene, allowing both locals and visitors to enjoy the region's abundant harvests.

5) Say a prayer at the Cathedral

Of course, expressing gratitude for your adventures is a wonderful practice. The San Carlos Borromeo Cathedral, reachable through rented tricycles or padyak, provides a serene space for reflection and thanksgiving, complete with an adoration chapel for contemplation and connecting with the Divine.

Another delightful destination in San Carlos City is the People's Park, an ideal spot for family picnics. The park showcases replicas of famous San Carlos City landmarks.

Other places to visit are Alinsyawan Falls, Cave Lapus, Mainit Hot Springs, and the La Fortuna Wildlife Lagoon. In November, the city comes alive with the vibrant Pintaflores Festival, featuring colorful dancers parading through the streets.

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