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Asia > Southeast Asia > Philippines > Visayas > Negros > Negros Oriental > Mabinay

Mabinay

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Mabinay (stress on middle syllable) is a municipality covering a large area of hills and valleys near the center of Negros Island. There are many caves in the region and the town's small tourist industry revolves around organizing trips to them and kayaking in the Ilog river and its tributaries.

Understand[edit]

According to the locals there are literally hundreds of caves in the area but they are reluctant to reveal their locations lest they are padlocked shut to prevent harvesting of birds nests and bats. The nests are the basis of the Chinese delicacy bird's nest soup and are a profitable export item; there are legal controls to prevent over-harvesting, but locals sometimes cheat on those.

In 1989-1990, a Belgian-Dutch-Philippine Caving Expedition undertook a survey and identified 45 separate caves. Two copies of their research and documentation were given to the town and very quickly disappeared.

Get in[edit]

Mabinay is on the main road linking the capitals of the island's two provinces, Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Bacolod in Negros Occidental. It is easily reached by bus from either city, or from the nearer cities Bais and Kabankalan.

This is not a good road for driving after dusk. There are several road slips in the hills on the road and, as is usual in the Philippines, these are neither adequately signed nor lit at night. Also, broken down vehicles often drive off leaving the large rocks that they had used as wheel chocks behind them in the middle of the road.

Get around[edit]

by pedicab or offer to rent a scooter from a local if you want to explore with natural air conditioning.

See[edit]

  • Bad Smell Cave (Mambajo). Due to bat guano and urine.
  • Baliw Cave (7km from Bulwang).
  • Cayaso Cave. 2,222m long.
Swiftlet nests ready for steaming (the lower nest shows a view as it might be attached to the wall of the cave, while the upper shows the interior).
  • 1 Crystal Caves (Bulwang) (10km south of Mabinay township on the south side of the highway towards Bais City and well signed in brown). Daily 08:30 until last admission at 16:30. Nice gardens with plenty of shade trees have three pavilions where you can leave your bags and gear and use clean toilets. The cave is about 150m walk over rough karst and through sheltering trees. Since the cave atmosphere has pretty well 100% humidity you might want to pause for a few moments to cool off before you enter. There is an iron walkway at relatively high level of about 140m from the cave entrance and artificial lighting. The formations are interesting and extremely varied, but of a uniform whiteness except where they have been contaminated. Many will be interested to see the rhinoceros bats hanging from the ceiling, but watch where you place your hands because of guano deposits. The air is not foetid or unpleasant despite the lack of any air currents. For many the highlight may well be the opportunity to get very close to tiny Balinsasayaw swifts nesting in the ceiling about 1m above your head. (The caves have to be kept locked to prevent the theft of their valuable nests that are prized for making birds' nest soup. The nests built, with the birds saliva, have high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium and can fetch about ₱40 per gram. According to traditional Chinese science, these soups are believed to help maintain skin tone, balance qi {"life energy"}, help digestion, alleviate asthma, boost the libido and reinforce the immune system.) ₱215 includes a hard hat and the services of a guide.
  • Kabugan Cave. Large colonies of three different species of bat and an opening that allows a shaft of sunlight to penetrate.
  • Odloman. At a length of some 8,870m, this cave system is the second longest in the Philippines after St Paul's Underground River in Palawan's National Park. It's not a cave for casual visitors since it can only be accessed by swimming 20m across an underground torrent of by rappelling down from a squeeze in the roof. Seasoned spelunkers will be rewarded with large galleries, narrow corridors, and some pretty extreme water challenges.
  • Pandalihan Cave. Contains the "Berlin Wall".
  • Panligawan Cave. The most accessible of them all.

Do[edit]

Enjoy a dip in the natural spring pool, 200m past Andrew's Diner on the way to Bais on the left hand side. Waterfall and shade trees. ₱10 admission for adults, ₱5 for kids. ₱50 to hire a kayak with paddles and lifejacket for 1h. Zipline is ₱100 and kids may get a free ride if it's quiet.

River kayaking & rafting in the Ilog river, one of the longest rivers in the province. Water levels are usually low in July, August and September.

Buy[edit]

Birds' nests. You'll make a huge profit in places like Hong Kong and Macau.

  • 1 Honey's Grocery Store.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Andrew's Diner. Cafeteria style with outside tables set in a tranquil garden with artificial waterfall. ₱15-35 per dish.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Since accommodation options are rather limited, visitors might consider staying in Bais City some 100 minutes away (reduced to 50 minutes if the highway is ever repaired).

  • 1 Econotel. Unfortunately this roadhouse suffers from the common cycle of tourism decline in the rural Philippines: infrequent guests mean that maintenance and modernisation is reduced which, in turn, reduces patronage. In Jan 2015 the restaurant was not open and there was no running water or refrigerated drinks. 3 Motel style units surprisingly well furnished but with tiny shower rooms where anybody seated on the WC has an intimate encounter with the pedestal of the wash hand basin. Bizarrely for an establishment with no running water in the rooms, one corner of the bedroom - where normally you might expect to encounter a writing desk - is very fully occupied by an ivory-coloured two person spa bath! Grounds are pleasant and sufficiently removed from the cloying dust of the (perpetual?) roadworks on the highway (which have been "in progress" for more than 6 years now).
  • Mabinay Springs poolside cottages. ₱1000-1500 per brand-new cottage.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Bais City is equally peaceful and has dolphin watching and floodlit tennis courts
This city travel guide to Mabinay is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.