A sumptuous lunch. Beautiful scenery. Fresh air. Lovely birds. All these you can enjoy at the Balsa River Cruise and Floating Restaurant right after the Malabong Bridge in Ilog, the southern part of Negros Occidental in the Philippines.
The river cruise started only recently, so if you want to try it out yourself and visit it for the first time, it’s easy to get to the location of Balsa River Cruise. Take the highway to Kabankalan, passing by its city hall, going straight towards Malabong Bridge (not the one where you turn left to Cauayan and Sipalay).
You enter a small pathway after the bridge with a signage of Balsa River Cruise. There’s a huge parking lot and a waiting area with seats, a merchandise counter and a toilet. The river cruise operates daily at 12:00 noon. But during weekends, they have two trips: 10:00 am and 12:00 noon. Balsa Cruise accepts special group bookings for a minimum of 40 people. Right now, they have a promo rate of Php 450. Regular price is Php 500 (about USD 10) and 20% discount from the regular rate is applicable to senior citizens and PWDs.
Lunch on board is buffet of rice and various seafood, meat and vegetable viands. It also includes fruits and Filipino delicacies and desserts, juice, soft drinks and coffee. You can also listen to live music while on the cruise. A toilet is available on the ferry. The cruise lasts for about an hour to an hour and a half. The Balsa can accommodate up to 58 people.
While on cruise, check out the mangrove and nipa plants and other endemic trees along the river banks. Try to spot the various duck and avian species along the way.
If you have time, you can also explore the rest of Ilog, which was the old capital of the province of Negros Occidental, and nearby Kabankalan City. You can even go further south towards Sipalay to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.