There are markets, and then there’s the Malatapay Market. We’ve been to our fair share of markets in the Philippines (and around the world) but we’d never been to one quite like Malatapay Market before. It has everything your regular wet market might have, but the thing that makes it truly unique is the livestock section. We’ve never had someone try to sell us a Carabao (water buffalo) before.
WHERE IS THE MALATAPAY MARKET & WHEN SHOULD YOU GO
Malatapay Market is in Zamboanguita, before you get to the main town. It’s about 30 minutes out of Dumaguete if you have your own vehicle, or you can take a public Ceres bus for $1.20 USD headed towards Zamboanguita or any town south west of Dumaguete. Just ask the driver to let you off at the Malatapay Market. It’s only open on Wednesdays, and we recommend going in the morning, between 7 and 10am before everything sells out.
STOP! VEGANS, VEGETARIANS, SENSITIVE ANIMAL LOVERS… MALATAPAY MARKET MIGHT NOT BE FOR YOU
This is a PSA for any vegans, vegetarians and sensitive animal lovers, continue with caution. In case you missed it before, Malatapay Market is a livestock market, meaning there’s a whole area dedicated to the selling and purchasing of pigs, cows, buffaloes and goats. The buffaloes are for farm labour, but the other animals are usually to be raised and sold as meat. Zowie, having cut all meat except seafood and chicken from her diet, had a really hard time entering this section of the market. If you do want to check it out, there’s a 5 peso entrance fee per person.
Water Buffalo or Carabao as they’re locally known, are a prized animal in Filipino culture. A Carabao to a Filipino farmer is what a tractor is to a farmer in the Western world. They make farm life 100x easier, and since they live up to 20 years, they’re considered a great investment. Whilst Zowie was patting a baby Carabao, his owner tried to sell him to her for 13,000 pesos ($270 USD). It almost worked. There are also dozens of cows in the open grass area ready for new owners, for the right price.
Onto the pigs! This is where Zowie couldn’t venture beyond, so Carson left her with the cows while he went to take photos alone. When pigs are upset, they are very vocal about it, and since they’re roughly wrangled on and off vehicles or into sacks, we can’t blame them for getting upset. Same goes for the goats. This is why we don’t recommend Malatapay Market to sensitive animal lovers. If this doesn’t bother you, then it’s a very culturally eye-opening experience and something you won’t easily find elsewhere.
WHAT ELSE IS AT MALATAPAY MARKET?
Of course, there’s plenty of fruit and veg. It’s a great place to come for fresh produce at a fraction of the grocery store price, not to mention you’re directly contributing to local growers.
If you like fish, you’ll find plenty of it at Malatapay Market. Fresh fish, wet fish, dried fish! So much fish. If it’s found in local waters, you’ll find it at the market. Since the pandemic, a lot of the fishermen from Apo Island come to Malatapay to sell their fresh catch, just to earn a living.
If you’re on the hunt for a trusty garden knife, there are quite a few bolo (machete) stalls at Malatapay Market. They range from $2 – $20 USD depending on the intricacy of the craftsmanship.
You can even get your hands on some fashion jewellery, toys for the little ones and a whole heap of second hand clothes or “ukay-ukay“. If you’re lucky, you might even find a vintage gem of a t-shirt in the ukay-ukay!
The very last part of the Malatapay Market is the lechon section. If you’re not familiar, lechon is whole roasted pig and a true Filipino delicacy. When we visited, there was only one lechon stall due to the pandemic, but when Malatapay is in full swing, there are dozens. You can pull up a seat with your friends and enjoy freshly cooked lechon, with a few furry friends to keep you company.
READ: APO ISLAND GUIDE
At the end of the street you’ll find the public port to Apo Island. Unfortunately, during the pandemic it’s not open for tourists, just locals going back and forth from Apo. But, when everything is running normally, it makes perfect sense to pair your Malatapay Market trip with an Apo Island visit! You can check out our guide to the Apo Island here.
The Malatapay Market is definitely a cultural experience not to be missed while you’re in Dumaguete. Whilst the livestock section might not be for you, the rest of the market can be enjoyed without having to visit that side of things!
READ: 26 BEST TOURIST SPOTS IN DUMAGUETE
PIN IT FOR LATER
WHERE TO STAY NEAR DUMAGUETE
Most people who visit Negros Oriental are told to stay in Dumaguete, but what they really mean by that is stay around Dumaguete. True, Dumaguete City has plenty of tourist inns and budget hotels, but it’s the surrounding towns of Dauin and Zamboanguita that offer the best spots to stay. There’s not a whole lot to do in the city itself, so when you stay in the nearby municipalities there’s plenty of nature to explore whilst still being nice and close to Dumaguete City. Check out our top picks for accommodation near Dumaguete City.
LUXURY: Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, Dauin
Atmosphere Resorts & Spa in Dauin is the resort to stay at if you’ve got a big budget and fancy the finer things in life. Atmosphere has hosted its fair share of local celebrities and deep pocketed divers looking for the best beachfront luxury in Dauin. Read our full review of Atmosphere Resorts & Spa here.
MIDSCALE: Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort, Dauin
If you want to stay by the ocean without breaking the bank, Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort in Dauin is a comfortable midscale accommodation option perfect for diving enthusiasts. If you’ve never dived before, you can get your certification at Mike’s, and divers of all skill sets can enjoy the abundance of macro diving opportunities in and around Dauin.
BUDGET: Bongo Bongo Divers, Dauin
Bongo Bongo Divers is one of the most popular hostels in Dauin for backpackers looking for cheap accommodation in a convenient location. The rooms are simple, without any glitz and glam, but the vibe is fun and welcoming. They have a variety of room styles to choose from, ranging from couples rooms to AC or fan only dorms.
AIRBNB: Villa Amani, Zamboanguita
Villa Amani in Zamboanguita is the perfect holiday home for small families or groups of friends looking for privacy that a traditional resort or hotel can’t offer. The main house sleeps 4 with additional space for 2 in the guest house, or you can book the guest house separately if it’s just the 2 of you and you’re on a budget. The property has a swimming pool, an unbeatable view of Apo Island and kayaks to use whenever you want. Read our full review of Villa Amani here.
MORE NEGROS ORIENTAL GUIDES:
Swimming with the Apo Island Turtles
Rock Point View Deck, Apo Island
Baslay Hot Spring, Dauin
Secret Hot Spring & Waterfall, Dauin
Lake Balinsasayao & Danao Twin Lakes, Sibulan
Casaroro Falls, Valencia
Pulangbato Falls, Valencia
Upper Pulangbato Falls, Valencia
Original Casaroro Falls, Valencia
Tottyn Falls, Valencia