In the province of Negros Oriental in the Philippines, you will find Dumaguete, its capital city. From a beautiful coastline, serene waterfalls, hiking trails, fascinating wildlife, active volcanoes, and awesome food options, Dumaguete is sure to make your trip worthwhile!
If you’re planning a trip to Dumaguete, here are the top things to do and everything else that you need to know!
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How To Get There
If you’re coming from Manila, you can book a flight to Dumaguete. Travel time is around 1 hour. You can also opt to ride a ferry from Manila to Dumaguete with a travel time of 36 hours.
From Cebu City
From Cebu, you can ride a bus from Cebu South Bus Terminal going directly to Dumaguete. From Cebu City, the bus will head to the Bato port where you will board the ferry. Note that the fares for the bus and ferry are separate. Ferry tickets cost around P85 (1.5 USD).
You can choose to take a seat inside the bus or go to the passenger’s area of the ferry. Before the boat docks at Tampi port, you’ll have to go back inside the bus. From Tampi, the bus will travel to Dumaguete city. Total travel time is around 5 to 6 hours.
If that’s too long for you, you can opt to ride a plane from Cebu to Dumaguete via Cebu Pacific.
From Bacolod City
From Bacolod, you can ride a bus heading to Dumaguete City. Travel time is around 5 to 6 hours.
If you’re coming from Siquijor, you can ride a ferry going to Dumaguete City from Larena port or Siquijor port. Travel time is around 1 hour.
There’s a ferry from Bohol that can take you directly to Dumaguete.
Travel Tip: Check schedules and availability of buses, ferries, taxis or flights to book online with 12Go Asia.
Important Things To Know About Dumaguete
But before we delve into the top things to do in Dumaguete, here’s a few stuff you should know before your trip.
Currency in Dumaguete: The main currency used in Dumaguete is Philippine Peso.
ATMs on the Island: Dumaguete has several ATMs so you don’t have to worry. But be sure to bring enough cash, just in case.
Languages Spoken: Cebuano/Bisaya, Tagalog, English
Festivals on the island:
- Sandurot Festival (every November)
- Buglasan Festival of Festivals (every October)
Best time to visit: Best months to visit would be November to May to avoid the typhoon season (June to October).
Getting Around: Tricycles are the most common form of transportation within Dumaguete City. If you want to travel to nearby towns or cities, you’ll have to ride a jeepney or a bus. You can also rent motorcycles to get around the city.
Tipping in Dumaguete: Tipping is not customary but feel free to tip if you enjoyed the service.
Top Things To Do In Dumaguete
Eat Streetfood in Rizal Boulevard
During the daytime, Rizal Boulevard is the perfect place to go for a stroll and watch ships come and go. You can find here food stalls, benches, and trees. At night, the street lights up and a lot more food stalls come out with their very own tables and chairs. This is where you can eat street food such as balut, and Dumaguete-style tempura.
Chill at Aquino Freedom Park
Sit in the grassy areas or the park benches and chill. Aquino Freedom Park is where you should go to if you want to eat affordable authentic Filipino food such as lumpia, adobo, longanisa, tapa and so much more.
Discover Dumaguete’s History at the Belfry Tower
Built in the 1800s, Dumaguete’s Belfry Tower is the best place to learn about the city’s history. You can climb up the tower and get an awesome view of Dumaguete or wait for the sunset.
Visit the Zoological and Botanical Gardens in CENTROP
The Center for Tropical Studies (CENTROP) is home to several animal and plant species. If you want to learn about the Philippines’ wildlife, this is the best place to go!
If you’re into history, artifacts, and indigenous products, go check out the Anthropology Museum at Siliman University. There’s also the Whale Bone Museum which collects bones of whales.
Stroll around Quezon Park
Just in front of the Belfry Tower and the Dumaguete Cathedral, you’ll find Quezon Park. This is a great place to stroll around in, hang out and see archaic canyons, and monuments.
Eat Local Food
Craving chicken? The best place to get a taste is at Jo’s Chicken Inato. This is where you should go to if you’re really really hungry and want to eat a lot. The chicken inato and halo-halo are a must-try!
At the public market of the city, you will find puto (sticky rice cooked in coconut milk), sikwate (hot chocolate),and budbud (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves).
For fresh seafood, Lab-as has the best selections!
Try Dumaguete’s Silvanas and Sans Rival
Another thing that Dumaguete is known for is their desert: Silvanas and Sans Rival. Though you can find these sold all over the country, Silvanas and Sans Rival originated in Dumaguete. It’s the perfect pasalubong for friends and families. The best tasting ones are sold by Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries.
Check Out the Chinese Bell Church
Just south of Rizal Boulevard, you will find the Bell Church. Open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, this building is also a traditional Taoist temple.
St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral
Also known as Dumaguete Cathedral Church, St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral is Dumaguete’s most beautiful church. Constructed in 1776, the cathedral is the oldest stone church in the Negros region. It can be found beside the Belfry Tower.
Sidlakang Negros Village
Sidlakang Negros Village is the city’s venue for trade and tourism exhibitions and cultural activities. Here, you can get a glimpse of the different cultures in the Negros Oriental province. It’s the perfect place to buy souvenirs such as hand-made products, shell products, hand-woven textiles, stoneware, trinkets, and furniture.
Where to Next? Exploring Nearby Tourist Spots
Aside from all the things listed above, Dumaguete is also a great place to stay in if you want to explore the following tourist spots:
This is the best place to go to for an overlooking view of Negros, Dumaguete City, and Cebu. You will find here a lighthouse, swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and other amenities perfect for a wedding or birthday celebration.
With its easy access and big entrance, Bulwang Caves is great for first-timers who want to try spelunking. You can find it in the town of Mabinay. Planning to go? You can check this travel guide for more details.
Explore Lake Balanan
During a tectonic earthquake in 1925, Lake Balanan was created. This is a freshwater lake where you can slow down time, take in the view, have a picnic, and swim. Here’s a travel guide to this awesome lake.
For local beverages, handicrafts, food, hats, furniture, and so on, head over to the local market of Malatapay. The best time to visit would be Wednesday when several Filipino delicacies such as lechon is sold. Plus, if you’re heading to Apo Island, this is where you will start your boat trip.
Hike Mt Kanlaon
Mt Kanlaon is an active volcano with a height of 2,430 meters and is the highest mountain in the Visayas region. Climbers from all over the world love to visit for a 3-day hike filled with stunning views, wildlife encounters, and hot springs. If you want to try hiking this volcano, go to Bacolod’s DENR office to apply for a hiking permit. Planning a hike? You can read Pinoy Mountaineer’s guide.
Hike Mt Talinis
Behind Mt Kanlaon, you will find Mt Talinis. With a height of 1,903 meters, Mt Talinis is known as the 2nd tallest mountain in the region. Offering scenic hikes, a lot of people love to hike Mt Talinis to visit Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park. There are also several hiking trails. Check this travel guide for more details.
Check Out Pulangbato Falls
When translated, Pulangbato Falls means “Red Rock Falls”. And literally, this is what you’ll see. The waterfall has red walls and a red basin created by sulfur. It’s an awesome place to go relax in. It’s merely 30 minutes away from Dumaguete.
Visit Talabong Mangrove Park & Bird Sanctuary
From Dumaguete, you can visit the 400-hectare protected Talabong Mangrove Park & Bird Sanctuary. Here, you can go bird watching, discover all kinds of mangroves, and reconnect with nature. As it is near the sea, you can also go and watch the fishes.
Tour Twin Lakes
The twin crater lakes, Danao and Balinsasayao, are a must-visit if you’re in Dumaguete. If you’re looking for a tranquil place to visit, this is the place to go to. You can also tour around the lakes on a kayak.
Visit Twin Lakes Natural Park with Dumaguete City Tour via Klook.
Visit Manjuyod Sandbar
Dubbed as the “Maldives of the Philippines”, Manjuyod Sandbar offers crystal clear waters and stunning views of the ocean. As you wait for the sandbar to show up during low tide, you can stuff yourself with fresh seafood sold and cooked by locals in small boats.
Going to Manjuyod? You can book a hassle-free discounted Dolphin Watching and Manjuyod Sandbar tour via Klook.
Related Article: Manjuyod Sandbar, Negros Oriental: Ultimate Travel Guide
Watch Dolphins in Tañon Strait
Depending on the Manjuyod Sandbar tour you book, dolphin watching is often included. From the port in Bais City, you’ll travel for more than an hour to go to Tañon Strait and watch the dolphins.
Snorkel and Dive in Apo Island with Turtles
One of the best dive sites in the Philippines can be found in Apo island. If you love diving, don’t miss a diving trip to Apo island. If you like to snorkel, Apo island is the best place to spot sea turtles. Plus, the colorful corals and fishes will make you want to come back for more!
Siquijor is well known for its laidback beach towns, and clean waterfalls. During our trip to Siquijor, we saw white sandy beaches, blue-tinted waterfalls, and several marine life. In Tulapos Marine Sanctuary, we snorkeled with a school of barracudas, sea turtles, and jackfishes. In Cambugahay Falls, we rode a raft to the middle. This is the best place to fulfill your Tarzan dreams with their rope swings. In Salagdoong beach, we saw several tourists go cliff jumping. And in Paliton beach, we experienced what an unspoiled white sandy beach is like.
You can book a discounted Siquijor tour from Dumaguete with Klook.
Related Article: 10 Unforgettable Things To Do In Siquijor
Go Whaleshark Watching in Oslob
After a ferry ride from Dumaguete, you will reach Oslob in just an hour. This town is famous for its whaleshark watching activities. If you want to see the biggest fishes in the world, this is the best place to go.
Visit Casaroro Falls
Located in Valencia, Casaroro Falls is a must-visit if you want to go for a refreshing dip. Just be ready for steep trails. Despite being narrow, Casaroro Falls has a pretty heavy water volume. For more details, you can read this travel guide to Casaroro Falls.
Where to Stay in Dumaguete
- Casa Arrieta Hostel – Check Price and Availability
- Dino Residences – Check Price and Availability
- The Flying Fish Hostel – Check Price and Availability
- Henia Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Manhattan Suites Inn – Check Price and Availability
- The Bricks Hotel – Check Price and Availability
Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.
Responsible Travel Tips
When traveling to one place, make sure you practice responsible tourism. Here are some tips to do so.
1. Respect the environment
Don’t litter. Please hold onto your trash until you find a garbage can. And use coral-reef friendly sunblock.
2. Avoid single-use plastic
Bring your eco bag and refuse single-use plastic.
3. Shop local
Keep the traditional crafts alive and support local artisans. Buy from them. And try not to haggle, P20 may seem small to you but it can mean a lot to them.
4. Always ask permission
Be sure to ask for permission first when taking photos or videos especially when it comes to children.
What to Pack for Dumaguete
- Eco-friendly Reusable Water Bottle
- Aqua Shoes
- Day Bag
- Dry Bag
- Power Adapter
- Universal Waterproof Phone Case
- Microfiber Towel
- Travel Insurance
- Money Belt
- reusable straw and reusable bag (no to single-use plastic!)
Related Article: The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need (Trust Me)
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
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