The calm city of Dumaguete is the capital of Negros Oriental. It is also the largest and the most populous city in the province. The city is often referred to as a university town due to the large number of schools in the area. With students walking around the city proper, Dumaguete has a fascinating mix of traditional and modern cultures. Tourists are common in the city with some even choosing to retire there.
Among the universities found in Dumaguete, Silliman is the most talked about. Silliman University is the first American university not only in the Philippines but in the whole of Asia. It was founded in 1901 and has become one of the top universities in the country. Silliman has a beautiful campus with vast grassy fields and huge Acacia trees. Visitors can walk around and see some of its old structures. There are also some interesting museums that are open to the public.
Much like the other cities in the country, Dumaguete is slowly becoming a busy center with modern establishments. Rizal Boulevard serves as a spot for those who want to relax and get away from the hectic city life. This 780-meter long esplanade has benches, antique street lamps, food stalls, and of course, a relaxing view of the Tañon Strait. The place was named after national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who was said to have walked along the boulevard and became impressed with the scenic view during a stopover while on his way to Dapitan. People come to Rizal Boulevard to jog, have picnics, and dine in the eateries.
With commercial airlines like Cebu Pacific Air and PAL Express offering daily direct flights from Manila or Cebu, getting to Dumaguete is fairly easy. Flights from Manila last about an hour and half, while flights coming from Cebu last less than an hour. Sibulan Airport is Dumaguete's airport where all commercial aircrafts land.
You can also get to Dumaguete by sea. Ferry companies like 2GO Travel offer trips to Dumaguete City from Manila, while Ocean Jet gets you from Tagbilaran to Dumaguete. Ferry trips consume more hours as compared to flights so it's a more affordable option for those who have loads of time to spare.
How to Get Around
Dumaguete also has jeepneys that take you to the different destinations around the city. It's the cheapest form of transportation there.
Metered taxis are also available in Dumaguete. If you can afford to pay more for a comfortable mode of transportation when getting around, then a taxi ride would be ideal for you.
You'll also find tricycles in Dumaguete. They're a better option if you're finding your way around the city.
But if you're feeling adventurous and want to explore Dumaguete at your own pace, you can also rent a motorcycle.
What to See
Dumaguete is a history and culture-rich city, as seen on its many historic and cultural landmarks. One of its distinguished institutions is Silliman University. It forms part of the many reasons why Dumaguete is considered to be a university city. A well-known leading educational institution in the country, it offers a wide variety of courses, attracting thousands of enrollees from all over Visayas and Mindanao. It was established on August 28, 1901 by American Presbyterian missionaries and is considered to be the first American university in the country and in Asia. Within the university, you'll find lots of interesting spots like some museums which are open to the public.
Another magnificent landmark is the Dumaguete belfry. It was built in the 1760s to warn the townsfolk of Muslim attacks. Next to this belfry stands the St. Catherine Alexandria Cathedral which is also referred to as the Dumaguete Cathedral. It was built the same year as the belfry and is known as the biggest church in Dumaguete.
Rizal Boulevard is also a popular spot here. It was named after national hero Dr. Jose Rizal who once walked along this boulevard while on his way to Dapitan. This esplanade is the perfect place for a peaceful morning stroll while enjoying the sea view.
Just 30 kilometers from Dumaguete City is a premiere diving and snorkeling spot that is perfect for adventure lovers. Apo Island is a vast protected marine sanctuary that features a rich coral reef and an abundance of beautiful schools of fish and other sea creatures. If you want to discover Negros Oriental's rich underwater world, Apo Island is the go-to place for that.
Events and Festivals
Witness a lively and bustling Dumaguete during October until November when it celebrates two of its grandest festivals. Dumaguete joins the whole Negros Oriental province in celebrating the Buglasan Festival. The celebration, which lasts for 10 days, is made special with colorful street dances, fairs, and all sorts of events and competitions that both locals and tourists will enjoy.
Meanwhile, the spotlight is on Dumaguete City every November, with its celebration of the Sandurot Festival. The feast pays tribute to the cultural diversity and rich history of Dumaguete. Aside from the usual street dances and parades, there are also food and trade fairs, reenactments of historical events, and a beauty pageant.
Where to Eat
Fast food chains
For those searching for a familiar taste, there are also fast food chains in Dumaguete including Pinoy favorites like Jollibee and Mang Inasal as well as American fast food chains like KFC and McDonald's. You'll find these restaurants in the malls, the city center, and the business district.
Dumaguete is not just a tourist destination but also a gastronomical one because of the hodgepodge of cuisine that its countless restaurants offer. From Japanese, Korean, European, and Filipino food, any craving you might have will surely be satisfied.
For breakfast, there's Gabby's Bistro. It is the go-to restaurant for hearty breakfast meals that will perk you up for your jam-packed day ahead. Its colorful and cheery design also adds to a positive dining experience. If you are a fan of grilled chicken, then you should definitely have a bite of chicken inato at Jo's Chicken Inato. You should also visit Neva's for some affordable pizza, 2 Story Kitchen for Korean meals, and Kri for international dishes that will suit any palate.
In addition, Cafe Antonio's is a must-visit for a unique dining experience. It is located in a Spanish heritage building so you'll be able to experience dining in a place with a lot of history. Meanwhile, Lab-As Seafood Restaurant is a well-known restaurant for its quality seafood dishes made from the freshest ingredients. Dumaguete express is its most famous dish, which is a combination of crispy bagnet and an assortment of seafood like squids and shellfish. Lastly, Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries is the ultimate dessert establishment. It is where you can get a slice of the savory sweet sans rival and the scrumptious silvanas perfect for pasalubong.
Street food and eateries
If you want to know what Dumaguete locals eat for breakfast, head to Dumaguete Public Market's Painitan. You'll find several stalls here offering Budbud, which is suman made of millet instead of rice. It is usually paired with a cup of hot chocolate made from tablea. Aside from Painitan, the market also has several eateries where you can enjoy local dishes at affordable prices.
Rizal Boulevard is both a tourist attraction and a place to enjoy street food when the sun begins to set. Starting 6 PM, several stalls and carts set up along the boulevard, and offer street food like balut and Dumaguete's famous tempura, which resembles kikiam instead of the Japanese deep-fried prawn dish. However, the most-recommended tempura stall would have to be Bossing's Tempura within Silliman University. This stall is set apart from other tempura establishments because of its 5 spicy sauces which are rated 0 to 5 in terms of spiciness.
Bars and clubs
The peaceful city of Dumaguete also has some offerings for fans of the nightlife. Most of the bars and clubs are found along Rizal Boulevard and Flores Avenue. The best places to get a nightcap include Hayahay Treehouse Bar and View Deck, El Camino Bar, Coco Amigos, and Tiki Bar. Meanwhile, Why Not is a popular dance club which also features karaoke rooms.
Where to Shop
Lee Super Plaza is the oldest mall in Dumaguete. Old as it is, it still offers lots of shopping and dining options. Another shopping center is Robinsons Place Dumaguete. Carrying a wide variety of stores and restaurants as well as entertainment options, this mall is a favorite hangout place among locals and tourists.
Bazaars and Stalls
There are lots of souvenir stores and stalls around the city that offer different kinds of merchandise. Popular pasalubong from Dumaguete are souvenir shirts and handicrafts.
Markets are the best place to get the freshest produce in the city. Dumaguete Public Market is where you can buy fresh meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and other dry goods that you might need for your stay. Just remember that you can always haggle if you find the price too steep.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are banks and ATM machines located in malls and major areas across Dumaguete City if ever you need to withdraw some money. Robinsons Place Dumaguete also has a money changer for foreigners who want to exchange their foreign cash to Philippine bills.
Fare: PHP 1,500.00++
Be on the lookout for seat sales and "piso fares" of airline and ferry companies if you want to get the best value for your tickets. When it comes to getting around Dumaguete, jeepney would be the cheapest option. PHP 7.00 is the minimum fare for jeepneys, while the minimum for tricycles fares would be around PHP 10.00. Motorcycle rentals per day range from PHP 300.00 to PHP 500.00. Rates are competitive so make sure to find the cheapest rate for you.
Food: PHP 60.00 to PHP 500.00
Dumaguete offers lots of affordable food choices. Setting a budget of PHP 100.00 should get you a decent meal. PHP 500.00 would be great if you’re dining with a companion or two.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries' bestselling silvanas sells at 140.00 PHP for a box of 10 pieces.
Accommodation: PHP 800.00 to PHP 4,000.00
From budget inns to resorts and beach clubs, you'll find a wide variety of accommodations in Dumaguete that will suit your preference and budget.
Activities: PHP 1,000.00++
The attractions and things you can do around Dumaguete are generally free. But if you plan on an underwater exploration in Apo Island, there are lots of dive centers around that offer competitive prices. For instance, Harolds Mansion's Dive Center charges PHP 1,000.00 for a snorkeling session and PHP 2,000.00 for a scuba diving session.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 200.00++
You need to pay a terminal fee worth about PHP 150.00 on your departure flight from Sibulan Airport.