Surrounded in the mountains further West of Dumaguete, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes is a stunning attraction with the main draw being 2 crater lakes and a backdrop of mountaintops covered in jungle.
Balinsasayao is a nature park at the end of a 1 hour drive from Dumaguete. The journey travels along lush tropical sceneries of jungle and epic views over underlying cultivated land, mountains and passing by charming villages.
A combination of elevated peaks covered in tropical rainforest and jungle enclose Balinsasayao Twin Lakes that are only divided by a smaller mountain ridge.
This nature park will be an adventure for anyone visiting and offers fun activities and is also known as a great spot for birdwatchers.
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes - How to Get There
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes are located in Sibulan Municipality. This tourist spot is a 28 km drive from Dumaguete City.
From Dumaguete City, the journey takes around 1 hour. Travel time mainly depends on if you choose public transport or hire a car or scooter.
Scooters are generally the cheapest option to get around especially if you are like us and are all day on the go. We found all the streets, both in Dumaguete and leading to the tourist spots are paved and well maintained which makes riding a scooter around the city and surrounding attractions a straightforward journey.
A scooter rental in Dumaguete will cost php400 to php500 ($8-$10) a day
Hire Car + Driver
If travelling in a larger group (more than 2) or aren’t confident riding a scooter, then a hire car is a great option. And with a hire car there is the option for a driver. Besides from driving you around, your driver will usually suggest a route and popular tourist attractions to include in the day.
A hire car with driver costs php3000 ($60) for 8 hours and can take 4 passengers + driver.
Local Bus and Habal-Habal
But the most interesting way to go is to do it DIY and use the public transport.
From Dumaguete catch a multi-cab or bus heading to Sibulan from near the public market. Let the driver know you are going to Balinsasayao Twin Lakes so he will drop you off as close as possible. There isn’t any public transport that will get you directly to the twin lakes. For the remaining part of the journey use a habal-habal.
Multicab cost: php20/40 ($.40/80) – Habal-Habal P150 ($3) for 15 minutes ride. Prices are approximate.
Dumaguete to Balinsasayao Twin Lakes - Map
Point A is Dumaguete City and where most tourists and Foreigners have their accommodation. Point B is Balinsasayao Twin Lakes with half the journey travelling inland at high elevations in the mountains.
With online maps easily accessible with a few clicks, the logistic part of getting to your destination is simple. The go to maps we use are either Google.Maps or Maps.Me and we use one or the other depending on connectivity. I will explain why.
Our go to online map is Google.Maps. This is an online map which works great in urbanized areas and where there is steady mobile data connectivity. It is also straightforward to use. Simply enter the destination in the search bar and click directions.
You will get distance and also the journey time. Good to know is that most attractions will also have other useful information like opening hours, guest reviews and other places of interest nearby.
However, when travelling in remote areas where connectivity is a hit and miss we resort to an offline mapping system named Maps.Me.
Maps.Me works offline however you will need to download the specific country you are in while you have a connection.
Using this app is also very simple. Enter your destination in the search at the bottom and hit ROUTE TO in the bottom section.
One downside to Maps.Me is that travel time isn’t always correct, and the system tends to choose the shortest route which at times may be more of a bumpy dirt road rather than an actual street. Therefore, the journey time will end up being much longer than you expect.
On the other hand, those bumpy and interesting rides are the adventures we remember.
The entrance fee to Balinsasayao is 50 pesos ($1) for locals, 100 pesos ($2) for foreigners and there and discounted rates for senior citizens.
Things To Do
The views of the lakes will be enough to get anyone enticed. However, there are a few other things to do while there.
One of the most popular activities are boat rides around lake. A boat ride costs 250 pesos ($5) for 1 hour and can take up to 7 persons.
Kayaks can be rented and cost 150 pesos ($3) for 1 hour.
Guides are also available for those wanting to explore further and off the usual beaten path. A guided tour will cost 300 pesos ($6) for 3 persons.
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
Starting off in Dumaguete, the second half of the journey to the lakes is along highland. There isn’t much going on here just amazing views and nature making this one the best scooters rides we did in the Philippines.
While cruising up into the mountains where the air is cooler we passed by some inhabited neighbourhoods. This is where we would usually come across an odd chicken running in the street, sometimes dogs and even pigs and cows roaming freely.
Halfway through the mountain region, views start opening up sometimes with drop-off points looking over cultivated farmland surrounded in mountains covered in jungle. And as we got higher and closer to Balinsasayao Nature Park the views only got better and more epic travelling all the way to the ocean.
Entrance fee is paid a short ride from the actual entry to the lake. And at the entry point there is a restaurant with a viewin platform over the lakes.
A steep hill lead us down to the lakes where boats and kayaks where parked. Huge boulders make up most of the lake’s shoreline so we clambered over them and spent some time there before going on a trek through the jungle and towards the second lake.
Hike from Balinsasayao to Danao Lake
A combination of dirt trails, rocky paths and rubble stairs through the jungle lead the way to second lake. And although the hike is relatively short, it was one of the trickiest we did in South East Asia.
It isn’t the intensity of the trail itself that is challenging but rather the moisture and wetter climate that make everywhere so slippery. While walking along the paths the trail is easy enough. However, rocky parts and the rubble stairs that are mostly covered in moss are quite dangerous.
There is a railing all along the way to second lake yet still, Jacqueline managed to slip almost falling into the bushes and trees below her.
The entire trek is around 800 metres, and it took us over 30 minutes to complete.
A 3 level tower and viewing area is at the end of the trail. From here we got a good view over both lakes with mountains covered entirely in jungle in the background.
Dumaguete is surrounded with a cluster of tourist spots just 30 minutes ride out of the city centre. All the nearby attractions can easily be reached by scooter or hire car.
On the other hand, if you opt for local public transport and aren’t familiar with the logistics, getting from point A to point B isn’t always straightforward. However, it will be an interesting adventure and you can easily communicate with Filipinos since most speak good English.