In the South of the Philippines and just a short ferry ride from Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor, there is a charming City named Dumaguete with loads of things to do and tourist spots within the City itself and neighbouring Valencia region.
Forget about the bustling streets in Cebu or chaotic Manila, life in Dumaguete City goes by at an easy-going pace.
Although it may seem like a low-key destination mostly known with students for the Silliman University, within the City there are a handful of Dumaguete Tourist Spots to explore. And a 30-minute ride into the highlands leads to a whole different climate in the Valencia region packed with tourist attractions unlike any other.
If you are looking for full days of adventure, then the tourist spots along Dumaguete’s outskirts and highlands are the answer.
Expect towering cascades, hot springs, and a water park within 30 minutes ride from Dumaguete City centre. And a ride out of Dumaguete City, through the countryside and farmland leads to 2 huge lakes nestled within mountain tops covered in jungle.
This detailed guide breaks down all there is to know about Dumaguete including the best tourist spots – places of interest in Dumaguete City – how to get around – where to stay and at the bottom of the article is an easy to follow 2 or 3 day itinerary and a few of the best restaurants in the area.
- where is Dumaguete
- how to get to Dumaguete
- Dumaguete tourist spots
- where to stay
- itinerary 2 or 3 day
- best time to go (weather)
WHERE IS DUMAGUETE
Dumaguete City is on Negros island in the South of the Philippines. It is somewhere in the centre of popular islands like Cebu and Bohol and is a 90 minute ferry ride from Siquijor island.
To give a better perspective, most tourists first set foot in the Philippines on Cebu island. Dumaguete is on the next island (Negros island) further South of Cebu and a narrow straight separates one island from the other.
Are you passing through Dumaguete and only plan to stay a night or 2? Pre-booking an online tour is a great way to secure your spot with a reputable tour operator. The tour will include some of Dumaguete’s best tourist spots in one day or even hop over to a nearby island with a colorful reef.
HOW TO GET TO DUMAGUETE
Since Dumaguete is close to other popular islands, getting there is straightforward.
There are 2 ports of entry to Dumaguete, the Sibulan Port about 10 minutes ride out of the City and the Port of Dumaguete directly in the City.
If you are already somewhere in the South of Cebu (Moalboal or Oslob) hop on a Ceres southbound bus and let the driver or ticket officer know you are heading to Dumaguete. The bus will drop you off about 1 km from Liloan port and you can take a tricycle to drop you off right outside the port.
Then from Liloan port hop on the 30 minute ferry. Ferries depart every 30-minutes and cost 70 PHP ($1.40). Once you arrive in Sibulan port you will be a 10 minute ride from Dumaguete City and you can use a tricycle, jeepney or multi-cab for the journey. We hopped on a jeepney and paid 10 PHP ($0.20) each. But keep in mind jeepneys have fixed routes so you may still have some walking to do from where you get off.
TIP: there are multiple ferries every day between Siquijor and Dumaguete. The total ferry ride is around 90 minutes. Ferry prices start at 120 PHP ($2.40) up to 380 PHP ($11.6) for a business class seat with OceanJet ferry.
From Bohol, the process takes longer and involves 2 back-to-back ferries. Take a ferry to Siquijor from Tagbilaran port in Bohol. The ferry will dock at Larena port in Siquijor so you will need to see if any ferries will be available to Dumaguete when you arrive. And there is another port named Siquijor port (on Siquijor island) most ferries to Dumaguete depart from Siquijor port so you may need to change ports, it is about a 10-minute ride via tricycle.
DUMAGUETE TOURIST SPOTS
Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete is a popular promenade along the City’s coast and is one of the main tourist attractions.
Hotels, restaurants and bars dot Rizal Boulevard facing the ocean and making one of Dumaguete’s most sought areas.
During the hot sunny days not much will be going on but come sunset time and the 1 km stretch comes to life. It isn’t necessarily a sunset spot since you won’t be facing in that direction. But street vendors, food stalls and the fact many locals head over for the evening make for a vibrant atmosphere.
ST. CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA CATHEDRAL PARISH
The St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral Parish is right next to the beautiful Dumaguete bell tower. Although these 2 tourist attractions in Dumaguete are 2 separate sites, they can be easily combined since there is only a 3 minute walk from to the other.
The Dumaguete Bell Tower is the most prominent. A tall round tower shooting above the surrounding buildings and the St. Catherine Cathedral. The Cathedral is usually open to the public but I’m not sure if the tower is accessible to visitors.
The list of places to visit in Dumaguete may be limited but a short ride out of the city leads to a whole different level of tourist destinations.
And the answer for those looking for a stunning attraction is a towering cascade named Casaroro falls.
Although there are concrete stairs and a paved path leading to Casaroro falls, the area is mostly in its raw, natural beauty. And at some we also had to make our way over the river along a makeshift bamboo bridge.
Casaroro is at the end of a 30 minute trail along that leads from the parking area down a flight of stairs and into a valley. All along the valley are streams of water closed in the jungle.
We didn’t see the cascade and some point after a bend along the path, this huge powerfall waterfall soaking all the area with spray and creating mossy green boulders and everything slippery.
READ THE FULL POST: Casaroro Falls | Towering Cascade in Dumaguete
>>South Philippines Guides: are you planning a trip to Cebu, Siquijor, Bohol, Dumaguete, Siargao or Camiguin? You can hop from one island to the other by ferry. We have visited all these islands and wrote detailed guides specifically for each island’s very best tourist attractions.
BALINSASAYAO TWIN LAKES
From Dumaguete City it takes about 1 hour to reach the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes. The ride itself could be considering a thing to do in Dumaguete which will take you along the highland countryside on the outskirts of Dumaguete.
The Balinsasayao Twin Lakes and 2 big crater lakes separated by a ridge. Mountain tops covered in a tropical landscape home to lots of bird life enclose the lakes.
We came here during the week and there was only about 10 other visitors. However, on weekend and festive days the lakes seem to be one of the places locals visit.
Keep in mind that swimming in the lakes isn’t allowed but you can rent a boat that will row you around or take you to a beautiful viewpoint looking over both lakes.
Instead of taking the boat to reach the viewpoint, we decided to take a 30-minute trek through the jungle and over slippery stairs and paths. The trek is straightforward and also has a railing to hang on to but the fact all the rocky parts are covered in moss makes it extremely slippery and challenging.
READ THE FULL POST: BalinsasayaoTwin Lakes | Twin Crater Lakes near Dumaguete
FOREST CAMP MOUNTAIN RESORT
A getaway for weekend breaks with locals and a great place to visit while in Dumaguete, Forest Camp Mountain Resort is the perfect place to spend a few hours, a whole day, or even spend the night. And it only takes 30 minutes to get there by car or tricycle from Dumaguete.
The property is a huge piece of land with loads of pools and water based activities along with a skate park, zip line, and even a rock-climbing wall.
Considering The Forest Camp Mountain Resort is a man-made tourist attraction in Valencia, it blends in well with its surrounding landscape. And we actually had fun playing around in one of the slides. I don’t actually know what the locals thought seeing these 2 grown ups running up and down the slide for about an hour, but it was a fun thing to do.
READ THE FULL POST: The Forest Camp Mountain Resort | Fun Waterpark in Valencia
The region of Valencia is loaded with interesting tourist attractions worth visiting from Dumaguete. One of them is Pulangbato Falls.
If you want to visit a waterfall that is very easy to reach, then Pulangbato is the answer. From Dumaguete it takes 30 minutes to reach the main entry and a further 5 minute walk along a paved path and through a resort.
Although getting to Pulangbato Falls is for some reason through a resort, the waterfall area hasn’t really had any built up parts. There is a wobbly rope bridge crossing over from the resort area to the foot of the cascade and a small hut beside the natural waterfall pool.
The orange weaved rope bridge is probably one of the features of Pulangbato and is a photogenic highlight of this attraction with a powerful cascade in the background. There isn’t any restrictions for swimming in the pool, just don’t get close to the cascade for your own safety.
READ THE FULL POST: Pulangbato Falls
RED ROCKS HOT SPRINGS
The Red Hot Springs are a great to visit while in Dumaguete and should be combined with Pulangbato Falls. Both attractions are on the same route, in fact these last to tourist spots are just a 2 minute ride from one another.
During our trip through Asia we visited a few hot springs, but Red Rocks where are favorite. The springs are located in the highlands where temperatures are much cooler than the city and it seems there isn’t so much humidity. This and the fact Pulangbato Falls is close is a good reason why you should visit these hot springs.
We actually came to Red Rock Hot Springs after visiting and swimming in the cold water at Pulangbato Falls. And add to that, exactly when we parked the scooter, it also started raining. This was definitely the perfect combination to soak in the hot baths.
The resort style Hot Springs isn’t really big and there are 2 decent sized pools on 2 different and each level has a slight difference in temperature. But the top level pool felt like it had the perfect temperature on that day.
Keep in mind that although The Red Rock Hot Springs are in a cooler climate, on hot days it may not be the perfect tourist to visit. We visited during the day but it was gloomy and no sun. On hot days it may be best to avoid the mid day heat and visit once the sun starts to go down and the day cools.
READ THE FULL POST: Red Rock Hot Springs | Sulphuric Hot Baths in Valencia
WHERE TO STAY IN DUMAGUETE
The main area where most tourists stay is in Dumaguete City itself. This is where most restaurants, Cafes, hotels, and bars are located and is also close to the port of Dumaguete where the ferry to Siquijor and Bohol departs.
Another option is to stay in the cooler climate of Valencia. Here you will be close to some of the most beautiful attractions. But keep in mind that Valencia is a 30 minute ride from the City and its amenities (restaurants, bars, shops) and once the sun goes down there isn’t really much to do.
THE FLYING FISH HOSTEL: Set within a peaceful surrounding of bamboo and mango trees about 2 km from the City centre, The Flying Fish Hostel offers both single bunk beds or private double rooms. Beautifully designed rooms feature A/C and wardrobe and a shared lounge and T.V area for hostel guests. This is one of the best-rated budget stays on booking.com and Agoda.
CASA ARRIETA HOSTEL: All tourist amenities are close to Casa Arrieta and Rizal Boulevard and some of the best restaurants are a short walk away. Offering A/C dormitory rooms, the property also offers guests with a shared longe, table tennis and even a barbeque area.
GOLDEN GATE SUITES: Golden Gate Suites offers A/C rooms with flat screen T.V at a great price. The property is close to some local trades like money changers, shops, a mall and a convenience store (7 11). Guest will be 4 blocks away from Dumaguete’s popular promenade and the ocean.
CASA RUBIN: A few features of the property are A/C and rooms with balconies which isn’t that common to find. Casa Rubin is highly rated for many reasons and guests love the hotels close proximity to Rizal Boulevard and a free breakfast is included in the price.
ROVIRA SUITES: Boasting an outdoor pool, garden, sun terrace, and beautifully designed rooms. Rooms include all necessary amenities like satellite T.V, electric kettle, clothes rack, and balcony.
THE HENRY RESORT DUMAGUETE: A relatively new resort on the outskirts of Dumaguete. The Henry resort features hut style high end lodging options dotted around an outdoor pool and tall palm trees in a tropical garden. Every room is furnished in style and offers all amenities you could imagine like A/C, minibar, coffee/tea maker, flat screen T.V and more. Onsite is also a restaurant. This is a property for those who want to spend a few nights in a luxurious tropical hotel but don’t want to pay a hefty price tag.
*each property in this list offers free wifi connection.
If you are going to be hopping the islands in the South of the Philippines, then at some point you are bound to pass through Dumaguete. And as to how many days you should spend in Dumaguete, anything between 1 to 3 nights is enough depending on how much you want to see.
Here is the exact route we took in the South of the Philippines
We started off in Cebu City and went down to Moalboal. From here on we moved on to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Bohol in this order. All these destinations are connected with daily ferries.
On day 1 start off from the tourist attractions within the City and have dinner along Rizal Boulevard.
On day 2 include 3 of the nearby tourist spots. Casaroro Falls, Pulangbato Falls and Red Rock Hot springs are about 30 minutes ride away and close to one another. If you start early enough you could also include The Forest Camp Mountain Resort after Casaroro Falls and end the day with Pulangbato and Red Rocks.
Since all 4 tourist attractions are close to one another, the total travel time between all spots and back to Dumaguete will be around 90 minutes. Considering only Casaroro Falls involves a 30 minute hike, it would be possible to spend 2 hours at each attractions and if you start at 8am be back at 6:00pm.
Balinsasayao is a completely different route. It takes around 1 hour to drive up to Balinsasayao Twin Lakes, therefore it would be best to reserve at least half a day for this attraction.
BEST TIME TO GO
Having a tropical climate means there are only 2 season in the Philippines. Either the rainy season or dry season and temperatures rarely drop below 20° C.
Weatherwise, the best time to visit the Philippines and Dumaguete is from November to March. You can expect mostly sunny days and almost no rain during those months.
November – March: Best weather + peak tourist months and higher prices
April – October: Rainy months but not constant + cheaper prices and less crowds
The dry season is also when most tourists visit the Philippines. Also, expect higher prices on accommodation and tours might be more expensive and some popular attractions will get busy at certain times especially on weekend and festive days when the locals have days off.
Rainy season doesn’t necessarily mean it will constantly rain. Usually, during the rainy season, rain tends to come in heavy bursts and only lasts about an hour.
So if you want to find fewer tourists and get cheaper accommodation prices, then the Months between April and October (rainy season) should be your choice.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN DUMAGUETE
Dumaguete is in fact a City yet it feels more like a charming coastal town with the perks offered in Cities. This is also true for its large concentration of restaurants.
Whether its a quick bite at one of the Cafe’s or local eateries, or a night out for great food, Dumaguete offers a broad appeal of places to eat.
Here we have listed the best restaurants we tried out during our week in Dumaguete. Almost all the restaurants are within a 10 to 15-minute walk from Rizal Boulevard. There are also some good cafe’s listed which also feature high-speed wifi.
Neva’s Pizza: a cozy restaurant pumping out authentic brick oven style Italian pizza and a variety of Italian, western and local dishes.
Tres Bistro: offering a combination of local and western food.
Adamo: our favourite restaurant. Fusion dishes combined with a fine dining experience yet nothing too extravagant. Also, a few great craft beers to try. Prices are on the higher end compared with other places.
Tom N Toms Coffee: serves delicious quick bites, iced and hot coffees and has good wifi
Fun Cafe/Bar: a social place for local teens and featuring a pool table, board games and small cubicles for extra privacy. The high speed wifi connection is the best we found in Dumaguete.
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