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TRAVEL GUIDE: Why you need to visit the underrated city of Dumaguete

By SAAB LARIOSA Published May 23, 2022 9:11 pm Updated May 26, 2022 8:04 pm

POV: You're seeing your friends visit the islands of Palawan, soak up Boracay's white sands, and enjoy Baguio's many destination spots. You think to yourself, "I wonder what other cities I can visit in the country to actually stand out?"

Enter: Dumaguete, the City of Gentle People.

While this Negros Oriental town is typically known for its scuba diving sites and the popular Silliman University, there's a world to be explored in the underrated Visayas capital.

It's especially recommended for those in a group looking for a relaxing vacation filled with cultural spots and hospitable residents without breaking the bank.

Whether it be with your friends or even on a family trip with elders, Dumaguete is easily one of the country's underrated vacation spots that's ready to welcome travelers from all walks of life.

Forget the pressure and try something new with these must-do Dumaguete activities. Not only that, but we've also taken the liberty to add some personal tips for each destination.

Twin Lakes Natural Park

One of the most visited tourist attractions in Dumaguete is none other than Twin Lakes Natural Park. With its picturesque view and all-green amenities, the park is perfect for explorers and people looking for some soul-searching.

Sibulan village is a 14 km car ride from the main town with lots of beautiful views on your way. The park also offers boat rides on Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao.

Tip: wear comfortable clothes if you're planning to further explore the park, as there are walkable routes with rocky paths. If you're planning to just hang out and be one with nature, there's also a cafe at the entrance with some delectable homemade treats.

If you're lucky, your guide can take you through village stories and the history of the twin lakes.

Expenses:

Entrance fee: P50 / pax for locals and P100 / pax for foreigners
Boat rental: P250 / per hour good for 7 pax

Valencia Sibaan Food Strip

Once you've enjoyed the full scope of Twin Lakes, your group can head on over to the Valencia Sibaan Food Strip where local markets and vendors are at the ready to serve you Dumaguete delicacies and treats as far as the strip can see.

With Siba meaning 'glutton' in their language, the place is jam-packed with whatever you desire—from sausages, takoyaki, even to Birria tacos! If you're planning a longer stay in Dumaguete, this is also a place where local vendors offer fresh meat, fish, and vegetables for cheap.

Tip: There are also restaurants on the left side of the area that offer the most delicious seafood meals. Look for them under the giant SIBAAN sign.

Expenses:

P500 is enough for a full treat for one person, complete with some ukay-ukay finds to support the local businesses. 

Pulangbato Twin Falls

Nope, that's not a painting. This majestic sight is Dumaguete's very own waterfall that's sure to leave your mouth agape.

With other waterfalls requiring explorers to trek a long ride, Pulangbato offers easy access by way of a long bridge and a few steps down, though you can already hear the water's powerful sounds from the entrance.

Similar to the Natural Park, this attraction located in the town of Valencia offers two waterfalls almost opposite each other.

The first is a large one that spectators can't swim in, as its landing waters are almost 20 feet deep. Meanwhile, the more picturesque waterfall features rocks covered with sulfur that make it appear red, thus the name pulang bato.

Tip: The Pulangbato waterfall isn't deep enough to swim in, and its heavy water pressure can be too much for some. If you want an aesthetically-pleasing shot to make it seem like you swam in the falls, prepare to bring extra swimwear.

Once you're done soaking in the waterfalls (trust us, you're gonna need more than 30 minutes to take it in), the place offers two quaint cafes to prepare you for your next adventure.

Expenses:

Entrance fee: P100 / pax

Bais Dolphin Watching & Sandbar

There are a few things in life more breathtaking than seeing animals moving freely in the wild. Unlike in the confines of a zoo, Dumaguete's Bais City is a must-have on your itinerary to see the curious life of dolphins.

Unlike the other attractions that are a near drive from the city, Bais should take you around 1-2 hours via car, but the experience is well worth it.

Upon arrival, locals will offer a boat tour of the sandbar beach and dolphin watching activities, however it's best to plan ahead to ensure your boat is on schedule. The best time to see dolphins is before lunch. Don't worry, some boat tours also come with a delectable lunch.

Aside from the dolphin watching, the stunning Manjuyod Sandbar will also be available for viewing.

Tip: local fishermen will approach your boat to offer up fresh seafood like uni and saang. Make sure you don't try them on an empty stomach to avoid getting sick.

Expenses:

Boat rental:

  • P4,500 / 15 pax
  • P5,500 / 20 pax
  • P14,000 / 40 pax

Seafood lunch: P500 / pax (comes with grilled pork, fish, squid, boiled crabs, sauteed shrimps, rice, fruits, and drinks)

BONUS: Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries

One does not simply visit Dumaguete without paying a visit to the famed Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries located in the heart of the city. With its bustling bakery and long lines, it can seem like a real chore, but once you have your hands on the delectable Silvanas and Sans Rival, you won't regret it.

You can either grab a few treats during the beginning of your trip for late-night snacking or near the end to ensure that it remains fresh and delicious once you reach Manila.

Tip: If the line in the main bakery is too long, you can also order to-go while drinking coffee from their main cafe near the roadside.

Expenses:

Sans Rival

  • Loaf - P450
  • Mini - P 245

Silvanas

  • P185-P200 / pack. Each pack contains 10 pieces of the delicious meringue wafers and melt-in-your-mouth cream.

If you're looking for a safe and budget-friendly way to fly, AirAsia is set to fly to Dumaguete City 4 times a week, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. You can book a flight and other accommodations at the AirAsia Super App available on iOS and Android.