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DUMAGUETE BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (itinerary, expenses and top attractions)

UNDERSTANDING DUMAGUETE

DUMAGUETE, the “City of Gentle People.”

Whether the phrase stays true or not, Dumaguete to this day has a well-kept atmosphere of laid back, tranquil, low-cost, moderate-way-of-living city. This is despite the presence of a vibrant economy brought about by BPOs and other industries.

While here, enjoy the feel of a University town where there is a strong concentration of student population. That is so because Dumaguete has many distinct universities and colleges that have earned a mark both in the local and international scene attracting students from nearby towns and provinces in Negros and Siquijor. Taking the lead among these schools is Silliman University, the first American university in Asia.

Silliman University Amphitheater
The amphitheater of Silliman Univeristy. The place was built in 1921 and will turn a century old 3 years from now.

Despite being a city and the capital of Negros Oriental, the main mode of transportation to get around is by tricycle or trike – a human-powered, three-wheeled vehicle that is larger in capacity than most that you will see in the Philippines. Regular fare is P8. On the other hand, transport outside the city to its neighboring towns in Negros is done by bus or jeepney. Regular fare for jeepney is P12.

QUICK FACTS & TIPS ABOUT DUMAGUETE

Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around Dumaguete.

  1. Dumaguete, as the capital of Negros Oriental, makes for a perfect gateway by bus to nearby cities like Bacolod and Sipalay or by ferry to neighboring islands like Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor in the Visayas region or Zamboanga in Mindanao.
  2. Dumaguete has a kilometer zero post which can be found at its Capitol area.
  3. As of April 2018, there are no traffic lights in the city. Take caution as you cross the streets. Safety first!
  4. The city is famous for its street eats: tempura, balut (a cooked developing bird embryo mostly of a duck) and budbud (a glutinous rice roll). Check out the first 2 eats at the boulevard from 6PM and budbud at the market in the morning.
the delectable “budbud”
In case you are collecting a kilometer zero post, you can find one at the capitol area in Dumaguete.

HOW TO GET TO DUMAGUETE

Here are the options in getting to Dumaguete.

By Air

The airport is not located in Dumaguete city but in Sibulan, a neighboring municipality. It is small and flight only caters three (3) domestic destinations which are operated by CebuPacific and PAL Express.

  • Manila
  • Clark (New entry)
  • Cebu

By Land

In Bacolod, go to the South Bus terminal at Lopez Jaena st. and take a bus en route to Dumaguete which goes in an hourly basis. Travel time is 5 to 6 hours depending on traffic situation – bus fare is roughly P290.

By Sea

There are a number of ferry operators that travel to Dumaguete from these destinations. Click here for the schedule and fare.

Another ‘near’ Dumaguete attraction: the Casaroro falls of Valencia.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN AND NEAR DUMAGUETE 

Here are 12 top tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days while in and near Dumaguete city.

It appears that there is not much tourist spots in the city except for the old cathedral and its belfry tower, the Silliman University attractions and Rizal boulevard with its seafront promenade and #DumaGetMe sign. However, Dumaguete is an ideal jump-off point to nearby town attractions that will take for less than an hour on a bus or jeepney.

Attractions in Dumaguete

Silliman University

The oldest American University in Asia, Silliman University is a private research university in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental which was established in 1901.

Rating: 3/5

Campanario de Dumaguete

The church is century old and its belfry tower is the oldest in Visayas.

Rating: 2/5

Rizal Boulevard

The boulevard centers most of the activities in Dumaguete, especially at night when the #DumaGetMe sign lits up and vendors flock together to form a bazaar of street eats.

Rating: 2/5

Attractions near Dumaguete

Twin Lakes of Danao and Balinsasayao

The tranquil and relaxing lakes of Danao and Balinsasayao in Sibulan, Negros Oriental. Getting here from the junction in San Jose, Sibulan requires a long motorbike ride of steep, curvy yet scenic road up at the highlands for about 30 minutes. Entrance fee to the lake is P30, P100 for foreigners. From the entrance, you can hike through the outskirts of the mountain or paddle a boat through the vastness of Balinsasayao lake (the first lake from the entrance) for P250 per boat to the viewpoint section where both lakes meet.

Rating: 3.5/5

Alimyon Restaurant and Bar

An overlooking restaurant and bar at the highlands of Sibulan, on the way to the twin lakes. The restaurant offers affordable Filipino food.

Rating: 2.5/5

Manjuyod sandbar

At its best condition, the sandbar promises an experience of a tropical paradise which is a rare offering as most beaches in Negros oriental do not possess a long strip of ivory, white sand. Best time to visit is summer, during a low tide. Bus fare to Bais city where the sandbar is located is P61.

Rating: 3/5

Tierra Alta

The residential resort is a premiere events destination in Negros Oriental. It offers an overlooking sight of the highlands of Dumaguete. Contact them at (035) 536 0096.

Rating: 3/5

‘Smokey’ Mountain

On the way to Pulangbato falls in Valencia, Negros Oriental is a mountain with geothermal vents of sulfuric smoke. Check out this pure delight for free especially during rainy season when the vents produce more smoke than usual.

Rating: 2.5/5

Pulangbato Falls

The rustic stones that surround its catch basin make for an astounding view from the dine area of the resort. Pulangbato falls is located in Valencia, Negros Oriental. Entrance is P50 (P100 for Sundays and holidays). Table rent is P200.

Rating: 3/5

Red Rock Hot Spring

Enjoy a warm bath in this small resort of Red Rock Hot Spring in Valencia, Negros Oriental. The place is few meters before reaching Pulangbato falls resort. Entrance fee is P30.

Rating: 2.5/5

Forest Camp

The nature resort in Valencia, Negros Oriental is 2.5 hectares in capacity and features swimming pools, a campground, a valley, indigenous forest trees, a zipline and a wall climb activity. Entrance fee is P100 during weekdays (P80 for kids) and P120 during weekends (P100 for kids).

Rating: 3/5

Casaroro Falls

You are looking at one of the sought after gems in Valencia, Negros Oriental. Casaroro falls is nature’s finest. To get here, you will hurdle through steep, long staircase and go over rocks and boulders before finally able to view a scenic waterfall with its majestic cascade.

Rating: 3.5/5

Click here for other top attractions that can be found in Negros Island. 

MUST-TRY ACTIVITIES IN DUMAGUETE

Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in the city of Dumaguete.

  1. Watch the sunrise or grab a photo-op of the #DumaGetMe sign at Rizal boulevard. The sign lits up in varying colors at night at exactly 6PM.
  2. Taste the crowd favorite sweets of Sans Rival. The main dessert house is near Rizal boulevard while another one is at the ground floor of Robinsons mall.
  3. Join the flock as you crowd at the boulevard stalls at 6PM for tempura and balut!
  4. Catch a glimpse of the belfry tower, the oldest in Visayas.

A cold “kawa” bath experience in Forest Camp.

MUST-TRY ACTIVITIES NEAR DUMAGUETE (NEGROS ORIENTAL AREA ONLY)

  • Trek for 15-minutes over boulders and stones and be mesmerized by the majestic Casaroro falls.
  • Go scuba diving at the world famous marine sanctuary of Apo island.
A limestone mound at the shores of Apo island. The Flying Fish Hostel in Dumaguete takes a day trip to the island for a group of 4. Contact them at (035) 422 0167.

Click here for Apo Island Budget Travel Guide

  • If waking up in the morning is not a chore, hop on an outrigger and chase a sight of dolphins at Tanion strait.
  • Catch yourself walking on a long stretch of white sandbar of Manjuyod in Bais.
Manjuyod at its gloomy disposition. Visit the sandbar on a low tide during new moon between the months of April to October to get a glimpse of its full beauty. To get here, take a bus bound for Bais at Dumaguete city near Robinsons mall. Drop off at Jollibee beside a gymnasium and take a tricycle that goes to a small port where outrigger boats that go to the sandbar await for guests.
  • Visit the “smokey” mountain of geothermal vents in Valencia.
  • My favorite: Go kayaking at the twin lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao.
At Balinsasayao lake

DUMAGUETE SAMPLE ITINERARY 

Attractions within and the nearby towns of Dumaguete city can be covered through DIY, which is more preferable than arranging a tour package to give more value to your money. For “within” Dumaguete attractions, just hop on to any available tricycle in the city, tell the driver the destination and pay the regular fare of P10. For “near” Dumaguete attractions, just go to the assigned jeepney terminal of your desired destination and pay the regular fare of P12. (All jeepney terminals are located at the downtown area. You will know that you are in the right terminal by looking at the signboard of the jeepney; or better yet, ask the driver. They will be willing to help.)

The sample itineraries below assume a party of two. Budget per person is indicated per itinerary which does not include expenses for accommodation.

1-day Dumaguete Budget Itinerary with side trip to Valencia| P1,070.00 budget per person

Activity Time Budget
Arrive in Dumaguete 10:00AM
Silliman University tour 10:30AM
museum P50
amphitheater
sightseeing
Campanario De Dumaguete 11:30AM
Eat at Sans Rival 12:00PM P200
Side trip to Valencia 1:00PM P500
‘smokey’ mountain
Pulangbato Falls P50
Casaroro Falls P20
Back to Dumaguete
Street Food at Rizal Boulevard 7:00PM P50
DumaGetMe Photo-op 7:30PM
Dinner at Lantaw 8:00PM P200
Party at Café Racer 9:00PM
The smaller cascade of Pulangbato falls.

Dumaguete Itinerary for 2 or 3 days with side trip to Valencia, Bais, and San Jose | P3,500+ budget per person

Day 1

Activity Time Budget
Arrive in Dumaguete 10:00AM
Silliman University tour 10:30AM
museum P50
amphitheater
sightseeing
Campanario De Dumaguete 11:30AM
lunch 12:00PM P100
Side trip to Valencia 1:00PM P500
‘smokey’ mountain
Red Rock Hot Spring P20
Pulangbato Falls P50
Forest Camp P80
Casaroro Falls P20
Back to Dumaguete 6:00PM
Street Food at Rizal Boulevard 7:00PM P50
DumaGetMe Photo-op 7:30PM
Dinner at Lantaw 8:00PM P200
Party at Café Racer 9:00PM

Day 2

Activity Time Budget
To Bais City 5:00AM P61
Manjuyod Sandbar & Dolphin Watching 6:00AM P1500
Lunch at Alimyon Restaurant 12:00PM P200
Twin Lakes of Danao and Balinsasayao 1:00PM P300
Tierra Alta resort 3:00PM P50
Eat at Sans Rival 5:00PM P200

Contact for DIY Dumaguete tour:

  • Victor +63 926 393 9436 P1,400 for a tour covering Casaroro, Pulang bato, and Twin lakes
  • Kim for Manjuyod sandbar and dolphin watching +63 905 694 6007, +63 995 706 6981

(Note: Most of the attractions in and near Dumaguete are regulated by tourism. The usual mode of transport for the tours are motorcycle and tricycle which are readily available as you arrive in the town proper or at the junction of each area.)

The main cascade of Pulangbato falls of Valencia, Negros. Its rocks are crimsoned in rustic yellow which made it a standout among waterfalls in the area.

WHERE TO STAY IN DUMAGUETE

Here is a mix of accommodations from luxury to budget hotels that are located at the downtown area of Dumaguete.

  • Hotel Essencia: +63 917 700 7735 | (035) 422 1137
  • Bethel Guest House: (+63) 917 320 1484 | (035) 422 8000
  • Hotel Palwa: +63 917 771 1600 | (035) 226 2775
  • Vintage Inn: (035) 225 1076
  • White Knights Dumaguete: +63 915 952 7594
A fiery sunset as viewed from the 4F of Hotel Essencia in Dumaguete downtown area.

USEFUL PHRASES

English to Cebuano (main language)

Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
Thank you – Salamat
Where is… – Asa ang…
How much – Tagpila

BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Lastly, have fun and don’t forget to be awesome. 😉

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

Or, head out to Siargao Island in Mindanao – budget travel guide here.

Or, visit the top places in Luzon:

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