Referred to as a university city due to a number of universities and colleges within it, Dumaguete City attracts hordes of tourists because of its unique personality. It has easy access to both worlds – the big city of Cebu and several natural attractions around Negros Oriental.
Aside from being a popular tourist destination in the country, Dumaguete City is also home to foreigners of various nationalities who decided to make this coastal city their retirement home. This small yet bustling city has everything a tourist needs – hotels, restaurants of various cuisines, banks, and shopping malls. While the city can be explored for just a day due to its very few attractions, tourists are drawn to Dumaguete City because it is a great access point to get to scenic destinations such as Manjuyod Sandbar and Balinsasayao Twin Lakes, and exciting activities such as island hopping, diving, snorkeling, and dolphin watching. You can even get to the nearby island of Siquijor, Bohol and Dapitan City from this city nicknamed as The City of Gentle People. Getting to and around Dumaguete can be easy and this guide can help you plan and make the most out of your stay in this capital city of Negros Oriental.
This brief guide to Dumaguete City will let you know how to get there, what to do, eat, and drink, where to stay, and must-see spots.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season. Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April. These are the summer months in this country.
Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.
The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.
TIP: Booking for summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.
The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances. Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well. This happens frequently so beware!
This guide recommends traveling to Dumaguete City in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
There are many ways to get to this destination depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Dumaguete City: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The major ports of entry for this destination are provided below.
The following are the modes of transportation available in Dumaguete City …
SEE & DO
The following are popular places to see and activities to enjoy while in Dumaguete City.
1 | Chinese Bell Church
Located just over the Southern tip of Rizal Boulevard lies the Chinese Bell Church, an old Chinese temple designed with dragons and Chinese writings. It is a traditional Taoist Temple with bells on its towers. While some believe this place of worship is not worth visiting especially if you do not share the same faith, the Chinese Temple and Bell Church offers a peaceful haven for anyone who is in need of it. The church is available to visitors and is open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
2 | Dumaguete Cathedral and Belfry
Also known as St. Catherine Alexandria Cathedral, this centuries-old place of worship is still flocked by devotees to hear mass even up to this day. This oldest stone church in Negros is brilliantly designed so as it is able to withstand the test of time, pleasing to the eye, and comforting to the heart. The nearby belfry used to be a watchtower for impending attacks back in the day but is now being used as it is, to remind the devotees that a holy mass is about to begin.
3 | Ninoy Aquino Memorial Freedom Park
Ninoy Aquino Memorial Freedom Park is not just an ordinary park where families can bond or children can play on the wide green lawn. It also houses the Negros Oriental Provincial Capitol. Big events and festivals such as the Buglasan Festival are held in this spot where participants and audience get to enjoy the dance competitions, live music, and other activities.
4 | Quezon Park
The park is hard to miss as it is conveniently located across Dumaguete Cathedral. It’s a good place to spend time and relax with family and friends as it is spacious and surrounded by trees, bushes, and flowers. Decorated with vintage cannons, the park has a playground for kids and kids at heart, too.
5 | Rizal Boulevard
Enjoy the best of both worlds at Rizal Boulevard. On one side, you can enjoy the view of the ocean and watch the waves whiten on the shore. On the other side is a line up of bars and restaurants serving international and local cuisines. It is also a popular venue for family picnics where kids can play and run around safely. It is just walking distance from Silliman University, other attractions, and many business establishments. In essence, Rizal Boulevard is the place to be in Dumaguete when looking for great food, fun nightlife, relaxing afternoon with the family, culture immersion, and/or interesting shopping experience.
6 | Sidlakang Negros Village
Want to get a glimpse of Negros Oriental in just one place? Sidlakang Negros Village is the answer. In this area, each town or city in Negros Oriental has its own area referred to as pavilion showcasing what this particular town has to offer – be it tourist destinations, agricultural products, or artistic handicrafts.
7 | Silliman University
Dumaguete City is well-known for Silliman University, the country’s first Protestant University and the first American university in Asia. Aside from locals, many students from neighboring cities and provinces come to Dumaguete for Silliman University, be it to study or simply explore what this well-known university is about. Located in the heart of the city, many of this university’s buildings are considered landmarks. The main library is considered one of the biggest libraries in the country and the Anthropology Museum houses artefacts from as early as 500-200 B.C. The building where the museum is located was built in the 1930’s and most of its parts are still in its original form.
NOTE: The Buglasan Festival occurs annually in the middle of October.
EAT & DRINK
The following are flavorful foods to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Dumaguete City.
1 | 2 Story Kitchen
As the name implies, 2 Story Kitchen is a two-storey cafe serving Asian, particularly Korean dishes such as kimbap, bibimbap, and kimchi, and Western favorites like sandwiches, pizza, and pasta. The ground floor of the cafe is a typical restaurant setup of tables and chairs while upstairs are semi-private booths with low tables and floor pillows.
2 | Casablanca Restaurant
Aside from European and other international dishes, Casablanca Restaurant also serves vegetarian dishes such as vegetarian curry and salad. They boast of their cold cuts, over fresh breads from Casablanca bakery, imported cheeses, exquisite selection of wines, and imported beers. The price is a little higher for Dumaguete but the quality, freshness, and taste of food as well as service are worth it.
3 | Gabby’s Bistro
If you miss the food back home, head to Gabby Bistro to satisfy your cravings. From European, Mexican to American favorites, you can find it here in Gabby Bistro. It has a cozy ambience, offers a nice view, and is great value for money.
4 | Hayahay Treehouse Bar and Viewdeck Restobar
Hayahay is a restobar overlooking the sea. As the name implies, it has a treehouse bar great for hanging out with family and friends. They serve the freshest seafood and ice cold beer.
5 | Jo’s Chicken Inato
Walking distance from Rizal Boulevard and Silliman University stands Jo’s Chicken Inato. While they are famous for their chicken barbecue, they also serve other Filipino favorites including seafood, pork, and other chicken dishes. Their prices are affordable and servings are large so the restaurant is recommended for big groups of people.
6 | Kri Restaurant
Kri is an upscale restaurant offering international dishes guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating palate. Their bestseller is the Samurai Salmon but their chicken and pasta dishes are a must-try too. They strive to provide healthy dishes by having vegan options, using canola oil, and avoiding the use of MSG.
7 | Lab-as Seafood Restaurant
Lab-as is a native word for fresh and since Dumaguete is a coastal city, you can expect only the freshest seafood from this restaurant. There must be something unique about Lab-as Seafood since it’s been around since the 80’s and still popular even up to this day. When in town, make sure to get your seafood fix here!
8 | Painitan
Painitan can be found in the public market of Dumaguete City. The ideal time to go here is in the morning for an authentic local breakfast. Breakfast here isn’t a typical Pinoy breakfast consisting of rice, egg, fish, and coffee. People come here for budbud, puto maya and sikwate (hot chocolate). Since it is located in the public market, the ambiance may not be the best there is but the fact that it is often crowded with locals and tourists alike means the food must be good and worth trying.
9 | Sans Rival Bistro
Sans Rival Bistro is in an old colonial house facing the ocean along Rizal Boulevard. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant serves burgers, sandwiches, seafood, and other Filipino dishes. They offer al fresco dining so it’s a great spot for sightseeing and people-watching in this touristy part of the city.
8 | Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries
Just behind Sans Rival Bistro stands Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries. This is where you’ll find the famous sans rival and silvanas of Dumaguete – the most popular pasalubong to take back home to family and friends.
KNOWN FOR: Sans Rival
WHERE TO STAY
There are many different types of accommodations available in Dumaguete City ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following are our top choices for each price range.
1 | Golden Gate Suites (Budget)
2 | The Bricks Hotel (Mid-Range)
3 | The Henry Resort (Luxury | Resort)
When doing research online of where to stay for specific destination, we use the following sites to conduct our research:
Book your room with these trusted online booking sites. Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive. We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:
TIP: Golden Gate Suites is the best property to experience this destination.
This chart is your guide to get an idea of how much to budget daily in Dumaguete City. Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.
A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD). For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).
Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast. For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night. For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.
Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD). However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.
Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD). For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD). For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD). Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food. Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.
Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD). A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).
A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).
On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips.
Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap. Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.
To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly. There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option.
Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter.
Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less. You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!
Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.
Always book your tours and activities when you arrive. Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will. Booking tours online is almost always more expensive.
Typical Costs in Dumaguete City in 2021:
- Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
- Budget Hotel: 700 PHP ($14 USD) night
- Mid-Range Hotel: 1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
- Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
- Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
- Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
- 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
- Jeepney Ride: 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD) ride
- Tricycle Ride: 20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
- Taxi: 75-500 PHP ($1.50-10 USD) ride – use GrabTaxi app
- Long-Distance Bus Ride: 400-500 PHP ($8–10 USD) ride
- Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
- Domestic Flight: 2,000-3,500 PHP ($40–70 USD) flight
The following is some of our best advice on traveling to this destination. This is your guide on what you need to know BEFORE you go to Dumaguete City!
Tips & Hacks
These Top 10 Tips can help guide you when visiting Dumaguete City in the Philippines:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.
The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found in Dumaguete City. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Dumaguete City, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.
Consult your hotel, resort front desk, or tour guide as they are more likely to give you reliable information about Dumaguete City than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.
There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines.
The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to.
The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Allow Your Body Time to Adjust
- Keep Active
- Sanitize Often
- Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
- Take Your Vitamins
- Practice Safe Sex
- Be Prepared Should You Get Sick
You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.
While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province. So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.
Recommended Travel Apps
Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling. Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- Klook (attractions & activities )
Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.
For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below. Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.
Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options.
We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.
The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list. This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing. To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list. Click the link below to download it for FREE now.
Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.
Things to Remember
There are some things you need to keep in mind to guide you from doing prohibited or illegal activities in Dumaguete City or anywhere in the Philippines.
There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas. Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.
The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores. The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.
Drugs are illegal in the Philippines. Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana. It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children. The penalties are severe … up to and including death.
Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated. Most locals consider it offensive. There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.
Foreigners & Expats
If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly. Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.
Don’t Forget …
Download Our FREE Travel Guides
We have dozens of guides to destinations throughout the Philippines. Download your FREE copy for your next trip today.