Dumaguete is full of tourist spots. If you’re backpacking anywhere in Negros or the Central Visayas, we’ll confidently bet that you end up spending some time here. Or at the very least, in the surrounding area.
Be warned – the city is not easy on the eyes. It’s chaotic, it’s loud, it’s busy. But there are always tourist spots to visit in Dumaguete. And when you’re bored of those attractions? Nearby Valencia has a bundle of things to do too. Or, perhaps you’re heading south to Apo Island, maybe west to Sugar Beach. You’re in a beautiful part of the Philippines.
We ended up spending considerably longer in Dumaguete and Valencia than we planned to. Let’s just say that if you’re looking to get motorbikes or teeth fixed, then you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for the best tourist spots in both Dumaguete and Valencia, then this blog is for you.
- How to Get to Dumaguete
- Tourist Spots in Dumaguete
- Vintage Shopping
- Dumaguete Public Market
- Rizal Boulevard
- Campanario de Dumaguete
- Panda Ice Cream
- Grab a Local Meal
- Tourist Spots Around Dumaguete
- Dauin and Diving
- Local Market at Malatapay
- Apo Island
- Tourist Spots Around Valencia
- Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
- Casaroro Falls
- Japanese Shrine
- Pulangbato Falls
- Red Rock Hot Springs
- Coffee Groove Cafe
- Valencia Public Plaza Markets
- The Forest Camp Mountain Resort
- Visit Bais
- Where to Stay in Dumaguete
- Where to Stay in Valencia
How to Get to Dumaguete
One of the easiest ways to get to Dumaguete is to fly into Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport. It’s only a 15-minute ride from the city centre. Both Philippines Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air fly from Manila and Cebu. There are also flights from Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
Travelling by ferry is a much cheaper alternative to get to Dumaguete. You can reach Siquijor (1.5 hours), Bohol (2 hours), Cebu City (4 hours) or Apo Island by ferry. Check out how to get to Apo Island with our travel guide. There’s even a ferry to Dumaguete from Manilla. But that’s only if you can handle at least 36 hours on the water.
Ceres bus terminal is pretty conveniently located just outside of central Dumaguete. You can get to anywhere on Negros from here. Some of the buses you need to take to visit Dumaguete tourist spots leave from this bus terminal too.
GETTING AROUND DUMAGUETE
Like many of the islands, trikes are the main mode of transport in Dumaguete City. You’ll never struggle to find one (and they won’t struggle to find you). As always in the Philippines, remember to agree on a price beforehand.
If you try to share the fare with other passengers, it probably won’t make much difference. You tend to pay per person – and don’t pay more than P10 each anywhere within the city. You can also walk to most of the main sites within the centre.
Compared to other Filipino islands, we actually struggled to find a motorbike rental shop. After asking around, we eventually found one that would rent us a bike. It was a pretty shady operation which has now been named V12 Motorcycle for Rent. It may also be called Ropali Motorcycles. P400 a day (and they threw in helmets).
We crashed our bike on the way back from the incredibly disappointing Twin Falls. Yeah. Like, really crashed it. By some miracle, we were pointed to Mindanao Machine Shop. The boys in this shop were fucking miracle workers. Seriously. We were in big, big trouble until they fixed the bike for us. We were probably paying for a new bike without their help. Drilling, welding, a lathe – all of it just P1,120.
Needless to say, the team at V12 weren’t particularly understanding. They were also pretty confused. Scuff marks but no other signs of a crash? We fled after paying P1000. A lucky escape. A shady operation, but the only one. Heed our warning.
Tourist Spots in Dumaguete
One of the tourist spots that surprised us in Dumaguete was the vintage shopping stores. You can find anything in the many stores dotted around the centre. They’ll even let you trade in your clothes in exchange for something else. This was super handy for two backpackers bored of their travel ‘wardrobe’.
If you’re looking for ‘mall’ type shopping, there is a Robinsons. But honestly, give the local stores a try. Everything was less than £1 and there were some bargains. The Unitop has everything you could ever want too. Especially ponchos for the rainy days.
Dumaguete Public Market
This public market is an assault on the senses. Don’t come here expecting to take pretty Instagram pictures. Instead, it’s one of Dumaguete’s best tourist spots for a great glimpse into local life. Browse the ‘painitan’ stalls, chat to friendly vendors and taste some chocolate budbud. A great place to visit for street food if you’re on a budget. Like we were. Basically all the time.
Rizal Boulevard is probably the true heart of the city. It’s very pretty and one of the most fun tourist spots in Dumaguete. Walk the length of it and learn everything you need to know about Dr Jose Rizal. There are other information boards about the city’s history, attractions and culture in the area.
Other than that, it’s an atmospheric place to be. You’ll see expats sipping coffee during the day, buskers playing guitar. Rizal Boulevard is a popular teenager hangout and there are old men sitting on benches just taking in the sea air too. At night, stalls appear and the smell of street food fills the air. But you can find out more about that in our Guide to the Best Restaurants in Dumaguete.
Campanario de Dumaguete
You won’t miss the Dumaguete Bell Tower Campanario de Dumaguete. Found on the SW corner of Quezon Park, it’s one of the most identifiable tourist spots in Dumaguete. Built in the 18th century, it helped save the city from pirate attacks.
It stands beside the Saint Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral. The tower holds deep religious significance, so be respectful when you visit. As one of Dumaguete’s oldest surviving structures, it’s absolutely worth a visit.
Panda Ice Cream
Now this is a strange one. Just about everybody we spoke to mentioned getting ice cream at Panda Ice Cream. Not exactly one of the typical tourist spots in Dumaguete, but we’re glad we went. They make the ice cream fresh and the flavours are delicious. Durian, jackfruit, coffee, chocolate, mango, papaya, you name it. It’s delicious and well worth the walk on a hot day!
Grab a Local Meal
Some of the best tourist spots in Dumaguete are the places you eat. Seriously. We don’t say that about Filipino locations very often, but we found some surprisingly good food joints. Like we said, we spent a lot of time in the Dumaguete area. We found out which restaurants were winners, and which ones worked on a budget. Find out everything you need to know in our separate post about where to eat in Dumaguete.
WEE TIP: you may have noticed that we haven’t included too many pictures in this blog post. Emma’s smile was ehm, ‘under repair’. Daniel’s laptop was broken and irreparable (we checked all the Dumaguete shops several times). On top of that, we waited around for a new tooth to be created and delivered, and had to deal with a pretty shitty motorbike crash.
We felt a little sorry for ourselves when we were in town. The camera stayed in the hotel room most of the time. Looking back now, we can at least laugh.
Tourist Spots Around Dumaguete
Dauin and Diving
Start heading south of Dumaguete and you’ll come to the wonderful Dauin area. Many people head straight to Apo Island, but there are tons of diving schools along the coast in Dauin too. Check out some of the schools if you’re looking to enjoy some scuba diving. Dauin Marine Sanctuary is a healthy, thriving area full of sea life. Many of the schools even include day-trips to Apo Island too.
Away from the beaches and the dive schools, there’s heaps to see in the mountains too. A wise German local (25+ years local) told us all about them. We planned to see them. Then, yeah, y’know…bike crash. Regardless, all of these places are supposed to be spectacular and you’re likely to be the only people there! Where all the crowds are at the usual tourist spots in Dumaguete, you get these ones all to yourself.
First, consider hiking Mount Talinis if you’re capable of it. It’s a pretty serious walk, and it’s forbidden to hike without a guide. Find everything you need to know here.
Local Market at Malatapay
Ok, the market at Malatapay isn’t technically in Dumaguete. But it certainly isn’t far. Hop on a jeepney (P20) from nearby Robinson’s Mall on a Wednesday. You’ll find the biggest market in the area, stuffed full of everything imaginable. Seriously – everybody in the area heads to Malatapay on a Wednesday. Fabrics, fruit and veg, crafts, clothes, farmer’s goods. Bring your smile, some patience and a big smile.
This is also a handy stop-off if you’re on your way to Apo Island. You literally walk through the market to get to the jetty – so try to time it right!
And that brings us to the next one of our Dumaguete tourist spots! This one technically isn’t in Dumaguete either. But, if you’re visiting Apo Island, you’ll probably be visiting Dumaguete too.
Many travellers arrive in Dumaguete looking to immediately visit one of the biggest tourist spots: Apo Island. This guarantees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to snorkel, swim and dive with turtles right on the shore. It’s not surprising that people use Dumaguete as a base: it’s the main transport hub for visiting the island.
Read our full guide to Apo Island. It includes how to get to the island from Dumaguete City.
Tourist Spots Around Valencia
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
Let’s start with one of the biggest disappointments in the Philippines. If only the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes were instantly forgettable. If only. Unfortunately, we have the painful reminder of a motorbike crash on the way back.
Maybe it’s because we’re from Scotland and spoilt (we have 3000+ lochs). Perhaps it’s because the weather was pretty average. Maybe, just maybe, the lakes are just a bit shit. Whatever the reason, these lakes are not even slightly worth the fuss. Seriously. If you’ve seen a lake before, then you’ve seen the Twin Lakes.
It’s a 15-20-minute walk to Lake Danao, where there’s also a “bird viewing platform”. Scintillating stuff. Kayak hire is P150 per hour if for some deranged reason you want to spend more time here.
A boat trip around the lake is P250 for one hour, and fits 7 people. On that boat trip, you’ll see Ulayan Falls. It seems like the real gem in the area is Pagsalsalan Twin Falls. This, however, requires a guide and is a strenuous walk.
Still. At least it would be better than Balinsasayao Twin Lakes.
Easiest reached by motorbike. P12 for parking, P100 entry for the Twin Lakes.
Alternatively, take a jeepney to the bottom of the hill, then get a motorbike-taxi to the Falls. But only if you’re fucking mental enough to still want to visit.
Now that we’ve got that off our chest, let’s talk about one of our favourite tourist spots around Dumaguete. In fact, it’s one of our favourite spots in all of the Philippines. Casaroro Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls we’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
Once you’ve paid your P10 entry and signed-in, it’s a pretty rough walk. There used to be a whole series of walkways and bridges here, but sadly they were wiped out when Typhoon Sendong hit the area.
It’s 335 steps down to the river. From there, turn right and uhm, splash your way to the falls. It’s a good half-hour walk, and you are going to get wet. It’s not very friendly terrain, so do not wear flip flops. Take this hike seriously, and try to avoid going in bad weather. There have sadly been fatalities in the past.
But when you get to the falls you won’t be disappointed. Casaroro Falls are absolutely spectacular. We spent well over an hour here just taking it in. There’s a pool to swim in and it’s a great opportunity for some pictures. A beautiful chute of water cascades down in a narrow, orderly line from an incredible 30m+ height. One of the best tourist spots near Dumaguete and a definite highlight.
UPDATE: Since we visited, much of the walkway to the falls has been re-built with bamboo! The entry price is now P30, but your walk should be a lot easier now.
Apparently the Japanese Shrine is a hike. Huh. If only we knew that before we tried to ram our motorbike up the rocky, craggy road. Luckily, we only made it 10 metres or so.
Anyway! The Japanese Shrine is supposed to be a really cool viewpoint over the area. When we were in town it was pouring. Still, there’s supposed to be a pretty moving statue to the soldiers that gave their life during a battle on the site itself. Expect your walk up there to be steep and to take around an hour.
It’s a shame that Pulangbato Falls are so close to Casaroro Falls. It’s still such a pretty waterfall in itself, but unfortunately, it’s overshadowed by its neighbour. If you’re in the area, Pulangbato Falls are definitely still worth a visit. Combined with the nearby springs, it makes for a great afternoon. If Casaroro Falls is the wild, deserted walk, then Pulangbato Falls is the relaxed, tourist-friendly alternative.
Entry is P50. There’s accommodation and some cool swimming pools on site too. You’ll find a café, bar, and in general, a space that somebody has definitely put some effort in to setting up. When we visited, they were also constructing a new ‘walkway’ bridge of sorts. If it’s finished when you’re in town, drop a comment below and let us know what it looks like now!
Red Rock Hot Lukewarm Springs
You probably passed the Red Rock Hot Springs on the way to Pulangbato Falls. It really makes sense to combine both places on one visit. Visiting from Dumaguete, you’ll see both tourist spots on one trip.
Entry is P60. There’s food and drinks available, and changing rooms are a good facility too. The springs are a really pretty setting. The cloudy, misty atmosphere was perfect when we were there, and it was a relaxing way to spend a couple hours. Unfortunately, the hot springs weren’t really that…hot. It’s a beautiful spot and the pools are beautiful, we just wish they’d been a bit warmer.
Coffee Groove Cafe
After all this adventure, you’ll be needing some caffeine to help you out. Luckily, Coffee Groove Café has just the trick. It’s a hip coffee shop with friendly staff and fun music. This was the perfect getaway for us on a rainy day, and we visited every single time we passed.
It also helped that the coffee is absolutely delicious. Sourced from organic farms in Batangas (Luzon) it’s one of the few places in the area where you’ll get a seriously good cup of brew (P45). With good wifi, Jim Croce records on repeat and tasty cakes and treat, it was our happy place in the area. Don’t miss it.
Valencia Public Plaza Markets
Despite its proximity to Dumaguete and the tourist spots around it, there’s not a huge amount going on in Valencia. We stayed a few nights so that we were closer to some of the highlights, and we kinda lucked with our accommodation. Most restaurants were pretty disappointing, but the two markets certainly made up for it.
On a Saturday night, you’ll find yourself surrounded by everybody in town at the Public Plaza. There are food stalls, plastic tables and chairs, and of course, karaoke everywhere. The food is dirt cheap and there were some surprisingly tasty curries among the usual Filipino fare.
Come the early hours of Sunday morning, the square will be filled to the brim with farmers and their goods. You can buy all the fresh produce imaginable here. That includes coffee from the local area, and plenty of crafts and trinkets along the way too. Even if you’re not cooking up a storm with the fresh ingredients, the colours and sounds and smells make for an interesting visit.
The Forest Camp Mountain Resort
Now for one of the most unique places in the area! The Forest Camp Mountain Resort looks unbelievable. 2.5 hectares of nature, lagoons, waterfalls and 9 natural swimming pools, it’s a paradise in the area. Most guests enjoy the restaurant, activities, the hanging bridge and even a zipline! It’s a popular escape from the Dumaguete heat for many locals.
We say ‘looks’ unbelievable, because we never went for a swim. This is even though we checked out rooms and saw all of the pools. It was pouring down when we visited. We also thought the P120 pp entry fee was a little expensive. For travellers that aren’t as cheap as us, it would be a really cool way to spend the day, and you’re in a perfect place for an amazing Instagram shot.
There are rooms too. Think Centre Parcs, but an awful lot cooler. And cheaper. The Treehouse Rooms are P600, but you can’t check in until 6pm. That’s the budget option. There are much bigger and better rooms, and even villas that were, sadly, well out of our price range.
There are so many tourist spots in Bais as well – just one hour north of Dumaguete. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit. If you’re still looking for more things to do, then you’ll find plenty to see in the area.
The Manjuyod Sandbank is normally combined with the nearby bird sanctuary. If you’re lucky, it’ll include dolphin watching. A trip to the nearby mangroves can be arranged tool.
Apart from that, Mabinay Spring was also recommended to us. Lake Balanan is another highlight if you happen to find yourself in the area. Accommodation is a little more expensive in the area, but still good value for money.
Where to Stay in Dumaguete
We ended up using this budget hotel as a base for our adventures. We stayed in Dumaguete a grand total of 5 nights in between Valencia and Apo Island.
It’s budget in every sense – rooms are extremely basic. But the location across from the public market is good and most importantly, it’s extremely cheap. Recommended if you’re spending more than a few days in Dumaguete. We stayed in the super budget rooms with a fan, but there are rooms with AC too.
Flying Fish Hostel
Promising a ‘peaceful escape’ from Dumaguete City, Flying Fish is a modern hostel with an industrial vibe. Live acoustic sets, vegan menu and an in-house tricycle service, the hostel gets rave reviews from backpackers craving some home comforts.
Harold’s Mansion is sort-of ‘landmark’ in Dumaguete City. You’ll find the majority of backpackers end up staying here. It’s extremely convenient for the ferry terminal. The main draw is probably the social rooftop bar-restaurant. It’s a great place to share tales about Philippines adventures with fellow travellers.
Tours around Negros Island are available too – it even has its own dive school which you can use to explore nearby Apo Island.
Go Hotels Dumaguete
Go Hotels is handily located right next to the city’s main shopping centre: Robinsons Place. It’s a simple, clean affordable budget hotel, and the airport is only 20 minutes by trike. Make sure to keep an eye out for promo codes.
Where to Stay in Valencia
Pyramid Wellness Center
Even when the weather wasn’t kind to us, we enjoyed Valencia. Pyramid was a big part of that. Rooms are huge, comfortable, and have a private bathroom. The wifi was solid for the most part. And for just P600 a night, it’s a steal. There’s a pool (in peak season) and a big, well-supplied kitchen for everybody to use.
Staff were super-friendly and some of the other guests were real characters. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the area.
Other Valencia Options
If Pyramid is full and Forest Camp doesn’t appeal to you, there are a few other options in Valencia. Harold’s team have an Ecolodge resort up here too. It’s P500 a night and the rooms were pretty nice, but basic. However, there was no wifi or even phone signal.
We spoke to the owners of the Cliff House as well. They seemed lovely, and their rooms were really gorgeous, but sadly we couldn’t afford them at the time. It’s a super-Instagrammable spot with an incredible terrace and lovely breakfasts included. Abbey Road is another decent budget option.
LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT!