Dumaguete: A Gentle Cradle in Visayas

Dumaguete lives up to its name as the gentle city in Visayas, Philippines. With its growing population of 102,265 people, it’s still comforting to realize that the city remains a relatively peaceful paradise.

It takes pride as a one-stop city bustling with locals and international tourists. Students from all over the world flock to every coffee shop, enriching the vibrant culture of the “university town” because of its abundance of universities that attract students from all over the world

Though there’s much more than just the easy cityscape. There are many places just a bus away from Dumaguete that doesn’t necessarily mean going farther. And in here, we will break down what to do, what to eat, where to go, what to buy, and how much to actually spend in these places.

As you land

From the airport or from the seaport, pedicab (rickshaw cabs) drivers will approach you, offering to take you to hotels and inn. Depending on your verbal negotiation while considering how many passengers and how heavy your luggage is, it usually costs around 100 to 300 pesos ($2-$6).

Where to eat

For breakfast

Dumaguete welcomes all forms of cultures. Their restaurants are even inspired from a blend of European and American culture. Such as in Gabby’s Bed and Breakfast where they serve the classic English Breakfast and the much-to-die-for pancakes, and of course, indulge with the Filipino silog breakfast (eggs, rice, and your choice of meat or some other).  Breakfast costs around $5.

You could take a cab (10 pesos or 19 cents) to Gabby’s. It is located at Barangay Daro.




For lunch

The Philippines has been colonized by Spain, so Hispanic culture is embedded here. If you love Mexican culture then head to Moon Café. It has two branches as of writing. One is located at Robinsons Mall and the other is along Silliman Avenue. My favourite is Fish Taco with a tall glass of cappuccino. The atmosphere is a good cut from Mexican culture with the staff wearing traditional costumes. Lunch at Moon Café will cost you around 250-1000 pesos ($5-$20).



For snacks

Heading to Chapters Café at Sta. Catalina Street will magically take you to Wonderland with Lewis Carroll’s touch of inspiration with its ambiance of upside down tables at the ceiling and a plethora of books literally hanging around the place. They serve coffee, pizza, a platter of mixed finger foods, and milktea.



For Dinner

Sans Rival is the well-known bistro in Dumaguete. They are located across the famous Rizal Boulevard stretch at San Jose St. They have two hubs, the bistro for fine dining and the cakes and pastries for desserts.

We recommend chicken cacciatore and their classic hamburger. Please do not forget to buy the much boasted sweet silvanas, the classic dessert delicacy. Silvanas costs around 150 pesos ($2.85). Eating at Sans Rival will cost you around 250-1000.00 pesos ($5-$20).

There are a much abundant places to go such as Jo’s Chicken Inato; Kri, if you’re into Japanese food; and Harbor City for fans of Chinese food. They’re all located along Silliman Avenue.



Where to go

  1. Out from the city

You might want to escape from Dumaguete for a while. The other towns aren’t that far with many cabs ready to take you there. For the adventurers with the love for hiking: You will surely enjoying basking under the sun in reaching the tops of Tierra Alta and Puncak Tanawan in Negros Oriental. There are, of course, many other great places, but we will concentrate with these two.

Tierra Alta

This tranquil paradise is nestled on the slopes of Palinpinon in Valencia. They promise peace and serenity of the mountainside once you reach the top. From Dumaguete, you can approach a pedicab. They offer 150 pesos or $2.85 if you will only let them take you at the entrance and hike all the way up. It’s around two kilometres of hiking to reach the top. The price goes up to $5 or 250 pesos if the cab will take you up instead.

Once you get there, you will pay a dollar or 50 pesos for sight-seeing. You will also pay an additional fee if you want to go swimming at the pool.

You should totally check the view at the top of the lighthouse.

Once you’re done sightseeing, it’s time to fill your stomach at the clubhouse where their citrus iced tea will totally quench your thirst, and their cheezy pizza is a must-try. You must bring around $10 dollars or 500 pesos for dining at the clubhouse.





Puncack Tanawan

Puncack Tanawan is claimed to be the highest peak in Sibulan, Negros Oriental and is located in Brgy. Balugo. First, you’ll need to ride the bus going to Sibulan. This will cost you around 20 pesos or 40 cents.

You can rent a habal-habal or a motorcycle to take you up or if you go hiking, it is approximately 3.3 kilometers from the entrance. It will cost you around $2 for a ride.

The grind will surely melt your pounds away if you would choose the hiking adventure, but the top view is worth the grind as the view of the whole city welcomes you once you reach the top. By the way, the entrance also asks for a fee. Prepare around a dollar to two or 50 to 100 pesos.

A small hut offers the classic Filipino meal of eggs, rice, and a choice of meat or chicken when you reach the top.  It is advisable to bring your own food and utensils. You can also bring your tents because camping is highly encouraged. (And don’t worry, fully functional comfort rooms are available).



II. Around the City

Chinese Bell Church

The traditional Taoist church isn’t densely populated with tourists, so you’ve got to converse with locals about where to find it. Generally, it is located along the main road at Barangay Calindagan, Dumaguete. It stretches along the city’s seacoast too.

They feature authentic Chinese calligraphy on walls and intricate designed arches and dragon structures and pagodas.  The landscaped gardens are inspired by the traditional Chinese style of lilies floating on waters. There is no entrance fee, but you cannot take pictures inside the temple.

By the way, if you’re lucky, a Taoist could share you tidbits of wisdom on life if you will be able to converse with them, but see to it that you will not disturb them while they’re praying.

And oh, another extra surprise. Inside the temple, there is a question-and-answer wishing game. You will say your wish silently first then you’ll pick a number and throw the shells provided. If two is upside down, no. If one is upside down and the other faces up, then it’s still no. You will get another number until you will get yes with the two shells facing upwards. Once you’ll get the yes, you will head to the cabinet and find your number. You will need to get a roll of paper with the corresponding number you got.  The paper is where you can read your answer. It will feel like a formal game of fortune cookie.

A pedicab will take you there for 10 pesos or 19 cents.



Catherine of Alexandria Church and Belfry of Dumaguete

The locals call it Cathedral. It is a very old Roman Catholic Church built around 1754 to 1776 and nicknamed as “Oldest Stone Church in Negros.” Just a few walks away is the Belfry of Dumaguete or the Bell tower for the locals. The Belfry is used to warn townfolks of attacks by marauding pirates.



Silliman University Dumaguete

Established in 1901, it is the first protestant school in Visayas. It is home to around nine thousand students from all over the world. It is a private institution with its state-of-the-art facilities and research centers. Photographed here is the Silliman Church that is purposely erected to stand to be the highest building among all the buildings in the campus.

You should also visit the museum where artefacts from Visayas and Mindanao are securely stored with CCTVs and sophisticated maintenance. It is located at Hibbard Hall. You could take the cab and pay 20 cents or 10 pesos to get to the university and be your own tour guide or you could coordinate with travel agencies to include the university in the tour because Silliman is very accommodating to visitors with their own campus ambassadors as your guide.

And once you’re here, don’t miss the chance to eat Bossing’s Tempura located near the campus swimming pool. It’s increasing level of spice of its sauce is a campus favorite.



What to buy

If you’re into the dreamcatchers and native art then you may head to Handumanan in Dumaguete at the city. But if you’re into books then you may head to Robinson’s Mall where you can buy books for almost 90% discount at Booksale.

After strolling around the mall, you could also find the booth where they print do-it-yourself merchandise on mugs, shirts, and caps for 150  pesos or $3. The mall also houses Bo’s Café where tropical fruit drinks and donuts could be savoured.

Robinson’s Mall is located in ‎Calindagan, Dumaguete City.




Now, what do you do?