photo byayran09 on flickr
Dumaguete, known as the City of Gentle People, is the capital of the province of Negros Oriental. It is basically a college town due to a good number of educational instritutions that cater to tertiary students of Visayas and Mindanao. Aside from the universities, Dumaguete is home to numerous resorts, historic places and ecotourism venues that attract numerous visitors every year.
The city is relatively small in land area but it can be considered a giant in other respects. For one, it is home to the Silliman University, one of the finest academic centers in Visayas and perhaps even the Philippines. The people of Dumaguete, called Dumagueteños are warm and gentle. They are unbelievably hospitable and they also speak the lilting, almost melodious Ilonggo dialect.
Getting There and Getting Around
The city is also accessible from Cebu on a fast craft or a ferry which stop in Tagbilaran, Bohol. This makes Dumaguete an easy side trip for tourists exploring Cebu City. Land travel is also possible through Lilo-an. From there you’ll board a ferry to Sibulan and then another bus to downtown Dumaguete.
Everything in Dumaguete is considered within walking distance. Exploring the city on foot is one of the best ways of getting around. It provides you the opportunity to get the feel of the city and linger in places that you find interesting. Dumagueteños will be more than happy to point you to the right direction in case you do not know your way. There are also taxis, jeepneys and tricycles for hire if you need motorized transportation. For the more adventurous, back riding for-hire motorcycles can be an exciting means of getting around.
Dining in Dumaguete can be quite surprising for the first-time visitor. Food in the city is very affordable, even high-class looking restaurants offer cheap fare. The cost of living in the city is at a minimum and this is also true even for visitors. Dumaguete’s culinary offerings are a fusion of different cuisines from all over the country and the world. Whatever strikes your fancy come dinnertime, you’re sure to find a quaint restaurant that will satisfy your cravings. Most restaurants in Dumaguete are found in Silliman Avenue and Rizal Boulevard.
One mandatory stop is Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries which a favorite for both locals and tourists. As the name suggests, the place offers a wide variety of treats that your sweet tooth will adore. Those who are looking for international cuisine can feast on the offerings at Casablanca. And if you’re looking for street food, you can visit Rizal Boulevard at night where you can see plenty of vendors selling tempura and balut among other things.
Historic and Cultural Attractions
photo byRonnie P. on flickr
Dumaguete’s name is derived from the local word daguit which means to snatch or swoop over. Centuries ago, marauding pirates attacked the coastal town, taking everything including beautiful women. The Dumaguete Belfry Tower was built in the early 19th century to warn the townsfolk of attacks. The tower still stands today and is an interesting subject for photos.
The Silliman University is also an attraction in itself. It is the first American private university in Asia founded in the late 19th century. Aside from being a fine institute of learning with outstanding programs for the arts, the campus is also a beautiful piece of real estate that features museums, a large auditorium within a unique structure, and extensive library and its own church. Strolling through the campus grounds and socializing with the intellectuals can be a rewarding experience.
Nature has blessed Dumaguete with wonders that lure avid outdoorsmen, divers and sun lovers from all over the world. The city’s attractions provide a haven for nature lovers, be it in the highlands or the sea.
Perhaps the best natural attraction Dumaguete is known for is the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary where two-thirds of world’s known coral species can be found. The diversity of marine life in Apo Island is astounding, making it one of the best dive sites in the world. Divers from all over the world come to Dumaguete and head to Apo Island to see this majestic underwater kingdom.
Another exciting outdoor adventure is dolphin and whale watching in Bais, about 45 kilometers from downtown Dumaguete. Visitors cruise through Tañon Strait which lies between the islands of Negros and Cebu, heading to Bais there whales and dolphins thrive. Some tours end at Manjuyod Sandbar, a stunning strip of sand that appears during low tide.
The twin peaks of Mt. Kanlaon and Cuernos de Negros lures mountaineers. After quite a challenging climb, tourists are rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views of the lowlands and the lush vegetation that stand proof of the city’s thriving agriculture industry.
If you’re looking for inland water adventure, head to Lake Balanan located in the huge town of Siaton. The road to the lake can be quite challenging but waterfalls, streams and stunning views of Cuernos de Negros await every visitor. Accommodations are available, as well as a swimming pool, a restaurant and a tree house.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodations available for all sorts of visitors in Dumaguete. From five-star resorts and boutique hotels to budget inns and quaint bed and breakfasts, you’re assured of a safe place to lay your head during your stay. Those who are looking for the ultimate getaway can stay at the Atmosphere Resort. The resort is connected to one of the best scuba equipment providers in the country, making it easy for guests to arrange diving tours. Water sports are also available for those who are interested.
If you are looking for budget accommodations, there are plenty of rooms available in or near the city. Bethel Guest House is one of the most popular choices, with room rates as affordable as P500.