Dumaguete City is the capital of Negros Oriental. A university town with a large international base; it is home to many ex-pats, foreign students and of course resorts! The town itself has a small town feel, with all the necessary amenities and conveniences you would expect to find in a big city.
With over 7000 islands to choose from, the Philippines offer many wonderful places to visit, however many of them are difficult to reach and involve at least 1 whole days travel. Dumaguete has a ‘soon to be’ international airport with daily flights to Cebu and Manila, plus a large pier that offers services to the surrounding islands of Siquijor, Bohol and Cebu, making this region a perfect starting or ending point for a 3-4 island hopping holiday.
Anything is possible in Dumaguete City, if you are after a happening night life, live music, great festivals, theater, dance recitals or sporting events you can find it here. Take a stroll along ‘The Boulevard’ the only one in the Philippines, a stunning water front promenade where the locals and tourists gather before heading out for the evening, or spend the day visiting the many local historical, religious and cultural attractions. Visit the local shopping district or international mall, where you can buy everything from handmade local shoes to imported designer clothes!
Situated at the foot of Mt Talinis, in the Cuernos de Negros Mountain chain, Dumaguete offers some fantastic land based activities from mountain hiking and trekking waterfalls to visiting geothermal hot springs and naturally formed crater lakes. The area is abundant with rare flora and fauna and can offer some rather challenging excursions.
Probably more famous for its coast line, Dumaguete is the gate way to some world class diving. A 20minute drive along the highway and you reach the province of Dauin, the first successful marine sanctuary in the Philippines. This area boasts world class muck diving, stunning coral reefs, plentiful fish life and turtles on more or less any dive. So whether you are a land lover or a sea lover Dumaguete has something for everyone.
The essence of Dumaguete can be described by three words — bustling yet charming!
Sights to See
Your first impression of this part of Dumaguete will be from some kind of vehicle. As you putter down the street scanning side to side there is a definite feel to the area. From the tourist bars and restaurants to the old street lamps and students lounging on the grass to the waves meeting the break wall, there is something special about Rizal Boulevard.
Named after Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal, who apparently spent one or two nights here on his way from a forced exile in Dipitan, the boulevard stretches along the front coast of the city and is the only one of its kind in the Philippines. Something the locals are very proud of!
Rizal Boulevard is only a 5 minute walk from the central shopping area and few minutes from the park. Bars and restaurants offer a variety of cuisine and nightly entertainment making this a popular evening haunt for locals and tourists alike. One of the best loved places in Dumaguete City, a leisurely stroll along this picturesque boulevard is a must do for any visiting tourist.
Dumaguete City has essentially grown around Silliman University. It originally opened as an elementary school in 1901 by protestant missionaries from the USA with only 15 male pupils the Silliman project expanded rapidly acquiring university status and international recognition in 1938 with its student population of both sexes now in the 1000s.
The university has lots to offer a tourist. Take a stroll around the stunning grounds, visit the museum which is located in the founding building of the university, which itself is beautifully crafted and lovingly preserved. The museum collection is both interesting and varied with a history of the modern day Philippines, some magic and medicine, tribal history and artifacts.
Visit the Silliman Zoo with its collection of rare local animals including bleeding heart doves, spotted deer, vampire bats and crocodiles or head to the marine laboratory to visit their giant clam, crocodile and seaweed breeding programs. The university is steeped in history and is well worth a visit.
The Dumaguete City Public Market or ‘tiangge’ (local word for market) is the best place to scout for locally produced fruits & veg, fish & meat, handicrafts or general plastic fantastic junk!
Situated near the center of town the market is composed of 3 main buildings. One offers mainly fish, meat and poultry, the next veggies and fruits and the last one plastic, haircuts, tailoring and basically anything else you could possibly think of to sell.
Everyone is ready to barter so do not be afraid to ask for a better price! The market opens around 4am and is hustling till the doors close around 8pm.
The Bell Tower
Built in 1811 to essentially warn the locals when marauding pirates were coming to kidnap people and turn them into slaves! The bell tower still stands in all her glory and is the oldest known belfry in the Visayas.
Located adjacent to the central park and next to St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, which is the largest church in the city and was also constructed in 1811; the belfry is an imposing stone structure and despite the addition of a small garden and grotto still somehow manages to retain its old authentic look.
The Christmas House
Dr. Rico Absin is a local practicing anesthesiologist who has a strange yet genuine passion for art, decoration and kids! He has transformed his modest home into a virtual children’s dream castle complete with princesses and carriages. Every Christmas Dr. Absin covers his magical kingdom in thousands of flickering lights creating an enchanting mystical fairy tale dream land, that he opens up to the public.
Dr. Absin also holds a benefit party for the less fortunate children of Dumaguete every Christmas, where he invites all to his wonderland and evens gives each child a present. An active member of the City Tourism Council, he arranges many fund raisers for local causes and is an advocate for Children’s charities.