DUMAGUETE

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

Rizal Boulevard

dumaguete-rizal-boulevardYour 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.

Silliman University

Silliman-UniversityDumaguete 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.

Public Market

marketThe 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

belltowerBuilt 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

xmas-houseDr. 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.

DUMAGUETE DAY TRIPS

Casaroro Falls

valencia-casarorofalls1Nestled into the surrounding hills of Valencia are the stunning Casaroro Falls. These falls are renowned as the most photographed in all of Negros.  A steep gorge, that admittedly is not for the weak or faint hearted, will take you through plush mountain foliage filled with an array of wild life to the 100ft/30mtrs falls! That’s right, this narrow waterfall that is nestled within a rocky cliff face that drops abruptly into a swimming hole, where if you don’t mind cold mountain water it is possible to go for a swim.

Since the storm of Christmas 2011, the 365 steps that were constructed to make the trek a little easier have unfortunately been washed away. There are plans to rebuild but no set date as of this time. It is still possible to reach the falls and the climb down and up can be both fun and challenging. We recommend foot wear a bit sturdier than flip flops!

Our driver will collect you from Liquid and drive you up through the idyllic mountain town of Valencia until the road ends. At this point you can either rent a motor bike taxi or walk the 40minutes to the start of the trail. There is a Php20 entrance fee for each person. Our driver will wait for you at the road and bring you back to Liquid.

Bais Dolphin & Whale Watching

bais2During the months of March – October the Tanon Strait is awash with cetaceans – that’s dolphins and whales for most of us!  This protected marine sanctuary is home to 9 of the 23 different marine mammals that have been spotted throughout the whole of the Philippines.

The trip starts with a 1.30 hour drive from Liquid to Bais City, from here a banka boat with local guide will sail you the 45minutes through Bais Bay out to Tanon Straight where you simply wait for the ‘cetaceans’ to come to you. After a pleasurable time chilling out with the local marine mammals it is off to the glorious Manjuyod white sand bar for lunch. This pristine sand bar is only accessible by boat at low tide – do not forget your cameras trust us!!

After lunch it is possible to visit the Bais Mangrove Bird Sanctuary. Another protected area that consists of 400 hectares of mangroves with a bamboo walkway that takes you to the inner heart of the grove where different wildlife and especially birds can be seen.  It is a long day out, but well worth the adventure!

Twin Lakes

twin-lakes-2These stunning lakes are found 12 kilometers or 40minutes west of Sibulan which in itself is about 45minutes from Liquid. It may seem like a long drive to go look at some water, but trust us it is worth it.  One of the biggest tourist attractions in Negros the Twin lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao are set in a lush tropical green natural park that is officially protected and is home to an expansive ecosystem harboring many rare plants, animals and bird species.

The main road leading to the lakes has been partly washed away, so the van can no longer drive you to the entrance. Instead the van will drop you at the junction to the highway from here you will need to rent a motor bike taxi for Php200/person to take you along the bumpy road to the ‘registration hut’, which is a rather pleasant natural stone and bamboo building with a lovely picnic area and nice views of the surrounding mountain ranges. From here a short hike takes you to the nearest edge of the first lake. A beautiful sight awaits you, tranquil waters surrounded by tropical greenery. You can opt to hike around the lake or paddle your way over using a kayak to reach the second lake. Swimming is encouraged if you don’t mind cold fish infested waters! And there are plenty of places to set up for a picnic.

Mt Talinis

mt-talinisThese stunning lakes are found 12 kilometers or 40minutes west of Sibulan which in itself is about 45minutes from Liquid. It may seem like a long drive to go look at some water, but trust us it is worth it.  One of the biggest tourist attractions in Negros the Twin lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao are set in a lush tropical green natural park that is officially protected and is home to an expansive ecosystem harboring many rare plants, animals and bird species.

The main road leading to the lakes has been partly washed away, so the van can no longer drive you to the entrance. Instead the van will drop you at the junction to the highway from here you will need to rent a motor bike taxi for Php200/person to take you along the bumpy road to the ‘registration hut’, which is a rather pleasant natural stone and bamboo building with a lovely picnic area and nice views of the surrounding mountain ranges. From here a short hike takes you to the nearest edge of the first lake. A beautiful sight awaits you, tranquil waters surrounded by tropical greenery. You can opt to hike around the lake or paddle your way over using a kayak to reach the second lake. Swimming is encouraged if you don’t mind cold fish infested waters! And there are plenty of places to set up for a picnic.

Valencia Town

forest-campThe second largest city in Negros Oriental is Valencia, which also has a weird and wonderful array of sights for those looking for something different. Located on the slopes of Mount Talinis, Valencia is a tropical hub of color and greenery.

Forest Camp which is a privately owned 2.3 hectare estate that just happens to be located on the side of a tropical forested mountain with a lovely natural fresh water river running through it! Nice! The lucky local family who own this entire property decided instead of keeping it to themselves they would open it to the public. And we are very happy they did as it is great place to spend a day jumping in the pools, eating BBQ and generally chilling out!

In Valencia town proper you can see the Spanish Fountain, which is located in the town plaza which like so many Spanish towns is situated in the very center. The fountain was created by an Augustinian Fria to channel water from an upland spring based within the slopes of Mt. Talinis and provide the entire town with a continuous water supply. Today the fountain still works, which is remarkable in itself, however is no longer the main water provider to the locals. Instead the fountain set within the picturesque plaza is a reminder to all of the strong influence Spain had on the region back in the old days.

The Filippino-American-Japanese War Memorial is situated high on top of the hilly ranges of Valencia Town, this 3 sided monument looks down towards the ocean and Dumaguete City. The 3 sides represent the 3 nations of Philippines, Japan and America that fought in a viscous battle during World War II on that very site. The monument was created to provide closure to a sad era and to mark the beginning of peace and friendship between the three nations. Shortly after being erected the Philippine Government declared it a National Historical Monument.

Malatapay Market

malatapayAbout 10 minutes south from Liquid is the small town of Malatapay. Each Wednesday the famous Malatapay market opens early in the morning. The market is a hive of activity where locals from all over Negros travel to sell the wares. You can find everything here from livestock to fish, plastic to clothes, toys to furniture, fruit and vegetables to the strange local dishes of puso (you have to see it to believe it)

The actual market is located along a road that stems from the main highway to the beach where there are always plenty of activities to participate in. Local restaurants can be found all along the road and the beach selling an array of fresh seafood dishes and of course the most impressive of Philippine dishes ‘lechon baboy’ followed by plenty of cold beer!