Home to one of the oldest academic institutions in Asia, Silliman University, and the famous Filipino dessert called silvanas, Dumaguete is a city located in Central Visayas that boasts a myriad of historic spots where you can learn more about Philippine history. More than this, The City of Gentle People is also thriving with new businesses popping here and there—it’s even said to be the best place to retire in all of the Philippines. And no doubt, during our visit it seemed to be an ideal place to live in if you’re looking to move out of crazy Manila.
Just an hour away from its neighboring cities in the Central Visayas region, Dumaguete is a recommended starting point if you are looking to explore more islands such as Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor, which you can travel to via boat (note: there are always direct flights in and out of Dumaguete). But all the fun experiences you can have in this city should get you to stay for a day or two without having to break the bank—and that’s what our budget travel series is all about. We kicked off Caveman on a Budget featuring Siquijor, and now it’s time to explore Dumaguete. Check out what you can do in this city, where to stay and how to get around as we chronicle all the good stuff we did during our trip and how much it cost us:
It is easy to get around Dumaguete by tricycle. This is to get to restaurants and the different historic sites in the area. The drivers usually charge depending on the distance, but if it’s a short distance and you are a group of five, you can haggle for the price (PHP 50 to PHP 100 total). So it’s a plus if you have a buddy who knows his way around haggling.
The Flying Fish Boutique Hostel
The Flying Fish is a fairly new hostel in Dumaguete City located near the center of the city (Silliman University) where you can find all the good restaurants. The structure is rustic and exudes an industrial aesthetic. The rooms are shared—as all hostels are—but they’re cozy, simple and clean. We were a group of five and paid PHP 1,174 each for two nights, for a room for six. Ideally, another guest would’ve been roomed with us, but we had the space all to ourselves during this stay. The hostel has a common area where you can have a few beers and meet fellow travelers too! So whether or not you’re traveling with a group, this is a cool place to stay in.
This is one of the restaurants in the city that came highly recommended on differents blogs and by traveler friends, so we made sure to try it ourselves. True enough, Lantaw, boasting Chinese and Filipino dishes, was über packed and working a crowd of happy eaters when our crew got there. We ordered Lechon Kawali, Scallops, Shrimps and Fried Rice, and spent a measly PHP 250 each for everything. A caveman won’t go hungry in Dumaguete, that’s for sure.
Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries
Sweet-toothed travelers shouldn’t miss out a visit to Dumaguete’s Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries for their famous silvanas. A pack costs PHP 235 each, while the big-sized Sans Rival loaf will set you back PHP 675. It is highly recommended to try this dessert when you’re in this town, and it has to be in this exact branch because this is where it originated from; you know you’re getting the legit Sans Rival experience here. They have a take-out counter if you want to bring home some pasalubong for your friends and fam.
The infamous Manjuyod Sandbar, dubbed as the “Maldives of the Philippines” by travel vloggers who have visited this hidden gem, is situated in Bais, a city that’s two hours away from Dumaguete. You could rough it out and take the bus to Bais, for just PHP 55, but we didn’t want to waste a lot of time on the road so we decided to rent a car for 24 hours for PHP 2,200. I’d say having your own vehicle was worth it since we wanted to avoid the long tricycle rides once we got back to Dumaguete City. If you’d like to do the same, make sure the designated driver of the group has his driver’s license with him.
Video courtesy of CVMN
From Bais, we got a boat for PHP 3,500 total, costing each of us PHP 700. It was a private tour wherein the boat took us for some dolphin watching and finally, to Manjuyod Sandbar. At around 3PM, we had to do a lot of waiting in the boat as dolphins are most visible in the morning, and we had to wait for low tide for the sandbar to show up. While on standby, there are smaller boats around that sell fresh uni and coconuts for cheap. We got 12 pieces of uni for PHP 150 and three coconuts for PHP 100. For lunch, we managed to shop at the market for some fresh shrimp, squid and pork for grilling, and some vegetables and rice for a total of PHP 1,200.
Over all, with the activities mentioned above, we spent a total of PHP 2,800 each. With extra expenses on food, a total of PHP 3,500 to 4,000 per person should be enough to help you get by for two nights. There are plenty of other places to see in Dumaguete, like the different falls you can hike to or the historical sites that we didn’t get check out due to the shortage of time. So it’s safe to say that this trip needs a part two.
Have you been to Dumaguete? Share us your experiences below.
Header photo courtesy of Weng Weng Wanders
Article cover courtesy of Dumaguete Info