Even in Cebu, it’s easy to get lost in the routine of things. Wake up. Shower. Eat. Go to work. Go home. Repeat. It’s tough not to get consumed with the day to day stuff. As I write this, kids are in the middle of school. People are complaining about the traffic and the rain. Some of us might even be burnt out from work. You’re probably tired of seeing all those office buildings in IT Park.
Does this sound like you? It’s not too bad. It’s not horrific. But you might need to hit the reset button. Try something different. Go to some place to truly just sit down, chill and do nothing.
Fortunately, you won’t need to go far. Just drive a hundred kilometers south from Cebu City. Take a 30 minute boat ride and before you know it. Viola!
You’ll hit Dumaguete City.
We needed a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the city. An affordable little getaway turned out to be the best thing to do. The weather lately hasn’t been the best for going to the beach. So Dumaguete city turned out to be perfect.
Here’s why it was a good choice:
- Very relaxed environment. Hardly any traffic.
- Sit inside a café or bar by the Boulevard and you are golden.
- It’s a university town (4 universities). There were lots of hip places to chill in. Coffee shops with artwork on the walls, dessert places, etc.
- Everything was very affordable. When Manileños visit Cebu for the first time, they are always surprised with how cheap everything is. It’s even cheaper in Dumaguete.
Note: We’re going to be mentioning numerous places in this article. It would take too much space to go into every little detail about something. That’s why we provided links to helpful sites for most everything mentioned here. If you want to learn more, just click the link. Enjoy!
How to get there?
To make the most of the weekend, we got up in the wee hours of Saturday morning – 3am. Then we proceeded to drive down South all the way to Santander, Cebu. It took us about 3 hours. Be safe and don’t forget to bring coffee!
We found the Santander Liloan Port and took Maayo Shipping. It cost 1226 pesos roundtrip (3 people and a car). When we arrived, we just missed the 6am trip so we ended up waiting for the 730am boat. You can expect a trip every one and a half hours. The boat ride from Cebu to Negros only takes about 30 minutes.
Afterwards, the boat docked in Sibulan, Negros Oriental. That’s roughly a five and a half kilometre drive south to Dumaguete City.
The easiest way not to get lost was through the app called Waze. But even without the app, once you reach Dumaguete City, it’s not difficult to find your way around. After a few rounds around the city, you’ll get your bearings pretty easily.
Places to stay
We stayed in Manhattan Suites Inn. It’s nothing fancy. Relatively new. Had clean rooms. Near Robinsons Mall for all the necessities. At about 1500 pesos for a room, it was affordable. Of course, you can find many other good hotels in Dumaguete.
Places to eat
When we arrived in Dumaguete, the first thing we did was ask our Instagram followers for food recommendations. Thanks to everyone who offered their help!
Here are all the notable places we ate in:
Oh, it was a treat! The interiors were eclectic to say the least. Imagine having gone to a thousand trips all over the world. Now take a trinket from each place you visited. Now put all those trinkets in one place. That’s what it felt like being inside Gabby’s Bistro.
It was our first stop. A hearty breakfast seemed appropriate. Nothing fancy. Just a round of bacon, tocino and eggs washed down with coffee. And their Oreo Bonanza.
As you can tell, diet be damned! We were here to eat after all.
Looking for a nice posh spot in Dumaguete? KRI Restaurant is the place to go. Just don’t expect Dumaguete prices. This was by far the most expensive place we visited, but let me tell you, the US beef topped with bacon dripping bleu cheese was well worth the 250+ pesos.
Adding to the ambience were all the stills from local photographers. They were placed all over the restaurant. Many of them were for sale. It was like visiting a mini photography museum. Well worth the experience.
After a long day of walking and exploring, ribs seemed like a VERY good idea. Captain Ribbers turned out to be a no nonsense straight to the point ribs joint. Just what we needed.
My basis for good ribs is when the meat slides straight out of the bone. With that in mind, we had an order of nice soft ribs topped with their original sauce. People were suggesting their spicy sauce, but we already ordered the spicy cheese rockets, which were also good.
This was the highlight of the trip. Of course, we took home a few boxes of their famous Sans Rival. The idea was to give them to other people as pasalubong. That didn’t work out.
Obviously, we spent time in the Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries branch by the Boulevard. Good place to just sit down and feel the breeze.
Aside from ordering the Sans Rival, we also tried their cakes. The Date and Walnut Daquoise was delicious and a steal at 48 pesos per slice (crazy!).
We spent most of our evening in Hayahay, sipping cold beer with the sea wind in the background. That’s all we needed, but the bar offered much more than that; a live band, cold beer and lots of people. They even had a little shop where you could buy artwork, music and clothes from the locals.
Let’s just say, we don’t remember much else from that night. Bzzzzzzzzzzz.
Trying new restaurants isn’t for everybody. If you like familiarity, then you could always check out the Robinsons Mall in the area. You’ll find all the usual suspects; a Mooon Café, Bos Coffee, Potato Corner, etc.
Other notable activities
Take a peek inside Siliman University. Established in 1901, it’s the first American university in the entire Philippines. They didn’t let us in without a student ID. Clearly, we don’t look like students anymore, but that didn’t stop us from taking a peek inside.
Walk the Boulevard. It was a nice relaxing walk. The only sad thing was there were plenty of beggars around. At around 6pm, the food vendors start opening their stores. Try the tempura.
Visit the oldest stone church in Negros, the Dumaguete Cathedral Church. Originally built in 1754, this is one old place. Like most churches, this one was reconstructed due to damage over the years.
No smoking in the public areas of Dumaguete City. One time as we were driving around, we saw a poster depicting a disgusting thing that can happen to you if you continue to smoke. I can’t really describe it, but it sent shivers down my spine. Isn’t there an easier way to tell people not to smoke?
We hope you found this Dumaguete City guide useful. If you’ve been here before, you probably have your own personal preferences on places to visit. Please share it in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
*Some of the links in this page are affiliated links. At no extra charge to you, ZeroThreeTwo earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase. This helps allow us to continue serving you by providing helpful content. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them.