While other major cities in the Philippines including Cebu and Taglibaran don’t offer much to attract tourists other than long traffic lines, Dumaguete offers a breath of fresh air and a great stop over point on your travel to or from Negros Island. The city is mostly a university town with the campus spread around the downtown core.
If you’re looking to spend a night or two, Harold’s Mansion on the main street offers good, clean accommodation with a nice rooftop terrace and breakfast included. From here you can book dive trips, hiking tours or rent a motorbike to enjoy the surrounding area on your own.
One of the top day tours visits the nearby Twin Lakes which you can also reach by motorbike. The road is still very much under construction with paving complete only halfway up the 14 km hill, the rest is a mix of dirt and gravel – so be sure you are comfortable on a bike before you tackle this climb. Luckily if you run into trouble like we did with a popped inner tube on our back tire, there are a number of small villages along the way up that can lend a hand.
Once you reach the first lake you can rent a kayak or have someone paddle you out to the lookout for the second lake and nearby waterfall. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather otherwise you might find yourself caught in a tropical down and have to help your guide paddle to safety. Short frequent bursts of rain are the norm for this time of year in the Philippines. By the time we returned to shore we were all thoroughly soaked, luckily after we hiked back up to our motorbike the rain was gone and the sun had returned.
There are several other waterfalls and hot springs near Dumaguete that would be worth checking out on a day trip as well. With all of our delays that day unfortunately we weren’t able to pay them a visit. If you’re sticking closer to town you can stroll the seaside promenade of Rizal Blvd and Perdices street for shopping. It’s a good time to stock up on any basics you might need and laundry services before heading out to any of the smaller islands.