May 26

view to Volcano near Dumaguete, Negros OrientalNegros is one of the larger islands in the Philippines. It features 4 volcanoes and is divided by a high mountain range, thus almost completely separating the western part – Negros Occidental – from the eastern part – Negros Oriental.

Dumaguete is the largest city almost at the south-eastern tip of Negros. You can drive around the island via a main road, which closely follows the coastal line. There are a few roads going right through the island also.

Driving around with a rental bike over the last 3 days – here is what we figured out so far:

Driving around sleepy Dumaguete

Dumaguete itself is a charming university town with a very young population. Its more than 100.000 citizens sound more then it looks, but then, the whole city proper is covering a quite large area, the lack of high-rise buildings (most buildings are 2-3 stories maximum) let the city’s boundaries start right at the boulevard at the ocean and crawl up the mountains (like towards Valencia, a cooler suburban area of Dumaguete).

old Bellfray of Dumaguete, NegrosThe boulevard is very popular after sunset – for chicken, seafood and other barbecue dishes. You have a handful of other affordable restaurants also, plus some karaoke joints and a disco in “Why not?” bar.

Most of the fastfood franchises like McD, Jollibee, Dunkin Donuts are located in the 3rd road, which seems to be the main road for traffic. Here are also a few pharmacies, beauty salons and shopping centers; although nothing too big. Lee Plaza is the main shop, while there is a Robinson Mall under construction further South from the center.

Several places offer therapeutic massage for 180 Peso/hour and up.

Just north of the city you have the airport and even further north a small port or jetty (Sibulan) with ferries going to Cebu island and other destinations.

Very pleasant, easy-going Traffic

Traffic is easy going, without any hectic and horn honking. In fact – just trying to remember, when I heard a horn last time today – it was most likely my own, when overtaking a smaller vehicle. What an awkward situation! In India you are constantly horned left and right, the horn is truly used excessively. Here people roll slowly their way, give way when necessary, wave you through with a smile, the traffic at intersection flows naturally and undisturbed. It’s a very harmonious and pleasant way to drive. Cebu Island as seen from Negros Oriental

Beautiful Scenery

The surrounding scenery is also simply breath-taking! You have the mountains in the background, the ocean in front of you and can even see other islands near Negros.

That would be for instance Cebu (one of the main islands of the Philippines) just north-east of Dumaguete, Siquihor to the south-east (a mystic island, famous for its Black Magic and legendary Dive Spots) and smaller Apo Island (about 50 km south of Dumaguete, past Bacong, opposite of Dauin). From higher elevation near San Jose you can also make out Bohol Island in the far distance.


Beach south of Dumaguete, Negros OrientalBeaches are only few and far between. They mainly are of grayish lava sand, as Negros is of volcanic origin. If you are looking for white/sandy beaches you came to the wrong place. The closest destinations with white beaches are Siquihor Island or Alona Beach at Panglao Island on the western side of Bohol.

Even Cebu features more white-sandy beaches than South Negros, as you can see on the picture further up to the right. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a refreshing jump into the ocean.

On Saturdays and Sundays, local families seem to enjoy their love for the beaches in the Bacong and Dauin region. Hundreds of people were roaming these gray volcanic beaches, bringing their own full barbecue equipment and plenty of San Miguel and Red Horse beer bottles. Twin Lakes near San Jose in Negros Oriental

The treasures are in the mountains

In the mountainous regions around Dumaguete there are said to be waterfalls, cold springs and lakes at high altitude. Near Valencia there are 2 cold pools with pure mountain water designated as public swimming pools.

The village youth seems to like them and populate them during the day.

Twin Lakes, north of DumagueteWe also visited the Twin Lakes near San Jose, about 25 km north of Dumaguete. Just off the main road there is a sign “13.6 km to Twin Lakes”.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Take your time!

The only problem are the road conditions, as maybe only 1/3 of the roads have a proper surface, the rest is loose gravel, sand and deep potholes.

Swamp Lake near Twin Lakes, San Jose, north of DumagueteSo the 13 km feel more like a minimum 30 km, you should plan about 2 hours each direction, but they are fully worth it!

You will drive a long-winding road higher and higher and are rewarded with amazing views, changing landscapes and finally reach the Twin Lakes just passing a swamp scenery.

You can swim here as well – the water of the Twin Lakes is very refreshing and delightful.

Farmer riding his Water Buffalo, Negros Oriental

On the way, there is cute restaurant at about kilometer 5 of 13, it’s called ‘Azalea’ and offers spectacular views and a nice coffee break option. It just opened 2 months ago and they are currently expanding to have a small hotel with pool opened within the next 4 months or so.

Also you can watch farmers going on with their work, plenty of cows, goat, chicken and water buffaloes living near the roadside. After all – the Twin Lakes make for a very worthy day trip.

You shouldn’t miss them, if you are in the area.

Which natural wonders did we miss so far? What would you recommend for seeing in or nearby Dumaguete?

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written by Chris

12 Responses to “Driving around Dumaguete, Negros Oriental”

  1. PatriceNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Dumaguete is such a beautiful place and is also a popular educational destination for college students from Visayas and Mindanao. Great post.

  2. TomNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Seems like you learned a lot about Dumaguete in such a short time here!

    Well done Chris!

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Patrice, yep, the area around Dumaguete is really beautiful. What nice nature! We like it a lot!

    Tom, not that much yet. Still way to go. Seems like we will also change our plans before arriving completely. It looks more and more like we will rather simply buy a tricycle to roam around Negros than just settling for a couple of months in one location (like Dumaguete). We did that before in Goa/India and missed out quite a lot of the surrounding sights. But the good news – that way we will probably make it much faster to Bayawan to visit you guys! ;-)

  4. Johnny FiveNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi Guys
    Found your site again so am now following your progress with interest. Was served in Matalan yesterday by a girl from Cebu.
    Went back over your “Leaving Bali” thread yesterday too. I think the visa situation would put me right off as I still have four years to go till 60 and a retirement visa. May still visit though. Am really set on Philippines and still thinking of two destinations for November so maybe Malaysia is back in the frame. Checked flights from Bombay to manila, leave mid Nov, return early Jan and getting £450 return, but for KL getting £300! So maybe do that and then fly on to RPI? And maybe get a budget local flight direct to Cebu?
    As far as visas are concerned Malaysia seems best, closely followed by RPI. After goa anywhere will seem clean and civilised. Any chance of some comparisons (on your site or by email) between Goa and RPI?
    My Gilera Runner 200 is going very well now that I have sorted it. Just before I got back I bought from a friend a nitrous oxide injection kit for it, double the power at the push of a button! Cost new was £600 but got it for £100 delivered as he was broke (his offer!). Front wheel in the air all the time when that is fitted. Also have a little cheap kit for my Activa in Goa, as you may guess, I’m a bit of a NOS fanatic. What are the scooters like in RPI and what are you riding? I like the idea of a motorcycle and sidecar but be very careful as the correct riding style is very strange and many people crash them. You always have to think hard before accelerating or braking before a corner as iether the bike will want to go round the sidecar or vice-versa. I tried one years ago and gave up……fitted a large trailer to the bike instead and it was much better, but no good for passengers.
    I’ll say bye for now, Jill is safely back in Goa and has found that most of our neighbours are no longer talking to each other having fallen out during the three weeks she was away, and one of them, who is very friendly with us, has started throwing their garbage over our compound wall! The Goans really are lovely people, aren’t they?

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Johnny Five, great you are back!

    Yup, the Visa issues is much easier here in the RP than in Indonesia. But both countries definitely have something going for them.

    You could also check for flights into Manila (instead of Cebu), as the necessary domestic connecting flights are mainly much cheaper from Manila or go via Manila anyway. :)

    You seem to have a lot of knowledge about NOS, I never got around getting to know anything about it, so I’m still perfectly happy with Scooter speed or comparable, hehe! The quality of bikes here is definitely worse than in Indonesia or Thailand, but better than India. The prices seem somewhat higher here also. And they sell plenty of Chinese brands of bikes I’ve never heard of in my life before. They say, that also the big brands like Honda, Yamaha or else are only assembled in the Philippines from Chinese parts. Let’s see how that’ll work out for us. So far we are concentrating on some 125cc or 150cc used Honda as the workhorse for our sidecar. A few people warned me already, that a sidecar drives completely different than a bike only, but I’m convinced that I can figure it out over time and very carefully. After all – my grandpa was a racing champion for sidecars back in East Germany, ha!

    Regarding comparisons between Goa and RP, I will definitely do something like that, although we have to get around some more first.

    Goa is now behind us – having been there only 6 months; this is probably easier for us, than for Jill after all those years. We can feel though, how hard it must be for you guys, to let go and focus on someplace else, after all those changes in Goa. Some Filipinos may be no angels either, but in general they are some of the friendliest people on this planet, still treat foreigners with respect, always have a smile on their face, still know how to enjoy life and are generally an easy bunch to be around and be with.

    You will definitely notice the difference! Hope to see ya soon! ;-)

  6. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi, Chris!
    you sure is having great experience there in Dumaguete. I like your photos, too! They’re awesome. I’ll come back here for more updates of your travel experience in my country Philippines…

  7. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Dodong, thanks a lot! It’s really just a lovely scenery here, so the pictures turned out good. :D

    Will go probably to Siquihor island over the weekend, as the paperwork for our bike/tricycle will take a few more days… I love bureaucracy! :-/ ;-)

  8. Neal MinosaNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    :-B Manila is an under-rated city. I hope objective and well-traveled people like you will help her come out of obscurity. Thank you for the kind words you have about our city, our country, and our people. You will notice that here in the Philippines, we have the culture of inclusivity, which is rooted in our global soul. Though things may seem strange here yet there will always be that hint of familiarity and belonging. Kudos, and welcome home, Chris! =D>

  9. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I agree with you completely, Neal Minosa. For me Manila is not just another metropolis, the vibes here are different. But I can understand people also who complain about the hectic, chaos and pollution.

    It’s probably said a million times, but the people in the Philippines are some of the warmest, most friendly and life-loving creatures on this planet and it always fills me with joy and brings a smile on my face interacting with Filipinos. You simply can’t be grumpy or moody when chatting with a upbeat and Pinoy/Pinay who just makes your day simply being hospitable, genuinely curious and nice to you. :D

  10. AlNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Hey Chris,

    You found the nice destination Dumaguete and it’s neigbouring islands. Lots of places to explore and being to other places in asia, I am pretty sure you will easily adapt and enjoy your trip in Dumaguete. If you want to explore more around Negros you can email me back as I a have a nephew who lives in Piapi that can also accompany you or suggest some of your trips. We have a cottage in Antulang (Siaton- another town past Zamboanguita) with a quite beach and white sand..yes white sand and you can explore your snorkelling and scuba diving skills if your into it as the corals are still intact. There is a caretaker out there that can help you out as well for you and your friends needs. You can stay there for free in the cottage. Let me know if interested and I will forward the contact number and the exact location of the place. By the way if you go to Siquijor bring lots of garlic. I went there once 3 years ago and enjoy it. Longing to go back to Dumaguete as I am in Canada for the moment.



  11. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Al, thanks for the tips for Dumaguete, Siquijor and Negros. I’m currently on Leyte, driving an old Tricycle around the main islands of the Philippines. Surely will come back to Dumaguete sooner or later. ;-)

  12. Rodel PerlasNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Thanks for featuring my country Philippines…. =D>

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