How to spend a day in Dumaguete on a budget

By: April 22, 2024

CEBU CITY, Philippines – While battling hectic schedules, endless traffic woes, and the scorching heat turning us into walking sweat glands, one might argue that seeking a quick holiday somewhere with fresh air and delectable bites is a remedy for this bundled inconvenience.

But hey, for all you seasoned travelers who’ve practically toured every nook and cranny of Cebu and are looking for a new place to hop on to, have you discovered that one hidden gem that will pamper you without emptying your wallet?

Ka-Siloys looking for an affordable, quick getaway trip outside Cebu in summer may want to look down south, towards Dumaguete, the City of Gentle People, where a treasure trove of beautiful sights, delectable food, and kind people await.

Why travel to Dumaguete City?

Just this February, Dumaguete City, which is around 171 kilometers from the Queen City of the South, has reclaimed its spot on the tourist map with gusto, as Philippine Tour Operators’ Association (PHILTOA) President Fe Abling Yu declared it the top summer destination in the Philippines if you want “peace and quiet” in a radio segment.

And it’s true, as someone who has been in Dumaguete City to and fro, the little town carries that unique charm, a city that encapsulates the want of being near the beach as well as the mountains, but at the same time, has all the things you need for your “city girl” necessities. A place of wondrous duality.


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As a thrifty traveler, surprisingly, I can say that I survived a day in the city with just a limited amount of money up my sleeves.

With that money, I got to enjoy a whole day of eating and going to famous tourist sites and an extra dime to buy pasalubong for my loved ones living in the town.

In this article, you will know how I budgeted my Dumaguete trip so that you, too, could plan and fan out your expenses for your next trip to the south!

Secure your bus tickets!

First, to get to Dumaguete, plan your mode of transportation. To save some money, I chose to ride a bus there, for it is the cheapest option apart from riding a plane or getting a ticket for a FastCraft to get there.

Head first to Cebu South Terminal and secure a ticket for Bato via Oslob ride. It costs around P350 pesos, including additional fees, and will get you a seat on an air-conditioned bus.

The schedule for the bus rides to Dumaguete starts early at 6 am with a one-hour interval until 10 in the morning and resumes at 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, and 5:30 PM, with the last trip at 11 PM.

Pro tip: Head there an hour before your desired departure. Especially on holidays, seats fill up fast, and you might get bumped to the next trip.

Also, taking the bus will normally take around 5-6 hours to arrive. If you want a shorter travel time, try taking the 11 PM schedule. It will only take you more or less 3-4 hours! I tried it, and it’s the best schedule yet. No icky feeling due to the heat, and much more importantly, no traffic.

Ferry rates and what to expect

Upon arriving at the Bato Port, you are asked to get off the bus and line to get your tickets for the ferry ride. It costs around P130 pesos for regular individuals, while students and senior citizens get a discount.

After getting your ticket, you’re herded towards the ferry ship carrying you all to Dumaguete, and it usually takes 40 minutes to 1 hour to dock on the island of Negros, specifically in the municipality of San Jose.

From there, you have to travel 25-3o minutes to arrive at the center of Dumaguete City, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to watch the sunrise from their most famous, Rizal Boulevard.

Dumaguete on a budget

Sunrise view taken in Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City

Where to eat in Dumaguete?

Dumaguete nests some famous land and water tourist spots in Central Visayas. Some of this is the mountain range of Cuernos de Negros, locally known as Mt. Talinis by locals due to its pointy cone shape, and the famous Pulangbato Falls in Valencia town.

But apart from these feasts for the eyes, the city also offers a wide array of scrumptious feasts for us to devour.

For breakfast: Puto, choco budbod, and tsokolate sa Tiangge

To start the day right, let us have breakfast at the local tiangge, where their famous “puto,” “tsokolate,” and “chocolate budbod” come in the tasty display.

various food items found in Dumaguete

Puto, and Choco budbod, with tsokolate on the side from Dumaguete City; both paired with black coffee | CDN File Photos

You can find the city’s tiangge, or local public market, near Katada Street and Real Street. This is also where vendors drop off fresh produce from nearby towns and provinces to sell.

Dumaguete Tiangge

Locals and visitors flock to Dumaguete’s local market to savor warm Puto paired with silky tsokolate. | Photo by: Ravi Roi Ybañez

One serving of the puto costs around P10-P15, the tsokolate costs around P5-P10, while the budbod costs around P10-P20 each; an affordable sweet treat to break your fast and start your day wandering around the city.

Chicken Inasal in City Burger

Found in the heart of Dumaguete City, near old and new establishments, City Burger is one of the oldest withstanding establishments in the city, offering foods ranging from P50-P200.

The main restaurant, and the oldest among its establishments, can be found in San Jose St., Dumaguete City, while they also have a branch named CB Grill situated at 132 E J. Blanco Dr, Dumaguete City, near the Hall of Justice.

City Burger in Dumaguete

City Burger in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental | Photo by: Ravi Roi Ybañez

The restaurant offers a wide choice of food, including their most famous crispy chicken skin, boneless bangus, pork barbecue, and ever-tasty and juicy chicken barbecue, which is most famous for their sweet and smokey dark sauce.

The chicken barbecue meal costs around P120-P130 depending on the chicken part, including the rice and the papaya atsara. For our drinks, they offer free purified water to dine-in customers.

Chicken Inasal served at City Burger in Dumaguete City

Chicken Inasal served at City Burger, Dumaguete City.

Tasty snacks found in Cheesestick Country, Dumaguete City

Are you up to some afternoon snacks or some light dinner to munch on while enjoying the view of the ever-tranquil Dumaguete Boulevard?

Cheesestick Country is an area along Escaño Road, Dumaguete City, facing the open sea. It is a place lined with local vendors selling fried goods and desserts, from your favorite tempura, fish ball, siomai, kwek kwek, hotdogs, pastil, and, of course, fried cheese sticks, which is where the place got its name.

Foods sold here range from P5 to P20, while rice meals range from P30 to P90.

Just behind the food stalls, chairs and tables are also provided for those who want to eat and enjoy the vibe with their dates or loved ones while breathing in the salty air from the sea. A feast of the senses through and through!

Cheesestick Country in Dumaguete

A stall in Cheesestick Country in Dumaguete City selling Pastil and fried goods. | Photos by: Ravi Roi Ybañez

Masala Fried Chicken in FIKA Cafe & Bar


FIKA Cafe & Bar in Dumaguete City

For our last food stop, let us have our dinner at Fika Cafe & Bar, where various rice meals with American, Indian, and Asian fusion mixed with Filipino flavors come to life.

Rice meal prices here range from P70 to P240 pesos, with their most expensive option being their take on an Indian spicy red curry named ‘Rogan Josh,’ priced at P240.

Masala Fried Chicken in Fika in Dumaguete

Masala Fried Chicken

As for me, my favorite dish from them is their Masala Fried Chicken, a dish with a thick, spicy masala sauce and a crisp bread-crumbed fried chicken cutlet perfectly served above a bed of fresh rice. I was too full to comprehend the flavors right then and there, and look at me now, craving that yummy kick a hundred kilometers away!

What’s new in Dumaguete City?

Apart from Rizal Boulevard, the food establishments, and the grand roads leading to one of the Philippines’ oldest universities, Silliman University, the National Museum of the Philippines–Dumaguete is a recently reopened tourist destination nearby. It further solidifies Dumaguete’s appeal as a place for heritage lovers.

Facade of the National Museum of the Philippines

National Museum of the Philippines – Dumaguete | Photo from National Museum of the Philippines – Dumaguete/ FB

According to the city’s website, the city originally erected the building in 1937 as the seat of power in the city. The government inaugurated it as a museum in 2022 to celebrate the 74th Charter Anniversary and Feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the city’s patron saint.

Now, it hosts planned tours for tourists, students, and those interested. They are open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 AM to 5 PM while it is closed every Monday.

A museum date with your friends, families, and loved ones would be definitely lovely here!

Total Expense Grand Reveal!

So, for a day of visiting Dumaguete, do you want to know how much I spent?


For Breakfast: 2 Choco Budbod (P30) + Tsokolate (P5) = P35
For Lunch: 1 Chicken Paa Meal = P130
Late Afternoon Snacks: 3 Kwek Kwek (P15) + Buko Juice (P15) = P30
Dinner = Chicken Katsu Curry (P180) + Softdrinks (P60) = P240
One dozen of Donuts as Pasalubong = p399

Total: P834

For food, I only spent P834 pesos all in all, and it filled me up well. On the other hand, the fare to get there is a different topic to discuss; let’s break down the expenses, shall we?


Bus Fares (vice versa): P329 (x2) + P43 (x2) = P748
Ferry Fee (vice versa): P130 (x2) = P260

Total: P1008

Transportation (P1,008) + food (P834) = P1,842

A quick and affordable escape is just over the horizon

If you’re like me, who sometimes wants to get some new sceneries to digest, Dumaguete City will offer you a new scene.

From my exploration of Dumaguete and the kindness shown to me by everyone I’ve met in the city, I can affirm that Dumaguete is indeed a treasure one may visit to refresh and find oneself in times of lost moments.

It holds a special place in my heart, and I hope to visit the City of Gentle People again one day with a set of eyes much more eager to discover new scenes than the last time.