This sleepy university town is located on the southern tip of Negros Island, Philippines, and is known for a few things – as one of the top places to retire in the world, its location as a hop-off point for some of the best diving sites in the country, and the nightlife during the school year. If you are thinking of travelling to Dumaguete or the surrounding areas, here are a few things you may want to know and consider.

Small town, great food

For a relatively small city, Dumaguete has great dining options, especially if you are just passing through. Restaurants such as Why Not, Kri, Hayahay, and Chia Eatery have an eclectic range of food, made from locally sourced ingredients, and at very affordable prices. Spending $4-5 on a meal can get you much more than you would expect, in particular compared to the bigger cities like Manila or Cebu. San Rival’s silvanas make for a delicious dessert or snack, and are one of this city’s most famous exports.

Head to the mountains

Dumaguete is surrounded by mountains so you’re never really that far from a hike. The tallest mountain in the the region, Mount Talinis, is nearby, and you can choose to do a day hike or even spend a few nights up there. Make sure you pack appropriately, however, as it can get wet and cold up there, despite it being scorching in the city. Pack everything into a waterproof backpack, as trust me, you don’t want to get to your campsite and realise all your spare clothes have been soaked! If you want a shorter, easier hike, check out Puncak Tanawan, just a short 1-hour hike from the city. Head up there in time for sunrise to catch some stunning views of the city and nearby Cebu island.

Check out the awesome dive spots

As mentioned earlier, Dumaguete is a hop-off point for various dive spots nearby. A short 20-minute drive will have you at some of the most popular diving areas in the country. Visit Apo Island or the Dauin Marine Sanctuary to see diverse marine life in crystal clear waters. Scuba diving lessons are moderately priced, even for Southeast Asia, so you can really get bang-for-your-buck.

The nightlife

Being a university-centred city – Dumaguete has 5 of them within a 3km radius – the nightlife is largely catered to students. Sea-side bars such as Hayahay, which is a local institution, offer great live music, friendly patrons and great food. For more of a party atmosphere, check out Café Racer, Why Not or Tiki Bar which are open till the early hours of the morning. There is nothing like leaving the club to watch the beautiful sunrise over the sea, right outside the door!