Adventure Excursions

Dumaguete New Entertainment District

Dumaguete's new entertainment districtWhen I moved to Dumaguete, a small seaside city that feels like a large village in the central Philippines, a little over a year ago, it felt like a different place. Way back then (about 380 days ago!), the city was still considered the best-kept secret and offered the best quality of life for expats or locals with little traffic, no crowds, pure friendliness, low costs, and total safety. It was still somewhat known to foreigners who lived or traveled in the country for a while, as well as a Forbes Magazine article years ago that named it one of the top 5 places in the world to retire, but it was a small, sleepy, and charming little-town-that-could.

Now, things are blowing up in Dumaguete. Almost every week it seems like there’s more traffic, prices are going up, and there’s a definite housing shortage for modern, western-style places. Tourists are streaming in by plane, bus, and boat – a lot of them to visit nearby Sijiour Island.

But with that growth, the social scene is getting dragged along for the wild ride, too, albeit it a slower pace. Up until a couple of years ago, the brunt of Duma’s social and nightlife scene was reserved for “The Boulevard” – a two kilometer strip along Rizal Boulevard right on the ocean where most of the bars, coffee shops, and restaurants are visited by tourists. Still, there were only three or four real viable options for the western pallet, pocketbook, or desire.

However, just recently, a second nightlife area has emerged, and I predict that it will soon eclipse The Boulevard in popularity and sizzle.

Further down along that same oceanside road, but about another mile or two further north, you’ll run into an area where another bunch of bars and restaurants are congregated, right where the road goes inland at EJ Blanco Street.

There, you’ll probably first notice Hayahay, which is a fun, inside-outdoor bar designed in a natural theme like a traditional structure. It features an open second floor that is perfect for sitting and getting a few drinks and watching the sunset and ocean across the road while enjoying the sea breeze. Hayahay is also owned by a super cool old-school surfer, paddle boarder and island hopper named Sande, and his chill surfs up vibe permeates from their decorations to the music (live bands most nights), and even the menu (plenty of seafood and a sushi stand).

Next to Hayahay, you’ll find a traditional Filipino restaurant called Lantaw, which also has a nice view and an outdoor deck. Around the corner, up EJ Blanco Street, you’ll find Café Racer, with its old American racing car and motorcycle theme. There is a nice restaurant that allows you to eat inside, but just about everyone hangs out outdoors in their sprawling grounds where you can see and be seen as Dumaguete slips into night.

Further down the oceanside boulevard a short walk, you’ll find Tikki Bar, which is one of my favorites in Dumaguete. It’s a proper lounge and club, and also has a nice, comfortable wooden deck out front where you can take in the scene at sunset. But Tikki transforms into a surprisingly modern and somewhat classy club at night, with great aircon inside, big leather couches, a DJ booth and dance floor, and even a dress code and cover charge – almost unheard of in Dumaguete! There are plenty of smaller restaurants filling in the gaps in between these iconic Duma nightlife landmarks, and new condo developments almost finished in that locale will bring in hundreds more people every single night.

Welcome to the new Dumaguete…or at least it’s budding entertainment district!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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