Dumaguete unexpectedly became my favourite stop in the Philippines. It's a small, colourful city, with a mixture of locals, students and expats. You can easily explore the city centre by foot, there's a promenade along the seafront that gets lively in the evenings, a cathedral and belfry, and a local covered market in the centre of town.
It's also where we discovered our favourite Filipino treat – silvanas from Sans Rival bakery. A cross between an icecream sandwich and a macaroon, silvanas are chilled wafers with a layer of smooth cashew meringue. They look a bit uninspiring, but they're delicious, we ate these every day (sometimes more than once, and sometimes a lot more than once).
Our bus ride through the mountains from Bacolod to Dumaguete left us wanting to explore more of Negros island but it turns out that rental motorbikes are hard to get without booking in advance, so instead we relied on jeepneys to visit a few spots closer to the city.
Dauin is a coastal town with quiet back streets and a few resorts and restaurants on the beach. You can catch an easy ride bus (a smaller jeepney), from the market near the belfry and it takes about 25 minutes to get to Dauin town (cost: 17 pesos). We went to Mike's Dive shop for a lunch of fresh salads and an afternoon swim.
A different type of excursion altogether is Malatapay market. The jeepney from town takes about 45 minutes and the driver will let you know when to get out (cost: 20 pesos). Expect the jeepney back to town to be full of bags of produce from the market!
As well as the usual fruit and vegetable stalls, there is a big livestock market here. People walk around with sacks full of piglets or goats led on a string looking for buyers. You can go into the main auction area for a few pesos.
Just next to the market is the small port where you can catch a boat to Apo Island, which has beautiful beaches and lots of snorkelling spots. We didn't have time for this, but we heard it's beautiful.
Where we stayed: Hotel Essencia is comfortable and well located (breakfast wasn't great though). Where to eat: Jo's Chicken for good bbq; Casablanca for European food and people-watching on the promenade; and of course San Rivals for those delicious biscuits.
For lots more tips and destination guides, have a look at my Philippines posts.