We never thought we’d say this, but we went back to Pulangbato Falls. You might have read our review of Pulangbato Falls where we alluded to the fact we didn’t particularly like this tourist trap of a waterfall, so you might be wondering why on earth we went back. Well! Turns out there’s a secret, untouched waterfall we’ve dubbed Upper Pulangbato Falls just a short hike above the main waterfall, outside the resort grounds. Completely raw, no other tourists, and just as spectacular as Pulangbato. Now we’re talking!
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HOW TO GET TO UPPER PULANGBATO FALLS
Upper Pulangbato Falls is found in Valencia, less than 30 minutes drive from downtown Dumaguete. If you have your own mode of transport, it’s an absolute breeze to get to since all you need to do is follow the map all the way there. The best way to get there is via scooter, which you can rent for $8 USD a day. If you don’t want to drive a scooter, you can rent a car for $40 a day or ride a jeepney from downtown to Valencia plaza for $0.25, and from there take a motorcycle taxi (habal-habal) to the falls.
Once you get to Pulangbato Falls, you’ll have to pay the $2 entrance fee and go through the resort to reach Upper Pulangbato Falls. Presumably, the entrance fee is what stops a lot of local adventurers from going to the upper falls, since if you’re gonna spend the money you might as well stick around the resort, right? Wrong! Let’s hike.
We started our hike at the far right of the resort, by the little waterfall going into the pool. There’s some steps going up and around the pool, and from there we hiked up the mountain for around 5 – 10 minutes with an inhaler break for Zowie. Perfect chance to snap a few pics of the resort from up top. Oh and watch out for the creepy crawlies. Seriously, keep your eyes peeled, they’re so beautiful.
After hiking up, the path crossed over to the left and the descent into the jungle began. Our friend Keith was leading the way since he had been shown Upper Pulangbato Falls years ago, and he noticed how overgrown the path had become. A sure sign of very few visitors. Perfect! After hiking down for a short while, you’ll reach the red rock river. From here, it’s just a little further upriver until you reach Upper Pulangbato Falls.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT UPPER PULANGBATO FALLS
The first thing we noticed was how red it was. Duh, you can’t not notice that. It’s called Pulangbato Falls (red rock) for a reason. But what was really different were the squarish steps that looked like they had been carved into the face of the waterfall. Of course, Carson had to try and climb these steps but he only made it halfway after one broke off in his hand so we don’t recommend it.
The pool doesn’t look very deep in photos, but it’s actually overhead. The water tasted like coins due to the high iron deposits in the region, but we’d come to expect that at just about every waterfall in Negros Oriental now! Just a gentle reminder to never wear anything light coloured to red falls or rivers unless you want your clothes coming out stained.
After swimming around and sunbathing for an hour or so, we headed back downriver since we noticed another swimming area there. The river feeds into a little waterfall and down into a lagoon before tapering off into a canyon. The lagoon here is actually a better swimming spot than the pool below the waterfall, as it’s deep, calm and has more places to sit. From here you can also get a nice view of the waterfall looking back.
Carson decided to explore the canyon and found it had a cool slide, but the river quickly rounded a bend before plummeting into the main Pulangbato Falls. There would be nothing worse than shooting off Pulangbato Falls into a resort full of onlookers as your body slams onto the rocks below. Dramatic, but a possible outcome if you’re not careful.
After one last swim in the lagoon, we decided to call it a day. We hiked back down to the resort where there were still so many tourists and felt even more grateful to have had Upper Pulangbato Falls to ourselves. One thing that made us even happier was realising how little trash there was (none, actually). If you use this guide to visit these falls, please do your part and clean up after yourself. Upper Pulangbato Falls isn’t maintained by the resort staff so it’s on you to keep it clean.
Don’t forget to tag us in your posts if you use our guides to find hidden spots! We love to see you guys getting out and about and sharing your adventures. If you’re still planning your Dumaguete itinerary, keep scrolling to see our top picks for accommodation around Dumaguete.
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WHERE TO STAY NEAR UPPER PULANG BATO FALLS
Most people who visit Negros Oriental are told to stay in Dumaguete, but what they really mean by that is stay around Dumaguete. True, Dumaguete City has plenty of tourist inns and budget hotels, but it’s the surrounding towns of Dauin and Zamboanguita that offer the best spots to stay. There’s not a whole lot to do in the city itself, so when you stay in the nearby municipalities there’s plenty of nature to explore whilst still being nice and close to Dumaguete City. Check out our top picks for accommodation near Dumaguete City.
LUXURY: Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, Dauin
Atmosphere Resorts & Spa in Dauin is the resort to stay at if you’ve got a big budget and fancy the finer things in life. Atmosphere has hosted its fair share of local celebrities and deep pocketed divers looking for the best beachfront luxury in Dauin.
MIDSCALE: Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort, Dauin
If you want to stay by the ocean without breaking the bank, Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort in Dauin is a comfortable midscale accommodation option perfect for diving enthusiasts. If you’ve never dived before, you can get your certification at Mike’s, and divers of all skill sets can enjoy the abundance of macro diving opportunities in and around Dauin.
BUDGET: Bongo Bongo Divers, Dauin
Bongo Bongo Divers is one of the most popular hostels in Dauin for backpackers looking for cheap accommodation in a convenient location. The rooms are simple, without any glitz and glam, but the vibe is fun and welcoming. They have a variety of room styles to choose from, ranging from couples rooms to AC or fan only dorms.
AIRBNB: Villa Amani, Zamboanguita
Villa Amani in Zamboanguita is the perfect holiday home for small families or groups of friends looking for privacy that a traditional resort or hotel can’t offer. The main house sleeps 4 with additional space for 2 in the guest house, or you can book the guest house separately if it’s just the 2 of you and you’re on a budget. The property has a swimming pool, an unbeatable view of Apo Island and kayaks to use whenever you want.