5 things to do in Dagupan

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at May 28 2022 04:18 PM | Updated as of May 28 2022 06:37 PM

DAGUPAN, Pangasinan -- Dagupan is often overlooked as a tourist destination, overshadowed by the beaches of La Union, the cool climate of Baguio, or bypassed on the way to Alaminos to go the Hundred Islands. 

However, this sleepy seaside city has attractions that make it worth a visit to see its hidden gems.

1. Cool down at Tondaligan Beach

Tondaligan Beach. Jeeves de Veyra
Tondaligan Beach. Jeeves de Veyra

Just a couple of kilometers from the city center is Tondaligan Beach, a long stretch of sand where locals enjoy the cool waters of Lingayen Gulf. While the sand isn’t as powdery white as more popular beaches elsewhere, the beaches are clean, well maintained, and it’s pretty easy to find a spot to enjoy some alone time as it isn’t overcrowded with out-of-towners.

Tondaligan Boardwalk. Jeeves de Veyra
Tondaligan Boardwalk. Jeeves de Veyra

The Dagupan City Government is hard at work constructing a boardwalk to make the beach more tourist-friendly. But as is, it’s a great place to cool down from the summer heat. It’s also worth a side trip to explore the nearby beaches of Pogaro, Bonuan, Binmaley, and San Felipe.

Mayor's Park Food Fair. Jeeves de Veyra
Mayor's Park Food Fair. Jeeves de Veyra

Check out the food fair at Mayor’s Park right off the beach to chill out after a day of enjoying the water. Mingle with Dagupeños, have some food, and relax with a drink and food from local establishments.

2. Go on a Dawel River cruise

Cruising on Dawel River. Jeeves de Veyra
Cruising on Dawel River. Jeeves de Veyra

If you look at a map of Dagupan, you’ll see that a big chunk of the city is mostly water. While it is nice to see these all by car, crossing the numerous bridges that dot the city, you can see the city from another perspective by taking the river cruise to explore the different rivers, tributaries and byways. 

The fishpen village. Jeeves de Veyra
The fishpen village. Jeeves de Veyra

One will get a relaxing view of the quiet mangrove that line Dewal River on one side and the bustling activity of the floating city of fishpens on the Binmaley River all the way to where it meets the West Philippine Sea. 

The jump-off point is in a pavilion by the Dawel Bridge on Arellano St.

3. Explore Dagupan’s old-world charms

Dagupan is a city whose old-world charm has remained intact through the years. It’s also interesting to note buildings that have short ground floors because some of them have sunk because of the great earthquake back in 1990.

Dagupan Train Station Ruins. Jeeves de Veyra
Dagupan Train Station Ruins. Jeeves de Veyra

If you look hard enough, you’ll find the remains of the old Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan Train Station which was briefly mentioned in the movie, "Heneral Luna."

While the grand cathedral at Manaoag is the go-to destination for the religious, Dagupan has glorious churches of its own where the devout can visit. 

Saints Peter and Paul Church. Jeeves de Veyra
Saints Peter and Paul Church. Jeeves de Veyra

Check out the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John The Baptist at downtown Dagupan and the old Saints Peter and Paul Church in nearby Calasiao.

4. Check out Pangasinense cuisine

Pigar-pigar. Jeeves de Veyra
Pigar-pigar. Kelly Austria

The dish to try in Pangasinan is pigar-pigar. Think bistek but with carabao meat. It also has a vinegary soupy version called kaleskes complete with innards. The locals say the best place to have this is a small street near City Hall that’s filled with stalls selling these two Pangasinense specialties.

Puto Calasiao. Jeeves de Veyra
Puto Calasiao. Jeeves de Veyra

Right across the Saints Peter and Paul Church is where you can find the Puto Calasiao Vendors and Producers Association stores with a dizzying array of flavors of these small round versions of puto. You can get a bag with different flavors if you can’t decide which one to get.

While in Pangasinan, try out the soft drinks brewed with the local groundwater. Discerning cola drinkers, in particular, swear that these are sweeter, less acidic, and more pleasant to drink.

5. Shop at the Dagupan Fish Market

Before you go, check out the huge Dagupan Fish Market right across the City Hall.

Dagupan Fish Market. Jeeves de Veyra
Dagupan Fish Market. Jeeves de Veyra

Dagupan and Pangasinan are famous for their fish and seafood, particularly their bangus. Make sure to bring a cooler or a thermos chest, as you can get the freshest fish and seafood from the market at a fraction of the price. You’ll chance upon refrigerated trucks waiting by the warehouses being loaded with these.

Dagupan Fish Market. Jeeves de Veyra
Dagupan Fish Market. Jeeves de Veyra

Try to come by in summer when Dagupan holds its annual Bangus Festival which is back from a two-year respite because of the pandemic lockdowns. 

Bangus Festival is back. Jeeves de Veyra
Bangus Festival is back. Jeeves de Veyra

The Kalutan et Dalan is the highlight of the festival filling up the city streets with grills cooking up different versions of ihaw-ihaw na bangus.