BACKPACKING CEBU (with a 2-week DIY itinerary and sample budget)

BACKPACKING CEBU AT A GLANCE

CEBU is a dream destination for backpackers. Its attractions are low-cost, nature-based, the finest of its kind and varied enough to bring a lasting excitement even for a long-term travel.

As a native Cebuano, I take pride to what our beautiful island can offer. With a good chance for fellow travelers and backpackers to experience the same feeling, I share to you this detailed 15-day itinerary which highlights the best of Cebu.

Here is a quick view of Cebu backpacking itinerary that is good for 14 days. However, this too can be shortened to 2 to 5 days or even a week-long itinerary, depending on your travel schedule.

  • Day 1:         Cebu City
  • Day 2-4:      South Cebu
  • Day 5:         South Cebu + Mactan Island
  • Day 6-11:    North Cebu
  • Day 12-13:  Camotes Island
  • Day 14:       Cebu City

To help you maneuver well in this Cebu backpacking adventure, read the link first to learn how to get around Cebu. Tip when traveling around South Cebu: Only a motorycle-for-hire can cross one town in the east towards an opposite town in the west which would usually cost P500 and can be quite risky as travel requires scaling through the highlands. The popular option is to get a bus to Bato, the tip of the south where lies the bus terminal, and transfer to another bus of your destination. Remember, safety first!)

Klook.com

Tops of Cebu

Total Budget: P17,000+ (excluding accommodation)

The itinerary assumes a party of two and assigned budget per day is good for 1 person. Read through and feel free to comment below should you have further questions.

DAY 1: Cebu City Heritage Walk and Mountain DIY Tour

Budget: P1,000.00+

Built in honor of a man’s undying love to his late wife Leah. Temple of Leah, which is still undergoing construction, has drawn thousands of visitors due to its renaissance inspired temple with 24 chambers, museum, gallery and library that keep all of Leah’s favorite collection. If the ongoing construction is not a bothersome, check out the place preferably during late afternoon or sunset. For more information visit their site: http://templeofleah.com/
  • Arrive at the airport
  • Breakfast | P100 average meal
  • Travel to Fort San Pedro to kick off the City Heritage Walk (may take half to full day depending on your pace) | P340 total entrance fees

In bold are the best rated spots of the heritage walk:

1st stop: Fort San Pedro
2nd stop: Plaza Independencia
3rd stop: Malacañang sa Sugbo
4th stop: Magellan’s Cross
5th stop: Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
6th stop: Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
7th stop: Cathedral Museum of Cebu
8th Stop: Rajah Humabon Monument
9th stop: Colon Obelisk
10th stop: Heritage of Cebu Monument
11th stop: Jesuit House of 1730
12th stop: Yap-San Diego Ancestral House
13th stop: Casa Gorordo Museum
14th stop: Museo Sugbo

Make use of the Google map to know which street or direction to go from one heritage site to another. In case you are not comfortable using the app as of yet, check this post about Heritage Walk for an easier guide.

  • From Museo Sugbo, travel to JY Square mall and arrange a City Mountain Tour with GotoTops at +63 942 518 0870 or to any motorcycle driver that park near the area| P1000 budget for tour and entrance fees. Tip: Haggle and agree on the price before hopping on the motorcycle to avoid any inconvenience later on the tour. 🙂

In bold are the recommended places to visit:

1st stop: Taoist temple
2nd stop: Sirao Flower farm
3rd stop: Temple of Leah
4th stop: Tops

Klook.com

The Pyramid of Cebu
The Pyramid located at IT Park, Apas, Cebu City. It’s a unique bistro with the right blend of music and wine. Don’t miss this spot in your visit to Cebu.

The list of spots might be too much for a day. If you are saving up time, I’d rather that you visit those spots that are in bold. After the city tour, dine in any of the following,

  1. Lantaw restaurant – It is still in the highlands few meters away from Tops or Temple of Leah. The place offers affordable Filipino dish and a view overlooking the entire city.
  1. Larsian – A line up of small eateries that offer cheap, grilled foods in authentic Cebuano flavor. It is located beside Chong Hua hospital at Fuente Osmeña rotunda.
  1. La Vie Parisienne – a restaurant which offers a variety of croissants and wine. It is located in Gorordo avenue, near JY Square mall
  2. The Pyramid – A pyramid-shaped bistro that offers quality food, wine and music. It is situated in IT park, Lahug, few meters away from JY Square mall.

Or better yet, head out to any bar in the metro and experience the night scene. 🙂

Klook.com

DAY 2: Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon island, Tumalog falls, and Cuartel Heritage Park

Budget: P1,500.oo+

Another underwater shot of the gentle giant. A word of caution: Do not get close to the whale sharks to avoid deep bruises.
  • Wake up at 4AM and head out to the South Bus terminal. Take a bus to Bato via Liloan. Travel time to Oslob is 3 hours.
  • Drop off at brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob. Inform the driver ahead. Fare is P150.
  • Register, pay for P500 and enjoy the whale sharks for 30 minutes! Operating hours is from 7AM to 11AM only.
  • Arrange a boat for Sumilon island. Boat rent is P1500 good for entire day. Beach bum and rest!
  • Lunch
  • Back to mainland. Arrange a motorcycle driver outside the resort and head out to Tumalog falls. Fare is P50 per person. Travel time is 10 minutes.
  • Check in to your accommodation and clean up.
  • Head out to Oslob Cuartel Heritage park at 6PM.
  • Dinner at the nearby market. Try their barbecue.
  • Lights out!

Day 3: Mountain peaks of Badian and Dalaguete and Waterfalls of Samboan

Budget: P1,000+

At the top most part is a less foggy view of Badian island and Tañon strait as seen from Osmeña peak.
  • Wake up early and take your breakfast. The activities for this day are energy draining.
  • Catch the sunrise or the morning fog depending on the weather at your first stop: Osmeña peak. You can arrange the mountain tour at the junction in Dalaguete where there is a lineup of motorcycle drivers offering a tour for P400 per person covering the three (3) summits, P200 if one summit only. Check out the link for the Mountain Trilogy complete guide.
  • The fog clears out usually at 9am. Enjoy the view from the summit. Afterwards, head out to Casino peak for another view of the beautiful terrain of South Cebu.
  • Proceed to Candongao peak to complete your mountain peak trilogy experience. The three summits are only minutes away from each other and can be covered in 3 hours to half day.
  • Lunch
  • Take a bus to Samboan. Fare is P50.
  • Look for a motorcycle tour for P400 at the town proper that would cover the 3 waterfalls: Aguinid, Binalayan and Dao falls. The first 2 waterfalls are near the main road while Dao falls would require a ride to the highlands for 15 minutes. Each waterfall is a must-see. Check out the link for more details about the 3 waterfalls.
  • Dinner. Take a good rest.
  • Tip: The summits also offer  a good view of the sunset. You can have the waterfalls in the morning and the peaks in the afternoon. Suit yourself. 🙂
  • Lights out!

Klook.com

Day 4: Moalboal island hopping and Canyoneering in Badian

Budget: P2,300.00+

Panagsama beach of Moalboal is where all water adventures happen. Its shore is filled with diving centers which offer scuba and free diving courses both for beginners and advanced divers; and an island hopping experience to Pescador and its neighboring islands. Common sights under its water are slow-swimming turtles, dolphins, a tornado of tiny flickering sardine fish, and unadulterated coral reef which make Moalboal one of the best diving sites and marine sanctuaries in the Philippines
  • Breakfast
  • Take bus bound to Moalboal. Fare is around P70. Head out to Panagsama beach where you can arrange an island hopping adventure: Pescador island, sardine fish, and turtle point. Contact Vicmar at +63949-337-0450 to charter a boat for P2,500. (You many invite joiners to save up some budget.)
  • Lunch
  • Go to Badian for canyoneering. Bus fare is around P30. Drop off at Matutinao beach resort which offers the activity for P1,500 per person. Contact them at +639165374168 or +639085588088.
  • You may check in at any accommodation in Moalboal. Spend the rest of the afternoon at White (Basdaku) beach and enjoy the sunset.
  • Dinner
  • Lights out!

Klook.com

Day 5: Lechon, Simala shrine and Mactan island

Budget: P700.00+

Me, at the aisle on the way to the 10,000 roses cafe.
A picturesque scene of roses amassed outside a café, 10, 000 roses which has become a staple attraction in Mactan draws thousands of visitors for its luminescent, LED-powered glow of light. Visitors flock to the place from late afternoon to sundown to witness a fine view of the sunset, and later on, the bright glow of the place.
Note: Food in the café is a bit pricey. You may opt to eat at Lantaw restaurant located few steps outside the café for a more price-is-right, Filipino food experience.
Operating Hours: Everyday, 11:00AM to 11:00PM
Entrance fee: P20
  • Take a bus to Carcar. Head out to their market to buy lechon and chicharon.
  • Take a bus to Sibonga. Visit Simala shrine. Take a bus to South Bus terminal to take you back to Cebu city. Travel time is 2 hours.
  • Drop by Taboan market if you want to buy dried fish.
  • Ride a jeepney to SM Cebu City. At SM terminal, take a van to Mactan island. Here is a link dedicated to the top spots in Mactan island. In bold are the recommended places.

1st stop: Cebu Yacht club
2nd stop: Lapu-Lapu shrine
3rd stop: Alegre Guitar factory
4th stop: 10,000 roses
5th stop: Cebu Happy World museum

Mactan island is a haven of fancy beach resorts. You may skip the tourist spots and spend the afternoon to any resort. Or better yet, skip this day entirely and replace it with Day 6.

Day 6: Bantayan Island Part 1

Budget: P1,000.00+

Sunset at Paradise beach is one of the finest. 😉
  • Head out to North bus terminal and catch the latest bus bound to Bantayan island. Fare is P225 for bus, P170 for van. Travel time is 5 hours. You will arrive at Hagnaya port. Last ferry trip to Bantayan from Hagnaya port is around 5-6PM local time. Fare is P170.
  • In Bantayan, rent a motorbike for P300 and head out to Paradise island, a secluded beach, and enjoy the sunset.
  • Dinner at MJ Square – an arcade of restaurants located in Santa Fe, Bantayan.
  • Lights out!

Day 7: Bantayan Island Part 2

Budget: P1,200.00+

The white, coralline sand of Kota beach at Santa Fe. The beach offers accommodation. Contact them at +63 956 276 4410, +63 948 799 3787.
  • Sunrise at Kota beach
  • Breakfast
  • Island hopping: Virgin island and Hilantagaan island for P1,500. Contact Duke Rio at 09569342846.
  • Enjoy the beach or visit other spots in Bantayan using a rented motorbike. Here is a separate blog dedicated to Bantayan island.
  • Lights out!

Day 8: Malapascua Island

Budget: P500+ (excluding scuba diving)

The best that Malapascua island can offer. It is a long slice of white sand devoted to entertain tourists for its natural beauty.
  • There are 2 options to get to Malapascua from Bantayan. First is by an outrigger boat which you can arrange with a local at the beach of Santa Fe for P1,500, or take a ferry back to Hagnaya port at the mainland. Fare is P170. From the port, take a Rough Riders bus for direct travel to Maya port, the access to Malapascua island. If it’s not available, take a Ceres bus bound to Bogo for P12, then to Maya port for P50. At the port, take a passenger boat for P100.
  • Enjoy the beach or go scuba diving and catch a sight of the thresher shark!
  • Dinner
  • Lights out!

Day 9: Carnaza Island

Budget: P1,000.00+

The island has become the hottest summer go-to destination in Cebu this 2018. It is new and characterizes the powdery, white sands that can rival that of Bantayan and Malapascua islands. The island offers a glamping experience where guests sleep on glamorous tents as seen in the photo.
  • Take a bus bound to Tapilon port in Daanbantayan.
  • Travel by boat to Carnaza island. Fare is P150. Travel time is 2 hours.
  • Enjoy the beach.
  • Contact the following for reservation and inquiries about Carnaza island: 0936-731-6495 / 0999-860-9761 / 0936-731-6495

Day 10: Danasan Eco Park Adventure in Danao

Budget: P1,500.00+

Head out to the great outdoor and go rappelling, trekking, waterfall exploration, high cable traverse, zipline, wakeboarding, or ATV ride. Contact them at +63 917 301 3171, +63 922 865 5779.
  • Take a bus and drop off at Danao, Cebu
  • Contact them ahead to arrange for pick up. Contact nos. +63 917 301 3171 or +63 922 865 5779 or visit their page. 
  • Go trekking, rappelling, ATV trailing, skybike and waterfall exploration.

Klook.com

Day 11: Cebu Safari and Adventure Park in Carmen

Budget: P900.00+

Get giddy at the biggest zoo in the Philippines. Visit is pre-arranged and is good for a full day activity for P800. Contact them at +63 995 835 3460.
  • Enjoy the full day activity. Experience the wild!
  • Cebu Safari and Adventure Park in Carmen (North Cebu) is the biggest zoo in the Philippines owned by pawnshop tycoon Michel Lhuillier. The visits here are regulated and pre-arranged. Contact them at +63 995 835 3460 or visit Cebu Safari Facebook page.

Day 12: Camotes Island Part 1

Budget: P1,000.00+

A public beach with a blanket of powdery, white sand. The beach faces east and is a perfect location to wait for the sun as it rises in the morning.
  • Head out to the port in Danao and catch an outrigger for Camotes island. Boat ride is 2 hours. Fare is P200.
  • Explore the beauty of a remote and less visited tropical paradise.

Day 13: Camotes Island Part 2

Budget: P1,000.00+

  • Camotes has a number of small caves. Go for a spelunking adventure! There are a number of motorcycle drivers that offer a tour that range from P1,500 to P3,000.
  • Snorkel. Enjoy the beach. Rest!

Day 14: Back to Cebu City

Budget: P200.00

Cebu City’s Temple of Leah
  • When you are back in Danao, head out to their jeepney terminal at the back of Gaisano mall and ride a jeepney (P35 fare) or van (P50 fare) bound to Cebu city. You can also wait for the bus at the main road bound to North Bus terminal. Travel time is 1 hour.
  • Head out to the airport. Bid goodbye. 🙂

Klook.com

Look for discounted deals from Klook from the major destinations in Asia, including the Philippines.

Klook.com

WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU

Except during Sinulog festival, Cebu is walk-in ready when it comes to accommodation. But, it is highly suggested to book your stay ahead of time. Below is a list of mid-range to luxury accommodations from the key areas around Cebu. Click the link or use the search box for the rate and availability of each suggested accommodation.

CEBU CITY

Horizons 101 by Versteeg Vacations, with an exceptional 9.4 rating in Agoda. The place is located 5 minutes away from Ayala and SM mall. Click the photo for the rate and availability.
RedDoorz Plus @ Mabolo Cebu, rated an exceptional 9.1 out of 46 guest reviews. The place is also located within 5 minutes from Ayala and SM mall. Click the photo for the rate and availability.
ZEN Rooms M. Velez Street, one of the top-rated budget hotels at downtown Cebu. The property offers free Wi-Fi access, 24-hour security, and flat tv. Click on the photo for the rate and availability.

MACTAN ISLAND

MOALBOAL

ZEN Rooms Basic Gerty’s Place Moalboal. Rated 9 in Agoda out of 59 reviews.

SAMBOAN

Fantasy Lodge at Samboan, Cebu. The place has its own pool and a kawa bath for a more unique experience. Click the photo for room rate and availability.

OSLOB

Susada’s Inn at Oslob, rated 9.3 in Agoda out of 63 reviews. Click the photo for room rate and availability.

BADIAN

Quite a splurge but Cuestas Beach Resort has its own beach and pool that you surely going to love. Click the photo for room rate and availability.

USEFUL PHRASES

Like in any parts of the Philippines, the locals can speak English in Cebu. However, here are some good phrases that might prove useful when you find yourself endearing with them.

English to Cebuano (the most prevalent language among the locals in South Cebu)
Thank you – Salamat
Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
How much is… – Pila ang…
Where is… – Asa ang…

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

For more trips in the Philippines, check out the off-the-beaten path Gigantes Islands of Iloilo. Gigantes Budget travel guide here!

Or, visit these major destinations in the Visayas:

Or, go to the surfing capital of the Philippines – Siargao! Budget Travel Guide here.

Or, visit other top destinations in Luzon:

Tour around the city of Puerto Princesa on a budget tour. Click the link for details.
After Puerto Princesa, El Nido is always the next stop over. Check out this El Nido Budget Travel Guide to know more about this top tourist destination.
San Vicente Palawan is four hours away from Puerto Princesa. Check out the San Vicente Budget Travel Guide which includes a travel itinerary to Port Barton, its most visited barangay, and learn few things about this laidback municipality. And oh, did I mention that San Vicente has the longest beach in the Philippines? Just look at the photo.
Balabac Travel guide with top things to do, travel itinerary and sample expenses.
How about extending your trip to Balabac at the southmost part of Palawan. Personally, Balabac group of islands is the best place Palawan can offer. Plus, it’s not touristy. Check out this link for details: Balabac budget travel guide.

Or visit other countries in Asia:

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