Backpacking Cebu for the first time? This detailed DIY backpacker travel guide is exactly what you need. Scroll down and take note of the outlined information from sample itinerary and budget, best places to visit, top things to do, recommended transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!
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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. On a good chance for other budget travelers and backpackers to experience the same feeling, I share to you this detailed 14-day itinerary which highlights the best of Cebu.
WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU
Considering that Cebu has four major tourist areas: Cebu City, Mactan Island, South Cebu and North Cebu, the best place to stay is largely dependent on your itinerary.
Note: 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.
ACCOMMODATION IN CEBU CITY
When spending a day or two around Cebu City, you want to consider an accommodation that is within or near the city proper for easy access to transport. Below are some of the top-rated accommodations at the city proper. Click the photo for more details.
ACCOMMODATION IN MACTAN ISLAND
The best accommodations in Mactan are beach resorts to enjoy the waterfronts and water activities that Mactan Island can offer. Here are two of the beach resorts. Click the photo for more details.
You can also opt to stay at an accommodation near Mactan airport. Click the link for more details.
- Soderberg (Near Airport|50mbps wifi | Netflix) Rating: 9.1 | Price: P2,311 for an apartment good for 3 persons
- Cozy Condo Near Mactan Airport Rating: 8.8 | Price: P960 for an apartment good for 3 persons
- Condo Near Airport & Resort Rating: 8.0 | Price: P907 for an apartment good for 3 persons
ACCOMMODATION IN SOUTH CEBU
Depending on your itinerary, here are best-rated accommodations at the key areas around South Cebu. Click the photo for more details.
- “TGH” The Guest House Badian Rating: 8.9 | Price: P1,063 for a room good for 3 persons
- Cuestas Beach Resort Rating: 9.0 | Price: P3,850 for a family hut good for 5 persons (with free breakfast)
ACCOMMODATION IN NORTH CEBU
Bantayan and Malapascua Islands are two of the top tourist destinations in North Cebu. The best accommodations in these islands are resorts with access to white beach sands. Below are few of them. Click the photo for more details.
HOW TO GET TO CEBU
Here are options in getting to Cebu.
There are 50 domestic and international cities that fly to Cebu. Here is the list specific to these cheaper airlines: Cebu Pacific and AirAsia:
- Puerto Princesa, Palawan
- Cagayan de Oro
- Kalibo (Boracay)
- Taipei, Taiwan
- Tokyo, Japan
You will arrive at Mactan International Airport. To know how to get to Cebu city, South Cebu or North Cebu from the airport; or to get around Cebu in general, click the link.
Here are nearby provinces that offer a ferry trip to Cebu:
Although available, traveling by ferry from Manila or Cagayan de Oro is highly discouraged as travel consumes close to 1 day.
Use the search box below to find available bus, ferry and plane to Cebu:
BACKPACKING CEBU ITINERARY & BUDGET
Here is a quick view of Cebu backpacking DIY 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
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 DIY Mountain Tour
- Arrive at the airport
- Breakfast | P100 average meal
- Travel to Fort San Pedro to kick off the 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
You may want to check my vlog on DIY Heritage Walk Tour. Feel free to SUBSCRIBE.
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 , 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. Caution: Motorcycle drivers may take advantage. Haggle and agree on the price before hopping on the motorcycle to avoid any inconvenience later on the tour.
Check my vlog about Temple of Leah, Tops of Cebu and Taoist Temple.
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
Here’s my vlog about Sirao Flower Garden and Terrazas de Flores.
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,
- Larsian – A lineup of small eateries that offer cheap, grilled foods in authentic Cebuano flavor. It is located beside Chong Hua hospital at Fuente Osmeña rotunda.
- La Vie Parisienne – a restaurant which offers a variety of croissants and wine. It is located in Gorordo avenue, near JY Square mall
- 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. 🙂
DAY 2: Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon Island, Tumalog falls, and Cuartel Heritage Park
- Wake up at 4:00 a.m. and head out to 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 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. only.
- Arrange a boat for Sumilon Island. Boat rent is P1,500 for an entire day. Beach bum and rest!
- 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 6:00 p.m.
- Dinner at the nearby market. Try the local barbecue.
- Lights out!
Day 3: Mountain peaks of Badian and Dalaguete and Waterfalls of Samboan
- 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 9:00 a.m. 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 5 hours to half day.
- 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!
Day 4: Moalboal Island hopping and Canyoneering in Badian
- Take a bus bound for 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 may invite joiners to save up some budget.)
- Go to Badian for canyoneering. Bus fare is around P30. Drop off at Matutinao beach resort and look for a canyoneering guide in the area.
- You may check in at any accommodation in Moalboal. Spend the rest of the afternoon at White (Basdaku) beach and enjoy the sunset.
- Lights out!
For a hassle-free experience, arrange your Badian Canyoneering Adventure and Kawasan Waterfalls Private Tour with KLOOK. Click the link for details.
Day 5: Lechon, Simala shrine and Mactan island
- Take a bus to Sibonga. Visit Simala shrine.
- Take a bus to Talisay. Head out to their market to buy lechon and chicharon.
- Take a bus 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 below 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
- Head out to North bus terminal and catch the latest bus bound for 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 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Fare is P170.
- In Bantayan, rent a motorbike for P300 and head out to Paradise 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
- Sunrise at Kota beach
- 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)
- 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 for 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!
- Lights out!
Day 9: Carnaza Island
- Take a bus bound for 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
- 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.
Day 11: Cebu Safari and Adventure Park in Carmen
- 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
- Head out to the port in Danao and catch an outrigger boat 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
- 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
- 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 for Cebu city. You can also wait for the bus at the main road bound for North Bus terminal. Travel time is 1 hour.
- Head out to the airport. Bid goodbye. 🙂
While this article is best suited for DIY budget travelers, we also share the same sentiments with those who love to go on a tour package. KLOOK offers the most affordable and hassle-free tour services for Cebu.
Here are some of its tour packages. Click each link for more details.
- 3 Day Cebu Highlights Tour for P5,130
- Cebu Rediscovery Tour for P1,300
- Sirao Flower Farm and Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary Half Day Tour for P1,800
- Moalboal and Pescador Island Snorkeling Day Tour for P1,850
- Oslob Whale Shark Snorkeling and Badian Canyoneering Adventure for P2,850
- Badian Canyoneering Adventure and Kawasan Waterfalls Private Tour for P2,250
- Moalboal Island Hopping and Canyoneering Experience for P2,400
For other KLOOK services like transport and tour offers, use the search box below:
Like in any parts of the Philippines, the locals in Cebu can speak and understand English. 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…
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Hey there! I’m Ker, The Fun-sized Traveller. Fun-size because I’m a short guy from the Philippines. Thanks for checking out this virtual block I have started building since my 30th birthday to document my 2nd quarter life. Yup, it’s more of a personal pursuit, but a part of me also wants to give back to the travel community that is why I make it a point to share travel articles out from my trips around Asia.
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