Updated as of January 2020
Summary: This blog shares an ultimate DIY budget travel guide for Cebu with some samples of DIY itinerary that are good for 2 to 5 days or even a week. Allocated budget covers expenses for entrance, food and transportation. All needed details for each featured top tourist attraction are laid out in the post including operating hours, entrance fee, location and information on how to get there. Further, this Cebu blog is intended for DIY budget travelers either solo, family or traveling in group.
CEBU AT A GLANCE
You are coming down to one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Philippines – CEBU, the Queen City of the South, is a royalty in the field of travel more so because of its well-distributed string of tourist attractions.
At its center is Cebu City, the first capital and the oldest city in the Philippines which brags of its colorful heritage being the very first seat of Christianity in the country. While here, enjoy a heritage walk through colonial houses, monuments and streets that stretches for about 2 kilometers good enough for a layover or half to full day DIY activity. Here is the link for a complete detail about the DIY heritage walk tour.
At its both ends are crystalline, pristine beaches and rich diving sites: the north lies the islands of Bantayan and Malaspacua, home of thresher sharks; the south nestles the islands of Sumilon and Moalboal, famous for sardine fish, dolphins and turtles.
The most visited among its tourism zones is South Cebu which teases of majestic waterfalls, walkable mountain peaks and (however you feel about it) gigantic whale sharks! Check out South Cebu’s top attractions on this link.
Adding up to this already jam-packed attractions are the night, shopping and food scenes in metro Cebu and the nearby Mactan Island. With an active tourism over the past years, Cebu has seen a wave of bars, malls and restaurants proliferating in all corners of the city to cater the varying frills of modern living
Truly, the province of Cebu is a dream destination. Yet, with so many things to explore, there is too little a time. So to help you plan a better trip, here is a detailed budget travel guide.
Enjoy and make every information count.
Wanting to go to Sirao Flower Garden and Terrazas de Flores? Check my vlog for more details.
QUICK FACTS & TIPS ABOUT CEBU
Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around the province of Cebu.
- Cebu is highly urbanized, next to Manila. Traffic situation at its three major cities: Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City are heavy especially from 8:00 a.m-10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
- Cebu is the gateway for most of domestic travel destinations, which makes for a strategic location for travellers who fancy to travel around the Philippines.
- The Sinulog Festival of Cebu which honors Sto. Niño, the child Jesus Christ, is one of the biggest and grandest festivals in Asia. It highlights a grand parade where contingents from different towns in Cebu and in the Philippines gather for street dancing. The festival happens every 3rd Sunday of January.
- The first skirmish against foreign invaders in the Philippine history happened in Cebu at the shores of Mactan Island in April 1521. The very place is now called Lapu-Lapu shrine.
- Cebu has a number of great delicacies. The most popular of them are lechon (roasted suckling pig) and chicharon (deep-fried pork rind) in Carcar, Cebu.
- There are more than 100 waterfalls in all of Cebu. The most developed are the ones found at the south.
- Like most places, summer is the best time to visit Cebu when you get to experience the best condition of its beaches and mountain peaks. It is also when the sardine fish are mostly present at the coast of Moalboal and when the waters are most clear for whale shark watching.
- Cebu has a kilometer zero post at the Capitol area.
HOW TO GET TO CEBU
Here are your 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 either to Cebu city, South Cebu or North Cebu from the airport, click here!
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:
TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN CEBU
Here are top ten (10) tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 5 days while in Cebu. Please note that these are only few of the best places in Cebu. I have created a separate article for 30 of the best places in Cebu, including some of its finest beaches.
For a quick list, please see below.
WHALES SHARKS OF OSLOB
An underwater shot of the enormous whale sharks of Oslob, Cebu.
OSMEÑA PEAK OF DALAGUETE & BADIAN
At the top most part is a less foggy view of Badian island and Tañon strait as seen from Osmeña peak.
KAWASAN FALLS OF BADIAN
The first level of Kawasan falls. As of January 2018, the rafts which are supposed to take guests near the cascades are prohibited due to the abuse of its operators.
CASINO PEAK OF DALAGUETE
The sweet panorama of karst, jagged hills as viewed from Casino peak.
Casino peak (or now officially Lugsangan peak) is a distinct monolith among an expanse of jagged hills at the highlands of Dalaguete, Cebu elevating for about 1,003 meters above sea level. The peak is easily identifiable because of its fang-looking shape. The hike en route to its top which stretches for about a kilometer is walkable but more rocky and steep compared to that of Osmeña peak. It will take for about 20 minutes to reach the summit in a nonstop pace. Once at the top, the peak overlooks a visual treat of dotted moss-green hills reminiscent of that of Bohol. Casino can only cater 20-25 visitors at a time and walking through its peak requires extra caution because of its narrow form.
SARDINE FISH OF MOALBOAL
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
MAGELLAN’S CROSS OF CEBU CITY
The cross was planted by the explorers in 1521 as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan to mark the start of Christianity in the Philippines. To preserve its form, it is encased in a bigger wooden cross and housed in an octagonal kiosk which has a ceiling decorated with murals that depict Cebu’s conversion to Christianity.
TEMPLE OF LEAH OF CEBU CITY
Built in honor of a man’s undying love to his late wife, 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 at templeofleah.com.
Check my vlog about Temple of Leah, Tops Lookout and Taoist Temple.
PARADISE BEACH OF BANTAYAN ISLAND
The quiet, clean and secluded Paradise beach (or now known as Sandira beach) is a long strip of white, mostly powdery sand with a shallow, azure waters. Entrance fee is P50 for adults and P25 for kids. The private beach operates from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and does not offer cottages and food or drinks to keep it from becoming too commercial and touristy.
KOTA BEACH OF BANTAYAN ISLAND
The white, coraline sand of Kota beach at Santa Fe. The beach offers accommodation. Contact them at +63 956 276 4410, +63 948 799 3787.
10,000 ROSES OF CORDOVA
The roses all aglow at sundown.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN CEBU
Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in Cebu province.
- Canyoneering in Kawasan tops the list when it comes to the best activities in Cebu. If you fancy this outdoor adventure, avail the Badian Canyoneering Adventure and Kawasan Waterfalls Private Tour for P2,250 from KLOOK for a hassle-free experience. Click the link for details.
- Of course, beach bumming and island hopping should be present in the list if we speak of Cebu. If you want to know 10 of its best beaches from north to south, click the link. KLOOK also offers a Moalboal and Pescador Island Snorkeling Day Tour for P1,850 . Click the link for details.
- Chasing waterfalls especially at the south is a top-notch activity you should not miss. Here are 7 of the best waterfalls that you can find in South Cebu.
- Trekking is another option when you visit Cebu as the province is rich in nature-based attractions. Check out 3 walkable mountain peaks in Dalaguete and Badian that can be covered in one day itinerary.
- A heritage walk at the downtown area or a mountain tour at the highlands of Cebu City are also options for one day itinerary. Give it a shot. Click on the links for details.
Here’s my vlog about DIY Heritage Walk Tour.
CEBU DIY ITINERARY
For those who want to DIY to add value to their money, check out Backpacking Cebu post for an elaborate guide with details about sample expenses and contact info for each Cebu itinerary option below that you can combine for a trip good for 2 to 5 days or even a week:
- Option 1: Cebu City – Mountain Tour with P750 budget
- Option 2: Cebu City – Walk Tour with P340 budget
- Option 3: Mactan island – Layover activity with P600 budget
- Option 4: South Cebu – Mountain Peak Trilogy with P400 budget
- Option 5: South Cebu – Oslob Whale Watching, Sumilon island and Tumalog falls with P1500 budget
- Option 6: South Cebu – Moalboal, Canyoneering in Badian and Osmeña peak (suitable for adventure seekers, can be spread to 2 days) with P3000 budget
- Option 7: South Cebu – Samboan waterfalls – Aguinid, Dau and Binalayan falls with P400 budget
- Option 8: South Cebu – Food trip in Carcar, Simala Shrine in Sibonga, Cuartel of Boljoon and Oslob whale watching with P1000 budget
- Option 9: North Cebu – Bantayan island (would mostly take 2 days) with P3000 budget
- Option 10: North Cebu – Malapascua island (would mostly take 2 days) with P1500 budget
- Option 11: North Cebu – Carnaza Island with P1500
- Option 12: North Cebu – Danasan Eco Adventure Park and Cebu Safari and Adventure Park P2500
- Option 13: Camotes island (would mostly take 2 days) P1500
Look for discounted deals from Klook from the major destinations in Asia including Cebu, Philippines.
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 at the key areas around Cebu. Click the link or the photo for rate and availability of each suggested accommodation.
- Mayflower Inn Check rate and availability here
- Fuente Oro Business Suite Check rate and availability here
- Waterfront Hotel and Casino Check rate and availability here
- Jo-Cris Apartelle Check rate and availability here
- AOSMEC Square Check rate and availability here
- Ayo Homtel Check rate and availability here
- Moalboal Guesthouse Check rate and availability here
- Hostel Panagsama Check rate and availability here
- Archery-Asia Nipa Huts and Camping Check rate and availability here
- Islet View Pension House Check rate and availability here
- Melronz Inn Check rate and availability here
- GT Seaside Inn Check rate and availability here
- Robinland Vacation Home Check rate and availability here
- Matutinao Beach Resort Check rate and availability here
- La Playa Resort (Matutinao) Check rate and availability here
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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BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
And lastly, don’t forget to be awesome! 😉
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