CEBU: A PRACTICAL TRAVEL GUIDE FOR DIY & BUDGET TRAVELERS [UPDATED as of 2021]

Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Cebu Tourism Office at cebuprovincialtourism@gmail.com or at (032) 888 2328 to know the latest update.

Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!

Traveling to Cebu for the first time? This detailed DIY 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 tours and transports, budget-friendly accommodations, and other travel tips. Have a fun and enjoyable trip ahead!

START HERE!

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.

Heritage of Cebu Monument
Cebu Heritage Monument at downtown Cebu.

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.

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.

A far look at Candongao peak where a Philippine flag is installed. This photo was shot from another peak opposing Candongao which is only seconds away.

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.

Taoist temple of Cebu City. The place is open for public viewing. Go to JY Square mall and charter a motorbike for P20 to get here.

CEBU RECOMMENDED TOURS

For CEBU TOUR PACKAGE, click the link.

Also, here are some of the best tour packages from KLOOK for Cebu. Click the link for more details:

Use the search box for more KLOOK tour packages and transport services for Cebu.

Klook.com

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.

1075 DORMITEL CEBU
Rating: 9.8 | Price: P2,329 for a room good for 4 persons
Cozy, 2-BR condo w/ Wifi,near SM Seaside
Rating: 9.4 | Price: P1,489 for an apartment good for 4 persons
OYO 476 Hedda Hotel
Rating: 8.8 | Price: P1,277 for a family room good for 4 persons
18 SUITES CEBU
Rating: 8.8 | Price: P2,015 for a room good for 3 persons
HORIZONS 101, 34 CVIEW
Rating: 8.9 | Price: P1,600 for an apartment good for 3 persons
THE PARTRIDGE GUESTHOUSE
Rating: 9.3 | Price: P2,478 for a dormitory room good for 4 persons
MURALS HOSTEL & CAFE
Rating: 8.9 | Price: P2,223 for a room good for 4 adults and 2 kids

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.

CRIMSON RESORT & SPA
Rating: 8.4 | Price: 7,296 for a room good for 2 adults and 2 kids
MOVENPICK HOTEL MACTAN
Rating: 8.3 | Price: P4,080 for a superior king room good for 3 persons

You can also opt to stay at an accommodation near Mactan airport. Click the link for more details.

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.

MOALBOAL

PESCADORES SEAVIEW SUITES
Rating: 8.5 | Price: P1,607 for a room good for 3 adults and 1 kid
OCEAN SAFARI SUITES
Rating: 9.3 | Price: P2,325 for a deluxe room good for 3 persons

OSLOB

OSLOB MALONZO PENSION HOUSE
Rating: 8.8 | Price: P1,532 for a room good for 3 adults and 1 kid
SUSADA’S INN
Rating: 9.2 | Price: P1,600 for a family room good for 4 adults and 2 kids
BANGCOGON RESORT
Rating: 8.5 | Price: P1,213 for a room good for 3 persons
JOAQUIM’S LODGE
Rating: 8.7 | Price: P1,639 for a room good for 4 adults and 1 kid

BADIAN

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.

BANTAYAN ISLAND

AMIHAN BEACH CABANAS RESORT
Rating: 9.0 | Price: P3,800 for a room good for 3 persons
ANIKA ISLAND RESORT
Rating: 8.6 | Price: P2,692 for a room with a garden view good for 3 adults and 2 kids
AMIHAN SEASIDE INN
Rating: 9.6 | Price: P3,174 for a room with balcony good for 3 persons

MALAPASCUA ISLAND

OCEAN VIDA RESORT
Rating: 8.9 | Price: P3,659 for a room with a garden view good for 3 adults and 2 kids
MALAPASCUA GARDEN RESORT
Rating: 8.4 | Price: P1,406 for a superior room good for 3 adults and 1 kid

HOW TO GET TO CEBU

Here are your options in getting to Cebu.

By Air

There are 50 domestic and international cities that fly to Cebu. Here is the list specific to these cheaper airlines: Cebu Pacific and AirAsia:

Domestic

  • Puerto Princesa, Palawan
  • Cagayan de Oro
  • Caticlan
  • Davao
  • Iloilo
  • Kalibo (Boracay)
  • Manila

International

  • Hongkong
  • Singapore
  • 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!

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño at downtown Cebu.

By Ferry

Here are nearby provinces that offer a ferry trip to Cebu:

  • Bohol
  • Dumaguete
  • Leyte

Although available, traveling by ferry from Manila or Cagayan de Oro is highly discouraged as travel consumes close to 1 day.

TOP TOURIST SPOTS IN CEBU

Here are 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. For a full list, click this link: Top 30 Tourist Spots in Cebu.

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

Here’s my vlog as I walk around the heritage sites at the heart of Cebu City, including Magellan’s Cross.

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

Check my vlog about Temple of Leah, Tops Lookout and Taoist Temple.

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.

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.
  • 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 the mountain peaks of Dalaguete and Badian is another option when you visit Cebu as the province is rich in nature-based attractions.
  • Walking around the heritage sites of Cebu City at the downtown area or going on 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.
  • Of course an experience of the Sinulog festival is something you can’t really miss. It’s fun and full of life! Apart from the street dancing, the grand performance is what you should watch out for. Check my video for this year’s Sinulog Mardi Gras winners:

SINULOG-BASED CATEGORY WINNERS PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS – SINULOG 2020

CEBU SAMPLE ITINERARY & BUDGET

Below are sample itineraries with corresponding budget for Cebu. Each option is good for 1-day itinerary and is composed of tourist spots that are either in the same location or at a short distance travel.

Sirao flower farm at the highlands of Cebu city. Entrance fee is P50. Visit here in May or before Halloween when most flowers are in bloom.

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 – Heritage 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
White beach in Moalboal
Beach bumming at the long strip of white sand at White (Basdaku) beach, Moalboal in South Cebu.

QUICK FACTS & TIPS ABOUT CEBU

The fifth level of Aguinid falls which gives off a shallow catch basin and a small cavern in its center where you can freely climb up for a photo op.

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.
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.

USEFUL PHRASES

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…

Tumalog waterfalls

MEET THE BLOGGER

Leaning on our boat at Punta Sibaring 1. This photo was taken during a high tide.

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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