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Cebu Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

The province of Cebu is a thriving hub of business and tourism: around 35% of the Philippines’ foreign visitors choose to head here, and its airport is the second most popular in the country. Known widely as a tropical paradise, Cebu delights travelers with white sand beaches, colorful marine life, plunging waterfalls, and other natural wonders. It’s also teeming with history, from centuries-old churches to lively grand that have stood the test of time. A curious mix of the traditional and the cosmopolitan, Cebu has much to offer, food trips included, and its multifaceted attractions make for a lively, jam-packed itinerary.

Where to go in Cebu

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10000 Roses Cafe

Day-as Barangay Rd Cordova, Cebu, Central Visayas, 6017, Philippines

Amihan Beach

A. Batobalonos St Santa Fe, Cebu, Central Visayas, 6047, Philippines

Anika Island

F. Roska Street Santa Fe, Cebu, Central Visayas, 6047, Philippines

Aquaworld Diving Center

Marigondon Beach Rd Lapu-lapu City (opon), Cebu, Central Visayas, 6015, Philippines

Basilica del Santo Niño

Santo Nino Chapel Lane Cebu City (capital), Cebu, Central Visayas, 6000, Philippines

Basilica del Santo Niño Museum

Santo Nino Chapel Lane Cebu City (capital), Cebu, Central Visayas, 6000, Philippines

How to Get Here

Getting Here
By Plane

The most common way to get to Cebu is to fly in, since you’ll land directly at Mactan International Airport--the second busiest in the country, right after Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Check out the following airlines for both local and international flights (and look out for major seat sales!):
Cebu Pacific
Philippine Airlines
Airasia

You can take a direct flight from any of the following local cities to Cebu:
Manila (1-hour travel time)
Clark
Puerto Princesa
Cagayan de Oro
Kalibo
Iloilo
Boracay
Tacloban
Siargao
Davao

There are also plenty of international flights available from other countries, including:
Japan
Korea
Malaysia
Singapore
Taiwan
USA
By Ferry

Another option is to travel by sea. Cebu’s domestic port is the busiest in the Philippines--in fact, there are ferry trips to and from Cebu every day.

You can depart from these cities, among others:
Manila
Bohol
Butuan
Iloilo
Leyte
Iligan
Negros
Masbate
Misamis Occidental
Cagayan de Oro
Davao

Popular Food

Pochero is like the Tagalog bulalo: a rich, stomach-filling beef soup with beef shank and marrow boiled for hours. The crucial difference is that pochero incorporates sweet yellow corn and bamboo shoots, giving the broth a lighter, slightly sweeter taste.

(c) Buy in Cebu / buyincebu.blogspot.com

Tuslob Buwa (literally “dipping in bubbles”) is perhaps Cebu’s most exotic dish: its main ingredient is pig brain, cooked up into a stew with spices and other innards. Eating it is also unusual--you take rice wrapped in coconut leaves and dip it into the mix, then guzzle it down with your bare hands.

(c) Tuslob-Buwa / tuslob-buwa.blogspot.com

Lechon is essentially a whole pig roasted over charcoal, with spices and other seasonings stuffed inside for added flavor. Cebu is the Lechon Capital of the Philippines--and even Anthony Bourdain, world-class chef extraordinaire, described lechon Cebu as “the best pig ever.”

(c) Lloyd and Behold / lloydandbehold.com

Ngohiong is the Cebuano variant of a spring roll or lumpia. The core ingredients are bamboo shoots and singkamas wrapped in rice paper, and ground pork or shrimp and various seasonings are often included. As a finishing touch, it’s then sprinkled with Chinese five-spice powder.

(c) Gutom Na! / gutomna.com

Danggit is dried, salted fish that’s crispy and usually partnered with vinegar. There’s nothing quite like chowing it down with chopped tomatoes over breakfast, a combination that restaurants top it off with a sunny side-up egg. Check out the Taboan Public Market for the famed Cebuano danggit at low prices.

(c) We Love Cebu / welovecebu.com

Best Time to Go

BEST TIME TO GO
Like other provinces in the Philippines, Cebu cycles between two seasons: hot and dry, or cool and rainy. The climate is generally tropical, though--you’re mostly going to be fine walking around in breezy clothes and flip-flops, temperature-wise, except for when it’s raining hard.

For travelers, the best time to go to Cebu depends on what you want to do:

If you’re looking forward to island-hopping and hanging out at the beach, you can stick with tradition and visit during the summer months (March to May)--just make sure to pack lots of sunblock and prepare to get sweaty.

For a party that you’ll never forget, book your trip earlier and choose January, in time for the Sinulog Festival. You can look forward to a fun-filled time: the Sinulog Festival is the country’s most magnificent festival, featuring parades, dances, concerts, and expos. Word of caution, though: flights might be more expensive and harder to book because a lot of other people are heading there, too.

Just craving to avoid the heat so you can happily explore to your heart’s content? Then winter’s what we recommend, from November to January--days are the right amount of cloudy, evenings are refreshing, and no worrying about sweaty armpits in front of the camera.

Whatever your agenda, you might want to avoid going from July to August. This is the rainy weather at its peak, so there might be a lot of thunderstorms and typhoons sweeping through the area--not an ideal time at all to travel.

What to Do

Relax at a mountain resort
There are plenty of tropical islands around, yes, but what about islands on top of a mountain? The JVR Island in the Sky Resort was built on such an intriguing idea. Nicknamed the mini-Baguio of Cebu, this vacation haven is set apart by its foggy, ethereal ambience and the lush view it offers from the heights. The path to the resort is appropriately lined by pine trees, and to cross over, you have to brave your way through a hanging bridge. Like a self-sufficient enclave, the resort contains small cottages, a cozy strawberry farm, and a swimming pool. It’s also the first in Cebu to offer a cable car ride: the pace is pleasantly slow as passengers get treated to a panoramic perspective of the mountain and the nearby coastal waters.
Join the Sinulog festival
Fireworks and parties often kick off the New Year. As if to ride the wave of celebrations, the so-called “Mother of Festivals” never wavers from its schedule of the third Sunday of January every year: Cebu’s Sinulog Festival is a display of pomp and color, magnificent enough to be streamed on TV, even inspiring a spinoff by Filipinos in New Zealand. The word “Sinulog” means dancing that’s as graceful as the currents of a river--and the festival is, at its heart, a dance ritual in reverence of the Sto. Nino (Infant Jesus), Cebu’s patron saint. While it may have been more solemn centuries back, it has now expanded to incorporate concerts, grand parades, dance competitions, and trade fairs, with an unordinary soundtrack of trumpets and gongs.
Get sun-kissed at the beach
Cebu enjoys a healthy flow of tourists and travelers, whether from nearby cities or from the opposite side of the world. The main reason for that is its stunning beaches--and with so many islands to choose from, beach-hopping definitely sounds like a good idea! Well-loved destinations include Malapascua Island (excellent diving spot for thresher sharks), Camotes Islands (featuring caves, cliffs, and white sand beaches), and Bantayan Island (idyllic, quiet, and peaceful). You’ll never run out of things to do in Cebu’s islands! Scuba-diving and snorkeling are rewarding because of the wealth of marine life in certain spots. As modernity meets nature, you can also chill out in comfortable resorts, from luxury hotels to homey bungalows.
Take a historical tour
Even though much of Cebu belongs to the 21st century--malls, public wi-fi, crowded coffee shops, sleek restaurants--it has also preserved the past remarkably well. For one, Cebu City is known as the oldest city in the country, and the province itself has been the stage for several monumental events in Philippine history, such as the first mass conversion to Catholicism and Lapu-Lapu’s famous battle with Magellan. Go on a Heritage Tour or walk around on your own to admire historical landmarks firsthand. The Heritage Monument in the Parian District depicts the story of Cebu in sculpture, while Magellan’s Cross in Magallanes Street is said to be the original cross that Magellan had erected when he first stepped on Cebu in 1521. Other must-sees are the Colon Street (the oldest street in the Philippines!), Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino, and Fort San Pedro.

Estimated Costs

Estimated Cost per Person
Domestic Flight to Cebu (One-Way)
Depends on the distance traveled, but it can cost as low as P1000 to P4000 from closer airports (e.g. Cagayan de Oro) or P2000 to P5000 from Manila
Ferry to Cebu
P500 or P1000 (basic) to P2500 (suite)

Hotel
P1000-P3000 (three-star hotel) to P13000 (five-star hotel) per night
Regular Inexpensive Meal
P185-P200
Three-Course Meal, Mid-Range
P350-P400

Tourist Attraction Entrance Fees
P30-P100

Taxi
Around P40 (base) + P7-P13 / km

Jeepneys
P7-P12

Average Price Per Day
P2500-P3000

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