Travel Guide To Cebu: Itinerary, Budget, and Tips

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Cebu will be your perfect tropical escape in the Philippines. It attracts a lot of tourists every year not only because of its pristine beaches, diving spots, historical landmarks, and unique & delicious food. There’s so much more than you can learn and see on this island.

In this travel guide to Cebu, I will help you plan a better trip. You will get a list of options on accommodations and tours according to your budget, so read more and enjoy this Cebu travel guide!

Travel Guide To Cebu: Itinerary, Budget, and Tips 3

NOTE: Only RT PCR Test is required to enter the City of Cebu. Check the Cebu city’s government portal at https://mics.cebucity.gov.ph/inboundapplication/ for more updates.

Best time to visit Cebu

The best time to visit Cebu is during the dry season from November to May. The rainy season is from June to October, so expect a lot of rain.

One of the biggest festivals in Cebu is the Sinulog Festival. So, if you want to experience this celebration, the best time to visit Cebu is in January. The festival is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of January.

How to get to Cebu from Manila

The easiest way to go to Cebu from Manila is by air. You can choose from three different airlines: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine AirAsia. Each airline offers a flexible flight schedule; there are more than 30 flights per day. You can find the cheapest flights available on Skyscanner.

If you don’t want to travel by air, you can travel by sea via 2GO Travel. Since the total travel time is 21 hours, you would need to book accommodation which ranges from PHP 2,000 to PHP 5,000.

Arrival at Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Traveling from Manila to Cebu only takes at least 1 – 1.5 hours depending on your airline. When you plan your itinerary, always give a 1 to 2 hours allowance after your expected arrival time to make up for the unexpected delays.

You can travel to Cebu City using public transportation or you can book a private transfer to your hotel.

Where to stay in Cebu

You can stay in Cebu City during your entire stay, or you can stay at different hotels in each destination. Since the traffic in Cebu is heavy also, we decided to book hotels in each destination so we can save time from traveling back and forth.

Here are the hotels we stayed at during our stay in Cebu for 4 days:

Click here to find more accommodations in Cebu.

Discounted Hotels & Resorts in Cebu

Save money on your accommodation by booking from one of the hotels & resorts below! You’ll also get more perks like late check-out or more discounts.

Click the links below to get more details.

bai Hotel Cebuup to 75% discount! Overnight or 2-nights stay in a deluxe room inclusive of breakfast for 2 and PHP 500 or PHP 1000 worth of food and beverage credits that can be used in Marble and Grain Ume Japanese Restaurant, Wall Street, Pool Bar, In-Room Dining, or Lobby Lounge.

Bluewater Sumilon Island Resortup to 65% discount! A minimum of 2-night deluxe room with breakfast, 15% discount on F&B, BlueCARES Sanitation Kit & welcome Bluewater coolers.

Seda Ayala Center Cebuup to 35% discount! 1-night stay in a deluxe room for 2 person(s) and inclusive of breakfast and/or PHP500 worth of dining credits.

Seda Central Bloc Cebuup to 35% discount! 1-night stay in a deluxe room for 2 person(s) and inclusive of breakfast and/or PHP500 worth of dining credits.

Where to eat in Cebu

One reason to visit Cebu is its food! Eat your heart out and don’t miss out on its famous lechon (roast pig). Some famous restaurants to each lechon are Rico’s Lechon, Zubuchon, and House of Lechon.

If you want to eat street food that offers varieties of seafood and BBQ, then you should eat at Larsian!

Want to try some unique restaurants? You can try The Pyramid, wine & dine restaurant that mimics the Louvre of France.

Dreaming of seeing the 20,000 lighted rose garden display in Dongdaemun, South Korea? Cebu has one also! You should visit 10,000 Rose Cafe that’s inspired by the rose garden in Korea.

Places to visit in Cebu + Things to do in Cebu

  • Explore Cebu City
  • Eat lechon
  • Spend a day island hopping
  • Enjoy the beauty of Sirao Flower Garden
  • Take a dive in an adventure: canyoneering in Kawasan Falls
  •  Visit the Cuartel
  • Hike the highest peak in Cebu – Osmeña Peak
  • Buy snacks and souvenirs in Taboan Public Market

Sample Cebu Itinerary for 3 Days

Day 1: Canyoneering, Kawasan Falls, and Moalboal Island Hopping
  1. Travel to Badian, Cebu
  2. Canyoneering activity and Kawasan Falls
  3. Pescador Island
  4. Turtle Point
  5. Sardin Run
Day 2: Oslob Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon Island, Cuartel, and Osmeña Peak
  1. Travel to Oslob, Cebu
  2. Arrive early at Brgy. Tan-Awan, Oslob for the whale shark watching
  3. Bask under the sun at Sumilon Island
  4. Travel to Cuartel or Tumalog Falls
  5. Hike to Osmeña Peak
  6. Travel back to Cebu City
Day 3: Cebu City tour & buy souvenirs
  1. Visit the Magellan’s Cross, one of the most historic sights in the Philippines
  2. Sto. Niño Church
  3. Fort San Pedro
  4. Cebu Taoist Temple
  5. Sirao Garden
  6. Temple of Leah
  7. Shop at Taboan Public Market

You can create your own itinerary for more flexibility and so you can customize the places you want to visit. But, if you want to book a tour package, then I definitely recommend Happy Juanderer Travel Inc.!

Our group booked our tour with them & we only have positive feedback.

Day 1: Canyoneering, Kawasan Falls, and Moalboal Island Hopping

Canyoneering to Kawasan Falls

Badian, Cebu is approximately 115 KM from the city. Travel time will usually take 3 to 3.5 hours depending on the traffic; this could be a perfect time to rest. So, grab something to eat or bring food. Also, make sure you are fully rested (which is tough given the departure time) because this activity challenges you more than you expected!

Upon arrival at Badian, you will get some time to prepare (and back out from this activity). You need to wear a helmet, aqua shoes/rubber shoes, and a life vest before going to the starting point of canyoneering via habal-habal (motorcycle taxi ride). The ride consists of 2 passengers, so make sure you ask your crush to ride with you beforehand!

If you don’t have shoes with you, you can rent for PHP 50 only. I don’t recommend wearing slippers in this activity.

Photo before Canyoneering
Tips on canyoneering activity:
  • I recommend that you wear your swimwear before arriving.
  • You can leave your bags inside your car or shuttle.
  • Bring cash so you can buy food. You can find a barbeque area halfway canyoneering.
  • There’s a habal-habal ride to the starting point of canyoneering.

Related: Canyoneering to Kawasan Falls

After all that crazy adventure, you will see the Kawasan Falls! It is such a beauty & it was so crowded also. We arrived there to rest & have lunch before we travel to Moalboal.

Unfortunately, I left my camera in the car so I didn’t have any photos!

Travel Guide To Cebu: Itinerary, Budget, and Tips 4
Photo by Andrew Haimerl on Unsplash

If you find the canyoneering activity a bit extreme for you, you can go straight to the Kawasan Falls.

Kawasan Falls is also one of the popular tourist spots because of its beautiful turquoise water.

Moalboal Island Hopping

Moalboal is at least 30 minutes away from Badian so the next activity on our itinerary is island hopping!

We first went to Pescador Island, a 10 to 20 minutes boat ride from the shore. I didn’t snorkel, but you can see different marine species and corals when you snorkel.

Next is the Turtle Point. Unfortunately, there was only one turtle in the area.

Lastly, the sardines run. There are lots, and lots, and lots of sardines! I remember our tour guide in Badian told us to bring rice since there are several sardines that we can eat!

Day 2: Oslob Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon Island, Cuartel, and Osmeña Peak

For this day, we had to wake up at 3:00 AM again as we are leaving for Oslob at 4:00 AM. Traveling to Oslob, Cebu took us around 2 hours. We arrived at Brgy. Tan-Awan, Oslob at 5:45 AM and prepared for the briefing regarding the whale shark watching.

The whale shark in Oslob is also famous to tourists; by the time we get there, there were already a lot of groups ahead of us.

Whale Shark Watching

You are required to listen and pay attention to the briefing. Important notes are discussed during this time, and if you have any questions, you may raise them to the speaker.

It didn’t take long before we ride the boat; our group was 9th in line. Life vests are given to us one by one. If you want to swim without a life vest, you may do so!

The total time of the activity is 30 minutes only.

Oslob - Karen Roldan
Whale Shark Watching

Related: Day Trip in Oslob: Whale Shark Watching and Sumilon Island

You can book a day tour to snorkel and swim with the whale sharks. This tour has roundtrip hotel transfers and you’ll get to see the Tumalog Falls after the whale shark watching.

Sumilon Island

After swimming with the whale sharks, we went to Sumilon Island. The island is pretty close; we walked for 5 minutes to reach the highway, then rode a pickup truck to take us to where the boat to Sumilon Island is parked.

Sumilon Island

After enjoying the sandbar, we went back to the whale shark orientation area to have lunch and take a shower. We were told that Oslob is experiencing a shortage of water. So, the shower may not be available.

Our next destination is either Cuartel or Tumalog Falls. We all chose Cuartel because we want to have a break from water activities.

Cuartel

Cuartel, an unfinished building made of coral blocks, is part of Oslob heritage park. I prefer visiting these kinds of places because of their historical background.

I have a separate post about our visit to Cebu’s historical place.

Baluarte/Cuartel

Osmeña Peak

The travel time from Cuartel to Dalaguete only took 20 minutes. Upon arriving, you have to prepare for a 30-minutes motorcycle ride to Osmeña peak trailhead.

Hiking to Osmeña peak will take about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your pace. I don’t exercise nor hike, but I find it easy to hike here. For some reason, I decided to wear slippers during this hike!

The only problem is if you are scared of heights! The wind scares me the most because it feels like it’s going to blow me away.

You can stay and enjoy the view of Cebu at Osmeña Peak as long as you want. We didn’t stay that long, probably for an hour only, then we drove back to Cebu City.

Osmena Peak

Day 3: Cebu City tour & buy souvenirs

You can spend your last day in Cebu touring the main city. It’s easier to DIY when touring the city. Aside from that, it’s cheaper too!

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You can tour Cebu City on your own and visit its historical landmarks or you can book private Cebu City tours:

Cebu travel tips

  • If you are arriving in Cebu early, you could spend the rest of the day touring the city.
  • Traffic in Cebu is almost the same in Manila, make sure you leave as early as possible.
  • To make the most out of canyoneering activity, arrive early. Also, avoid going on Saturdays.
  • Bring your shoes for the canyoneering activity. You can rent one though if you forgot to bring yours.
  • At noon, lots of people stay in Kawasan Falls, especially Kawasan Falls 1. You can ride a raft for 30 minutes, and there are 8 rafts available. However, due to the high volume of tourists, we need to wait for 2 hours before our turn. My advice is to have your name listed first, then eat lunch.
  • At the start of your water activity, put your change of clothes in a separate bag to make it easier for you to change to dry clothes.

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110 comments
  1. Hi Karen! Would like to ask if yung booking of your hotels is walk in or you have already reservation before your flight in Cebu?

  2. Wow I really like it Karen. You did a great travel guide plus the tips! It is very short post unlike other posts from other blogs, ang taas. pero informative naman. Pero ito is summarized and madaling matandaan o ma-note. Thank you Karen!

  3. Sayang you didn’t try to jump sa Canyoneering, pero it’s okay, not everyone can do it hehe nung nagcanyoneering kami ni Gerald may mga hindi rin tumalon sa Kawasan Falls. Si Gerald ayaw talaga nya tumalon nun. Pero sabi ko kung tumalon man sya o hindi, tatalon ako. Napressure ata sya sakin kaya tumalon din hahaha pero sabi nya di naman daw nya pinagsisihan hehe at least dba di ko sya pinilit. choice nya un hahaha
    I haven’t tried going with a travel agency na may tours etc. Nagtravel agency lang kami sa Boracay before for the accommodation and hotel transfer kasi madami kami and peak season yun. Pero kng kami dalawa lang ni Gerald, prefer namin DIY hehe kasi I asked a friend who tried travel agency and nung pagkasabi palang nya na may call-time, alam na namin ni gerald na hindi para samin yung travel agency tours. Kasi hindi namin kaya gumising ng maaga hahaha kaya it depends talaga sa group na kasama mo. If you really preper to make the most out of your trip, then best siguro yung travel agency 🙂

    And also, I felt so sad you tried whaleshark watching in Oslob. I’m against it, since the whalesharks are endangered na, and people in Oslob are making money out of it. Have you read an article about it? Na affected din yung “migration” something ng whalesharks? That it could harm other people as well.

    1. I really wanted to try. I told myself na I will jump, pero pag dating talaga dun, I caaaan’t. Ilan beses ako nag attempt, but pag nasa cliff na ako, nag bbackout ako! ?? it’s really not for me! Hahaha. I have a friend din who can’t swim at all pero he tried jumping. And yes, he had sooooo much fun daw.
      I like DIY din, pero I only like it if dalawa lang kami or basta wag madami. Like samin, 10 kami. If more than that kasi, ang hirap mag agree on one thing. And usually a lot of time will be wasted bec ayaw ng one or two, so parang you have to meet at one point. Edi travel agency na lang. Hahaha. Our call time is 4 AM! Sobrang grabe, but worth it.

      I haven’t read it ? but I felt bad din kasi feeling ko nasa malaking aquarium lang sila or something and they’re not free to swim around. Kaya it took me a while before ako nakapag swim with them. At first akala ko nga may net na nakapaligid sakanila so they’ll stay lang sa area.

      I had fun reading your comment! ❤️

  4. hello po ask q po about dun sa hotel kung sino ang ng booking?hnd po pla ksama sa package un ng travel and tours?

    1. Hi! Kasama sa tour package yung hotel namin for one night since 2D & 1N yung kinuha namin na package. But the hotels for the other nights, we booked it on our own ?

  5. Great post! I love the detailed information. I’m from Canada but born in Philippines and I’m looking forward to visiting next year or so. Thanks for this info, I’ll remember it for my trip.

    1. Yay! I hope you’ll visit the Philippines soon. When was the last time you went here? 🙂 I wanted to visit Cebu-Bohol but 4 days in Cebu is really not enough. Thanks for dropping by, Merryl!

  6. I like how organized you create your itinerary. You even have a printable copy of it. Good job, Karen.
    I was to join my colleagues last month for a Cebu trip. I believe it was almost the same activities that you guys did. But I missed joining them due to work circumstances.

    I wouldn’t try jumping off a cliff as well since I don’t know how to swim. I have fear of open and wide bodies of water and what’s underneath it. Geez, sorry.

    This guide is surely helpful for first timers or those who plan to come back. Thanks for sharing, K.

    1. The printable copy was just an experiment. I thought my itinerary was too wordy and people might not enjoy read it, so might as well create a short version of it! Hahaha. Thank you, Clint! Those words really make me happy.
      My friend doesn’t know how to swim as well, but since we have life vests, he tried jumping off a cliff. But it’s really different if you have a fear of wide bodies of water. And yes, what’s underneath is a mystery! I even imagine I might fell on the rock or something. That’s why I didn’t bother to try jumping.

      Thanks again, Clint! <3

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