Travel Guide To Cebu: Itinerary, Budget, and Tips
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!
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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:
- Allson’s Inn in Cebu City – PHP 800 per night
- Marina Village Resort in Moalboal – PHP 2,000 per night
- Crown Regency Hotel & Towers – PHP 2,500 per night
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 Cebu – up 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 Resort – up 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 Cebu – up 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 Cebu – up 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
- Travel to Badian, Cebu
- Canyoneering activity and Kawasan Falls
- Pescador Island
- Turtle Point
- Sardin Run
- Travel to Oslob, Cebu
- Arrive early at Brgy. Tan-Awan, Oslob for the whale shark watching
- Bask under the sun at Sumilon Island
- Travel to Cuartel or Tumalog Falls
- Hike to Osmeña Peak
- Travel back to Cebu City
- Visit the Magellan’s Cross, one of the most historic sights in the Philippines
- Sto. Niño Church
- Fort San Pedro
- Cebu Taoist Temple
- Sirao Garden
- Temple of Leah
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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!
You can tour Cebu City on your own and visit its historical landmarks or you can book private Cebu City tours:
- Cebu City Half Day Tour (PHP 1,390)
- Whole day tour including Simala Shrine (PHP 1,800)
- Cebu City & Mactan Twin City Tour (PHP 1,500)
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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