Cebu has always been a tourist magnet and its capital – CEBU CITY, is a beautiful mix of contradictions, from modern skyline to highland hideaways. There is no shortage of activities here for travelers, and the city has a buzzing food scene too. Don’t go home without trying the famous lechon, trust me, it isn’t dubbed as the “Lechon Capital of the World” for nothing. Here’s a travel blog to guide you in planning your trip to Cebu.
CEBU TRAVEL GUIDE
ABOUT CEBU CITY
Cebu City is the capital of Cebu province, situated in Visayas. The locals here speak Cebuano, also known as Bisaya. It is believed to be the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Locals also speak Tagalog (Filipino) and English, so asking for directions and recommendations is pretty easy.
Cebu City is known for Sinulog, the grandest festival in the country held every third week of January in honor of the image of Sto.Nino, said to be a gift to Queen Juana (Hara Amihan), the wife of Rajah Humabon, by the Portuguese colonizer Ferdinand Magellan. The festival dance resembling the current of the river, locally known as sulog, is believed to be of pagan origin practiced by the locals even before the arrival of the Spaniards. Today, the cross that Magellan planted in the shores of Cebu is the poster image of the city.
Here’s a travel blog to help guide you in your Cebu City trip.
HOW TO GET TO CEBU CITY FROM MANILA
Several airlines fly between Manila and Cebu (Mactan International Airport) such as Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Airasia. There are also flights to Cebu from Kalibo, Siargao, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, Camiguin and Legazpi as well as from international destinations like China, HongKong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
For a list of ferry schedules between Cebu and Manila, Bohol (Tagbilaran and Tubigon), Leyte (Ormoc and Maasin), Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, and Ozamiz, read here :
MACTAN AIRPORT TO CEBU CITY
Mactan International Airport is about 45 minutes to 1 hour away from Cebu City proper.
I usually take a regular cab from the airport to South Bus Terminal (since I stay at my uncle’s place in southern Cebu) and normally by taxi meter the fare is around PHP 200 to PHP 250 (USD 4 – USD 5) from Mactan airport to Cebu city center. I’ve tried using the Yellow/Airport Taxi before and it was about PH 300 (USD 6) to South Bus Terminal.
The Taxi Line is located outside the arrival area, a few steps away on the right side. Ask the guards if you can’t see it.
To skip the long lines at the regular taxi line, I used Grab on my latest trip. You can book through the app, there is a free WiFi at Mactan Airport (and yes it is working), feel free to use that. Or you can simply walk outside the arrival area of the airport, then turn right where you can find a Grab booth beside the regular taxi line and the yellow taxi line. Grab from Mactan Airport to South Bus Terminal costs me PHP 220 (USD 4.40) + PHP 50 (USD 1) for booking fee.
Alternatively, from Mactan International Airport, you can ride the bus called MyBus to SM Cebu City, fare is PHP 25. However, cash is not accepted so you have to purchase a card worth PHP 200, you can use the remaining credit on other MyBus rides (see schedule and routes below). MyBus is available from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM only at Mactan International Airport.
Once you are at SM Cebu, you can get a regular metered taxi to your destination.
MYBUS SCHEDULE and ROUTES
Regular: PHP 25 (USD 0.50)
Student: PHP 20 (USD 0.40)
Senior Citizen/PWD: PHP 20 (USD 0.40)
MYBUS FARE FOR TALISAY – CEBU, CEBU-TALISAY
Regular: PHP 40
Student: PHP 32
Senior Citizen/PWD: PHP 32
|Airport to SM City Cebu||07:00 AM to 9:00 PM, every 30 minutes|
|SM City Cebu to Airport||06:00 AM to 8:00 PM, every 30 minutes|
|Parkmall to SM Seaside||08:00 AM – 10:00 PM, every 20 minutes|
|SM Seaside to Parkmall||08:40 PM – 11:00 PM, every 20 minutes|
|Talisay to SM Seaside||08:00 AM to 10:00 PM, every 30 minutes|
|SM Seaside to Talisay||09:00 AM to 10:30 PM, every 30 minutes|
|Pier 1 to SMCC, NBT, Parkmall||06:20 AM to 01:10 PM, every 20 minutes|
|SMCC to Pier 1||06:00 AM to 07:40 AM, every 20 minutes|
|Talisay to Mandaue||Monday to Friday: 06:00 AM to 08:00 AM, every 30 minutes|
Monday to Friday: 08:00 AM to 09:00 PM, every 60 minutes
Saturday: 06:00 AM to 09:00 PM, every 60 minutes
Sunday: 06:00 AM to 09:00 AM, every 60 minutes
Sunday: 05:00 PM to 09:00 PM, every 60 minutes
|Mandaue to Talisay||Monday to Friday: 07:00 AM to 5:00 PM, every 60 minutes|
Monday to Friday: 05:00 PM to 10:00 PM, every 30 minutes
Saturday: 07:00 AM to 10:00 PM, every 60 minutes
Sunday: 07:00 AM to 08:00 AM, every 60 minutes
Sunday: 04:00 PM to 10:00 PM, every 60 minutes
♦ If you have booked a hotel, ask your hotel about airport transfer, a van usually picks up their guests at Mactan International Airport. See suggested Cebu hotels below.
BY MULTICAB/ JEEPNEY
Commuting by jeep to downtown Cebu from Mactan Airport is possible, however it will eat up your time. Here’s how to do it, in case you want to still try it. Once you get out of Mactan International Airport, you can walk towards the other building (Departure Hall) and ride the yellow multi-cab to Marina Mall (Save More). Tell the driver you are getting off at Marina Mall and to drop you there. Fare is about PHP 8 (USD 0.16), it will only take about 10 minutes.
At Marina Mall, cross the highway and once you are on the other side, hail a jeepney en route Park Mall. Fare is PHP 8 (USD 0.16). The trip may take about an hour due to traffic. At Park Mall you can ride a multi-cab to downtown Cebu. Just ask the dispatchers there for the right jeepney. If you want to go to Colon Street or North Bus Terminal, take the jeep with 01K signboard. You can refer to this helpful website for jeepney routes in Cebu.
From Mactan International Airport Hall in Cebu, cross to the other building (Departure Hall) and exit. Look for the yellow multi-cab outside. Tell the driver you are getting off at Marina Mall (Save More). Fare is PHP 8 (USD 0.16) and travel time is about 5-10 minutes only, a short ride.
Once you are at Marina Mall, cross to the other side of the road and hail a jeep to Mandaue Highway. If you hear the dispatchers shouting “Highway”, that is most likely the jeepney. Fare is PHP 8 (USD 0.16). Tell the driver you are getting off at corner A. S Fortuna and Mandaue Highway, landmark is Jollibee.
At Mandaue Highway, ride a jeepney en route to Ayala Mall and from there, you can look for the jeepney terminal that will take you to downtown Cebu. Ask the dispatchers or refer to the website mentioned above.
GETTING AROUND CEBU CITY
Traffic in Cebu can be annoying, reminiscent of Manila traffic. Avoid traveling on peak hours (7:00 AM to 9:00 AM) when locals go to school or work and when they go home in the afternoon (5:30 PM to 8:00 PM), especially on Friday. Also avoid going to South Cebu on holidays (Christmas, New Year and during Sinulog festival), when people tend to go to their hometown as the passenger line at South Bus Terminal can be really long.
Getting around Cebu City by public transportation like jeepney and multicab is possible, but quite complex for a first-timer tourist. If you plan on commuting, you can check this helpful site for jeepney routes. Take note though that even though it is cheap, it will eat up your time as you need to wait for the right number/route of multicab or jeepney. The jeepney and multicabs in Cebu are generally small, so if you have a large backpack with you or large luggage, just take a cab, it will save you time.
That is why I would recommend taking a taxi instead or use Grab. Usually costs me PHP 70 (USD 1.41) -PHP 120 (USD 2.42) to get to my destination around the city.
Most taxi drivers in Cebu use the meter (except the notorious cabs at Pier 1 who tend to take advantage of tourists by offering pakyaw rides). Take note that the city implements a strict rule where only maximum of 4 passengers plus the driver is allowed.
CEBU CITY BUS TERMINALS
There are two bus terminals in Cebu: North Bus Terminal (if you are going to northern Cebu destinations like Malapascua, Bantayan or Toledo and if you want to cross to Bacolod) and South Cebu Terminal (if you are going to southern Cebu like Oslob, Osmena Peak and Moalboal or if you want to cross to Dumaguete). I recommend taking Ceres Bus, the yellow bus instead of the small colorful bus so you can sit comfortably.
DIY CEBU CITY TOUR
In this travel blog, I will also discuss how to do a DIY tour of Cebu whether you are a solo traveler or traveling with a group. I’ve tried solo backpacking in Cebu before and it is manageable even if commuting in the city is quite complicated.
BY CAR RENTAL
- Comfortably discover the best spots and activities in Cebu with this full day car charter
- Choose from three different vehicles, depending on your needs: a modern, an Asian Utility Vehicle, and a van
- Travel with ease in a well-maintained vehicle driven by qualified and experienced chauffeurs
- Plan your own perfect day and visit the best and most popular areas on the island!
- Enjoy a convenient pick up and drop off service at your hotel
BY HIRED MOTORBIKE
From JY Square Mall to Busay
Recently, attractions in and near Busay, Cebu like Temple of Leah and Tops and Sirao Peak and Taoist Temple Cebu have dominated social media. For budget travelers, you can visit these places by habal-habal (motorbike), although for safety reasons, I’d recommend getting there by taxi or car instead.
So how to get to JY Square Mall from downtown Cebu City? You can ride a jeep with signboard “Route 04L”, tell the driver you are getting off at JY Square Mall. You can also take a jeep en route to JY Square Mall in front of University of San Carlos. Or just simply ride a cab or Grab Taxi to take you there.
In front of JY Square Mall, hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) for PHP 50 (USD 1) -PHP 75 (1.51) per person one way or PHP 100 (USD 2) – PHP 150 (USD 3) round trip to Temple of Leah from JY Mall. Some drivers might also negotiate to take you to the 4 attractions: Taoist Temple, Temple of Leah, Tops and Sirao Peak for PHP 700 (USD 14) -PHP 1,000 (USD 20.19), good for two. This is a good price already considering the attractions are far from each other and it’s an uphill ride. There is no fixed price so negotiate and agree on the price before embarking on the motorcycle tour. Some may charge a waiting time fee. Do respect the driver’s time, do not make them wait too long. If you wish to go to Magellan’s Cross and do the Old Cebu Walking Tour, going back, you can ask the driver to drop you off at Fort San Pedro to start your tour. See DYI Cebu Tour below.
IMPORTANT: Be warned that some motorcycle drivers at JY Square Mall are reportedly taking advantage of tourists, make sure you talk about the price before riding as some may charge extra for the wait time. Agree on the price before hiring the habal-habal, you both need to agree how long should be the wait time, there are several motorcycles there so you can always pick.
DIY CEBU WALKING TOUR
You can do a walking tour of the Old Cebu starting at Fort San Pedro and ending at Casa Gordon. Read my detailed guide here with map: DIY Cebu Walking Day Tour Guide.
For safety reasons, be careful and watch your belongings. Don’t flaunt your camera or phone while walking, this area is notorious for snatchers. I was able to the walking tour alone, I just made sure to keep my DSLR inside my bag when I’m not taking photos of the tourist attractions and while walking.
MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN CEBU CITY
♦ BUSAY AND AROUND ♦
TEMPLE OF LEAH
Temple of Leah Address: Roosevelt Street, Busay, Cebu City
Temple of Leah Entrance fee: PHP 50 (USD 1) per person
Temple of Leah Open Hours: 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM
TOPS LOOK OUT
Tops Lookout Entrance fee: PHP 100 (USD 2)
SIRAO PEAK / SIRAO FLOWER GARDEN / CELOSIA FLOWER FARM
Sirao Flower Farm Entrance Fee: PHP 30 (USD 0.61)
Take note that there are two gardens here, the original Sirao Peak Garden that is more picturesque and with their trademark windmill is on the further side. Once you see the first Sirao Peak Garden, continue driving until you reach the original garden.
Cebu Taoist Temple Address: Beverly Hills Subdivision of Cebu City
Cebu Taoist Temple Entrance Fee: Free
Cebu Taoist Temple Open Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
♦ DOWNTOWN CEBU (OLD CEBU) ♦
FORT SAN PEDRO
Fort San Pedro Entrance Fee: PHP 30 / USD 0.61 (adults), PHP 20 / USD 0.40 (students), PHP 24 /USD 0.48 (Senior Citizen)
Fort San Pedro Open Hours: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Entrance Fee: Free
Open Hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
STO.NIÑO CHURCH AND MUSEUM
CEBU METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL
CATHEDRAL MUSEUM OF CEBU
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Museum Entrance Fee: PHP 55/USD 1.11 (adults), PHP 25 / USD 0.50 (children), PHP 100/USD 2 (foreigners)
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Museum Open Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Closed on Mondays.
PLAZA HAMABAR (RAHAJ HUMABON MONUMENT)
HERITAGE OF CEBU MONUMENT
YAP-SAN DIEGO ANCESTRAL HOUSE
Yap-san Diego Ancestral House Entrance Fee: PHP 50
Yap-san Diego Ancestral House Open Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
CASA GORORDO MUSEUM
Casa Gorordo Museum Entrance Fee: PHP 50/ USD 1 (adults), PHP 70/ PHp 1.51 (foreigners), PHP 15/USD 0.30 (Students)
Casa Gorordo Museum Open Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU CITY
While most popular attractions can be found in downtown Cebu, tourists prefer to stay in the uptown area around Fuente Osmena. Here’s a list of Cebu hotels for you to choose from.
ABC Hotel Cebu
Corner F. Ramos & Lim Tian Teng Street, Barangay Sta.Cruz,Cebu City
J. Llorente St., Capitol Site, Cebu City
Cebu R Hotel – Capitol
101 Don Mariano Cui Street, Capitol Site, Cebu City
Hotel Elizabeth Cebu
Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Camputhaw, Cebu City
Quest Hotel & Conference Center – Cebu
Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City
Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu
Punta Engano Lapu-Lapu, Mactan Island, Cebu
Best Western Plus Lex Cebu
Escario St. cor. Juana Osmena Ext, Cebu City, Cebu
WHERE TO EAT IN CEBU
Don Mariano Cui St, Cebu City, Cebu
Open Hours: 2:00 PM to 3:00 AM
268-B Don Mariano Cui St, Cebu City
Open Hours: 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, 5:30 PM to 12:00 AM
1377 V. Rama Avenue
Guadalupe, Cebu City
Open Hours: 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Cabahug St, Cebu City, Cebu
Open Hours: 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM
V Rama Ave, Cebu City, Cebu
Open Hours: 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Cebu’s Lechon Belly (Boneless Lechon)
Parkmall 2nd Floor, Al Fresco 4, Mantawe Avenue, Mandaue City
Opne Hours: 24 hours
La Vie Parisienne
Ayala Center Cebu, Archbishop Reyes Ave. Cebu Business Park
Open Hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM
176 Archbishop Reyes Avenue
Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu Business Park
Open Hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM
WHERE TO BUY SOUVENIRS IN CEBU CITY
Address: T. Abella st. cor. B. Aranas st., Brgy. San Nicolas Proper, Cebu City
Open Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM , some stores are open until 7:00 PM
SAMPLE CEBU CITY ITINERARY
|06:15 AM||ETD Manila to Cebu|
|07:40 AM||ETA Cebu|
|08:00 AM||ETD Mactan Airport (Cebu) to Lapu-Lapu Monument by taxi|
|08:30 AM||ETA Lapu-Lapu Monument|
|09:30 AM||ETD Lapu- Lapu Monument to Fuente Osmena|
|10:30 AM||ETA Cebu City. Check-in to hotel|
|10:40 AM||Freshen up.|
|12:30 AM||Taxi to Fort San Pedro|
|12:50 PM||Start of Old Cebu Tour from Fort San Pedro. Also visit Plaza Independencia, Magellan’s Cross, Sto.Nino Church and Museum, Cebu City Cathedral, Cathedral Museum of Cebu, Plaza Hamabar, Heritage Monument, Parian/Colon Street, Yap-San Diego Ancestral House and Casa Gorordo Museum.|
|5:00 PM||ETD of Old Cebu Walking Tour|
|5:30 PM||Back to hotel. Freshen up and rest|
|07:00 PM||Dinner. Socials|
|06:30 AM||Taxi to JY Square Mall (or just hire the taxi for the tour)|
|07:00 AM||Hire a motorcycle (habal-habal) to Taoist Temple and Temple of Leah, Tops Lookout and Sirao Flower Farm|
|12:00 PM||Continue Busay Tour|
|03:00 PM||End of Tour|
|04:00 PM||Back to hotel. Freshen up.|
|05:00 PM||Shop for souvenirs.|
|07:00 PM||Dinner. Socials|
|08:00 AM||Check-out from hotel|
|08:30 AM||Taxi to Mactan Airport or Head to Next destination|
SAMPLE CEBU CITY TRIP BUDGET
|Mactan Airport to Lapu-Lapu Monument by taxi||PHP 143 /$2.89|
|Taxi from Lapu Lapu to Fuente Osmena||PHP 250 / $5.05|
|Taxi from Fuente Osmena Circle to Fort San Pedro||PHP 100/$2.02|
|Fort San Pedro Entrance Fee||PHP 30/$0.61|
|Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Museum Entrance Fee||PHP55/$1.01|
|Yap-San Diego Ancestral House Entrance Fee||PHP 50/$1.01|
|Casa Gorordo Museum Entrance Fee||PHP 50/$1.01|
|Temple of Leah Entrance Fee||PHP 50/$1.01|
|Tops Lookout Entrance Fee||PHP 100/$2.02|
|Sirao Flower Farm Entrance Fee||PHP 30/$0.61|
|Taxi from Fuente Osmena Circle to JY Square Mall||PHP 92/$1.61|
|Habal-habal to Taoist Temple, Temple of Leah and Sirao Garden||PHP 700- PHP 1,000/$14 -$20.19|
|Fuente Osmena to Mactan Airport||PHP 225/$4.54|
|TOTAL||PHP 2, 175/$44|
- Hotel, airfare and food not included in the sample budget. You can get an AC room at decent hotels for as low as PHP 1,000/USD 20 per night. See suggested hotels above.
ESTIMATED TAXI FARE IN CEBU CITY
Here’s a list of estimated fare when taking a taxi to certain attractions in Cebu City.
|Taxi from Mactan Airport to Cebu South Bus Terminal||PHP 227/USD 4.54|
|Taxi from Mactan Airport to North Bus Terminal||PHP 120/USD 2.40|
|Taxi from Mactan Airport to Lapu Lapu Monument||PHP 143/USD 2.86|
|Taxi from Mactan Airport to Fuente Osmena||PHP 230/ USD 4.60|
|Taxi from Fuente Osmena Circle to Taoist Temple||PHP 100 / USD 2|
|Taxi from Fuente Osmena Circle to Fort San Pedro||PHP 100/ USD 2|
|Fuente Osmena Circle to JY Square Mall||PHP 92 / USD 1.84|
|Fuente Osmena to Temple of Leah||PHP 183/ USD 3.66|
|Hired Taxi/Car||PHP 2,500 /USD 50|
|Habal-Habal to Taoist, Temple of Leah, Tops and Sirao Peak||PHP 700-1,000/|
USD 14 – 20
CEBU CITY TRAVEL TIPS
- Attend Sinulog Festival, one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines happening January each year.
- Be careful of your cellphones and belongings when riding jeepneys / multicabs or when touring around downtown Cebu.
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