Why you should visit Cebu ? Cebu is a very popular tourist spot in the Philippines, is a mix of city beauty and natural resources. We spent an amazing time in Cebu, exploring every bit of it that we can find. It’s very beautiful here, and there’s no wonder why people always come back for more. Today, we’ll show you around some of Cebu’s most amazing destinations. Let’s find out if you’ll get captivated the way we did.
Cebu is the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines. Located in the Visayas Province, people in Cebu speak Bisaya, English and Tagalog as official languages. We spent a week in South Cebu and another week visiting North Cebu to see the province’s touristic spots and hidden gems.
How to get to Cebu?
Cebu is very accessible for travel. There are flight connections from Manila and international flights, as both Cebu Pacific and Air Asia, the main flight companies in the Philippines, both have flights to Cebu. There are also ferries from various points of the Philippines. A 24-hour ferry if you are coming from Manila or a 2-hour fast ferry if you are coming from Bohol. There are a ton of things to see and do in Cebu city, with prices starting at VERY affordable rates. (And with that, we kind of mean for FREE.ha!)
Visit Cebu (North Part)
Swimming and Diving in Malapascua
If you go to Cebu City by plane or by ferry, you can head to the North and visit Malapascua. How to go to Malapascua? From Cebu City, you need to go to the North bus Terminal and get a bus to Maya. The journey lasts about 4-6 hours (depending on the traffic). Prices are around 140-200 pesos (cheaper when you choose a bus without air conditioning). If you travel on a budget like we usually do, a great tip is getting a night bus and you will avoid to pay for the accommodation. The boats from Maya to Malapascua start around 6 am -6:30 am. The boat ride to Malapascua is half an hour and it costs 100 pesos. Plus 20 extra pesos for a small boat from the port (the small boat will transfer you and the luggage to the big boat, because the bigger boats can’t usually go close to the port or can’t attach their anchors at some areas) to the big boat. Once in Malapascua, you need to walk with all your luggage a few steps to get to the seashore yourself. As we always say, travel light and it won’t be a problem!
Malapascua is a small island where travelers usually go for diving. We didn’t dive for this particular trip sadly. However that didn’t stop us from having a good time in Malapascua. We spent 3 nights and it was enough time to go around the island, relax in the beaches, meet local people and try local food. Sometimes, you just have to take time and look at how locals live in a touristic area. They don’t live extravagantly, unlike tourists who will spend only a short time in the island. So it’s actually an important element of the day to day life that is very interesting to see.
Our favorite beach in Malapascua was Langob beach. You will get surprised by how beautiful it is. A long beach with white sand and deep blue waters. Langob beach is in the northernmost part of the island. There is 20 minutes walking distance from the south (where all boats from the port are coming from) to the northern part. Next to the Lighthouse of Malapascua, is a local community, with a nice spot to view the sunset. Where you will find a perfect spot to see the sunset. We also took the time to watch the sunrise, and as expected, they are both spectacular views.
Prices are a little bit expensive in restaurants as it’s a touristic destination. But if you look for the local options, you will find Malapascua very, very cheap. It’s a small local island anyway. Near the port, there are bakeries, carenderias (local restaurants) and prices for meals that start from 40 pesos (less than a dollar). There are bars open at night if you feel like partying, like in La Terraze. We enjoyed Malapascua relaxing in the beach and walking around, a lazy, island time for us 🙂
There are more plans to do in Malapascua. There are many places where you can dive and you can see the Tresher, sharks in very clear water. There are even much more underwater wildlife that are just so good to see here. People can be surprised that life in Malapascua, is very, very simple. A lot of the tourists actually come here for the diving spots. You can also do snorkelling. You can visit Kalanggaman Island, an island about an hour from Malapascua, which is already an official part of Leyte, Philippines. It will take you an hour and a half to reach the island. You will find a paradise haven where you can spend the day, relaxing, enjoying sea food, walking in an area surrounded by the palm trees, eating fruits and seafood, and of course, you can snorkel to see underwater beauty of the area.
Visit Cebu City
Cebu City is of course the center of all things, so you just can’t go without visiting. You’ll have to pass the city for bus and jeepney hubs, when traveling from the North to the South, and vice versa. We finally stopped in Cebu City in the last part of our Davao-Cebu trip. And what do you know, there are actually a lot of adventure activities to do in Cebu City!
Extreme Ziplining – The ONLY urban Zip Line in the Philippines
If you are into adventure activities, this is definitely not one to miss. And between the two of us, Rachel is the one who LOVES ziplining. It kind of scare me a bit, so I had to say pass on this one. They created the only urban zip line in the Philippines in Cebu, one of the few parts of the Sky Experience Adventure by Crown Regency Hotels and Towers. Basically, at the highest point of the hotel (and Crown Regency is the tallest hotel structure in Cebu), you get to Zip Line across the city, to another building, which gives you a 360 degree view of the city! Rachel did it in the afternoon, but you can even try it in the evenings! A lot of people did. Rachel swears that the activity is really fun.
Another adventure you can do is the 5-foot wall climbing. This can be very easy for some, but as the last leg of our trip, we’re pretty much exhausted. So we just enjoyed and let our instructor guide us. It was fun a breathe of fresh air, as it’s an activity you don’t get to do everyday.
Another first for us! We had fun shooting a few bullets and competing with each other who gets closer to the bull’s eye! Any idea who won?? Guess who! haha They will provide you with all the equipment you will need – headphones, guns, bullets, and special eyeglasses. Definitely worth the try! We were surprised that it wasn’t too easy. The gun can look small, but you would actually have to hold it firmly, so we practiced before we actually fired our shots. You have instructors to always watch you and guide you to make sure that you are doing the proper techniques, holding and firing with the gun.
If you like movies, experience a 6D movie can be a good experience. We loved the effects in the cinema, with matching bubbles during some parts of the show. ha! This can be good if you are traveling with a kid, as some of the movies are kid friendly, and there are even movies in Japanese and Chinese language, to obviously accomodate local speakers of that language. All in all, a good experience.
Walking around Sky Towers
We changed into our adventure wardrobes (ha!) and we walked around the tower – More than 4o floors high. Scary walk but fun. A very different way to watch the city. It’s always nice to watch the hustle and bustle of the city from up top.
I’m gonna have to say this, but I was actually swearing at some point of this ride. haha! You get tilted to a 50 degree angle, and watch the city in a much more different angle. It was obviously so much fun for Rachel, and to the more adventurous at heart (and with that I mean the ones who are not afraid of heights).
Dining at Fifties Cafe
We usually go for local places in every place that we visit. But in Cebu, we really enjoyed our American dinners, with beers and a live band at Fabulous Fifties Café Bar & Restaurant. The views were great at night time with the lights around Cebu City.
Relaxing and Swimming
After so much adventure around Cebu, and a lot of time spent for work (we do have to work a lot), we always try to find time to relax and enjoy what we have around us. This is us enjoying our Pina Coladas cocktails while swimming. We do celebrate small moments like this. Compared to celebrating huge milestones. Moments like this, living in the moment, is how we enjoy our mixed life of travel and work everyday.
Getting a Massage
We also treated ourselves in a massage experience. We tried a Filipino massage and we really liked it. A good hour of massage plus a tasty lemon tea was a great way to end our day.
Enjoying a Magical Sunset
We love chasing sunsets and above you can see an amazing one. Felt like Visayas was trying to give us a good goodbye. Aaah. Can’t tell you how it’s just different when you spend a day full of activities, to just slow down at certain parts of the day. Sunset time is definitely a good time for that!
Where to sleep
We spent our stay in Cebu City with Crown Regency Hotel & Towers. We enjoyed the viewsof the city, the activities, the food, and the location – at the heart of it all. And the best part, we made new friends with the staff. We had amazing adventures and experiences.
Bacalla Campsite is a great option to escape from the city if you want to feel more relaxed and avoid the crowd. How to get there from Cebu City? It’s located in San Fernando. An hour bus ride from South Bus Terminal and it costs 40 pesos. We love hitchhiking and camping and lately we have been so busy that we couldn’t do it. We spent a couple of nights in Bacalla Campsite, unplugged, sleeping in hammocks, in the mountains with an amazing view. The place is so cool and perfect for relaxing, since there isn’t any phone signal and internet connection. And if you want to go back to San Fernando City, it is only 10 minutes ride from the campsite. It’s actually amazing to get disconnected for a couple of days. There are many activities to do around like rafting, skating, snorkelling, biking. All of these are actually not touristic spots, but hidden gems explored by the Bacalla Team and Go San Fernando team themselves. We spent a great time making new friends and we loved the sunrise there so much 🙂
What to eat
We were sleeping at Crown Regency Sky & Towers and we visited all their restaurants. Foodie much? haha! Wang Shan Lo Restaurant serves a daily Chinese buffet where we enjoyed as much Chinese food we want. Tasty dumplings, soups and desserts. Chinese cuisine rarely disappoints! In Glo Café & Lounge, we experimented great breakfast with a mix of Western and Filipino choices. We really loved fruit salad there! Sparkz Restobar, the hotel’s international buffet dinner allows you to enjoy Filipino, Western and Japanese food. We had a fabulous taste test daily haha! So much sushi, tempura and Filipino desserts here. The views are amazing at night, so you can dine with an amazing city view.
We even had the chance to be in Cebu during the world pizza day. ha! We had an amazing Italian foodie time with our friend Clarissa in Bluewater Maribago. After great food and conversation, we watched an amazing sunset while enjoying the place. And with this sunset we finished our trip around Mindanao and Cebu. One month trip traveling where we got amazing new experiences and gained new friends. A treasured memory definitely!
How to get to the airport from Cebu City? If you are heading to the airport from city center, you need to get a jeepney until Ayala Mall (10 pesos) and from there a van (35 pesos) to Mactan, stopping at Gaisano Mall for around 45 minutes journey. From Gaisano Mall, there is 10 minutes walking distance to Cebu International airport.
If you are coming from Cebu City, you have to head to South Bus Terminal where buses are leaving on the way to South Cebu. If you are coming from Bohol, there are fast ferries going to Cebu city for 2 hours (400 pesos). There is a slow ferry which cost 150 pesos and it takes 4 hours to reach Cebu city. Another option is getting to Argao by ferry from Tagbilaran in Bohol. But at the time, that option was closed because of the weather.
How to get to Kawasan Falls? If you are coming from Cebu City, get a bus from South Bus Terminal to Badian. The trip will last around 3 hours and it costs around 140 pesos. Once you get to Badian, the bus will stop on the road and you need to walk to Kawasan Falls around 15-20 minutes. It’s a very easy walk and you will not get lost since there are many people going there. Prices are 40 pesos for locals and 60 for tourists.
Kawasan is a very popular, if not the most popular tourist destination in the whole of Cebu. It’s falls is deep blue, which looks so surreal in photos. But even looks unbelievable in person. There are various falls in Kawasan, and you can enjoy rafting (for rafting activities, you will need to rent a raft for 300 pesos, and you get to enjoy bathing in the current of the most popular first falls of Kawasan. Just the view is very beautiful.
Sometimes we do feel biased that these touristic places charge so much higher prices than they would have charged in local areas. So we deeply suggest that when traveling for a long time, you always have to be mindful of the experiences you want to spend money on. We’ve been to many touristic places, and we understand that some places are not allowed to be accessed for free, due to tourism office regulations. But again, always be mindful, and in return travel responsibly. We enjoyed Kawasan immensely!
The second falls is more for a more relaxed enjoyment. The rafts are free, and the water is more deep green, compared to the blue waters in the first and third falls. A lot of people eat and swim in the second falls, which we did too.
The third falls is mostly for canyoneering activities. The activity last 4 hours and you can enjoy jumping and amazing views. We didn´t try personally because we were sleeping so far of Kawasan Falls and the activity is the first in the morning. We will try next time!
How to get to Aguinid Falls? From Cebu City, you have to get a bus in South Bus Terminal until Bato. The journey will take 4 hours and it will cost around 150 pesos. From Bato you have two options by bus (10 pesos and 5 minutes) or by tricycle, to get to Aguinid Waterfalls. The entrance fee is 40 pesos for locals and 60 for foreigners. You will get a guide for yourself (you have to tip the guide since they don’t get money from that job). Not really sure why is happening that! The guide is necessary, especially if you want to reach Level 7.
The waterfalls are amazing, the first one in Level 0 has nice colors and it’s very quiet. From Level 1 to Level 5, the waterfalls are nice but can be little bit crowded. We visited during a town fiesta, so there were some locals who are also staying to visit the area. The normal tour is to visit the falls until the 5th level, but your guide can actually help you to see 3 more levels. They are trickier to climb than the first 5 ones, the reason why they don’t really suggest going up until they see that you can do it. Our guide was confident enough with us, plus he said we would really enjoy going up 3 more levels, where there are not so many people. And we weren’t disappointed!
In the entrance, they will keep your belongings, and allow you just to bring one camera to take pictures inside. Since you’ll be climbing different levels, you are not really supposed to bring your heavy bags with you. Cameras need to be waterproof too. Or be places inside waterproof bags. If you do all the levels will take you a couple of hours, if not you can be done in an hour and a half. How was our experience? It was amazing adventure and great pictures. We had so much fun!
How to get to Osmeña Peak? From Cebu City, go to the South Terminal and get the bus on the way to Oslob. You have to stop in Dalaguete junction to go to Osmeña Peak (the trip costs around 100 pesos and it takes two hours). From the junction, you have two options: going by Habal Habal (this is a motorbike) is 100 pesos per person until Osmeña Peak entrance. Or you can get a bus to Mantalongon (we didn’t take this route, but we saw there are buses going to Dalaguete and viceversa), and from there you can get a motorbike or just walk by yourself around 45 minutes.
The entrance for Osmeña Peak is 30 pesos per person. The way will take you 20-30 minutes to reach the top and get amazing views. The weather is usually very cloudy. If you go with enough time, you can wait to take a great picture or if you are lucky a good sunset. If you want to enjoy a sunrise, you can camp and wait for the next day. Camping is allowed and we saw a few people do that. If it´s raining during your day of visit (which happened to us), the way is very slippery. For rainy weather, you can rent or bring your own boots, which should help you climb the area faster.
Osmeña Peak is similar to The Chocolate Hills in Bohol. The difference is that you can walk around Osmeña Peak, unlike in Bohol, where you need to view the Chocolate Hills from a viewing deck. We liked the experience here because you really get to see the beauty of the place. Be careful. We didn’t rent boots, and didn’t expect that it will rain, so it was TOO slippery going down the hill. Make sure to prepare the necessary precautions.
How to get to the whale watching in Oslob? If you are coming from Cebu City, you have to go to South Bus Terminal and get a bus to Oslob. The journey lasts 3 hours and it costs around 140 pesos ( depends on the bus, with air con or without). First thing in the morning is the perfect time for the whale watching. Oslob is a touristic area full of accommodations, and whale watching in Oslob is one of the great plans to do when visit Cebu.
There are different beaches around the coast from Alcoy to Oslob and from Bato to Moalboal. It’s always nice to visit the beach for a swim, sunrise, sunset or sunbathing.
Visit a school in the mountains
We were sleeping in Alcoy and our couchsurfing host offered us the opportunity to visit a charity school in the mountains. It was a feeding day which happens once per month, with donations picked up by a German people living around the city. Nowadays, they sustain themselves with solar panels and little by little they are improving all the conditions. It takes more than an hour to go from the mountains to the city. And it’s nice the school that they are building. We had the chance of meeting children, see their classes and spend time with them. Glad to see that even with difficulties in the mountains those children can have a proper education in the school. If you want more information about the school, click here.
One of the most popular thing in The Philippines is a cockfight. There are cock fights in fiestas (hometown holidays). People go crazy gambling and shouting. We just took the picture and we didn’t see the fight. We’re not really supporters of these kinds of leisure and gambling. But you had to see it, since a big part of the people in the fiesta (mostly men) were huddled and shouting, while watching the cock fight.
Where to sleep: Alcoy and Oslob
For our stay in Alcoy, we did Couchsurfing which is something that we love, meeting local people. Our host, a German woman living in Alcoy, adviced us for the best places to visit like waterfalls, mountain and visiting the school in the mountains. Some of these experiences are difficult to get in hotels, that´s why we like using Couchsurfing during our travels. The place was very quiet, next to the beach!
What to eat
A new specialty for us, Humba. It’s pork belly cooked with onion, garlic, black beans and pineapple. It’s served with rice in the carenderias and the price starts from 40 pesos ($ 0.80 ). It´s tasty and one of the most popular dishes in Visayas.
A simple dish like Torta made from eggplant, cooked with fried egg is so delicious! It´s very typical in Visayas region, or overall in the Philippines, as local food. We found it more in Visayas though, than in Luzon. Prices start from 20 pesos ($ 0.40) in local carenderias.
We hope we didn’t miss anything about Cebu. Actually, slashed that. We do have a lot more to see, and we definitely need to be back!
If you are planning to visit more destinations in The Philippines while stretching a small budget, read our backpacking guide. If you want to read more guides, what to see and where to go when traveling in the Philippines, check here to make sure you know everything before visiting Bohol. Or click here, to know more about Boracay Island.
Happy Travels everyone! Who’s ready to visit the pearl of the Orient?