Last updated on November 30th, 2018 at 02:07 am
Why you should visit Cebu? There are many popular Cebu tourist spots in the Philippines because this Visayan island is a mix of cosmopolitan beauty and rich natural resources. We had an amazing time in Cebu, exploring every bit of it that we can find. It’s very beautiful here, no doubt about it, and there’s no wonder why people always come back for more. In this blog post, 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. It’s safe to say that the island has long been a rich, colorful and well-loved location. Magellan and his crew fell in love with Cebu and never let go of its beauty and uniqueness. Located in Central Visayas, people in Cebu speak many dialects, with Bisaya, English and Tagalog as its official languages. It’s one of the country’s most progressive cities with commerce and culture blending perfectly in its capital, Cebu City. However, outside the capital is where the real magic of Cebu lies. We spent a week in South Cebu and another week visiting North Cebu to see most Cebu tourist 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. You can take 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 do in Cebu city, with prices starting at VERY affordable rates. So, guys, there’s really no excuse for missing any of these amazing Cebu tourist spots we’ve listed below!
There are buses going to Cebu City from North of the island like Maya. It takes around 5 hours to go either to and from those destinations. There are also buses going to Oslob, Bato and Moalboal which are on the Southern part of the island.
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Weather: Best time to Visit Cebu
A tropical island like Cebu is perfect for summer getaways with friends, romantic honeymoons and solo travels. The island and its many destinations are best explored under the sun, so it’s important to know when the best time to visit Cebu is. Fortunately, Cebu and the entire Philippines only has 2 seasons: sunny and rainy.
Those who enjoy the summer heat can visit Cebu from May to October to experience the island’s warmest months. Those who don’t mind a little bit of rain can go to Cebu around June and until December. Notice that these months coincide with each other. It’s because even during the wet season, you should only expect occasional and scattered rains. Unless there’s a thunderstorm heading for the island, it’s safe to plan a trip to Cebu the whole year round. Click here accurate updates on Cebu’s weather!
Daily Budget in Cebu
Since pretty much everything is affordable and negotiable in Cebu, we won’t go on into detail about how each item on your budget list costs. Instead, we can say with confidence that each day, 20 USD will take you far in Cebu. There are plenty of local eateries that offer inexpensive food. Even entrance fees and some tours don’t cost that much in Cebu. Also, the transportation here is more affordable and reliable than other provinces in the country. With this budget, you can enjoy all the many things to do in Cebu!
Since the island is a very metropolitan location, you can also find all sorts of accommodations all over the island. From cheaper hostels, airbnb and B&B’s that cost 500 to 1000 PHP to budget hotels that go for 1000 to 3000 PHP (only 19 to 57 USD) to luxury accommodations costing 5000 PHP, you’ll find a place that fits your budget, for sure!
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Transportation around Cebu
Like Manila, Cebu is a modern area and with this modernity comes the convenience of transportation. Though there are no trains in Cebu, they have pretty much all the vehicles you will need for your travel–and even more!
The main way to travel long distances and to reach Cebu tourist spots beaches is riding the bus. You can take buses, minibuses and even vans at the South Bus Terminal and the North Bus Terminal, depending on which places you’d like to explore. Those going to Bantayan Island can take the bus from the NBT and travel to Hagnaya port for 3 hours. This ride costs 160 PHP. Those who are visiting Malapascua can ride a bus in the same terminal and take the one that’s headed to the Maya wharf. On the other hand, travelers to the southern towns of Oslob and Moalboal can take the bus on the South Bus Terminal. Buses to Moalboal cost around 130 PHP while those going to Oslob can pay as much as 165 PHP per person.
Upon reaching the ports, tourists take a ferry to their island destinations. For example, a ferry ride to Bantayan from Hagnaya port costs 160 to 170 PHP while going to Malapascua from Maya on a public boat costs 100 PHP only.
Once in your chosen vacation spot, you can expect to ride tricycles to and from most places in town. However, those who are feeling more adventurous can always take the jeepney. For an even crazier ride, you can go on a habal-habal, the Philippines’ version of a motorcycle taxi. Many of these rides cost less than a dollar and are great ways to get to know the local culture.
Cebu Tourist Spots (North Part)
1. 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 one of the Cebu Tourist spots that you cant miss. 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 totally affordable. 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.
There are no ATMs in Malapascua, make sure you bring cash, and check the exchange rate!
2. Visit Kalanggamand Island
You can visit Kalanggaman Island, an island about 2 hours 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. The day trip from Malapascua costs 800 pesos lunch included and you have to pay extra 550 pesos fee to visit the island if you are foreigner, 150 pesos for Filipinos and children with 5 years old get for free!
3. Bantayan Island
How to get to Bantayan? If you are coming from Cebu, it will take you 5-6 hours to reach Hagnaya. First you have to take a bus 140-160 pesos or a van where you can get a spot for 200 pesos. And you will save an hour in the road with the van. Once you are in Hagnaya, the ferry costs 200 pesos each and half of the price for children, the trip will last for an hour.
From Bantayan to Malapascua Island you can rent a private boat for 1200-1500 pesos and the trip will last less than 2 hours, if you share with more people you will save money. If you want to go by local transportation avoiding the boat. It will take you 6-7 hours getting to Malapascua. The price per person by public transportation coulbe around 400-500 pesos. You have to take ferry to Hagnaya 200 pesos, trycicle and bus or van to Maya around 150 pesos total per person where you will get another ferry to Malapascua 100 pesos, total will be 450-500 pesos. In my opinion it will be worth it a private boat quality-price if you are 2 people in the boat, you will pay 200 pesos more each but you will save 4-5 hours.
Read here our full blog post: Things to do in Bantayan Island.
Once in Bantayan, you can do Island Hopping and you can also relax in the beach. You can rent a motorbike and also you also can enjoy the nightlife in the town, dinner and go for a beer.
4. 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).
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.
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!
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 in Cebu
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. As they say in Bacalla Campsite disconnect to connect! 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 🙂
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.
Cebu Tourist Spots Itinerary (South Cebu)
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.
5. Kawasan Falls
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 Falls Cebu Tourist spots favorite of locals and foreigners, everyone visit here!
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!
6. Aguinid Waterfalls
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 in Aguinid Falls? It was amazing adventure and great pictures. We had so much fun!
7. Osmeña Peak
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 fee 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.
8. Whale Watching in Oslob
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.
Our experience was great and impressive in the whale watching in Oslob. The tour lasts 30 minutes and it costs 1000 pesos for foreigners, 500 pesos for locals and it includes snorkeling masks. The three of us were surprised how big are the whales. Apart from this, it´s very touristic the activity in my opinion!
Cebu Tourist Spots Beaches
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. 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!
There are many Cebu tourist spots beaches to see in Moalboal. Our favorite ones were Pescador Island where you can snorkeling, see dolphins and sardines. Also Lambug Beach where the water is so blue and you can find star fishes everywhere in this lonely beach.
11. 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.
12. Cock Fight in a small town
One of the most popular things 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. It´s crazy the whole town go for it!
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What to eat in South Cebu
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!
Festivals in Cebu
Lawihan Festival in Malapascua
Those who want to show gratitude and praise to marine life will enjoy Lawihan Festival, Malapscua’s annual event that honors the sea and all its glory. The festival only started in 2009 but has become one of the best ones in the island. Celebrated every May, those vacationing in Malapascua during the summer will surely enjoy the parades and spectacles during the festival. Joining this party is definitely one of the best things to do in Cebu.
Kagasangan Festival in Moalboal
If you’re in Moalboal during the 15th and 16th of May, count yourself lucky as you get to experience the municipality’s festival. Aside from its natural beauty, Moalboal also takes pride in its heritage and culture. Therefore, its people decided to hold an annual festival that celebrates all of the things that make Moalboal the magical paradise it is now. Like the Lawihan Festival, Kagasangan only started in 2009 but has already attracted tourists from all over the country and the globe.
One of the most important festivals in the entire country is celebrated in one of the major Cebu tourist spots, Cebu City. Sinulog is a traditional fiesta filled with parades, processions, pageants and parties! Those who have attended this festival have been given a unique glimpse into what Cebu culture is all about. Sinulog honors Santo Niño with exclamations of “Viva Pit Señor!” ringing all around Cebu City during this wonderful celebration.
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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 places to visit in the Philippines, check here to make sure you know everything before visiting Bohol. Or click here, to know more about Boracay Island. And of course another of our favorite spots in the Philippines Siquijor.
Happy Travels everyone! Who’s ready to visit the pearl of the Orient?