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Posted by on May 4th, 2009
Filed Under: Cebu, Featured

Cebu Map

Cebu is a very beautiful city with countless beaches and nature parks. It offers everything you need- from a relaxing retreat in a tropical island, to all the conveniences that a first class metropolis can give. In contrast to the bustling metropolis, the rest of Cebu ‘s 167 islets and islands are lined with idyllic white sandy beaches and pristine clear waters.

The Queen City of the South is the capital of the Visayas (also the political, economic, educational and cultural center of the Visayas) and is the second biggest city in the country. Located in between two straits, and several surrounding islands, Cebu is about 225 kilometers long, a narrow island that is home to 2.4 million people.

Cebu is the jump-off point to satellite destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao Islands – Leyte, Samar, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Cagayan De Oro, Camiguin & Surigao Del Norte.

Philippines Spectacular Metro Cebu

Spectacular Metro Cebu: This is an aerial view of Metro Cebu, showing Cebu City (top left), Mandaue City(right), Mactan Channel(the body of water), and LapuLapu City(part of Mactan Island, bottom left). The bridge farther in the image is the first Mactan-Mandaue bridge, the second one is the Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
This is one of the finest aerial shots I have for Metro Cebu. The timing was perfect for the plane to take this approach, the weather was right, the sun was like a flood light that is constantly illuminating the subject from this angle. This angle and this view was observable for just a few seconds. Luckily, I was able to take the shot within that time frame.
Photo by storm-crypt

Philippines The Heart of Cebu City

The Heart of Cebu City: The western half of Osmena Boulevard, from the Fuente Osmena circle to Cebu’s provincial capitol.
Photo by storm-crypt

Why Not Go

Everybody loves to go to Cebu so there is really no reason why anyone would not want to go there, if given the chance. Although if you want to go to a very quiet, provincial place, you can always go to its neighboring towns such as Bantayan, Badian and Argao.

Why Go

Philippines Hilutungan Island

Can’t Outdo Cebu: With an island like this, it is difficult to miss summertime in Cebu. A resort on the east side, and in the foreground(west side), is a fish sanctuary, teeming with corals, and a huge variety of species of fish, that you can view closely to the point that you can touch them. And you can do all that with just snorkeling.
Shot taken off the southeastern coast of Mactan Island, just a few minutes of side trip on the way to the airport. This island is called Hilutungan Island — a few kilometers off the southeast coast of Mactan Island.
Photo by storm-crypt

Simply because Cebu has it all. If you are looking for a place to spend your honeymoon, there are several 5 star resorts nearby. If you are planning a family vacation, you can enjoy parasailing and scuba diving in the island hotels, and you can also go mountain climbing or camping in one of its nature parks. When it is thrill and excitement you long for, it has a one-of-a-kind amusement park that you cannot find anywhere else- the Sky Experience Adventure at Crown Regency. Now, if it is shopping and dining you want, Cebu has it too; a lot of them in fact. Anything which your adventurous and wandering heart desires, you can find it in Cebu.

Philippines Central Cebu Mountains

Central Cebu Mountains: Going strait to north from the municipality of Sibonga will get you to this point.Taken somewhere in central Cebu’s mountain range, shortly before heading east to the city of Cebu.
Photo by storm-crypt

Best Time to Visit

Summer in Cebu is usually very hot while in November-January, the wind is often cold. If you want to frolic in the beach, you should go there during summer which is from March to May. But, if you want to see what Cebu has in store for all its visitors, go there in January, specifically on the 3rd week as this is the time they celebrate one of the country’s biggest festivities, the Sinulog. But you need to book early as hotels are bound to be booked even a week or two before the festival. The rainy season begins in July bringing torrential downpours that would sometimes inhibit movement, typhoon activity is minor compared with other parts of the Philippines.

Philippines Cebu sinulog

Sinulog: Sinulog, on the third weekend in January, honors the baby Jesus (Santo Nino) with a solemn religious parade on Friday evening, and an all-day festival on Saturday. Sort of like Carnival with thousands of participants. Spectacular! These girls are your average Filipino teenagers, but are dressed up in the style of “cultural minorities” who still live in the more remote locals of the country.
Photo by friskodude

The Cebuano’s flair for showmanship and love for celebrations is manifested in the Sinulog, a colorful festival of pageant proportion observed every third Sunday of January. Sinulog is a dance ritual in honor of the miraculous image of the Santo Niño. The dance moves two steps forward and one step backward to the sound of the drums. This resembles the current (Sulog) of what was then known as Cebu’s Pahina River. Thus, in Cebuano, they say it’s Sinulog.

Philippines Cebu SINULOG '07

Photo by 2rokbotoy

Where to Stay

Philippines Hotels and Resorts

Save up to 75% on hotels in Philippines

Since Cebu has always been a popular tourist destination, it is equipped with hotels and resorts for every budget. If you want to splurge a bit to experience luxury at its best, you can stay at the following hotels and resorts:
Marco Polo Plaza- located at Nivel Hills, this is a great hotel with such awesome customer service. The food buffet at Café Marco is like no other, plus you get a fantastic view of the city. Rates start at around $105.

Waterfront Hotel and Casino- there are two Waterfront Hotels, one is beside the airport and the other is within the uptown area but I would recommend the hotel in the uptown area because it is so much nicer, with better amenities. Plus it is near everything else. Rate starts at $95.

Plantation Bay- this is located in Lapu-Lapu, it is an island city just about 30 minutes away from Cebu. This is a truly lovely resort where you can really experience luxury and relaxation. Rates start at $150++.

Shangrila Mactan Resort and Spa- this is probably the most popular resort in Cebu and with good reason too. It has a beautiful beach front, swimming pools, a huge garden, a play area for kids plus a wonderful spa. Rates start at $165++.

If you are on a budget, you may prefer to stay at cheaper hotels. Don’t worry, Cebu has a lot of them and they are quite clean and nice too.

Golden Peak Hotel- located in uptown Cebu; this is a newly built hotel. Rates start at $30.

Maxwell Hotel- another newly built hotel, with a spa and coffee shop with free DSL internet. Rates start at

Golden Prince Hotel- this hotel is very near food and shopping establishments, particularly one of Cebu’s biggest malls which is Ayala. Rates start at $49.

Philippines Heritage of Cebu

Heritage of Cebu: The Heritage of Cebu monument in Parian showcases the significant events of Cebu. You can also see sculptures of Lapu-lapu, Rajah Humabon, Ferdinand Magellan, martyr Pedro Calunsod and other prominent historical figures that have moved and shaped Cebu in more ways than one.
This monument is the work of national artist Edgardo Castrillo. It was constructed on July 1997 was inaugurated on Dec. 8, 2000.
Photo by Brennan Mercado

Where & What to Eat

• Abuhan- Have you ever heard of Pochero? It is a great tasting soup with pork or beef bone marrow, corn and cabbages. Abuhan is famous for it. You can try this in one of their 3 brances. I would recommend the branch they have at Asiatown IT Park.

• Golden Cowrie-This is probably the most frequented Filipino restaurant, particularly by tourists. Their food is simply amazing. You can try their sautéed mushroom and chicken pandan. They have 3 branches: in Lahug, SM, and Hukad in Ayala.

• Spice Fusion- this restaurant offers Asian Cuisines that are quite delicious. A favorite, roti in curry sauce is highly recommended. Spice Fusion has two branches, one at the Banilad Town Center and the other one at North Wing, in SM.

• Sutukil- visitors should never leave Cebu without going to the famous SUTUKIL. It is an area with several restaurants offering the freshest seafood. You can actually choose from live fish, crabs, and shrimps, and then you can have it cooked SUTUKIL style, which comprises three different food: grilled, raw (with vinegar, tomatoes, ginger and chili), and soup. This is located beside the Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu.

• Café Laguna-a place where you can taste authentic Filipino dishes. Try their bistek tagalog, it is simply heaven to the palate. You can find Café Laguna in the mall and garden area of Ayala Mall.

• Larsians- sample Cebu’s street food at its finest. Grilled chicken, pork and fish plus you can try their ‘puso’ or what others call ‘hanging rice.’ It is rice wrapped and cooked in palm leaves.

• Harbour City Dimsum- great Chinese food- try their siomai and steam rice. Harbour City has branches in two malls, Ayala and SM.


Cebu has lots of places to go to enjoy your night – from downtown to uptown, Metropolitan Cebu comes even more alive as dusk sets in, with queues leading to music bars, discos and the casinos.

If you want to go dancing, you can go to Sunflower at Lahug, or at Pump in Archbishop Reyes Street. If you want to go Karaoke, you can go to POD5 at the Banilad Town Center, or at K1 KTV at the Crossroads. If you just want to hang out in a restobar, you can go to Sinners and Saints in Banilad or a sportsbar called Badgers. You can also go to T.G.I.F. in Ayala where the food, beer and service are really good. Now if you just want to have some nice and quiet evening, you can go to Tops, it sure is nice there during the night; you get to see all the lights around Cebu.

My to do List

• Island Hopping- You can rent a pumpboat for about $60 and this will take you to 3 beautiful islands around Cebu. It is a whole day activity so you may want to bring in some lunch and snacks.

• Mountain View- You can go there day or night- it does not matter as they are open 24/7. It is full of tall trees and flowers, plus hangout areas and playgrounds for kids. You also get a great view of the city at the top. Entrance fee: $1.25 per person

• Nature Tripping- You can go to one of its many waterfalls, especially the one in Badian which is the Kawasan Falls, it is about 2 ½ hours away from the city.

• Bantayan Island- This is about a 3 hour drive to the southernmost port, and then you will take a RoRo to the island which is about an hour’s travel. Bantayan is great for those who want some quiet time in sugary white sand beaches.

Philippines Cebu Diving

Turtle with two live sharksuckers
Photo by alfonsator

• Moalboal- You should go there if you want to dive. It is about 2 ½ hours away from the city. They have several diving packages at different rates. The islands of Mactan and Camotes are not to missed by diver addicts too.

• Sky Experience- located at the heart of the city, this is where the city’s tallest building is. Experience the thrill of walking hundreds of feet above ground!

• Basilica del Sto. Nino- this very old church is located at the heart of downtown Cebu. There you can see the many faces and images of the Little Jesus. It has been said that miracles happen if you ask the Sto. Nino to pray for you.

Philippines Cebu Cathedral

Cebu Cathedral
Photo by neiltoot

• Shopping- there are two kinds of shopping you can do-high end and low end. You can find some really good buys in downtown Cebu, specifically at Colon Street where tops can go as low as $2. You can also go to two big malls where you can find clothes, shoes and accessories: Ayala Mall and SM.

Stay Away From

Cebu is also home to a lot of pickpockets and robbers. Stay away from the downtown area late at night. Even during the day, you should keep your valuables in places where it is difficult for robbers to get access to it.

Getting There

The fastest way to get to Cebu from Manila is by plane via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines, flight time is 1 hr 10 mins. Or you can take a ferry, travel time approximately 20 hours.
• WG & A SUPERFERRY (Telephone (632) 245-3142 to 60/ 245-4061 to 80)
• NEGROS NAVIGATION (Telephone (632) 243-5359/245-0601 to 02)
• SULPICIO LINES (Telephone (632) 245-0616 to 30/245-9701 to 07)

You can get to Cebu via boat from Butuan, Cagayan, Davao, Camiguin, Iloilo and even Manila.

Aside from that, you can also get to Cebu by bus, particularly the Ceres Liners which will take you to the City from the Northern and Southern towns in the Cebu Province as well as from Negros Island.

Cebu has an International Airport (Mactan Cebu International Airport), so it has direct flights from a lot of cities outside the country. Cebu has regular direct international flights to / from the following destinations.
• Singapore
• Hongkong
• Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
• Narita (Japan)
• Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia)
• Taipei (Taiwan)
• Qatar
• Incheon (S. Korea) –
• Shanghai (China)

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Roz Visarra has always been fond of travelling. As a young girl, she would travel with her parents in the Visayas and Mindanao because their relatives are from all these areas. She currently resides in Cebu, the Queen City of the South and looks forward to her next travel. Learn more about me [+]

Tourism Philippines thrives on the knowledge of the community. Got a tip, photo or even a guide on a place you been to in Philippines? We will love to hear from you!

31 Responses to “Cebu”

  1. Ryan says:

    I dint know that Cebu still had a forest cover. when I flew in there last 2005, most of the island is bald and you can see it up from the plane. I liked the Basilica though, and the view from the Taoist temple, although i find the city too industrial.

    • Grace says:

      Never my kind of place – living in Manila is already enough! Cebu is just a launching pad imho.

      • Ryan says:

        Me too… the city is like a transit point to Malapascua, Bantayan, and the other outlying islands…

  2. Ryan says:

    Oh and is there any more information of going to Malapascua? I am planning to go there anytime this year or around middle of next year.

    • pktan says:

      I got a diver friend who just went there. lol, i heard that’s there’s nothing to do there at all, just diving … even the resorts are kind of shabby. Didn’t the government tore down some resorts that’s too near to the shoreline recently?

      • Ryan says:

        Oh yeah, I heard about that too… Can Roz possibly include some more info on this? I usually skip Cebu City in general and head out to the outlying islands (Bohol for instance). Malapascua’s allure I think that garnered world attention (saw a documentary on Discovery Channel on this) was the presence of extremely rare thresher sharks that feeds on its waters. I also would like to know something about Sumilon Island, which I heard was the best island to go to in Cebu (better than Moalboal and Bantayan) in terms of beachscapes.

  3. Malapascua Island is at the northern tip of Cebu. Beautiful place, great scuba diving, peaceful in the evenings. It’s about a 4 hour trip from Cebu City by bus and boat.

  4. coldfireLuis says:

    is a great city…
    currently, i’ve been here for almost 5 years, for my studies…

    the tourism is doing well..,
    but i always prefered to go in bohol for relaxation and for me to pamper my self…

    i really love Bohol…
    has a different destination and you can really say its different among others…

  5. michael says:

    HI RYAN ….

    THE budget hotels u mentioned….

    Golden Peak Hotel
    Maxwell Hotel
    Golden Prince Hotel

    Are they all located in the vicinity of pubs…rest…nightlife .tourist zones ??
    i will hit Cebu on Xmas eve !!


  6. mae glyn says:

    cebu is so beautiful……………..its enchanting places especially in malabuyoc

  7. rico says:

    based on my experience & word of mouth, “most Cebuano’s are disgusted by Tagalog speakers and discriminates those who came from Manila.” I beg anyone to disapprove this if they can but this should be added as a main reason why not go to Cebu. Knowing the dialect first is priceless or having a companion who could speak the local tongue is convenient.

    • jc says:

      really?? a lot of call center agents here in cebu are from manila.. cebuanos do not discriminate Manilanons, maybe the other way around..

    • Ryan says:

      Pakiusap lang po, wag tayong mag-away away dito, nakakahiya sa mga nakakabasa. Pinopromote po namin ang lahat ng lugar sa Pilipinas at maraming nakakabasang dayuhan sa blog na ito, so pakiusap wag po nating ipahiya ang sarili nating bansa. This is the first and final warning. Thank you.

    • Marciano says:

      “Word of mouth?” that’s not enough unless if you really stayed there. Cebu is called the “Queen of the South” due to its hospitality and diversity. I am a 100% Cebuano and one example of our hospitality is, if we have only one bed at home and you visit us we will surrender that bed to you and we will sleep in the floor. This is just one of thousand and thousands of the kindness that we can offer. But if you also abuse it then you will have a big problem. We don’t discriminate Tagalogs this is a big lie. In fact, they are highly regarded for a simple Cebuano mind set that they came from the big city of the country. You are very, very wrong! Tagalogs when they knew or I introduce myself that I came from Cebu their normal response is, ah you are from the “Promdi” but we just tolerate it for a reason that we had in the back of our mind and that is, ignorance.

  8. khris says:

    im a cebuano. working here in makati…

    CEBU has little bit of everything.

    Cebu City is like little makati. would rate makati 10 in terms of urbanity with the skyscrapers, malls, night clubs, bars, etc. cebu would be around 6-7. its skyscrapers arent that many yet. but the malls, night clubs, bars, etc. i think are at par. of course metrocebu is smaller compared to metro manila.

    but the best thing that i can say about cebu is that. the beach resorts are just 30 mins away from the city. the mountain resorts… around 30 to 45 mins. i think every nice place is just 30 mins to 1 hour ride.

    if you want nature. then you go to moalboal, malapascua, bantayan island, badian, etc. most of them are around 2-3 hours from the city.

  9. fafa says:

    i vebeen here in cebu for a week but honestly i didnot like it at all,it is a very dirty place the food isnot good at all but i have not to the beach yet

    • Ryan says:

      Where exactly in Cebu did you go to?

    • khris says:

      not all part of the place is nice of course. i think every city even the big ones has its dark side.

      • JOHNFOX says:

        the center of Cebu City.
        1) one who is critical of this city have never been at manila i’m sure
        2) I am a true french, I invite you to take a ride in Algeria, or
        in Italy at Milan and many other countries around the world, you always find
        something to say.
        3) If you want luxury, stay locked in your hotel it’s the best for you .
        I can advise you if you are afraid of children 6 years wishing you the pockets ….
        NO COMMENT.
        have you heard this would be the only country to have thieves, you make me laugh. PARIS or a
        Marseille city of south of France is account regulations with a kalaschnikoff a shot every day
        So do not speaking me not about security.
        As against it sure on the tranquility you want, come to Tokyo. I live for over 7 years
        it’s on. the only flight that occur it’s just a the thief of umbrellas or bicycle.
        you see?? there is many cameras here
        To summarize, there are thieves everywhere, probably more in countries where they lack any money But do not be fooled. Cebu city is changing, and I’m very happy bcos
        i go to leave Japan ,in 7 months for come live on the island of Mactan because my wife is phillipines.
        Sorry for my french -english translation, i hope you understand me ??
        cordialy !

  10. M says:

    I am from Cebu.
    Cebu has its claims to being a great city as well as the negative aspects of being a city.
    Cebu is a great place in general. Stay away from the main city if your nerves are already frayed. The beaches are wonderful. Head to the north or south of the city if you prefer quiet sanctuaries.
    Cebuanos in general are fun loving easy going people.
    As I said with commercialization so goes most of the peace and quiet. But still, you can have anything fun to do as long as you know which one in Cebu. It is a tourist, induztrialized but still can be a significant beautiful place to be in.

  11. Satsuki says:

    wow i went here to cebu its a beautiful place but lots of mosquitos O.O
    I like cebu i stayed there for 3 days and 4 nights i think that its one of the most historical places on philippines. Cebu was originally known as Sugbo and now i have to make a project and there were different places to pick but i still got Cebu so i was looking for more information that i still dont know… this website really helped me :D i like the informations i also heard of that you shouldnt go to the downtown area cause there are a lot of robbers ESPECIALLY at night :|

    im not trying to scare you but there was this prank call in our hotel room BUT! it wasnt really a prank its more like a threat to us he wanted money right now Cebu is trying to catch that person i went to that historical place where the japan war was i could see canons and other cool stuff XD

    but i think going there is a good thing cause its also where PARADISE is…
    its an awesome place but its also a scary place its the best and the worst place to stay but if i were you ill go to cebu :D

  12. bruce says:

    I took a long time needed trip back to the phils – ouch it was 7 years – I have always loved everthing about the phils – amazing people and just a really amazing country – I spent most time in eastwood in quezon – love it – I also spent some time in cebu – there is alot of history and I did the normal tourist side – all good – I will say though it is difficult to have small children running around you trying to put their hands in your pocket – I felt very odd about having 7 kids no more than 6 trying to steal from me – every country is different and you must adjust to the ways- never take the well travelled path since you dont see everything – cebu at nite is beautiful and the mall is nice – I will just say for me – give me eastwood and timog, makati and a few other places in manila and I will be happy – again though the people are just so amazing and miss the philippines very much

  13. I visited Cebu City September 2010. I stayed on Cebu island for 20 days. During that spell I also visited a few other places, like Kawasan Falls, Argao and of course Lapu-Lapu. It was my very first visit ever to the Philippines not knowing what to expect. Pls allow me to share some of my experiences.

    – I could not get used to the blowing of the horns of the cars.
    – no taxi was able to put my suit case in the back of the trunk. It was put in the seat next to the driver.
    – On more than one occassion I was a passenger on a Ceres bus going from Cebu Provincial South Bus Terminal to the southern part of Cebu. On most occassions the bus was full with people even sitting in the aisle.
    – the weather was perfect despite a few heavy terrential rains during night time.
    – The cost of living was also very nice for me. This included cost of hotel, food, beverages and most other expenses.
    – I had to get my shots against hepatitis A & B before leaving my country. Although not compulsory but better safe than sorry.
    – What I did miss in Cebu City was a city park to stroll through, like Central Park, like Hyde Park. I liked the Mactan Shrine area though.
    – Although I enjoyed taking jeepneys, maybe the city government can consider starting city bus lines or maybe even a metro/sub-way system. Especially when going deep down to the province a rail way system might surely be considered by the city or provincial government.
    – I did like the small Mactan-Cebu airport. Although I was shocked to learn no other people than those with a plane ticket were allowed in the airport arrival/departure building.

    In short: I visited Cebu to relax and not being in a hurry. If the provincial and/or city government wants to take tourism seriously then for sure they should consider to improve public transportation. Especially for those visitors/tourists who are (much) taller than the average pinay & pinoy. I am 6″3′ (or 190cms).

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for suggestions. Yes, infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges for Philippine tourism. Like you, we sincerely hope that things will get better. I hope somebody from Cebu Tourism Office will see your post and respond accordingly. :)

      I hope you come back and explore other parts of the Philippines!



  14. childs of malaysia says:

    im malaysian and always heard about the beauty of cebu city by my friends,…i saw the pictures and its just attract me to go there,…i hope one day when i have enough money, this city is one of my goals to fullfil my vacation,…i heard that cebu has become the city of cultures right?? congratzzz or tahniah…

  15. Russel Pinili says:

    We went there in Cebu during our Hospitality Management Field Trip….

    Cebu city is very nice place to visit… but for me, I don’t want to stay longer ….The place is very hot (even at night) …. Good for us ,we were just traveling in an air conditioned bus! And I shouted ” InnnnIIIItttt!!!!! ” when we went to the Taoist temple…. That’s why, I considered Cebu City as ” the Burning City of the South”.

    There are lot of hotels to visit… Sarrossa International was the best hotel ever…

    We ate Dried Mangoes, Otap ,and Ampaw… that is the best nam-nam in Cebu!

  16. Ann Kathryn says:

    I was in Cebu just last week. If one wants to get away from the city, then Cebu is not the ideal place to visit. The narrow streets reminded me of the old streets of Manila, like Binondo and Divisoria. Some of the places like Orjello reminded me of Nepal, even.

    Since I’m not a beach-person, I stayed in the city. The interior of the Basilica of the Santo Niño was breathtaking. I would have explored Colon, the oldest street in the Philippines, but was told not to because of pickpockets. If not for the two cameras I had hanging round my neck, I still would have, though.

    Places of interest for me were the following:

    1. Museo Parian sa Sugbu – also known as the Jesuit House. It is a house built in 1730 and is now hidden inside a warehouse. I even got to meet the owner, a very friendly gentleman, who said that he opened the house to the public simply because a lot of people asked him to. Flash-photography is allowed, and yes, you can even touch the furniture.

    2. Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House – recognized as one of two of the oldest Chinese houses outside China, this is said to have been built in the 1600s. The furniture and life-size religious images were a bit spooky, it really was like stepping back in time. The frames with mother-of-pearl adornments were very beautiful. Outside the house, where the wishing well is, I noticed an old boat turned into a hanging plant box below the window. You can touch and take pictures of everything, just make sure you do not break any.

    3. Museo Sugbu – is the former Provincial Jail, where the dancing inmates were from. There are 12 (or 13) galleries showcasing a very rich history.

    Entrance fees were minimal and well worth it.

    As for the food, Larsian was just a small stall, and looked dirty. They also have the ‘puso’ or the ‘hanging rice’, best eaten with your hands. The chorizo is also very tasty. And what trip to Cebu is complete without sampling the lechon? CNT’s lechon was the best I tasted. Casa Verde is known for the steaks and the baby back ribs. Prices are OK, considering the big servings. Best veggie salad, by the way.

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