Cebu, Philippines

QUICK FACTS

  • Formally known as Cebu City, it is one of the largest cities in the Philippines and the capital of a province (Cebu) that consists of 168 islands. The city has a population of ~870,000.
  • Cebu is one of the most developed regions of the Philippines, and is considered one of the best beach destinations in the world.
  • Nickname: Queen City of the South

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Philippine peso (PHP).
  • Spoken languages: Cebuano (English and Tagalog are also widely spoken).
  • Best time to visit: from December to April (cooler temperatures, least rainfall).
  • Arriving via airport: taxis from the airport are about P200. Jeepneys are not recommended for travel from the airport as three separate journeys are required to get to the city centre.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotels can be found throughout the city with budget hotels located directly in the city centre around Colon Street. The higher end hotels tend to be on the edges of the city, consisting largely of resorts. Macatan Island, the home of the airport, also has many of the nicer hotels in Cebu.

GETTING AROUND

  • Metered taxis are the easiest way to get around Cebu, though the taxi drivers in Cebu have a bad reputation for ripping off tourists. Note: getting ripped may mean having to spend just an extra P50. Make sure you have some smaller bills with you, as the drivers will often claim to not have change.
  • Jeepneys are converted pickup trucks that make up the majority of public transit in Cebu. They are inexpensive (sometimes as low as P8). Make sure you ask exactly where you’re going as it can be easy to get on the wrong Jeepney and get lost.
  • Buses are available in Cebu, but tend to focus on connecting the outlying communities with one of the two bus stations in the city (where people then switch to jeepneys).

NIGHTLIFE BREAKDOWN

  • Drinking age is 18, no official last call.
  • Mango Avenue and Mango Square are home to the most of the city’s nightlife – here you will find nightclubs, beer bars, and karaoke bars (especially popular with the locals).

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • The Basilica of Santo Nino is a massive church located in the city centre of Cebu. Built by the Spanish in 1565, this church has a rich history.
  • Located near the Basilica, Magellan’s Cross contains a piece of the original wooden Cross that Magellan planted on Cebu when the Spanish first arrived and began converting the locals to Catholicism.
  • A Spanish fort from the country’s colonial era, Fort San Pedro is located within walking distance of the Basilica. The fort (and attached museum) are not to be missed.
  • The Chinese have always made up a significant portion of the population in Cebu – the Taoist Temple is a notable tribute to this community. The temple overlooks the city.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Take a walk down Colon Street in central Cebu to go back in time – this is the oldest street in the Philippines. The entire street becomes a market at night (beware of pickpockets when perusing the different food and shopping stalls).
  • Walk out onto the Marcelo Fernan Bridge or Second Mactan Bridge for a scenic view of the Cebu city skyline.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • No trip to Cebu would be complete without visiting the beaches of Mactan Island. These are considered some of the best beaches in the world and the white sands and blue water are inviting to all. Go for a swim, or take this chance to scuba dive and see amazing marine life.  
  • When exploring the city’s old quarter, try and take a ride on a Tartanilla. These horse drawn carriages can make for a relaxing way to explore the old city, though make sure you negotiate your price first.
  • Cebu is known for its large modern shopping malls. If you want to get some shopping done try to visit Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu.
  • Dangerous areas: look out for pickpockets and shady situations. Avoid going into unlit areas that don’t look particularly populated.

Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days