A quick travel guide to Cebu for those who want to enjoy Cebu on a budget. It was one heck of an adventure, and I survived it! I’m so proud of myself (except when I didn’t jump off the cliff during canyoneering).
My friends and I had our first domestic travel ever since we were friends in High School. We stayed in Cebu for 4 days and 3 nights. Since we are a big group — there are 10 of us — we all decided to get a tour package to make this trip more possible without any hassle.
Happy Juanderer arranged most of this trip for us. They are right when they said they are passionate to provide the best travel experience ever because we did have the best travel experience on this trip. To get a real taste of South Cebu, I recommend getting their Project #Sursuroy package. It’s a travel package for 2 days and 1 night that includes almost everything that you’ll need.
How to get to Cebu from Manila
The easiest way to go there is by air. You can choose from three different airlines: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Philippine AirAsia. Each airline offers a flexible flight schedule; there are more than 30 flights per day.
You can find the cheapest flights available on Skyscanner.
If you don’t want to travel by air, you may travel by sea via 2GO Travel. Since the total travel time is 21 hours, you would need to book accommodation which ranges from Php 2,000 to Php 5,000.
Where to stay
During our entire trip to Cebu, we stayed at three different hotels for three different nights. We always move from one place to another; to save time from traveling, we just booked a hotel from different places.
To look for more hotels in Cebu, you may check the hotels in TravelBook.ph. But, here are the hotels that we stayed at during our stay:
If you prefer staying in Airbnb, you can find available rooms or apartments there especially when you are in big groups. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up using this link to receive up to PHP 2,000 off of your first trip of Php4,200 or more*.
- If you are arriving in Cebu early, you could spend the rest of the day touring the city.
- Traffic in Cebu is almost the same in Manila, make sure you leave as early as possible.
- To make the most out of canyoneering activity, arrive early. Also, avoid going on Saturdays.
- Bring your shoes for the canyoneering activity. You can rent one though if you forgot to bring yours.
- At noon, lots of people stay in Kawasan Falls, especially Kawasan Falls 1. You can ride a raft for 30 minutes, and there are 8 rafts available. However, due to the high volume of tourists, we need to wait for 2 hours before our turn. My advice is to have your name listed first, then eat lunch.
- Every start of your water activity, put your change of clothes in a separate bag to make it easier for you to change to dry clothes.
Guide to Cebu: Itinerary
Day 0: Fly to Cebu from Manila
We booked our flights to Cebu from Manila at night, so we spent the first few hours in Cebu traveling to the hotel and eating dinner.
Traveling from Manila to Cebu only takes at least 1 – 1.5 hours depending on your airlines. When you plan your itinerary, always give a 1 to 2 hours allowance after your expected arrival time to make up for the unexpected delays.
Arrival at Mactan-Cebu International Airport
As soon as you leave the airport, people are going to approach and offer you a ride to your hotel using a van. The driver offered us PHP 1,000 for the service. We declined his offer since we find it expensive.
As an alternative, you can find a taxi or book using ride-hailing apps such as Grab or Micab.
Day 1: Canyoneering, Kawasan Falls, and Moalboal island hopping
|4:00 AM||ETD to Badian, Cebu|
|6:30 AM||Arrival at Badian, Cebu|
|7:00 AM||Canyoneering activity and Kawasan Falls|
|12:45 PM||Departure to Moalboal, Cebu|
|1:15 PM||Moalboal Island Hopping|
Canyoneering to Kawasan Falls
Badian, Cebu is approximately 115 KM from the city. Travel time will usually take 3 to 3.5 hours depending on the traffic; this could be a perfect time to rest. So, grab something to eat or bring food. Also, make sure you are fully rested (which is tough given the departure time) because this activity challenges you more than you expected!
Upon arrival at Badian, you will get some time to prepare (and back out from this activity). You need to wear a helmet, aqua shoes/rubber shoes, and life vest before going to the starting point of canyoneering via habal-habal (motorcycle taxi ride). The ride consists of 2 passengers, so make sure you ask your crush to ride with you beforehand!
If you don’t have shoes with you, you can rent for PHP 50 only. I don’t recommend wearing slippers in this activity.
- I recommend that you wear your swimwear before arriving.
- You can leave your bags inside your car or shuttle.
- Bring cash so you can buy food. You can find a barbeque area halfway canyoneering.
- There’s a habal-habal ride to the starting point of canyoneering.
This is the most challenging activity I’ve had in my entire life! I may find it challenging, and you may not. It depends on the person — but, make sure that you are prepared physically! Was it worth it? Definitely! I mean, who would say no to this view?
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Sometimes you just need some time in the nature ? … I really enjoyed sitting there and listen to the wind, the water and the silence! ?? Thats why I’m always happy when we escape out of big cities ? … What do you prefer? The city or the nature? ? . . . #travelgram #photooftheday #travel #photography #kawasanfalls #philippines #turquoise #moalboal #cebu #nature #travelphotography #letsflyawayto #worlderlust #aroundtheworld #goodvibes #weekend
If you don’t prefer canyoneering, but still want to go to Kawasan Falls, you can! But, where’s the fun then?
Moalboal Island Hopping
We first went to Pescador Island, a 10 to 20 minutes boat ride from the shore. I didn’t snorkel, but you can see different marine species and corals when you snorkel.
Next is sea turtle watching. Unfortunately, there was only one turtle in the area. But, my friend was able to take a picture of it! I’m so excited to show it to you.
Lastly, the sardines run. There are lots, and lots, and lots of sardines! I remember our tour guide in Badian told us to bring rice since there are several sardines that we can eat!
After island hopping, we check-in to our accommodation at Marina Village Resort and had dinner at The Pleasure Principle Resto-bar
Day 2: Oslob Whale Shark Watching, Sumilon Island, Cuartel, and Osmeña Peak
|4:00 AM||ETD to Oslob, Cebu|
|5:45 AM||Arrival at Brgy. Tan-Awan, Oslob|
|6:00 AM||Briefing regarding whale shark watching|
|7:00 AM||Bask under the sun at Sumilon Island|
|11:40 AM||Departure to Cuartel or Tumalog Falls|
|12:00 PM||Arrival at Cuartel|
|12:20 PM||Departure to Osmeña Peak|
|1:00 PM||Arrival at Dalaguete|
|1:30 PM||Osmeña Peak|
|5:45 PM||Travel back to Cebu city|
To be honest, waking up at 3 AM for 2 consecutive days is tiring. I long for the bed, but my adventurous self always takes over.
Whale Shark Watching
I was asleep for the entire trip, but it was raining when I woke up! I was worried because I thought it will not stop, and we have to postpone our whale shark watching activity.
Luckily, it stopped raining as soon as we arrived at Oslob. Yay! I am already having mixed feelings. I know how exciting it is to see a whale shark in person, but its size scares me!
Take note, though, we arrived at 5:45 AM but there are already lots of people in the waiting area. I thought we were the first group to arrive.
The briefing regarding whale shark watching started at 6:00 AM.
You are required to listen and pay attention to the briefing. Important notes are discussed during this time, and if you have any questions, you may raise it to the speaker.
It didn’t take long before we ride the boat; our group was 9th in line. Life vests are given to us one by one. If you want to swim without a life vest, you may do so!
Unfortunately, the total time of the activity is 30 minutes only. It seems short but they need to accommodate more tourists.
After swimming with the whale sharks, we went to Sumilon Island. The island is pretty close; we walked for 5 minutes to reach the highway, then rode a pickup truck to take us to where the boat to Sumilon Island is parked.
After enjoying the sandbar, we went back to the whale shark orientation area to have lunch and take a shower. We were told that Oslob is experiencing a shortage of water. So, the shower may not be available. We were fortunate because all of us were able to take a shower.
Our next destination is either Cuartel or Tumalog Falls. We all chose Cuartel because we want to have a break from water activities.
We left around 11:40 AM and arrived in Cuartel in 20 minutes. Cuartel, an unfinished building made of coral blocks, is part of Oslob heritage park.
I prefer visiting these kinds of places because of its historical background. I feel like I’m having a trip down memory lane.
I have a separate post about our visit to Cebu’s historical place. Click here to see more photos and information.
The travel time from Cuartel to Dalaguete only took 20 minutes. Upon arriving, you have to prepare for a 30-minutes motorcycle ride to Osmeña peak trailhead.
Hiking to Osmeña peak will take about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your pace. I don’t exercise nor hike, but I find it easy to hike here.
The only problem is if you are scared of heights! The wind scares me the most because it feels like it’s going to blow me away.
You can stay and enjoy the view of Cebu at Osmeña Peak as long as you want. We didn’t stay that long, probably for an hour only, then we drove back to Cebu City.
Day 3: Cebu city tour & departure from Cebu to Manila
You can spend your last day in Cebu touring the main city. It’s easier to DIY when touring the city. Aside from that, it’s cheaper too!
I talked to our grab driver; he told us that the package for a city tour usually costs around PHP 1,800 per person.
As for your pasalubong, don’t forget to drop by Shamrock and Tabo-an market.
Tips on how to save more
- Look out for promo fares. Cebu Pacific and AirAsia always have seat sales. Traveling to Cebu is fairly cheap.
- Maximize your hotel/hostel room. It’s always cheaper to book in a group.
- Try to DIY if you want to see some tourist spots in Cebu.
- Commuting in Cebu is somehow complicated. Ask around and commute like the locals.
- If you prefer a cab, always check out if Uber / Grab has a promo.
- When purchasing a tour package, compare different packages from different agencies.
- Avoid unnecessary expenses
To be honest, I want to talk more about this trip! It was also the same time last year when the same group of friends went on a trip. I guess we could make this our tradition, right? Traveling with friends is indeed fun.
I’ll be posting a more detailed description of what we did day by day in Cebu. So, wait for it! I hope you enjoyed reading this travel guide & Cebu itinerary.