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Traveloka PH

25 Oct 2021 - 6 min read

Travel to Cebu: Heaven on Earth in the Philippines

The Philippines is one of the most famous holiday destinations among tourists. One of the most visited tourist spots in the Philippines is Cebu.

The name Cebu refers both to the island province and to Cebu City. Destinations in Cebu are as diverse as its people, hailed as the Queen City of the South. It is the oldest city in the country and one of the highly urbanized cities in the country, next to the capital Manila.

People flock to Cebu to experience its islands which are renowned for their pristine white-sand beaches, crystal blue sea, and spectacular diving. It is an ideal getaway for those who want a little retreat from the bustling big cities.

The People in Cebu are generally known as “Cebuanos" and are known for their affection for entertainment and color. They celebrate an annual festival called Sinulog festival, which is considered one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines.

Fun Facts About Cebu

Cebu is considered a melting pot for food, arts, culture, religion, and island life in the Philippines. Cebu offers a unique travel experience as it is a place where the city and paradise meet.
Cebu City is the oldest city in the Philippines and is considered the very first seat of Christianity in the country. Cebu also plays host to one of Asia's biggest festivals which is the Sinulog Festival that is held annually on the third week of January. The festival is held over a span of nine days and features street dancing, novena masses, and also Mardi Gras, which is considered the highlight of the entire festival.
Cebu also has some of the best beaches in the Philippines. Amidst the islands in Cebu nestles spectacular marine life perfect for diving. Malapascua has quickly become one of the most visited diving spots by divers due to the spotting of thresher sharks within its waters. Thresher sharks can be seen regularly around the waters of Malapascua Island. In the waters of Moalboal, travelers will be able to swim with millions of sardines forming bait balls underwater.

How to Get to Cebu?

The most convenient and hassle-free way to reach Cebu is by air. All travelers will arrive at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which is located about an hour or so away from Cebu City. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is connected to 27 domestic destinations, with major cities such as Manila, Luzon, and Mindanao all offering regular flights to the region.

Travelers should ensure, however, that departing flights from Cebu should also be booked in advance as certain destinations will be extremely limited. Local carriers like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, or Air Asia all offer flights to Cebu; however, travelers from smaller airports like Kalibo, Iloilo, or Puerto Princesa can still reach Cebu by flight.

Traveling from Cebu to Manila can take as little as one hour and 30 minutes to as long as 30 hours and up, depending on which route you take. Airfare from Manila can range from extremely affordable starting at PHP2500 and can go as high as PHP9000.

Flying time between Mactan-Cebu International Airport and Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport is 90 minutes, with airfare ranging from PHP2,500-PHP4,000. Promotional price tickets, however, need to be booked much in advance with a travel time during the off-season.

Major holidays such as Christmas, New Year's Eve, Holy Week, and All Saint's Day will contribute to a surge in ticket prices, usually from PHP7,000-PHP9,000, as it is considered the busiest time of the year in the Philippines.

Best Places to Visit in Cebu

Cebu is certainly known for its natural wonders and other beautiful destinations scattered all over. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting a damper on international tourism, the easing up of lockdown protocols in the Cebu Province, Cebuano tourism spots are gradually opening their doors to local tourists under "new normal" guidelines. To ride along the waves of uplifting news as the city recovers, here are the three must-visit attractions in Cebu.

Basilica del Santo Niño

The Basilica was founded in 1565, which keeps the oldest image of Santo. Within the Basilica, Niño (the child Jesus Christ) that was presented by Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana in 1521, is carefully preserved.

Over the years, the image has acquired an increasing number of devotees. To accommodate them, a pilgrim center was built between 1739-1740 on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was found during the expedition of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

The devotion to the child Jesus is mostly celebrated during the Sinulog festival, every 3rd Sunday of January. The Basilica is located right beside Magellan's Cross and is considered the oldest Christian church in the Philippines. The See of Rome labels this church as the "Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines".

Location: Magallanes Street, Cebu City
Admission Fee: PHP30
Operation Hours: 8:30 am to 6 pm

Magellan’s Cross

Within walking distance from the Basilica del Santo Niño, travelers will find the famous Magellan’s Cross. This landmark is considered one of the most important historical markers in Cebu City as it serves as a reminder of the birth of Christianity in the Philippines.

It is also a mark of Magellan’s arrival in the country in 1512. The original cross was believed by the people of old to have miraculous healing powers, so they started chipping away at it.

To preserve its form, the cross is encased in a bigger wooden cross and housed in an octagonal kiosk which has a ceiling decorated with murals that depict Cebu’s conversion to Christianity.

The pavilion where Magellan’s Cross is located along with the Basilica del Santo Niño Church and Convent were collectively declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines on April 14, 2021

Cebu Taoist Temple

This temple was built to preserve the teachings of a Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tse. The temple, which stands at 300 meters above sea level, was built in 1972 by a Chinese community.

A representation of the Great Wall of China adorns the main entrance while the exit slopes down to an 84-step staircase. Interesting areas of note within the temple are a chapel, a library, a souvenir shop, and a wishing well. It also has a balcony which offers a scenic view of the city’s downtown area.

The temple grounds also offer serene gardens where visitors can relax and get away from the crowd. It is important to note that visitors are not allowed to take pictures within the temples.

Location: Beverly Hills, Cebu
Admission Fee: Free
Operation Hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Travel Tips to Cebu

The best time to travel to Cebu is from December to February when the weather is at its most pleasant. May is considered the hottest month, with the sun hitting its peak, so watch out for extremely hot temperatures that even last into the night. Travelers are also encouraged to avoid the typhoon season, which is between July and September.
Some taxi drivers in Cebu will try to inflate taxi fares by taking travelers the long way to their destinations, so it is suggested that travelers get familiar with the map so that the cost of the trip can be discussed and agreed upon prior to accepting the ride. For travelers staying in the city, an alternative way to get around is booking a ride on the Grab app. Booking a car is almost immediately unless it's a rush hour (7 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 8 pm), which might cause some delays.
Cebu is generally a safe area for travel, but travelers are still encouraged to exercise caution. Snatch theft has been known to happen in a lot of famous tourist destinations, and so it is a good idea to pack things in a bag that has a lock or to keep handbags safe by firmly holding them in your hands when walking down local streets.
DIY tours in Cebu are strictly prohibited. Travelers are encouraged to book their preferred tour package at the province’s booking portal.
For travelers planning to visit the more remote areas of Cebu, they are encouraged to bring cash as you'll only find proper ATMs in the city or in bigger towns. The further away from the city, you are, the less likely you'll find an ATM or an establishment that will accept credit cards. Unless you've prepaid your rooms or activities online, make sure you have enough cash in small denominations. PHP20, PHP50, and PHP100 bills are the easiest bills to transact with.

Travel is picking up in the Philippines and soon, travel will be safer again. Until then, please exercise caution and study the travel requirements to Cebu or other preferred locations before embarking on your journey. Stay safe!

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