Cebu, Philippines · 2 hotels available
Balamban is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This beautiful municipality located in the island of Cebu is home to only about 87,000 people, making it less crowded than most urban areas. Hence, even if Balamban is smaller compared to other municipalities, it offers gorgeous landscapes and experiences that are larger than life.
It is difficult to imagine Balamban without the abundance of trees, hills, and mountaintops. True, the municipality was dubbed as the shipbuilding capital of the Philippines due to the establishment of the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries plant in the area. However, it has retained huge swathes of greenery, with some parts having changed very little from the time the town was established by the Spaniards in 1870.
Balamban also has winding roads that lead to various points of interest, aside from the 360° view of the municipality’s natural beauty. There are just a number of houses and buildings dotted across Balamban’s landscape. Seeing that Mother Nature dominates Balamban’s scenery, it is easy to get lost in its lush environment.
Since Cebu is a separate island in the Philippine archipelago, you will need to fly to Balamban. You can book a flight with any of the following airlines: Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, or Philippine Airlines. Most of these airlines provide daily flights to Cebu; travel time from Manila is around one-and-a-half hours long. Once you’ve landed in Mactan-Cebu International Airport, you can take a cab or rent a car to head towards Balamban. Travel time from Mactan Airport to Balamban is about 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take a ferry to Cebu. From Manila, you can take a 2GO Travel ferry to Cebu International Port. Once there, you can take a taxi to Balamban. Total travel time is around 23 to 24 hours. Be warned that this route will take much, much longer; however, you do get full accommodations in the ferry.
Balamban’s modes of public transport include buses, jeepneys, tricycles, and multicabs. You may also rent a car at Mactan International Airport for your own convenience. Of course, walking around Balamban is an option and it is best done when your destination is near your lodging.
Even if Balamban’s scenery is a tourist attraction in itself, there are a couple of areas that bring curious travelers to the municipality. There is Mt. Manunggal, which is the site where President Ramon Magsaysay’s plane crashed on March 17, 1957. Then there’s the St. Francis of Assisi Church and Convent, a grandiose structure that mixes old Spanish architecture and new renovations. And on the way out of the town is the Transcentral Highway, which is a major road that connects Balamban to nearby cities like Toledo and Asturias.
Balamban is also rich with natural wonders that attract many visitors. There is the chlorine and chemical-free waters of Cambuhawe Spring, which is channeled into a swimming pool; the brain-like peak of Mt. Mauyog; and West 35 Eco Mountain Resort’s breathtaking views. With all of these destinations and more, it can be said that Balamban is the nature lover’s perfect getaway.
It is possible to go on a 2-day hike from Mt. Mauyog to Mt. Manunngal. The trails to the peaks of these mountains are quite challenging, thus reserving this feat for experienced climbers. Yet these climbs are worth it, as successful climbers can take in a glorious view from the mountaintops. Mountaineers can spend a night and set up camp at Mt. Manunggal Monument. On the next day, they can visit the Gining Mini Falls during their descent.
Thrill seekers can enjoy the day riding the rigs at the Adventure Café. This establishment is a part-café, part-ziplining venue. Hence, you can also sit down and have a casual meal with your family, or enjoy Balamban’s scenery while zooming down a line. Apart from the zip lines, you can also enjoy caving, wall climbing, or visit the Gaas Falls. The view from the café is not bad either, and their menu is a mix of silog meals (a meat dish + rice and eggs) plus Western favorites like pork steak.
Balamban’s Transcentral Highway can also be a springboard for your next adventure. You can enjoy a road trip through the highway’s seemingly endless road and brave its winding turns. Don’t forget to take lots of photos, as the Transcentral Highway is filled with ravines and Instagrammable locations.
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Balamban, it’s their legendary liempo (grilled pork belly). While it’s true that you can try liempo in many parts of the Philippines, Balamban’s take on it is quite different, as they use a unique blend of herbs and spices to flavor each slab. And you won’t have to venture too far to taste these, as there are several stalls near the bus terminal and the church that offer this treat.
Balamban also has a number of establishments where you can grab a meal. There is the Adventure Café, which was mentioned earlier. There’s also the Haven Café at West 35 Eco Mountain Resort and Karne Grill located at the Gaisano Town Center. The menus of these restaurants consist of your various Filipino favorites like grilled chicken and sizzling BBQ. On the other hand, the Stranded Shipcook Inn serves up meals that are created with international flavors. Some of the items on their menu include Thai Fish Fillet, Indian Chicken Masala, Australian Beef, and German Beef Stroganoff.
Balamban’s nightlife scene is scattered throughout the municipality. There are bars located along the Balamban Baywalk Park, but there are hole-in-the-wall establishments as well. There is the Bay View Restaurant & Bar near Baywalk Park, Escadas Restobar & Grill in Buanoy Balamban, and the Sailor’s Cabin in Barangay Abucayan. A majority of these establishments are your typical watering hole and KTV bars; not all of them offer live bands and performances.
Accommodations available in Balamban are suitable for all types of travelers with any kind of budget. The Sailors Cabin is perfect for backpackers, as the price of their rooms are inexpensive but comes with room service, AC, and common bath. The Magdalene Apartment in Arpili, Balamban offers a homier interior, complete with kitchen, cookware, and full-sized refrigerator. On the other hand, the Sileo Bed and Breakfast is more upscale, offering amenities like daily housekeeping and premium bedding.
Traveling with a group is easier, especially when it comes to splitting the cost of the rented/hired vehicle.
If you place to scale Mt. Mauyog and Mt. Manunngal, bring a guide with you. The trails here are puzzling and it is easy to get lost.
Avoid going to Balamban during the rainy season. It is impossible to climb the mountains safely and visiting its top destinations will be harder.