Discover Cebu and Bohol
The province of Cebu is home to a diverse range of attractions: from the ‘Queen City of the South’, Cebu City, to the beautiful nearby islands of Mactan and Malaspascua. Expect waterfalls, beaches, and fishing villages in addition to the usual buzzing metropolis life and luxury resorts – you’ll be spoiled for choice in Cebu.
Prior to the arrival of Magellan and his Spaniards in 1521, Cebu was a native kingdom known as Sugbo. The Spanish expedition arrived and began to spread the roots of Catholicism, but were driven away by angry natives – the first Spanish colony wasn’t established until 1565. The island’s colourful history has everything from governance by the United States, to becoming a base for Japanese soldiers in World War 2, and retains a special part in Philippine history due to its’ status as a precursor to the nation itself.
As in the rest of the Philippines, Cebu is a predominantly Roman Catholic area. The city has a long history of devotion to the Catholic faith, being called the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines by the late Pope, John Paul II. The oldest Christian image in the Philippines, the Santo Niño de Cebu (Holy Child of Cebu) is enshrined in the eponymous Basilica of Santo Niño, making the island an important pilgrimage site for the Philippine Church.
Spanish and Roman Catholic culture is very evident in Cebu, more so than in the rest of the Philippines probably due to a much longer period under Spanish influence. However, the biggest cultural and religious festival here is Sinulog, named after a dance ritual of indigenous origin. This native dance is mixed into a large celebration meant to commemorate the festival of the Santo Niño.
- Believes in concept of face
- Touching is welcomed, handshakes and hugs are common as greetings, as well as beso-beso or air kisses on each cheek
The province of Cebu includes Cebu Island as well as 167 neighbouring smaller islands, and is located in the Central Visayas region right in the middle of the Philippines. The tropical climate results in 2 distinct seasons – dry and sunny (most of the year) and occasionally rainy (June to December). Expect an average temperature of 24-34 degrees Celsius.
The island of Cebu itself is long and narrow, with a variety of features including coastlines, mountain ranges and plateaus. Outside Cebu are a wide range of islands featuring stunning beaches. Suggestions for these include the Camotes Islands, Malapascua and Bantayan.
Cebu is a hub of biodiversity, both on land and under the sea. The forests and jungles in and around Cebu are home to many endemic, unique species of animals including the tarsier and the Cebu hawk-owl. Those who choose to go diving, in notable scuba areas such as Malapascua, can expect to see colourful reefs filled with a dazzling variety of marine life.
Before you go
- Language: Tagalog, officially Filipino, an Austronesian language distantly related to Malay
- Currency: Philippine peso (php)
- Time Zone: Philippine Time Zone, utc+8
- Voltage: 220
- Electric Socket: Type A/B/C
- Sim cards are sold everywhere in the Philippines
- The biggest mobile network operators are Globe, SMART, and Sun
- A sim card itself only costs about $1, but it is advisable to put it around 1,000 pesos if you are planning to make more international calls or use lots of data.
- It is quite easy to find atms in Cebu
- Exchanging cash often leads to better rates than just withdrawing from an atm
- Transaction limits are about 10,000 pesos per withdrawal, and 20,000 pesos maximum per day.
- Binignit: Stew consisting of fruits, tubers, sticky rice, and sugar. Usually eaten at dessert time.
- Lechon Cebu: Young pig stuffed with a secret variety of herbs and spices, which has been roasted whole on a bamboo spit over hot coals.
- Kinilaw: Raw, cubed fish soaked in a refreshing dressing of coconut vinegar, with other possible garnishes being ginger, onions, garlic and chilies.
It’s up to you how much you’d like to tip when in the Philippines, although it is common courtesy to leave spare change when you can.
Taxis: If the driver leaves the meter running and gives you decent service, it’s reasonable to tip 10% of the fare as a sign of appreciation.
Tricycle taxis: there is no need to tip the driver as ideally you must have negotiated a fixed price beforehand before starting on the trip.
Restaurants: A general rule for tipping in restaurants is to do so whenever there is no service charge added to your bill by the restaurant. There are no real rules as to tipping.
Hotels: Try to give the bellhop or concierge a small tip when possible. When staying in better (brand-name) hotels, be aware that this kind of tipping is often expected by hotel employees.
- Suggested vaccinations: hepatitis A and typhoid
- As in every tourist-heavy destination in the Philippines, always keep your valuables close and watch out for pickpockets. Most locals are very friendly and will treat foreigners well, so treat any strange or prodding behaviour with the suspicion it deserves.
- Emergency Line: 117
- Cebu Medical Center (public): Natalio B. Bacalso Ave, Pahina Center, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Tel: (+63) 32 255 7274
- Chong Hua Hospital (private): Don Mariano Cui Street, Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City, 6000, Tel: (+63) 32 255 8000
- Philippine Tourism Authority: Cebu Complex, Fort San Pedro, Cebu City, Tel: +63 32 255-7748
- Good evening: Magandang gabi
- Goodbye: Paalam
- How much is this? Magkano to
- Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Tagay
- Bon appetit!: Mabuting gana
- Where’s the toilet?: Nasaan ang CR?
- Help!: Tulong!
- I understand.:Naiintinidihan ko
- I don’t understand.: Hindi ko naiintindihan
How to get into this area, and how to get around it!
Mactan-Cebu International Airport is a midsized airport that acts as the main domestic hub outside Manila. Getting to the city of Cebu is easiest by taxi, as the airport is in Lapu-Lapu city on Mactan Island, 20-30 minutes away from Cebu City. Expect to pay about 200-250 pesos for a taxi to the city.
The domestic port in Cebu is very busy, and almost 80 percent of all the passenger vessels in the Philippines call this port home. Large passenger ferries (carrying about 2000-4000 passengers each) arrive each day from a wide range of routes, originating in destinations such as Manila, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
Taxis are everywhere in Cebu, and flagfall is only around 40 pesos for normal white taxis. Most trips around Cebu City shouldn’t cost more than 100 pesos. Be aware that yellow taxis go exclusively to and from the airport, and avoid ‘private taxis’ as these are ‘premium’ taxis that can charge up to 10 times the normal fare for trips.
There are two major bus terminals within the city, North Bus terminal and South Bus terminal. Bus routes can be hard to handle if you’re not a local, so try and stick to routes run by the major company ‘Ceres Bus’ as they will be easier to navigate with.
Look on the side of the jeepney to figure out its route or ask the driver for help going where you want. Fares average around 7 pesos a trip if travelling only around Cebu City, remember to pay your fare only when alighting. To make the jeepney stop, simply tap on the roof or its railing – and always watch out for pickpockets!
Things to see
The top locations to visit in this destination.