CEBU BEGINNER GUIDE | TRAVELER NOTES

Back at it again with another travel guide here on #KateeOTD. For the past few weeks I've been non-stop editing with the Cebu Vlogs (click here to watch one of them), and so I finally took a break and decided to write this just for you. 1st things 1st, it is NOT my 1st time in Cebu. However, the last time I went there was 7 years ago back in 2012, way before I started blogging. I was 18 years old at the time, yet I could hardly remember anything that we did (except for getting drunk with my sisters in a KTV, accidentally murdering a couple of starfishes, and quickly climbing up the boat because I saw a sea snake during our island hopping). Also, this time I did most of the itinerary so I could say that it still is like a 'beginner's' perspective. Besides, Cebu has changed so much in the past 7 years; a lot of the places we visited wasn't operating yet the last time I was there.

Well enough gibber gabbering, you came here for one reason and one reason only (maybe, I'm not really sure but I'm assuming). You're here to get a 101 on what to do when you're in Cebu. To make it easier and more informative, I took the liberty of separating it in 2 segments:

1. Knowing the basics
2. Forming your itinerary
 - CLICK TO VIEW MY ITINERARY

Oh and don't worry, I'm linking everything that helped me form our whole trip. From tour agencies, to main websites and guidelines. And since I'm such a nice person, you can even view/download our whole itinerary here. Hope it helps! Now let's begin with this Cebu Beginner Guide!
Birthday Vlog: Cebu Trip


Swimming with whale sharks, an unforgettable experience:


A MUST TRY IN CEBU - Canyoneering & Kawasan Falls. 
Now on my YouTube Channel:
Check out more of my vlog(s) on my YouTube Channel: Katee Of The Day
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1. KNOWING THE BASICS

  • FLIGHT: We flew roundtrip with Air Asia. No layovers in Manila anymore since there's already a direct flight from/to Macau. Our air fares + averaging 20kg check-in luggage each reached roughly around MOP $1,300 per person (USD $161.12). I personally use Sky Scanner to compare the best rates.
  • VISA: I am not fully sure which passports would need visas to Cebu or in general, Philippines. Me and my friends are all Macau & Philippine passport holders so we didn't need to apply any visa. Go check if you need one here.
  • MACTAN INTL. AIRPORT: There are 2 terminals in Mactan Intl. Airport. All international flights are arriving and departing in Terminal 2, while all domestic flights are in Terminal 1. For more information, visit their site: https://mactancebuairport.com/ 
  • WI-FI / SIM CARDS: You'd find a couple of sim card stalls outside of Terminal 2 such as Smart and Globe. Something I've learned from my bestfriends was that Smart's signal and range is better when going to provincial areas or anywhere far from Manila. But don't get your hopes up, the connection in Philippines in general is still as slow as ever. We paid around PHP $500 (USD $9.65) for 5 days worth of internet. 
  • GETTING AROUND / TRANSPORTATION: Cebu relatively feels safer than Manila, but still be careful when you're going around. We mostly rode taxis since it's faster and not that expensive; from Mactan to Cebu City we paid around PHP $400 - PHP $600 (USD $8 - USD $12) depending on the traffic. You can also book a grab (the receptionist at our hotel helped us book when there were no taxis available). And just like anywhere else in the Philippines, you can go as authentic as riding tricycles or jeepneys; we actually got to ride all of the mentioned transportation during our trip. 
  • HOTELS / ACCOMMODATION: I honestly had a hard time deciding where the best place to stay in Cebu is. It really comes down to your priority and preference, whether you'd prefer to stay by the beach, the city, or how far you're willing to travel everyday to get to your scheduled tours. See below my breakdowns to help you decide where you might want to stay:
  1. Mactan - if you want to be by the beach, you'd find a lot of beautiful beach-front hotels around Lapu Lapu, Mactan. Hotels here most likely have swimming pools, private beaches, and some even have their own scuba diving and other water activities. Although, famous and well-known hotels here might be too expensive such as Shangri-La & Movenpick. There are still a lot of affordable options like the hotel we stayed at: Aozora Seaside Resort (20mins taxi ride away from the airport).
  2. Cebu City - if you prefer being around malls, I suggest finding hotels around Cebu City. Specifically around Parkmall. It's also easier and faster to go possible tour destinations from the city compared to Mactan since you don't have to cross the "Mactan-Mandaue bridge" anymore. 
  • MONEY EXCHANGE: There are money exchanges in almost every mall, usually located near the grocery or supermarket section. There are also a few money exchange shops we've seen on the streets and the rates are usually better (HKD $1 to PHP $6.40) compared to the airport (HKD $1 to PHP $5.80). 
  • LANGUAGE: Mainly Cebuanos speak in Cebuano (duh!), Bisaya, or Tagalog. But don't worry, because just like Manila, majority of the people there could speak English and will be happy to assist you when you're in need. 


That's pretty much all you need to know when you arrive Cebu. We always travel to the Philippines so it wasn't that difficult for us since we already know what to expect. Although, I would say that Cebu is way less crowded, combusted, and feels a lot safer than Manila. Most of the Cebuanos or the locals that we've encountered were friendly and very helpful.



2. FORMING YOUR ITINERARY


Cebu is definitely a place where you can mix and match activities that varies from cities to beaches. Honestly, even staying for a week might still not be enough to do everything! We had 4 full days, but we decided to reserve our last day for Bohol. I actually have a guide for that too! Go read my "Bohol for a day" blogpost here: BOHOL FOR A DAY | TRAVELER NOTES.

As for Cebu, a lot of activities and mixed itineraries show up when you search for "Things to do in Cebu". It comes down to prioritizing which ones you'd prefer to do. We were a group of 4 young adults who like to do adventurous and active things so our itinerary revolved around related activities. If you haven't seen the link above, you can view/download our final itinerary here.

  • A "MUST TRY": Most definitely swimming with whale sharks at Oslob was one of the things I just really had to experience. There's a lot of controversy regarding the well-being of the whale sharks in Oslob that I only knew about while we were there. You can also try going to Dansol if you'd prefer a lesser crowd. According to the locals, it's much more natural the way you encounter the whale sharks as oppose to the krill feeding in Oslob. I was really mesmerized and completely in awe to see the whale sharks and swim as close as I can beside them. Not gonna lie, I was overwhelmed with how big they actually are, it sorta scared me when I 1st saw them. One of the best yet tiring activity we've done was the Badian canyoneering along the Alegria River going down to the Kawasan Falls. Despite the 4 hours jumping and sliding off rocks, using your whole upper body strength while hiking through rocky and muddy paths, reaching Kawasan Falls at the end makes the experience seem so much more worth it. 


  • HONORABLE MENTIONS: Never would I've ever imagined that I'd go hiking on my birthday. Half an hour hike later we were over looking Cebu from its highest point: OsmeƱa Peak. The formation of the rocks look absolutely stunning, make sure to take photos sitting or standing with the view of Cebu behind you. Another place that I feel deserves to be mentioned is Happy Beach. Don't get your hopes up, it's not as magical as you think. Well, at least for me it wasn't. I can't deny though that it was truly a great place for chilling, partying with friends, and of course, taking pictures for Instagram (watch my Happy Beach vlog here). I suggest you stay until the fire dance performance though, I was definitely amazed with the whole performance until the very end. 


  • TOUR AGENCIES: It's quite easy to book tours in the Philippines. Tour agencies would even be happy to customize a personalized itinerary based on your preference. For our whole Cebu trip I reached out to two companies that helped us get the perfect itinerary: Cebu Tours & Island Trek Tours, Cebu.



Photo credits to: All of us, because we took butt loads of photos together

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