Cebu (city)

Cebu is the main city on Cebu Island in the Philippines and is known as the Queen City of the South. It is a major transport hub and a popular tourist destination in its own right.

Cebu is part of a large urban area, Metro Cebu, whose other main components are the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. This is a booming metropolitan area with all the conveniences of a modern city and many of the problems of squalor, noise and pollution. Cebu City is clearly the center of the urban region and has more than half the population, but at 300,000-odd people apiece the other towns are far from insignificant.

The area has excellent transport links and is the main hub for travel in the southern Philippines either by sea or by air. Cebu City has the largest sea port in the Philippines. Mactan-Cebu International Airport, in Lapu-Lapu, has direct international flights and many domestic flghts; it is far more traveller friendly than Manila's airport.


Magellan's Cross

The term "Cebu" is somewhat ambiguous; it can refer to the city itself (the commonest usage), to the whole Metro Cebu urban area, to Cebu Island or to Cebu Province which includes Cebu Island and a few smaller nearby islands.


The main language spoken in Cebu City and all the nearby areas is Cebuano, one of the three major Visayan languages in the Philippines. The city also has some speakers of the other Visayan languages, Ilonggo and Waray, and the Chinese minority speak Hokkien, but most speakers of those languages can also speak Cebuano, Tagalog and English.

English and Tagalog are common as additional languages. Sometimes, they also speak in Taglish (Tagalog + English) when they cannot find the appropriate word to use. Younger people speak English with a Cebuano accent, often interchanging i and e as well as o and u.

Get in

By plane

Mactan-Cebu International Airport (IATA: CEB) is in Lapu Lapu. It is possible to get from there to downtown Cebu by jeepney, but most travellers will find a taxi much more covenient. The taxi ride might cost about ₱250 and take 50 minutes, but both numbers vary greatly depending on traffic conditions. the p 300 domestic airport terminal fee is now within the ticket price.

By boat

Cebu City's domestic port is the country's busiest, and is home to almost 80 percent of the country's passenger vessels. The country's largest shipping lines 2Go Travel, Trans-Asia, George & Peter Lines, Cokaliong, Lite, Super Shuttle, Kinswell, Roble, Montenegro, and Weesam Express all run ferries to and from Cebu, and several have their headquarters there.

Large passenger ferries with a capacity of 2,000 to 4,000 passengers ply the more distant routes such as to Manila, Iloilo, Butuan, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro. Medium-sized vessels such as the roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) types go to nearer destinations; most places in the Visayas are accessible from Cebu.

For some destinations, such as Ormoc, Bohol and Dumaguete, fast hydrofoil ferries are available as well, from companies such as Oceanjet. Travel time is about half that of a RoRo and the comfort level higher, but prices are at least double.

Local ferries, such as one to Lapu-Lapu. are also available.

To get to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport you can use the Lapu-Lapu ferry which costs only ₱16, departs every 20 minutes from pier 3 and takes 20 minutes. A yellow jeepney runs between the Lapu-Lapy ferry pier and the airport for ₱8.

Get around

By jeepney

Do as the locals do and catch a colorful jeepney. Simply ask around for which route to take. They are available 24 hr and cover most of the nooks and crannies of the city. Cebu Airport to Lapu Lapu City (LLC) costs about ₱8, while across the bridge to Mandaue or Cebu City costs from ₱10. Be sure you know what part of the city the jeepney will take you to. Additionally be aware of pickpockets and other theft, this is common and even locals fall victim.

By bus

Buses are also available but these tend to ply exclusively along the north-south coastal highway. There are two major bus terminals, the north terminal in Mandaue and south terminal in Cebu City. Ceres Bus lines operates regular bus services from these terminals and are considered the "safer" alternative to the smaller privately operated bus lines.

By taxi

Taxis are ominpresent in Cebu City. Sadly, there's a decent chance you'll be overcharged by a taxi driver at some point during your trip to Cebu. This should be considered an unfortunate cost of visiting Cebu (or anywhere in the Philippines). You can (and should) report improper taxi behavior to the Department of Tourism in Cebu by phoning +63 32 254 2811.

Unless you're familiar with the city, always insist on a metered fare as a negotiated fare will almost always be much higher. If you know the city and need to go a long distance, it may be worth paying a negotiated fare so that the driver doesn't take the scenic route or you become victim of an uncalibrated meter. Late in the evenings, there could be taxis driving with an uncalibrated, inflated meter.

Most trips around the city should not cost more than ₱100. The fare from the airport to most of central Cebu should be ₱200-250 depending on whether you use the white or yellow cabs (white ones are reportedly cheaper).

If you know the name of the building, establishment, area or street you wish you reach, taxis are still the fastest way to your destination. Most drivers know where almost everything is. If the driver is pleasant, a ₱10-50 tip is warranted, especially if he loads or unloads your bags. Most drivers do not have, or will tell you they do not have change, so be ready with 50's and 20's when going on short trips.

It is best to avoid the "Private" taxis as they take advantage of tourists and charge 5-10 times the normal fare. You will find these taxis at the some of the high-class hotels. They are normally owned by the hotel to make money and may charge ₱500 for something that should cost ₱60. Some hotels make it hard for other taxis to pick you up at their premise and you may need to walk outside to save money.

Another place where private taxis are common is the airport. To avoid them, simply ask a porter for help and for a metered taxi. Downstairs at the exit for arrivals, there is a booth that will flag down a taxi for ₱70, but you can also go up the ramp and there are a large number of metered taxis waiting for you. You can also wend your way upstairs to Departures where many metered taxis are available. Fare down town to Ayala or SM Malls should be around ₱150 on the meter. You may be told "500" by the driver. Just grab the door handle and say "What, you don't have a meter?" Don't travel unless the meter is used; not using the meter is illegal, and you can report it to local officials.


NOTE: Some churches and landmarks were heavily damaged in a 15 October 2013 earthquake; the bell tower of the Basilica of Santo Niño is no longer standing.

Shrines and historical landmarks

The Taoist Temple reflects the Chinese heritage of Cebu.

Museums, nature and other


Wanna swim eh?

For a real beach experience, visit nearby Bantayan Island. It is accessible by chartered plane from Mactan Cebu Airport or through Hagnaya Port (3 hr by car from the city) where it is around an hour ferry ride to Sta Fe port of Bantayan Island. Day trips to Virgin Island can be arranged with your resort as well.


Ayala Center Cebu Terraces

Cebu City has many shopping malls - the biggest being SM City Cebu, has four levels, a huge department store, supermarket, movie theater and over 200 shops and restaurants. The Ayala Mall is more upscale; it has a large department store, two supermarkets and a movie theater, and it offers more restaurants and stores that appeal to tourists. These are modern buildings with lots of western goods in addition to local stores. There are other, older and smaller malls dotted all over the city, such as Country Mall, Robinson's Mall, e-Mall, Mango Square and Cebu Parkmall. In addition to this there are many stores and places to stop. One nice place is the Colon part of the Old Downtown.

If you need to fix something there are hardware stores in all of the malls. Cebu Home and Builders Center along AS Fortuna-Mandaue, Mactan (near old bridge) and Cebu Parkmall is the home depot style that carries the most complete line for finishing and building materials. There is a large warehouse store called S & R membership shopping that offers good prices on goods in bulk. Another great place to buy household goods on the cheap is White Gold, near SM. For furniture the two best places to go is Sun Gold and Mandaue Foam, just remember to ask for at least 10-20% off the price. If you want to buy groceries, the Metro Supermarket in Ayala Mall is well stocked - local and imported products - and affordable. Metro also has lots of great buys and the lowest prices you can get in their department stores in Ayala Mall, Mandaue City and Colon St. You may also shop at the SM Supermarket in SM City or for best value go to SaveMore Supermarket in VisMin at Cebu Parkmall.


Banks & ATMs



The great thing about Cebu is that, while being an island paradise, on the one hand, it's also a sophisticated city, with a wide range of pretty decent restaurants to choose from. Street-food abounds in Cebu and is amazingly cheap. You can buy all sorts of Philippine delicacies from the many street stalls scattered around Cebu City.



Cebu has Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Continental, fusion, and of course local restaurants. It also has other international cuisines like American, Spanish, Thai and Indian. For tourists, the two best areas to find great restaurants are Ayala Mall and IT Park. Ayala Center Cebu recently opened a modern extension called The Terraces with an abundance of food choices adjacent to Marriott Hotel. It also has two grocery stores with large sections of food imported from the rest of the world. The IT Park has over 20 great restaurants and most of them are open 24 hours a day. Both of these eating areas offer free WiFi. On the other hand, SM City Cebu also opened an extension to the main mall called SM Northwing with more than 10 choices of local and international cuisines.

Desserts, pastries and cakes



This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget under ₱1000
Mid-range ₱1000-2000
Splurge over ₱2000




Stay Safe

Cebu is a relatively safe city where violent crime is rare. Your biggest concern should be pickpockets which are active in downtown Cebu and on jeepneys.

Parts of downtown Cebu are unsafe at night, particularly along Colon and areas immediately to its north. If you're male and look remotely foreign or tourist-like, you'd likely be accosted by prostitutes and pimps once nightfall descends in those areas.

Stay Healthy

Go next

The island of Cebu, where Cebu city is located, is made up of various cities, small municipalities and town.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.