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Home Asia The best about Cebu Island – all you need to know

The best about Cebu Island – all you need to know

“Philippines is right and left, rich and poor, neither here nor there. This is Asia with a smile!”

CEBU ISLAND, THE PHILIPPINES: This province show off spotless beaches, waterfalls, island hopping, luxury resorts, festivals, and great food. Cebu City is another story. The oldest city in the Philippines, the culture and historical hub, the city for business, pleasure and all the best restaurants. Surrounded by 167 islands and islets in the Central Vijaya’s region. This is Cebu Island.

Island Hopping: Plenty small is islands to visit.
Island Hopping: Plenty small is islands to visit.

The long island

This is a long and narrow island – 196 km from north to south, and 32 km from east to west at its widest point. Located on the eastern central area of the island, Cebu City is the main urban centre.
Five more cities are located in the province: Mandaue City, Lapu Lapu City, Toledo City, Danao City and Talisay City.


Scuba Diving in the ocean near Malapascua island
Scuba Diving in the ocean near Malapascua island

The dream islands

Malapascua is one of many dream islands next to Cebu, a diving destination where to swim with thresher sharks.
White-sand beaches are another speciality on all these islands, included Bantayab and Camotes. Expect beaches, old churches and fishing villages on Bantayab.

When the Spanish explorer first arrived on Camotes, they asked what they were planting. They said camotes and this is how the island became the Spanish word for sweet potato.

Moalboal known for diving and beaches, 2-3 hours drive from Cebu City.
Moalboal known for diving and beaches, 2-3 hours drive from Cebu City.

How expensive in Cebu?

Family of four estimated monthly costs are 1,854$ (96,727 peso) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 526$ (27,470 peso) without rent. Cebu is 61% less expensive than New York, without rent.
Cebu City is 21% cheaper than Manila. In Cebu it is possible to live for 1000 dollar a month.


How much for a meal

While meal prices in Cebu can vary, the average cost of food in Cebu is 960 pesos per day.Based on the spending habits of previous travellers, when dining out an average meal in Cebu should cost around 380 per person. Breakfast is a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. In general, prices in Philippines are lower compare with Thailand.

The food in Cebu

Cebu is best known for its delicious Lechon, a roasted suckling pig on a pit, and a local snack called the Puso, a heart-shaped delicacy of hanging rice wrapped in coconut leaf. There are a lot more delicacies food in each town that you will love.

Taste of the street: Sugbo Mercado, Inez Villa Street, is a food destination for locals and tourists as a showcase to the Cebuano food culture. It´s also a venue for start-up food entrepreneurs to become full blown entrepreneurs to realize their vision in becoming a brand.

Scenes from Sinulog Festival in Cebu - always in January
Scenes from Sinulog Festival in Cebu – always in January

Eight main Festivals

Cebu has some colourful festivals and they celebrate with excitement and high spirits. Some fiestas have religious rituals and dancing in the streets to the beat of drums.

The Sinulog Festival is Cebu’s biggest and most popular festival. A feast in honour of the Holy Child, the Santo Niño de Cebu, taking place every third Sunday of January. And if you want to join: The Sinulog dance moves are two steps forward and one step backward.
More fun in Lapu-Lapu to celebrate Kadaugan sa Mactan –  Victory in Mactan, every year on April 27. To celebrate the historic battle of Mactan back in the 16th century, a festival features live music and food street.

Cebu has eight main festivals and the one on Bantayan Island last week of June is known for delicious seafood. The locals take pride in the sea, and the Palawaod Festival is all about fishermen and the sea. Palawaod is Cebuano term for “to go out to fish”.

Girl in a pool on the shore of the azure sea
Girl in a pool on the shore of the azure sea

The culture of Cebuano

The Cebuano inhabit the islands of Cebu, Siquijor, and Bohol, as well as eastern Negros, western Leyte, southern Masbate, and northern Mindanao.

The majority of Cebuanos are Roman Catholic, with many in rural areas matching Catholicism with folk religion. A minority of Cebuanos in Mindanao are Muslim.

When Class matters

Not clearly visible for the inexperienced, but Cebu faces a complex class system related to the colonial past that exist in the city. Here your surname tells where you come from and where you fit into the class system. Certainly, those with Spanish blood have more power, as does those with Chinese. Families higher in the class chain have a great deal more influence than others.

Cebu a safe city

Bring your common sense when you travel, and Cebu City is a relatively safe by Western standard. Apply caution and avoid poorly lit and deserted areas, and not flashing expensive jewellery and aware of your surroundings.

Where to stay

Don´t worry, you have plenty of options. Here are some of the best budget hotels in Cebu at affordable price.
Yello is a new design hotel. For long-stay you can get a good deal. Excellent bar & restaurant on the rooftop. Central location and first class staff. Room rates from 2000 PHP.

Staff and the city: Seen from Yello Hotel in Cebu City
Staff and the city: Seen from the rooftop at Yello Hotel in Cebu City

Zen Rooms Alicia Tower, Cebu. Price range: PHP 714 – 800 per night.
Zen Rooms Hamarsons, Cebu. Price range: 1400 PHP per night.
Hotel Pier Cuatro, North Reclamation, Cebu. Room rate: 30 euro per night.
By the sea: I prefer White Sand Resort and Spa, located on Mactan Island, 9km from the city centre, but near the airport. Normal price 65 USD per night breakfast included.

Surfing near Toledo City, on the island of Cebu
Surfing near Toledo City, on the island of Cebu

Cebu for retirement

The Philippines has many benefits such as its accessibility to beaches, warm and welcoming locals, low cost of living, and modernized lifestyle. This is why Cebu has become a top-rated destination for retirees living in the Philippines. Living reports say you could live comfortably on 800 to 1200 USD a month, covering housing, utilities, food, healthcare and taxes.
Just like every city and area in the Philippines, there are always pros and cons.

Fresh and cold Cocomilk served all over the city, for just half euro.
Fresh and cold Cocomilk served all over the city, for just half euro.

Main products

Cebu grows coconut, sugarcane, abaca, bananas, tobacco and root crops, but the main agricultural product grown is corn. The province is also popular for its grapes, mangoes, and cut flowers. Cebu is famous for producing guitars, that take place on Lapu Lapu Island.

How much is a beer

Meal in a cheap restaurant will cost about 200 PHP. Domestic Beer (0,5 litre draught) 75, Imported Beer, bottle, 100, Coke/Pepsi 38, and Water 26 peso.

Smiling students in Cebu City
Smiling students in Cebu City

Places to visit

From a military defence in the 17th century, now Fort San Pedro is a most visited tourist spot. Similar to Manila’s Fort Santiago.

Other attractions:
Cebu Ocean Park is a perfect place for young kids, and is both educational and entertaining with thousands of marine species.
Walk down Colon Street may look dull but come closer and you will discover much to see, do and taste. Markets, jewellery, clothing and shoes makes it a shopping street with some friendly haggling. A place for street food and mingles with the locals.

Camotes is another island to visit
Camotes is another island to visit

Things to do

Whale expedition and Tumalog Waterfalls Tour.
Mactan Island Hopping and Snorkelling.
Cebu and Lapu-Lapu City Tour
Full-Day Bohol Excursion

Getaway to Bantayan Island for weekend or few days for travellers or groups who like to enjoy a break of the most peaceful islands of Central Visayas.
Visit Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. This was built to protect against Muslim raids.
Ayala Center is a large shopping mall in the Cebu Business Park and a new in IT Park
Magellan`s Cross is the historic spot, marked by Magellan, the Portuguese explorer. He reached Cebu in 1521 and brought Catholicism in the Philippines.

Selection of food for Lunch in Cebu City, and its cheap.
Selection of food for Lunch in Cebu City, and its cheap.

Art, music and food

Part of Cebu has the dynamic mix of young creatives, such as artists, designers, illustrators, craft and start-ups. Like the area around Cross Roads Mall. You will find the music scene around the Handuraw Pizza Events Café and the tasty food market Sugbo Mercado Market

Cebu has a number of independent museums, including the 1730 Jesuit Museum, showcasing an interesting permanent collection. Address: 06 Zulueta, Parian, 6000 Cebu.

Here freshly made food is served from early morning to evening.
Here freshly made food is served from early morning to evening.

Nightlife in Cebu

The exciting nightlife is back – nightclubs and karaoke lounges, from music bars to pubs. 88th Avenue is the new address, for the best restaurants, music bars, to stay, and for a more luxury lifestyle. This place proofs that Cebu is a lifestyle hub that could rival major cities in Asia.

Mango Square used to be a hot spot after dark, but has lost its glory. Still, Club Hype is a popular dance and affordable nightclub. The crowd is young middle-class Filipinos and foreigners. Location Club Hype:Mango Square, Gen. Maxilom Avenue.

Liv Super Club/Kazmic Club is the place for those of you looking for blasting sound, lighting system and 1200 guests. Attracting a mixed crowd. Open to 6am. Location:City Time Square, Mantawe Ave, Mandaue City.

Filipinos love to sing karaoke and many lounges are located on A.S. Fortuna Street in Mandaue City.
Ulta is a bit different, mostly fewer working girls, more Filipinos who want to have good time with friends. Entrance is free.

Nice girls all over. I met these dancers in Lapu Lapu
Nice girls all over. I met these dancers in Lapu Lapu

Cebu to meet girls

Filipina girls love to sing and dance more than anything else. They are very friendly and open to a guy who approaches them, particularly foreign men.

The nightlife is back on track.
Places to meet girls at daytime are actually some of the malls. Ayala Mall on Cardinal Rosales Ave is considered the best spot. Spend some time, grab a meal, do some window shopping, and look for cute girls. When you walk up to a girl and speak to her, you will get a smile and a possible day game is on.
Another easy dating spot would be the IT Park close to Ayala mall. This is the business district with banks and call centres, plus good restaurants.
If you want to date girls, don´t be too serious, keep up the mood and enjoy your time with them. Make them feel relaxed and you will have a lot of fun.

Zumba training at Cebu City Sport Complex
Zumba training at Cebu City Sport Complex

Basketball court

You don’t need to go far to find a basketball court. Filipinos’ love of the game, almost nothing will stop basketball practice. Besides being easy to learn, they love being entertained, enjoy being kept on the edge of their seats by unpredictable twists.

Boxing and basketball, two of the Philippines’ great passions. Any shape, anywhere, a tree can be a place to hang a basketball hoop.

Asia with a smile

Filipinos are fun-loving, kind-hearted and friendly people, and also very musically oriented. They are crazy about karaoke-bars, they have a number of job-related songs, debate songs, love songs and even drinking songs. All folk songs tell a story, sad or happy, and nobody can tell who sang them first.
As a guest, you can sing along, swim with sharks and sardines, climb mountains, and enjoy Cebu city in different ways. The new slogan is simply “Celebrate Cebu» – transformed from declaration of pride and expression of delight.

Imelda Marcos, wife of the late president Marcos and mother of the new president, said something essential: The Philippines is both East and West, right and left, rich and poor. We are neither here nor there. This is where Asia wears a smile!

Sto. Nino church was completed in 1740, has housed the oldest religious image in the country ever since.
Sto. Nino church was completed in 1740, has housed the oldest religious image in the country ever since.

Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


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