Cebu travel guide

Cebu belongs to the Central Visayas region and is positioned around 600kms south of the Philippine Capital and bounded by the Tanon Strait, Camotes Sea, Bohol Strait and Visayan Sea. Its land area occupies 5,088 square kilometers, and it was previously known as Zubu from the 13th until the 16th centuries. Back then, it was inhabited by Muslim, animist and Hindu tribal groups which Datus and Rajahs ruled.

Until the Spaniards arrived, Cebu was considered a Rajahnate and was founded by Rajamuda Lumaya, a Chola dynasty native prince. Now, Cebu is a known tourist destination in the Visayas region which is home to the country’s oldest city, Cebu City.

Visiting Cebu from Boracay

Tourists generally love the tropical climate of the Philippines, and there are few better places to relax in the sun than the upscale resorts of Badian and Mactan Islands.

These offshore areas are draw the largest proportion of Cebu tourists, but for the budget traveler and those looking for a way to experience traditional Filipino culture, the southern parts of Cebu offer great value rustic accommodation nestled by idyllic fishing villages. Some resorts also boast lovely coral reefs and fantastic dives to discover the region’s breathtaking underwater life.

While being a tourist destination, some parts of Cebu still experience a great deal of poverty. While locals are usually very friendly, tourists are still advised to take caution and not show off flash jewellery while walking around Cebu City as petty crime can be a problem. Make no mistake, though, Cebu also has its share of very rich and stable middle class citizens mostly living in the city.

Cebu is a perfect place to enjoy an island getaway where you can relax and participate in different watersports and trips to quiet fishing villages or hikes to the Kavasan Falls. Trekking up to the top of Mt. Busay is also a good activity; you can climb up with your mountain bike, which is the best way to experience the climb. Cebu is also known for its shopping opportunities with its most famous malls being the Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu, and others like the Banilad Town Center and ParkMall.

What to see and do in Cebu

The main activity of tourists in Cebu is sightseeing. Activities like water sports and trekking call for a carefully planned visit according to the season. Summer is usually hot while colder winds are experienced from November to January. The best time to visit is from March to May if you want to be on the beach. But for sightseeing, January is the best time to go so you can witness Sinulog, one of the biggest festivals in the Philippines paying tribute to the Child Jesus. July is the start of the rainy season with frequent downpour of rains but very little typhoons hitting the island.

Some resorts offer their own tour packages which allow you to explore Cebu City in one day or more. Specialised tour packages also allow you to visit locations which are off the beaten path, enabling visitors to bask in the atmosphere of small fishing towns and mountainous areas. For the adventurous, the choices for hiking or trekking include Osmena Peak.

Osmena Peak is the highest one in the entire island on the high hills of South Cebu. Trekkers are required to cross a rugged range which splits the island into western and eastern sections. A range of valleys of jungles can also be encountered along with friendly locals and native marketplaces selling local produce.

At the heart of Cebu lies two luxurious and famous shopping centres, Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu. Both are home to a plethora of shops, restaurants, entertainment centers, and other services common to commercialised complexes in Manila. You can also explore smaller boutiques and malls to find unique products, souvenirs plus significantly cheaper merchandise and local delicacies.