Simple Travel Guide to Cebu

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Hey there!As you all know, I recently wrote about solo backpacking and one of my recommendation was Cebu. As promised, here are the things I did during my short stay in Cebu. In this article, I’ll try to list all the possible activities an adventure junkie wants to do. I’ll give you my recommendations and how to plan your trip to Cebu based on my experience and mistakes.

We all learn from our mistake. The important thing is we use it to become better.

Let’s start with PLANNING. You may think this is the most boring part of the trip and its true! It takes a lot of time, research, blog reading and a lot more. But trust me, its better to have this in case things go wrong.

A brave soldier cannot enter the war zone without a weapon.

i. Planning

Things you need to ask yourself before putting your best foot forward.

1. WHAT: what are the things you want to try in Cebu? Do you want adventure? Do you want to explore the history? Or Do you want to simply relax?

–> I choose Adventure – so most of the things I’ll be recommending for this article is highly recommended for adventure junkies. (I’ll give you an update on the rest when I go back to this wonderful paradise)

2. WHEN: you need to know when you will be going to Cebu. Make sure to check weather reports, your long weekend at work and of course, check the  Philippine Holiday. Holidays mean its the “peak season” so the prices may be higher at those times.

*** know the best time to take your flight. If you plan to go outside Cebu City, I suggest you take a flight at night. It will take an hour and a half from Manila to Cebu. No need to worry If you arrive early morning because the traffic in Cebu is almost the same in Manila. The earlier you arrive, the chances to escape the traffic is higher.

3. WHERE: Cebu is a very big place, not to mention the other islands near Cebu. You have to decide which part of Cebu you want to explore.

This is the moment you decide if you’re up for an adventure, history or simply relax. I wanted the “rush in my veins” feeling so I decided to visit the southern part of Cebu where most of the diving and trekking are located.

4. How: You have to know how much money will you spend for this trip. I believe that the “budget” is the most important factor you need to consider for all your travel.

Canyoneering in Cebu

We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.

II. IMPLEMENTATION

Its true that it is hard to stick to your original plan but there are a lot of factors affecting the change being done.

If Plan A did not work, don’t stress yourself because there’s still 25 letters to back you up.

Where to go:

Day 1: Manila –> Mactan International Airport –>Cebu City –> Badian, Cebu (CANYONEERING)–> Bato, Cebu –> Oslob, Cebu(end)

I decided to do the Canyoneering first. My mistake, I took the morning flight in Manila and we (me and my friends) arrived in Cebu almost 7:00 am. Traffic is about to start. My friends were left in Cebu city and after we ate breakfast, I went on my own to Badian. From Mactan International Airport to Cebu city will be less than an hour. then from Cebu city to Badian will be at most 5 hours. The struggle is real when you got stuck in the traffic.

Time is gold. Maximize your time by resting in the bus. So don’t be afraid to take the earliest flight. 

I arrived in Badian about 2:00PM for my Canyoneering and the whole activity took about 4-5 hours. haha It could have been better if I started earlier. Canyoneering is a two in one activity where you trek the mountain and once you have reached a certain point, you’ll start to go down using cliff diving and swimming.

Highland Adventure Canyoneering
Prior to Canyoneering

For those who does not know how to swim, don’t worry, life jacket and helmets are provided. In my case, a knee pad was provided for additional safety measure. The whole package I got includes the canyoneering tour, a side trip to kawasan falls, tour guide, lunch or dinner, snacks, water, life vest, knee pads and helmet.

cebu

Things to remember:

  • prepare your action camera ,extra batteries and memory card.Trekking in Cebu
  • set your expectations that you’r rubber shoes or trekking sandals will get wet.(rubber shoes is better)canyoneering, Cebu
  • you can bring your own waterproof bag but if its not available, your tour guide will bring his own bag to share with you.
    Water falls in Cebu
    water falls in cebu
  • bring your flashlight. If you finished late, the way back to the main road is dark.
    Kawasan falls, Cebu
    Kawasan falls

After the tiring activity, It was dark and late night. I waited for a bus going to “bato” Bus station that will take me to my next destination which is Oslob. Well, I made another mistake of booking a small room in Oslob. It could have been better if I stayed in Badian to spend the night. It was late but I was already able to ride a bus going to “bato” but the trip took me about an hour and a half. Unfortunately I arrived in Bato around 10:05pm and the bad news, the last bus going to Oslob is only up until 10 pm. It was a matter of few minutes. The good news, the first trip of the bus is 12 MN. There are a lot of motorcycle drivers offering a ride to Oslob but their price is too high. I was on a tight budget that time because I want to prove thatwe can travel without spending too much. Finally, I decided to wait for the first trip of the bus. With no choice, I took a nap in the bus station. Here, I was able to prove that cebuano’s are kind. One of the bus driver’s stayed up to look after me. I was alone but I never felt lonely and scared that time. It was 12 MN and the bus has arrived. From Bato to Oslob is about 3-4 hours. I have arrived in my accommodation really tired and sleepy.

Day 2: Oslob(whale shark) –> Moalboal, Cebu (Pescador island) —> Mactan, Cebu(end)

Tired from yesterday’s activity and travel but I need to wake up early. It was not easy but I was motivated by the next adventure I’m about to experience. I am going to swim with the whale sharks in Oslob. Yey!. Please take note that the whale shark adventure or tour is only available from 5:30 AM- 12:00 NN this is the “feeding time” for the sharks and with these, the locals are able to attract them and allow them to stay in that area for the mean time. The tour will cost you 500-600 PHP for 30 mins. of snorkeling with the sharks.

                          The Early bird catches the worm

Despite of the time frame, Being early is better because there are few tourist and you can have a better picture with the sharks. Please take note that you are not allowed to touch or go near the shark with in 100 meters. This is to prevent accidents and not to scare the sharks away. After I had a quick breakfast, I rode a bus going to the “drop off” for whale sharks, just ask the driver and they will drop you there. For solo backpackers like me, I asked to be dropped at a hotel, for me to leave my backpack in a locker and to be able to take a shower after the activity. Besides, a 100php wouldn’t hurt for you’r bag’s safety.

After my early swim with the sharks, I did not waste my time and rode a bus going to Moalboalto see the famous Pescador Island. I was not sure what to expect in that island but I’m willing to take the chance. From Oslob to Moalboal, It is a 2-3 hours of land travel. While I was in the bus, I made my research and  found out that Moalboal is perfect for scuba diving. I don’t have my license yet so I decided to do snorkeling. When I arrived there, I did’t have any clue where to go. Then the next thing I know, I was talking to a motorcycle driver and made a deal for him to take me to the beach where I can do snorkeling. He was really nice and kind to give me a good amount for that trip. He was the one who introduced me as well  to a boat driver that will take me to those Islands. Their price were just enough for a single traveler like me. I’m not able to discuss much about food because I only eat what is available in my bag (noodles, biscuits, breads, chocolate) and if I came across a cheap store, I will buy a heavy meal. 

Moalboal, Cebu
Pescador island

In Moalboal, I was able to do snorkeling in Pescador Island, Unfortunately the waves became higher that afternoon and I was not able to see much turtles. But at the end of the tour, i was able to swim with lots and lots of sardines. They were tiny and shiny and it is indeed a big school of fish! it was fun! After that day, I don’t know where to spend the night. Good thing, my friends checked in a hotel in Mactan near the airport. I decided to join them that night. From Moalboal to Cebu city will take you another 2-3 hours and from Cebu city to Mactan is 30-45 mins. Wew! A lot of time will be wasted because of the travel time, with this given situations, I learned that sleeping during travel is one way to maximize your time and to recharge yourself for the next travel.

Pescador Island, Cebu

Day 3 and 4:  Mactan –> Cebu City(Sky walk)–>Mactan –>Manila(end)

I had a good night sleep that time after joining my friends in their hotel because I know that I only have one activity left in my “bucket list” and I can sleep more. True enough, I woke up late,had a big lunch with my girlfriends and we went swimming.Plus a lot of picture taking.

Be hotel
Bae in Be hotel

Later that afternoon, me and my friend decided to try the “sky walk” in Cebu City. It is where you will walk outside the 37th floor of the building over the glass path. It was scary but fun. We also had our dinner buffet there.

Skywalk Cebu
after the sky walk

After that, we bought some souvenirs and went back to the hotel to rest. It was early morning when we had our flight back to Manila.

It was a great and unforgettable experience to push yourself to your limit and experience life and appreciate each wonderful art that the lord has given to us. We are surrounded with great and natural gift of nature, all we have to do is to take care of it for the future generations to appreciate what we have loved.

BONUS:

Here’s a better itinerary for this trip (based on my lesson learned):

  1. Book the last flight going to Cebu.
  2. no need to book for a hotel. Go directly to the bus station headed to Oslob.
  3. It will be a total of 6-8 hours from Mactan to Oslob. (this is based on my travel time. BUT, Some locals told me that there is a direct bus from Cebu city to Oslob that takes a shorter route. You can ask the locals about it, Please comment your update on this below.)
  4. If you arrived in Oslob early, the better. 1st activity will be the whale shark watching. If you arrived really early, no need to worry because the orientation area is near a hotel that  may give you a good deal for short stays. Then head north by dropping by at Badian to do the canyoneering.
  5. The activity might take a while and you might be spending the night there. No need to book for a hotel again because there are motels you can choose for short stays.
  6. You need to wake up early because you need to be early in Moalboal to see the sea turtles and to make sure that the waves are not yet that high.If given the chance, staying in Moalboal for a few or another day or two is good because their beach is better compared in Mactan. If not, You can head straight back to Cebu City and try the sky walk.
  7. Motels in Cebu is cheaper compared in Mactan. Especially if you don’t have that chance that some of your friends are in Mactan. (I was lucky that time).
  8. You can either book the last trip back to manila and stay in Cebu city for a quick day tour  or simply book a flight straight home.

I hope my loooonggg article was able to help you. The most important thing is you enjoy every moment you have. Live life.

Please let me know about your comments. and don’t forget SLSC.

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