Cebu City, Philippines
Cebu City was our first stop on our Philippines adventure, naturally, since it’s one of the airports you can fly into internationally. Also known as “Queen City of the South”, Cebu City is one of the biggest cities in the Philippines archipelago. We spent about 4 days in Cebu City plus more that weren’t spent exploring, just waiting for ferries & flights. That was definitely too long, you can probably see everything you need to see in 1 or 2 days and to be honest there isn’t much to do there. But if you do find yourself in Cebu City, we have a ton of tips to make it worthwhile.
Where to Stay
There are 2 areas most tourists stay in — either Cebu City itself or Mactan Island. Mactan is actually where the airport is, as well as the beaches and resorts so if you’re looking for that kind of trip we definitely recommend staying there. Cebu City has more of the action and is definitely cheaper. We stayed in 2 different accommodations during out trip, one on Mactan and one in Cebu City.
Frankfurter Deluxe Inn - Cebu City. Cheap (about $10 a night) & SUPER FAST WiFi which can be unheard of in the Philippines lol.
Eloisa Royal Suites - Mactan Island. About $50 a night but worth it. We only stayed here one night before we flew back to NYC but this was like staying at a 5 star hotel for a 1 star price!
How to Get Around
Being a city, we figured we could walk the streets but we were oh so wrong. Cebu City is full of cars, motorbikes, and buses and nobody walks there. Thankfully before going on our trip we heard that everyone there uses Grab, which is the Philippines version of Uber. It worked really well and we liked that we could see the price of our trip before we left. We used Grab to get everywhere and we mean EVERYWHERE. It was affordable and definitely a safe way to travel through the city. Make sure you download the Grab app if you are headed to Cebu City, it’s a lifesaver.
Best Things to Do
Frolic in the Siaro Flower Garden (if you want to go here make sure you ask you taxi driver to wait for you, it’s very common and there are no taxi’s up in the mountains where there is located!)
Admire the beauty of the Cebu Taoist Temple
Walk through Fort San Pedro
Catch some epic views at Tops Lookout
Get your shop on at Ayala Mall (our FAV place in Cebu City, this mall is NUTS you have to go and see for yourself haha)
Also get your shop on at SM City Mall
Walk down the famous Colon Street
Where to Eat & Drink
Wellnessland Vegan Cafe
Lunhaw Vegan Cafe
Lemon Grass Restaurant
Try Halo-Halo (local Filipino ice cream dessert — this is not vegan though so only try it if you are vegetarian!)
Things to Note
The local food is all meat. We both eat plant based and first the first time during any place we’ve travelled to, we had a hard time finding food. There were a few specifically vegan restaurants in Cebu City which we ordered from and they had the traditional local dishes but with vegan substitutes. However, when we were just walking along and were hoping to find something to eat nearby, we couldn’t. We actually went to one place and only got a plate of rice haha. So keep this in mind if you visit Cebu City and pack lots of plant based snacks with you!
Everything is in the malls. The Philippines is known for it’s crazy big malls and they will not let you down. Both malls in Cebu City were massive and were probably the biggest malls we’ve ever seen. They had tons of stores and restaurants and they were always packed with locals no matter what time of day it was. The restaurants in Ayala mall catered more to tourists and even had some plant based options. Besides the food, both malls were full of local culture and you could truly feel what it was like to live in this place. We went back to the malls a few times because it was truly a hub of things to do.
Have plenty of cash on you. Besides the malls, hardly any places in Cebu City took credit card. There aren’t a lot of ATMs around so we suggest taking out cash at the airport or at one of the ATMs in the malls! And make sure you have more than you need just to be safe!
For more of our Cebu City tips make sure you watch our vlog below!