Travelling Cebu for first time – 10 DON’Ts to keep in your mind


Last updated on November 16th, 2017

You have read some wonderful travel stories of Cebu city of Philippines. People who you know through various social media are sharing wonderful photos of being at Cebu city; starting from wonderful beaches to ancient museums to mouth-watering cuisines. You immediately fell in love with Cebu and immediately started thinking of travelling Cebu.

There is nothing wrong. You are just being a normal human here – it was the case with me too. Who won’t fall in love with Cebu – Queen City of the Southern Philippines. Therefore, Cebu today receives the maximum tourists in the Philippines. However, in many case, and more often for its first time tourists, there come certain fear factors when visiting a place for the first time.

Tourist with Filipino girls

Filipino ladies posing with me at Cebu Taoist Temple.

Therefore, I am going to share my experiential tips on how to avoid first-timers’ fears when you’re travelling Cebu for the first time. These tips would help you in building your confidence and then in travelling Cebu just like a regular tourist.

5 things you must keep in mind when you’re travelling Cebu

#1 Don’t think Cebu is like Manila

Cebu is indeed different in its own ways. Don’t relate Cebu with Manila just you have been there few times and then altogether start making some untested assumptions. If you have had not-so-good experiences of travelling to Philippines because of Manila, I am sure Cebu will change your perceptions.

Travelling Cebu to see Taoist temple

Taoist temple of Cebu is a popular place of tourists in Cebu.

Cebu is one of the top most tourists visited places of Philippines. Its lighter traffics, less airport checkout procedures, lower hotel rates and more number of tourist places make Cebu better than Manila. It’s indeed in Cebu that you get to experience moments of being really in the Philippines.

#2 Don’t change money at Airport

When you land in Cebu Airport, you’ll be out of terminal within few minutes – there are no long process of passport verification and immigration interrogation. There are direct flights to Cebu from Bangkok, Hongkong, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

If you are travelling to Cebu directly from those airports, no sooner you get out of the airport counter than you might feel like to change USD with Peso. But here is a word of experience: Don’t change your USD at airport foreign exchange counter. During my visit, they were buying USD at 4-6 pesos lower than in main Cebu City.

#3 Don’t smoke in Public places

The Philippines government has recently banned smoking in public places. This means Airport is also not an exclusion. Don’t smoke immediately after getting out of the airport. The penalty is 500 pesos per instance if you are smoking at a distance of less than 20 meters from a public place.

There is no list of public places where you are not allowed to smoke. How to define a place being public is up to police. There is a possibility that you might land up smoking near public place where there are police. Therefore, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t smoke anywhere you like in Cebu and Philippines in general.

#4 Don’t forget to consider traffics

One thing that would irritate any tourist in the Philippines is their grid-locked sluggish moving vehicular traffics. Cebu is also not an exception though it’s lighter compare to that of Manila. During rush hours (6-9 a.m, 11-1 p.m and 4-9 p.m), it’s even worse.

Don’t underestimate impact of traffic problems in your travel cost in the Philippines. Therefore, when you make plans of travelling Cebu, give consideration to traffics. It will be fast and cost effective when you hire a metered taxi when there is light traffics. Weekend is even better.

#5 Don’t book hotels online

You must be thinking that hotel rates at Cebu also will be higher as you have experiences at Manila. But I have already told you, Cebu isn’t Manila. Don’t let this fear to make you book USD 50-60 per day worth of home-stays from Airbnb. There are excellent hotels in middle of Cebu Metro that cost less than lower than USD 30/night.

When booking hotels online, you don’t only end up paying high charges to those home-stays that are away from main city, you are also allowing yourself remain deprived of entertaining city lifestyles and cultures of Cebu.

#6 Don’t choose Yellow Taxi

If you are travelling Cebu on tight budget, saving starts right from the minute you step out of airport terminal and hire a taxi in dropping you. Look around to see lines of two types of taxi cabs – yellow and white. There will be few private vans who are also into this business.

But your aim should be on white taxi as they are ordinary taxi cabs and their meter readings start from 30 peso unlike 70 peso in case of yellow cabs. And if you have landed at airport during rush hours of Cebu city, hiring yellow taxi would cost you more at traffic jams. So go for white taxi cabs to drop you.

#7 Don’t go without a list

During my week long and tight schedules stay in Cebu, I only felt how big is Cebu and how much more is there for me to explore. But at last I had to leave it without visiting places that are better than the ones I have visited.

Therefore, to avoid this mistake as a person travelling Cebu city for the first time, you can come with a list of places to visit in Cebu and things to do in Cebu as a first-time tourist. This would save time and also you can visit places based on scores of your choice.

#8 Don’t over plan your travels

Don’t aim of travelling Cebu and also Philippines as a whole with a travel plan to follow it strictly. Because weather of the Philippines has been accredited for being unpredictable and distorting travel plans of many travellers like you.

You can of course have a plan. But you must have certain degree of flexibility. During wet season, typhoons may throw anytime making bus and train schedules totally unreliable. Your Plan B should be put in action if Plan A doesn’t work.

#9 Don’t try to remain Romans

Don’t be Roman when you are in Cebu, Philippines. This country has diversity of cultures, traditions and lifestyles. The best way to experience all of them is to get along the crowd and enjoy as if nobody in the world cares whatever you do and however you live.

Filipinos treat tourists well

Filipinos are open and very friendly with tourists.

It shouldn’t matter. Go to some karaokes and dance your life no matter you might appear like a strangled cock. Sing your voice no matter you sound like a donkey. Personally I feel there is so much fun in them and people of the Philippines are less judgmental.

#10 Don’t remain too good

When you are in Cebu Philippines, don’t be like a child on his first day of school – humble and innocent. Go to Mango Street, hangout with locals and make new friends. I can say that it doesn’t take much time in finding friends in Filipinos. They are open people.

First timers survivables in Cebu

The view of Metro Cebu from top of Beverly Hills Subdivision.

Go and try some unusual and weird foods of the Philippines like Lechon and Balut. Even if you don’t like them, it shouldn’t matter much. In later days of your life, you’ll have memories of eating weird foods of the Philippines. You can also try roaming the city taking rides in local buses – they are cheap.

Recommend to read following travel experiences and exciting travel stories from the Philippines:

About Author

An auditor by profession, but a traveller, blogger and photographer by passion. This site was created to share travel stories of various destinations within Bhutan and also travel tips of travelling to Bhutan. Read More>>


  1. Great tips! I’ve been considering adding Cebu to my list of stops for my rip though Asia, I keep hearing such wonderful things of the island!

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