Heading to the Philippines? we share how to visit Cebu on a budget, so you can enjoy this beautiful destination without breaking the bank.
At the heart of the Philippines is Cebu, a destination filled with diverse experiences. With a rich and colorful culture and breathtaking beaches, Cebu has countless tourist attractions and travel experiences that different kinds of travelers will love.
The province of Cebu comprises Cebu island and other neighboring islands, where it was originally an important trading center in the country’s pre-colonial era. In fact, it is theorized that it got its name from the phrase “sinubayang hingpit” (the place for trading). A wide variety of products were bartered here, including luxurious perfumes, precious stones, and fresh agricultural products.
When the Spanish colonization of the Philippines took place, the trading hotspot was surrendered to the Spanish under the guise of a trade deal. As such, many heritage sites were built in Cebu as traces of the country’s colonial history. Among these sites include Magellan’s Cross, a Spanish-style pavilion with a large wooden cross, and Simala Shrine, a historical religious complex that is also known as Cebu’s Castle Church.
Apart from Cebu’s heritage sites, travelers will also love the countless places to see the province’s natural wonders. You’ll want to go canyoneering at Kawasan Falls, where turquoise waters cascade from high up above, or go swimming in Bantayan Island’s relaxing waters. You can even go diving with millions of sardines in Moalboal or go on a picturesque hike to Osmeña Peak.
With all of these exciting destinations and more, you might think that your trip to Cebu will be hard on your wallet. But even with a big vacation coming up, it’s important to understand the psychology of spending money. To avoid unhealthy emotional spending when traveling, make sure to create a reasonable budget that will allow you to both have fun and get the best value for money. So with that in mind, here are a few tips on how to visit Cebu, Philippines on a budget.
How to visit Cebu on a budget
Consider planning your own itinerary
When traveling, many people invest in a tour operator to have an all-around more convenient trip. Tour packages typically come with a planned itinerary and additional aid with paperwork, but often charge extra for their services—plus other hidden costs. If you’d like a bit more flexibility with your itinerary and don’t mind doing your own research on your destinations, it may be a good option to simply plan out the itinerary by yourself.
As intimidating as it may seem, you may get more flexibility around the destinations to visit and your schedule. You may even become more immersed in the local culture when you plan a trip yourself, as compared to going with a tour group with a limited circle and limited time to learn about the places you’re visiting.
Choose the best accommodation
One of the most important decisions to make is where to stay in Cebu. Fortunately, a wide range of accommodations are available, from luxury to budget-friendly options. You can choose which best fits your budget and priorities.
First, hostels around Cebu are cheaper options that are popular for solo travelers and those that want to meet fellow travelers. Next, hotels of varying price ranges are typically more comfortable options for families and big groups. Then lastly, condo or apartment rentals are great options for those who may be looking to stay for a longer period of time.
Do your research on prices
While the Philippines is generally an affordable vacation spot, prices will still vary. Food, accommodations, transportation, and more can be marked up higher for certain tourist attractions. With this, it’s important to look at all options that interest you.
Whether it’s a local bus line, bar, or heritage site, it’ll be helpful to check on how much their rates are beforehand. When doing this, you can plan out an estimate of how much you’ll be spending for your trip in total, which will allow you to save up in advance.
Bring all your essentials
To avoid additional expenses on your trip, make sure to pack everything you need. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to try including all of your belongings into your luggage. Instead, make sure to bring a travel kit that contains items that could help make you more safe, comfortable, and prepared in case any emergencies come up.
A few examples of items to include in your travel kit would be a face mask, mosquito repellant, and a money belt. The face mask will keep you away from allergens and bacteria, while the mosquito repellant will help you avoid diseases that could be carried by mosquitoes on your Cebu adventure. The money belt will also be a handy item in case you ever need extra cash. Depending on your own health and safety needs, you may want to pack even more essentials in your travel kit.
Prioritize local experiences and specialties
It’s not every day that you get to visit Cebu! While you have the chance, try as many experiences that are unique to the province. For example, you can go diving with the one-of-a-kind sardine run in Moalboal as not many places offer this kind of attraction. It’s hailed as one of the most beautiful places to go scuba diving in the whole country.
Set aside some money for pasalubong
Whatever your budget may be, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that you may want to buy pasalubong—gifts or souvenirs that you’ll want to bring back home, either to give to your loved ones or to keep as a remembrance of your trip. If you can, don’t forget to set aside some money for these, as there are many Cebuano delicacies you can choose from.
Some tourist favorites include dried mangoes, some of the sweetest yellow mangoes in the world that are sun-dried and sometimes dipped in chocolate, as well as otap, a flaky pastry topped with sugar. If you’re not much of a foodie, don’t worry—other pasalubong options include apparel and other Cebu merchandise, artworks, handcrafted jewelry, and even the renowned Cebu guitars from Lapu-Lapu City.
Things to know before you go to the Phillipines
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.