Cebu City Guide
Cebu City is the capital of the island of Cebu and the first established city in the Philippines. It is a great place to begin your holiday, being the largest and most important place in the Visayas. Cebu City should at least warrant two or three days stop over (or longer!) with its many attractions and activities before heading off to the beautiful beaches of Cebu. Known as the Queen of the South, (no reference to the amount of “Queens“ i.e. the lady boys!) Cebu City is definitely more laid back than the capital Manila and you feel this as soon as you step off the plane. The people are friendly, easy going, hospitable and charming. The charisma of the Cebuano people will certainly capture your heart with their warmth and loving smiles. Don’t expect anything in a hurry here, living in the tropics has taught them a slow and stress free way of life. Like most developing cities in Asia, it is crowded and polluted but not on the same scale of Manila or Bangkok, so it’s not so over bearing. Traffic can be a problem like with many Asian cities but thankfully Cebu City is nowhere near as large so you won’t be stuck in traffic that long.
Find a hotel in Cebu
Hotel Spotlight – Premiere Citi Suties Cebu. Read more on this hotel here.
If you need to know where to stay in Cebu, the city offers ample choice in accommodation from basic pension houses right up to luxurious hotels. In the last couple of years there has been a rapid explosion of new hotels being built, most notably near Ayala Shopping Mall area. The good thing for consumers with so much competition between the hotels in this area is they are constantly having sales or discounts. So here is a rundown on the hotels near Ayala Cebu starting from the higher end hotels. Right on the doorstep of Ayala is the Marriott Hotel Cebu with its airport like security, aimed at the business and upper leisure market traveller. Across the road (Arch. Reyes Avenue) from Ayala starting on the east side is the Parklane Cebu a nice higher standard hotel (actually back one street from Arch Reyes Ave.). Heading west, the Diamond Suites Cebu is a modern hotel with some contemporary styled rooms, it also has some suites it rents for longer term stays in Cebu. The brand new Wellcome Hotel complete with swimming pool. The Cebu Quest Hotel is one of the newest and largest hotels in Cebu complete with all the modern facilities you would come to expect from this chain of hotels. It also has a nice rooftop outdoor swimming pool. Regal Park Hotel is an older mid priced hotel that offers reasonable value. Next to that is the brand new budget Tune Hotel Cebu which offers “no frill airline” type service where you just get the basics and pay extra for everything else (you can buy blocks of cable TV time for example). Islands Stay Hotel Uptown Cebu is part of the Islands Company (who run Island Souvenirs and the Island Banca Cruises) a brightly coloured budget friendly hotel. Next is the popular mid ranged hotel Golden Prince Hotel which always seems busy. Rooms are simple but reasonable. The Elizabeth Hotel Cebu is a great (newish) hotel which nice clean rooms. Around the corner is the St Moritz Cebu Hotel, an older hotel but with some decent rooms. Has a nice restaurant and if you like, a bar attached with lady dancers. A couple of the older budget options have closed these include Maanyag Pension House Cebu (opposite the Elizabeth Hotel) and Myra’s Pensionne (now known as Myra’s Family Inn) which has moved closer to General Maxilom Ave. Down a side street on a quieter road is the reasonable budget friendly Pensionne La Florentina. A couple blocks back, but still an easy walk to Ayala is the mid priced Golden Peak Hotel which, while getting on with age have some OK rooms, but is better value when they have some of their great promos (in the off season). Harolds Hotel Cebu is a new upmarket hotel (along Gorordo Ave) that offers some great modern rooms, don’t forget to check out the rooftop bar which some great views of the city. For longer stays across the road from Harolds is Tonros Apartelle, while not everyone’s cup of tea with its aging rooms it does offer some cheap longer stay options close to Ayala. The cheapest option to stay around the area is Kukuk’s Nest (moved across the road from its original location) with its fan dorm rooms starting from P 400 (shared bathroom). Along Gorordo Ave is also the is the West Gorordo Hotel with reasonable (older) rooms and around the corner is the Richmond Hotel which was starting to renovate its aging rooms (which are a great improvement). Another hotel near Ayala (still within walking distance) is the Waterfront Cebu and Casino. The new hotels to open in this area include the Mandarin Plaza Hotel Cebu located in front of the Parklane and MJ Hotel and Suites which is back a block nearer to the Wellcome Hotel.
Marco Polo Plaza Cebu video review. More details here.
The other major shopping mall, SM hasn’t got as many options of hotels but enough to suit everyone’s budget. One of Cebu’s most prestigious hotels the Radisson Blu Cebu sits right on SM. The newly opened budget Express Inn Cebu is only a couple minutes walk away. Some other cheaper budget options include Ringtop Pension and Citi Pension (which has some rooms suitable for more long term stays) and the cheap Subutel Hotel Cebu with its dorm type rooms (it has some new private rooms as well that are still good value). Hotel Pier Cuatro and Crown Port Hotel nearer to the pier (for boats to Bohol and other islands) and Kiwi Lodge has some decent rooms (and restaurant) that’s also walking distance to SM. A new hotel to open in 2014 is the Bayfront Hotel Cebu, just across the road from SM Shopping Mall
Another popular area in Cebu with many options of hotels is around Fuente Osmeña/Capitol area. Most hotels in this area fall in the budget to mid ranged priced hotels and they are close to many restaurants, Cebu’s main hospitals, Robinson’s Shopping Mall and bars in Cebu. The only annoying thing around this area are the street sellers trying to sell Viagra and stuff, if you ignore them and don’t show any interest and keep walking they don’t pose a problem. Along Juana Osmeña St (and its side streets) you will find a great selection of hotels that are easy walking distance to Mango Square Discos and bars. The first street to the left of Juana Osmeña St ( Don Llorente St) is home to Palladium Suites, the back of Sampaguita Suites (a great budget option). Apple Tree Suites another decent budget choice, Elegant Circle Inn (the back entrance) a good cheap hotel and Fuente Pension House. Back along Juana Osmeña St is the aging Century Plaza Hotel Cebu, across the road is the three sisters hotels (all run by the same owner) Hotel Casablanca, Hotel Le Carmen (the nicest of the lot) and Funtand Villa (the newest one). The only issue with these hotels is noise from the nearby nightclubs of Mango Square, you do hear the pumping noise from the bars, especially on the weekends (not recommended for light sleepers!). Right turn into Aboitiz St is the very reasonable budget Casa Rosario Pension House and just around the corner the brand new St. Mark Hotel. Back to Juana Osmeña St the next hotel down is the decent NS Pension House (we find the rooms pretty similar to Elegant Circle Inn) and then French sounding C’est La Vie Pension offering cheap simple rooms but ordinary customer service! D & L Apartelle offers some cheap long stay accommodation, and just around the corner is the average Executive Inn and one of our favourite hotels in Cebu Premiere Citi Suites. The Paragon Suites Hotel offers some great rooms at good prices and often have promos. Next hotel along this street is the Casa Escaño bed and breakfast where the restaurant is more popular than the hotel as it serves up some great food. Last but not least is the Vacation Hotel Cebu and older hotel which also has an outside swimming pool.You also may want to check out the brand new Best Western Lux Hotel Cebu, just around the corner from Vacation along N Escario St. The Capitol Central Hotel offers some reasonable value as well and is only a block away from the Best Western.
The other location around the Capitol area with a large number of budget options is behind Robinson Cybergate at Fuente Osmeña Circle. The first hotel behind here is the brand new M Citi Suites which offers nice modern rooms. Just across the road is the newly opened Cuarto Hotel. Westpoint Inn, Verbena Pension, Travelbee and Jasmine are all just meters away from each other and offer some simple no frills budget accommodation, the better of them is probably Jasmine (just). Verbena has a new and nicer branch a few minutes down the road at Verbena Capitol. Others in this street or adjoining streets are the newly renovated (including the facelift to the front of the building) Dynasty Tourist Inn for a reasonable mid ranged hotel, the aging and pretty ordinary Capital Tourist Inn (also offer short term prices). The nicer hotels/pension houses is the popular Grand Tierra Suites (if you don’t mind hard beds) which I have always needed to book in advance understandably as it’s great value, the new Hotel Stella with modern rooms (although small) and Cebu R Hotel a great value mid priced hotel.
The Henry Hotel Cebu video review. More details here.
For a great cluster of budget accommodation in Cebu is around Junquera Ext. (just behind Diplomat Hotel) kinda half way between uptown Cebu and downtown Cebu. Here you can find the 3 great value LS Pension Houses ( LS 3 being the newest and better). Teo Fel Pension an older but reasonable pension house in Cebu, opposite that is Regal Pension. Yes Pension is just meters away and the new Robe’s Pension House Cebu and JL Suites (same owner as the LS pension houses and rooms are similar to LS 3) are all just a few minutes walk away. The new pension house in the area is Skypark Pensionne which offers modern but small rooms.
Downtown you will find Cebu hotels at cheapest rates in town but located in a busy and dirty part of the city. If you’re not familiar with Cebu or it’s your first time in Cebu, it’s probably not recommended to stay in this area. If you do plan on staying downtown most of the decent hotels are located on or around Pelaez St., at the back of the the main building of San Carlos University. The Street is busy and noisy at the best of times, and along with the hotels there are a number of cheap bikini bars, pimps offering girls and not a “family friendly” area. The “better” places to stay around here are Golden Valley Hotel, the under rated Honeybee Royal Inn (we found it generally quieter due to the hotel being back away from the road traffic noise) Cebu View Tourist Inn (the renovated rooms – although no windows). GV Tower a block away, Tuxedo (opposite Golden Valley), La Guardia, Cebu Century and Hotel De Mercedes and Cebu Business Hotel are passable budget hotels. The better places to eat along here are the expat bar/restaurant Our Place and the Emerald Cafe (at the ground floor of the Golden Valley Hotel) and for a budget friendly place try Pete’s Kitchen (Filipino foods) opposite Hotel De Mercedes. Other decent hotels in the downtown area include Sampaguita Suites Plaza Garcia (it has another branch near Fuente Osmeña Circle -*note* if your ever staying at either one of the Sampauita Suites make sure to tell the taxi driver which branch you mean) located near Magellan’s Cross, Hotel Fortuna (the deluxe garden rooms are worth trying out!) and the Pacific Tourist Inn is passable. There are a number of short term stay pension houses/lodges dotted around the downtown area which are pretty dirty and not recommended.
For someone looking for the modern comforts and a better class of hotel the city is home to recognized hotel chains such as Marriott Cebu, Radisson Blu Cebu, Cebu Marco Polo, Crown Regency Cebu and the Cebu Waterfront Hotel. Many of Cebu’s hotels can offer great views of the coast and mountains. The beauty of Cebu City is its compact and no matter what hotel in Cebu you’re staying at, you are really never that far away from anything. For the complete list check out our hotels in Cebu directory.
When deciding on staying in a hotel in Cebu, you will find most accommodation in Cebu is very affordable. Pension houses in Cebu are great value and most will only cost around 20 dollars or less. Check out our top 7 budget hotels and pension houses in Cebu. If you need any further help with choosing a hotel we also list our favourite mid to luxury hotels in Cebu. Below is the complete list of accommodation in Cebu including contact details, photos and great rates.
Cebu tourist attractions
What are Cebu’s tourist spots? Cebu tourist attractions reflect the religion and the culture of the city. Sure you could see Cebu attractions with a taxi driver (and many will offer to do this for you) which we have done in the past, they don’t tell you anything about what your seeing, if you really want to get a rewarding and informative insight to Cebu we recommend taking an organised tour. The one we took (in video) was with Cebu Trip Tours who offer a number of tour packages of Cebu. The tour in the video was the Cebu City and Mactan tour (see Mactan Island for the Mactan part of tour) with a pick up at Ayala. Please visit their website for more details www.cebutriptours.com . Here are a list of some tourist spots in Cebu that are worth checking out. 1. Basilica Minore del Santo Niño which was originally built in 1565, burnt down a couple times and finally finished 1740. It holds the oldest Christian relic in the Philippines – the statue of Santo Niño (infant Jesus). During Sinulog celebrations this place becomes packed with devotees all wanting a special blessing! 2. Casa Gorordo Museum. Former home of the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu (1862-1934) and now a museum. The old residential home gives an insight of how Cebu’s wealthy lived during the turn of the century. 3. Colon St - the oldest street in the country and looks like it too! 4. Fort San Pedro - built in 1565 by the Spanish to keep out pirates is the oldest and smallest triangular fort in the Philippines. 5. Magellan’s Cross - A replica of the original cross that Magellan marked with the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines (1521). 6. Taoist Temple - temple built in 1964 by the Chinese Taoist community up in Beverly Hills Cebu. Has a great view over Cebu City. 7. Heritage Of Cebu Monument - A monument showcasing events in Cebu’s history, it opened in 2000. 8. Tops Lookout - for a breathtaking view of Cebu City and Mactan Island and also to escape the heat, Tops provides an easy and quick getaway from the city.
Cebu City has a lot to offer the tourist in the way of nightlife. One of the more popular areas is Mango Square with a number of trendy nightclubs. Here you will find J. Ave (originally called Juliana’s and is still know as this to many), Alcohology and Hybrid discos. At the Crossroads is the trendy Vudu, the original Pump Disco located at the back of the Grand Convention Center (not far from Ayala) which attracts a large Korean crowd. IT Park has The Penthouse and Loft bars. Discos in Cebu don’t start taking off until late, so your pre party places worth checking out are MO2 in Mandaue (although it has a disco as well) for drinks and a live band, Formo in Banilad or the The Outpost in Lahug (for live bands) are good places to “chill”. There are a number of bikini bars along Gen. Maxilom Ave not far from Mango Square, when these bars close at 3 am the “unlucky” girls tend to migrate into the discos in Mango Square.
Cebu City offers some great value shopping for overseas tourists. Many of the clothing and merchandise such as watches you can find at good prices. There are two huge shopping malls (SM Cebu, and Ayala Cebu) with more on the way (and some more mid sized ones, Parkmall (actually in Mandaue), Robinson’s Mall at Fuente Osmeña and Giasano Country Mall in Banilad).
For more details on these attractions in Cebu see the list below.
Sinulog Festival is Cebu City’s most popular and biggest festival. It is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of January in honour of Señor Sto. Niño. Read more…
The Tartanilla Festival
The Tartanilla Festival is Cebu City’s way of preserving the tartanilla (horse-drawn carriage) heritage by reviving the oldest mode of transportation. Tartanilla Festival is celebrated every 12th of June. Read more…