As the second largest city in the country, just behind Manila, Cebu City is known as the Southern Queen of the Philippines with its ancient values blending with its modern architecture that attracts a lot of tourists every year. In addition, Cebu also named itself on the list of favorite destinations of locals and international visitors with world-famous scuba diving or snorkeling activities for whale shark watching. So, what to do in Cebu for 3 days and how to spend 3 days in Cebu perfectly? Let’s check out our Cebu trip itinerary with the details of Cebu itinerary 3 days on a budget (Cebu itinerary 3 days 2 nights) from how to get to Cebu, where to stay, where to eat, best places to visit and top things to do in Cebu in 3 days. Now, joining me to experience the exciting feelings around this fascinating city of Cebu.
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View from the plane, you can easily see that the island of Cebu is surrounded by other large and small islands, so it is not much affected by the storms in the region. But in order to fully explore this island and neighboring islands, you should avoid to go to Cebu during the rainy season starting from July to November. Because of the heavy seas, it will makes our trip incomplete!
Cebu’s beauty is a mixture of natural mountains and forests in the city with unspoiled surrounding islands creating an extremely attractive and interesting landscape.
Cebu trip itinerary: How to get to Cebu?
You should arrange the reasonable flight schedule because you have to transit at Manila International Airport. Currently, Cebu Pacific often sells cheap tickets to the Philippines, if you pay attention to follow up, you will easily buy for yourself the cheap tickets. With only about $72.98 for an international flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Manila, I chose the flight time at 10 pm to sleep on the plane for convenient.
With a 3-hour journey, plus 1 hour due to time zone difference, I arrived at Manila Airport at around 2 am to enter the customs procedures and continue to line up to check-in baggage and continue fly on the domestic route from Manila to Cebu at 4 am. The domestic round-trip airfares for this route are $49.37, also from Cebu Pacific. I recommend you to bring some instant cup noodles (if you go to Cebu and take a tour right during the day) to take advantage of time for breakfast at Manila airport to get on time for the tour in Cebu.
My flight schedule is hasty because I don’t want to miss a whole day of exploring Cebu. And partly because I had a plan for a Cebu tour with the Filipino guy whom I had booked a tour directly from Vietnam.
3 days in Cebu: Transportation and traffic jam
My deepest impression of this city called the Southern Queen is the traffic jam. And my advice is to eliminate at least 2 hours just to catch the car when moving at rush hour, and that’s when you catch a bus or a taxi. As for Jeepney, be careful because it is completely unsafe when you traveling alone! Especially when you bring valuable belongings, it is easy to be pickpocketed or be putted a gun to your head. This is a very useful warning from international visitors on backpacker’s websites. Although I really love these colorful Jeepneys, but I didn’t dare to sitting on and experience even though I went with a very large group.
Cebu itinerary 3 days 2 nights: The friendly Filipino guy
Thanks to actively participating in foreign travel forums, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with a very cute and enthusiastic Filipino guy. He suggested to me some best places to go and help me plan the details of the Cebu itinerary 3 days from what to do in Cebu for 3 days, where to stay and also how to pick up us from the airport to the hotel. And a very lovely thing about him is that when he knew we were Vietnamese, he was completely believed and he did not take the deposit in advance for our tour in Cebu and he said that when he meets us directly, he would receive money. It can be said that Filipinos always know how to make others feel good about themselves, not only in Cebu but the places I have visited are like that! His name is Raven (Phone: +63 926 263 9064 / Email: [email protected] / https://www.facebook.com/pg/blueraventravel).
3 days in Cebu: Where to stay?
Accommodation is also an important part of the trip. Most of the time we spend in Cebu for joining tours all day and in quite remote places, so we only need a comfortable sleeping place and close to the airport for easy transportation. And Cleverlearn Residences Hotel is a perfect place, clean, comfortable rooms, with electric water heater, breakfast, but the price is very cheap! The room rates for 2 nights with 2 rooms for 8 people in my group is 6.300 pesos ($331.37). The big minus point is the WiFi is not good, but as far as I know, almost in the Philippines, hotel WiFi is not a priority. So you remember to buy a 4G SIM card in advance or as soon as you arrive at the airport to make it easier for you to find information.
My hotel and Cebu airport are located right on the island of Mactan, next to Cebu City, about 12km from central Cebu, and have to passing two famous bridges across the river are Osmena Bridge and Marcelo Fernan Bridge. A 2.5-star hotel, you can check rates, reviews and book on Agoda.com or Booking.com.
–> Airbnb link discount up to $35 for the first booking here: https://www.airbnb.com/c/anht5185
Cebu itinerary 3 days — Day 1
We arrive the hotel early, take advantage of time to send luggage at the hotel and running to the Raven’s car waiting for us. From the hotel to the pier is very close, the pier also located on the island of Mactan, and we were guided by Raven to getting on the local boat that anchoring at the dock to starting on the underwater adventure to explore unique places around Cebu. Traveling costs from the airport to the hotel and from the pier back to the hotel, Raven charges us 1.500 pesos ($78.90). The price is quite cheap compared to the price we had to pay for a 16-seats car from the hotel to downtown Cebu that costs up to 1.000 pesos ($52.60).
As for the tour price, according to our research, the cost that the native guy offers can be said to be cheap compared to the tour price I’ve seen on other websites. The rental price of the whole boat for a day is 2.500 peso ($131.50) for 8 people, included a lunch meal and water drinks on the boat.
Today’s journey we will explore 3 islands next to Mactan Island. Hilutungan Island, 20 to 30 minutes from Mactan Island by boat, is one the coral reef islands of Olango Island Group, a marine sanctuary. This beautiful island is the ideal place for snorkeling and scuba diving due to the abundant coral reefs and countless tropical fish species. Within a distance of 3m – 7m, you can have fun with the fish, these tropical fishes are friendly and you can feed them bread and swim with them.
Leaving Hilutungan Island, we went to Nalusuan Island. It is home to the most diverse coral reef ecosystem and fish species among the islands around Cebu and is also the top chosen diving destination. Famous for its long wooden bridge and very clear water, you can see the bottom. We had lunch on boat along with some sea snails dishes were sold by local people and processing on site.
The final destination in the first day is an offshore sea. From the boat, you will be surprised to see both the seabed and the coral. We had extremely happy time on the sea. This sea is the same as the last two places we visited, the clear blue sea, lots of corals and fish.