Indulge in to one of Philippines’ extreme and historic spots ever: South Cebu and Cebu City. Php 7,000 for 3 days and 2 nights didn’t hurt so bad. My high school besties and I had the best time notwithstanding the gloomy weather and some bruises.
My friends and I planned this trip for 4 months. It all started when we were at a coffee shop having a catch-up and chuckled on some stuff then my brokenhearted friend suggested if she could go on a little soul-searching.. but with friends. So without a second thought, we committed ourselves to go along with her “Healing Journey”.
Planning this trip drained a lot of my time and effort as I had to make small sacrifices (like my weekends and some nights) just to make the itinerary flawless and our budget to fit in.
I did a lot of research on blogs, like how bloggers managed to cut their expenses, what are the most worth it travel spots in Cebu, and some tips to keep the trip more memorable.
All the sleepless nights, seat sale thrill, cramps, money saving, and Excel addiction definitely became worth it.
We booked a promo flight in Airasia (because when you’re thrifty as hell, you’ve got n0 choice but to wait for these heart-skipping events). I arranged our accommodation down from activities up to the inn check-ins.
DAY 0 and 1 – Manila-Cebu | Whale Shark Watching | Tumalog Falls | Badian
We departed Manila around 9PM. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter a delay this time. We arrived in Cebu City around 10PM. Since it was a hassle in Cebu that night (’cause it was raining), we booked an Uber to Cebu South Bus Terminal. Upon arriving in CSBT, we asked the conductors how much is the fare going to Brgy. Tanaw-an, Oslob which is Php 177 for air-conditioned buses and Php 160 for ordinary buses. We were supposed to opt for a lower cost ride, but to our misfortune the operator said that there is no definite time for ordinary buses to arrive. We left CSBT around 1:25AM and arrived in Brgy. Tana-wan at 4:20AM. The conductor dropped us at a resort. When we entered it, a girl led us to a beachfront cottage. The night was stormy and I feared that our first adventure might get cancelled because of a spoilsport low pressure area. As the shy sunrise woke us up, Fatima (the girl who assisted us) listed down the cost: Php 500 – Swim with the whale sharks, Php 100 – Resort fee, Php 120 – Roundtrip habal-habal ride to Tumalog Falls = Total of Php 720. We weren’t supposed to enter the resort as it will only increase our cost, but seeing the advantage of it, we needed a dry and safe place to leave our belongings and to sleep and shower.
As we waited for the waters to calm down, we observed that the place was invaded by foreigners. They remained faithful just as we were. Before you ride the boat, you’ll be oriented with the do’s and don’ts during the whale shark experience. Here are some things I can remember:
- Do not use sunscreen (as the chemicals can harm the friendly filter-feeders).
- Do not touch the whale (5-6 months of imprisonment, Php 2500-Php 5,000 penalty)
- Stay 30 meters away from the tail, head, and fin.
- Do not panic when the whale shark comes near you because they’ll get agitated. Just relax and say “Hi, whale!”
- You’ll pay Php 800 if your snorkeling gear submerges.
- Turn off your camera’s flash when capturing photos of the whale.
We had queued for almost 30 minutes. Thank God the rain didn’t stop us!
I gotta admit, the experience was intense! I’m not sure if the feeling is only appropriate for amateurs, but as my mind replays the memory, I could say that I survived the uneasy feeling in an open sea encountering the largest friendly sharks on earth.
This semi widlife attraction has become a global issue. While some favor it, others want to suppress it. The great thing about whale shark watching is you get to learn to preserve and protect these gentle giants plus extending help to the locals and Philippine tourism. I just hope that tourists truly respect mother nature the way she expects and hopes from us.
There are still many places to explore in Oslob but we didn’t have enough time for it. You can rent a tricycle for about Php 200-500 depending on your haggling skills and the number of places you intend to visit.
After we had our lunch, our habal-habal drivers came to fetch us up. Boy, it was one cold and crazy ride, alright! We’re all wet, it rained, and it was windy. We enjoyed and videod while we ascended the hill.
When we got off from the motorcycle ride, we were offered by a another batch of habal-habal drivers to go down towards falls for a roundtrip fare of Php 50/pax. We declined this time ’cause we wanted to experience trekking down (painfully) to reach the beauty.
There are some blogs that indicated an entrance fee of Php 20-30 in Tumalog Falls but when we reached it, there isn’t… BUT a local guy approached us and insisted to take us photos.. Of course, we couldn’t help ourselves but to say yes (knowing his agenda which is to earn tips).
The water is so cold but we relished it. It seemed that we got immune to coldness anyway. Looking up and feeling the sprinkling of waters on your face is like euphoria.
After swimming in Tumalog Falls, we headed back to the resort to sleep in our cottage, took a bath, and pack-up. I’ve heard a foreigner asked the room rates of the resort and it’s Php 400/pax. Though I’m not really convinced so I took a shot of their poster to let you guys know their contact number (I had a presumption that they have a special price for foreigners).
There are lots of resorts along Oslob especially along the shore. It’s better if you book via Booking.com to view available hotels/inns that fit your budget (with free cancellation).
Before we head off to our next destination, we had our lunch in Brimini Resort and bought some cutey souvenirs!
We left Oslob around 3:24PM, took a bus bound to Bato and took another bus to Badian and arrived around 5:43PM.
We came as walk-in guests in Ging-Ging Tourist Inn. While in-transit, I’ve seen a couple of Ging-Ging bakeshops along the provinces of Cebu until the receptionist told us that the owner of the bakeshop is also the same owner of the inn. Our budget for our stay was supposed to be Php 300/pax only but the lady told us there should be 8 persons to get that rate so she booked us in a deluxe room which costs Php 1,200 (maximum of 2 persons, yet we managed to haggle and fight for our budget LOL). Overall, the room is very clean especially the bathroom. They also have a drinking water dispenser which is very ideal for travelers/backpackers.
DAY 0 and 1 Itinerary and Budget:
DAY 2 – Kawasan Canyoneering | Cebu City
The second highlight of our trip was to go Canyoneering. One of my fears was to jump off the cliff/waterfalls and this experience totally made my fear-conquering more worth it. Before I continue, let me give you first the details of our canyoneering organizer:
0917 950 8750
Look for Sir Michael D. Munoz “Kuya Mike”
1,500 per pax (joiner)
Private trip rates:
Php 2,500 – Solo
Php 2,000 – 2 pax
Php 1,800 – 3 pax
Php 1,600 – 4 pax
Php 1,500 – 5 pax or more
1. Transfer from Highland Adventures station to the canyoneering site and back to Highland Adventure station in Badian
2. Entrance and government fees
3. Snacks & drinking water
4. Life vest & helmet
5. Tour guide/s with dry bag
6. Free use of trekking shoes if size is available – you may reserve the size/s
7. Free bamboo rafting at Kawasan Falls (min. of 8 pax)
8. Free use of action camera (min. of 8 pax). Provide your own Micro SD memory card
9. Free lunch or dinner after canyoneering
Wear rash guard, leggings/snug shorts, trekking shoes/sandals or running shoes. Aqua shoes with thin soles are not recommended for trekking/hiking.
Bring your action camera (you may rent for Php 500), zip-locks, goggles (if you are wearing contact lens), floater or straps for your camera, and dry bag.
We woke up around 6pm, ate breakfast, and rode a jeep to Barangay Malabago. The jeepney driver didn’t drop us at the Highland Adventures site, but to a different organizer instead. Kuya Mike told us that there are really some jeepney drivers who would intentionally lead you to one of their ‘allies’. Ignore them and contact your trusted agency because they might be illegal or would cost you higher.
We waited for about an hour since the three of us were only joiners. As we went trekking (took us an hour), most of our companions slipped because it was drizzling thus making the trail muddy. If it were not raining, the trekking would only take 30 minutes.
Upon reaching the crystal blue waters of Kanlaob river, we got too excited and immediately took a dip and photo. Our tour guide told us not to dwell too long since it’s only a “teaser” of the trip and to expect more majestic views to come along our way.
The quality of the photos above obviously show that I did not use my dSLR. I left it in our station since I worried it might get wet. What’s even worse is that my phone’s LCD was accidentally damaged by our guide and it’s lens had moist making the photos blurry. The best way to take great photos is having your action camera/underwater camera with you and leave your phones and dSLRs in a safe place.
You should listen to your guide as you stream down the river to avoid accidents. If they say NO, then don’t do it. A few number of death tolls were reported in the past year due to stubbornness. So don’t leave your companions and guides behind and don’t put safety aside.
The experience was quite exhausting and challenging for me. It’s better to have a stretching exercise first because you’ll swim, jump, and trek in the canyon for hours. There is also a food vendor INSIDE the canyon (hotdog, rice, isaw, etc.) in case you get hungry but expect that it’s a bit pricey (inclusive of the vendor’s effort to stay there). After we finished canyoneering, we had our free lunch (unli rice) courtesy of Highland Adventures. As we finished our lunch, we headed to the exit (entrance to Kawasan Falls)
We made a bee line for Ging-Ging’s Inn to take a bath and pack-up our things and excitement for our next adventure.
We rode a bus from Ging-Ging’s Inn to Cebu South Bus Terminal which took us 3 hours to get there. Upon reaching the bus terminal we booked an Uber (since it was raining and we felt so uncomfortable and tired to explore that night) to Larsian sa Fuente which is labeled as Cebu City’s BBQ heaven. if you’re fond of ihaw-ihaw (grilling), then Larsian is definitely your must-go food spot. It is quite similar to Dampa in Manila where you can choose raw food and they’ll cook it for you. They say it’s open for 24 hours but most stalls are set up from 10AM to 2AM. You can ask them to grill any meat as you please from chicken barbecue to grilled squid. Average price for two is Php 250 but if you order in bulk, you may ask to haggle down the price.
As we entered, a transgendered woman kept nagging us to buy from their stall. Of course, you wouldn’t want to choose from one stall without checking other stalls, right? We found out that almost all stalls have the same menu but with competing prices. We kept on bargaining until we finally accepted the offered price. I orderd 1 grilled Bangus and 5 pcs. Puso (rice). The place isn’t that neat but doesn’t mean the food is, too. The grill is placed at the center of Larsian where all cooks gather to perform their ritual LOL.
And to be honest, the food tasted yummy! If you’re in a group, try ordering different dishes for every person to savor most of their menu. Larsian was only our first page of the night because…
…the night was still young and kicking! My office mate recommended to not miss Cebu City’s night life in Mango Avenue which is a long stretch of restaurants, KTV bars, and dance clubs popular among Cebuanos and tourists.
We asked a street vendor where we can buy the cheapest drinks and suggested us to party at Club Holic which is located at the second floor of Mango Square. The club went full house around 11PM. You may want to check their menu here. We went crazy and danced like fools when we went a bit tipsy. Most of the Cebuanos are too conservative (nods, nods, nods) in club dancing unlike most of us Manileños who are quick to get hyped up when a DJ spins an EDM track. So we showed them off how a Manileño parties haha! We ordered a pitcher of Weng-Weng as our cherry on top.
Enough with the party and time to regain energy for tomorrow’s adventure in the city. We stayed at 8th Street Guesthouse for our last night in Cebu. We only paid Php 900 a night for an air-conditioned room, common bathroom, kitchen, and living room. The hostel is accessible to the tourist spots and they also have cars and motorcycles for rent (make sure you book a month or two before your stay). In our case, we rented a driver and car during our trip. I forgot to take a photo because I was extremely tired that night and woke up as early as 6:30AM 😦
Day 2 Itinerary and Budget:
DAY 3 – Cebu City
We woke up at 6:30 AM because I believe that Cebu City has so much in store for us. Prior to our trip, we rented a car and driver for a day to make our exploring hassle-free. 8th Street Guest House can lend you a car and driver for Php 2,500 good for 10 hours. Different rates will apply if you rent a van (around Php 3,000-up) and exceed the time limit. Kuya Roger was very accommodating and drove us safely from one destination to another. Don’t forget to reward your chartered driver with a smile and a tip if he truly deserves it.
The significant cross was built and planted by Magellan’s Portugese and Spanish explorers in March 1521. Rumor has it that the original cross was destroyed or disappeared after Magellan’s death. It also symbolizes how Christianity took place in the Philippines. It is located just beside Basilica del Sto. Nino which was our next destination.
Basilica del Sto. Nino
Just a few steps and we were at Basilica del Sto. Nino which is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. During our visit, Cebu was celebrating Hubo, a ritual of undressing, bathing, and vesting Sto. Nino’s image. I was about to take a photo of the ceremony/mass when two elderly people warned me not to. I think their practice is very
sacred to the point that no one is allowed to capture it.
Fort San Pedro
Right after our second Philippine throwback, we went for more. Third destination was the iconic Fort San Pedro, a military defense structure built to repel Muslim invaders, located in Plaza Indepedencia.
The vestidor (or vest) used by Hipolito Labra, a katipunero, during the anti-Spanish revolution in Cebu. They believed that wearing the vestidor could make them unbeatable.
Cebu totally fascinated us with rich Philippine History
Along Canyon Road in Beverly Hills Subdivision, Lahug stands Cebu’s one and only Taoist Temple. There is no entrance fee but you have to observe some rules. There is a dress code and no picture taking when you enter the main temple. The place is perfect if you want to take some oriental shots but never forget that you have to respect the place. It is still considered as sacred. They say the staircase will take you 99 steps to reach the top. Tiring but worth it!
Temple of Leah
What would you do if someone builds a temple in tribute of his/her love for you? Teodorico Adarna nailed it and made one for his wife Leah Adarna. In case you didn’t know, they are the loving grandparents of Ellen Adarna. The temple was constructed in 2012 and there is still an on-going improvement. Entrance fee is only Php 50.
And for our last trip, we went up to see the the top view of the city in Tops Lookout. It’s about less than an hour away from the city center. There is an entrance fee of Php 100 inclusive of parking fee and I would personally recommend that you bring your own foods and drinks since there is no corkage fee and the food sold there are a bit pricey. The best time to visit Tops is at sunset to view the city by day and witness its night lights.
We were supposed to explore Sirao Garden but there was a landslide that prevented our visit. I was so disappointed because that should also be the highlight of our trip. When I get back, I’ll definitely pay a visit. Driving around Cebu City will make you reminisce Metro Manila a bit. Traffic! Well not the hell-of-a-kind traffic but a bearable one. We bought some pasalubong (dried fish and mango, keychains, ref magnets, shirts, etc.) at Taboan Public Market where you can bargain with vendors.
I actually forgot to write down the travel time for each destination on our third day because we enjoyed much of the trip but we started 7am and we finished the trip around 3-4pm.
Total pocket money:
2273 – Day 1
2480 – Day 2
1838 – Day 3
Php 6591 – TOTAL
Our plane ticket costed Php 3400 so the grand total of our trip was around Php 10,000. Of course, airline companies surprise us with seat sales so better watch out to get your luck.
There are still a lot of places to see in Cebu that’ll leave you awestruck. It’s just a matter of time and budget. If you have extra of it, don’t hesitate to visit this amazing province.