Cebu Travel Resources
Basic Travel Info
The island of Cebu is an amazing place to travel and live. Located in the central Visayas archipelago of the Philippines, it is a significant government, cultural, and transportation hub. Cebu City and the surrounding metro area boasts thriving malls and a vibrant restaurant scene. The island also hosts countless hotels, beaches, and resorts.
In addition to the wealth and conveniences standard in more Western cities, Cebu also has a significant number of people who struggle with poverty and malnourishment. This contrast can be noticed daily and the two extremes are often in close proximity to each other.
Most long term visitors get a few vaccinations before arriving in the Philippines, but people spending less time may not need any. Generally, it depends on where you are going within the country and your specific medical needs. It is recommended that you check with your medical provider to learn what is best for your situation. Additionally, reading information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site would be helpful. You can read that here. Bring any medications you may need as availability and types of medication may differ from your country of origin.
Please be aware of your surroundings. It's best not to wear fancy clothes or jewelry and to be careful with cameras and electronics when walking around. Keep bags, backpacks, and purses in front of you or close by your side. Don't leave them under a chair. Whenever you can, don't carry large bills, passports, or valuables with you.
Small bills may be more helpful (20, 50, and 100 peso bills) so you don't have to use a 500 or 1,000 to buy something small. Many vendors and cab drivers won't be able to make change for a large bill.
Many Filipinos will be happy to have their picture taken, but it's considered polite to ask first. If the answer isn't an enthusiastic "yes" it's best to refrain. An easy way to inquire is to hold up your camera and ask "Photo?" You may also find Filipinos want to take a picture with you.
You most likely will encounter beggars. If you want to give them something, it is generally better to give food rather than money. Regardless, think about your safety before you give. Others may notice your eye contact and/or actions and begin asking for something. Also, you may become distracted and vulnerable to theft if preoccupied.
You should be aware that you may also encounter street hustlers and hawkers selling various items. You might even meet prostitutes. Particularly when walking, it is best to avoid eye contact and keep moving.
We suggest bringing and using bug spray. Mosquitoes can carry dengue fever, among other things, which is a very serious and debilitating illness.
If you take a taxi, be sure they start their meter when the trip begins. Some drivers may ignore the meter and try negotiate a much higher amount later. A persistent, "meter please" will alert the driver to start the meter. Be cautious about taking taxis late at night.
For short term visitors, it is best to avoid Jeepneys or other forms of public transportation.
The Philippines uses the Filipino Peso and is primarily a cash based society, although this is changing. However, it is recommended you bring cash to exchange or be prepared to withdraw money from an ATM.
If you do exchange or use an ATM to withdraw money, use a safe place like a mall or grocery store. Both options are commonly available and you can withdraw 10,000 pesos each day, depending on the machine.
Tipping is less common in the Philippines, but 10% is sufficient in a restaurant when a service charge is not already added to your bill. It is also appropriate to tip baggage handlers at the hotel and airport.
Food and Drink
A moderate to serious illness is the fastest way to limit and restrict your time and experience in Cebu. "Traveler's diarrhea" can be common as people are not accustomed to the different bacteria. Here are some recommendations to lower the likelihood of illness:
- If you feel ill, tell someone. Don't feel embarrassed, as they've heard it all!
- Tap water should be avoided at all times. This means:
- Don't drink water while you're out to eat unless it's bottled water or "mineral water."
- Don't put ice in your drink. There's no guarantee the ice is from a clean, filtered source or if it was delivered without contamination.
- Only use filtered or bottled water to brush your teeth, clean off your toothbrush, and rinse your mouth.
- Drink from the can or bottle. For a can of soda, you should use a "tissue" (in the Philippines a napkin is something else) and wipe off where you'll be drinking.
- Despite these restrictions, keep hydrated! The tropical climate can trick you into missing signs of dehydration. Gatorade and bottled water are readily available.
- Don't eat fresh fruit or raw vegetables unless you know specifically that it has been prepared safely. We strongly suggest a break from salads. Special precautions need to be taken in food preparation, and it's not certain all restaurants have done so.
- Don't eat food sold on the street.
- Raw seafood can be risky. Be certain you are in a restaurant that takes proper cleaning precautions before consuming any.
- Make sure meat is prepared well done.
- We suggest bringing and using hand sanitizer.
- When eating out, stricter guidelines are suggested for you as a visitor than for someone who is local. The local person will have built up different defenses and are less likely to get ill.