Traveling to Cebu on a budget

Cebu City is but one of the many popular tourist destination in the Philippines, and one I love the most. I loved it so much that even without learning the local dialect, I stayed there for almost 3 years learning and loving their ways. Since my return to Manila, I’ve been so “homesick” for Cebu. I miss it’s old world charm, the food, and the easy, slow pace of life you can expect in a tropical island.

I kept asking my husband to save for our trip to Cebu. We have no relatives there where we can stay, so this means we have to really plan out our itinerary. But first things first…we need to get plane tickets!

1. Get Discounted Plane Tickets

I know it’s easy to book tickets online. But what we were waiting for is the special seat sale from Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. Both airlines are okay, although my experience with Philippine Airlines is most of my flights are delayed, but once you’re up there it’s smooth sailing and their planes are big. Cebu Pacific have smaller planes but they are always on time. It gets a little rough especially when you are travelling during the rainy season and I just get a little scared because the turbulence really scares the beejezus out of me.

My husband registered online to Cebu Pacific to get notifications for seat sales and when he saw the email yesterday, we immediately booked the tickets! The seats are for March-April which is perfect because we have been planning to surprise Gabby with a tour to Cebu for his birthday. Perfect timing eh?!  And we have a month and a half to prepare and save for the trip. The round trip tickets we had on sale for 3 passengers cost roughly around 3,800Php or around $88 ($1:Php43). Now you know why it’s really worth waiting for these tickets.

These tickets are for no check-in luggage since we plan on travelling backpacker-style. Just clothes and our camera.

2. Look for a good cheap hotel

We only need a place where we could sleep, bathe, and store some of our clothes. Looking for a good hotel is next on my list. I have listed two good options: Sugbutel and Castle Peak

  • Sugbutel -Sugbutel is a new bed&bath dorm style hotel perfect for travelers or backpackers. It is a few blocks away from SM City Cebu  They have double-deck beds where you can sleep in. The beds for business class is for 250Php-upper bunk, 300Php for lower bunk (it has curtains for privacy). First class goes for 350Php-upper bunk and 400Php-lower bunk. Premium Class goes for 500Php. They have safety lockers for your bags. I’ve researched on this online and most say that the bath stalls and restrooms are clean. For one thing, this big bathrooms will save us time on bathing. My 11 yo son and husband takes forever on the “throne” and when taking a bath. At least now I will have a stall to shower in peace 🙂
  • Castle Peak Hotel – This is a hotel where I previously stayed during my first and 2nd visit to Cebu. The rooms are nice and affordable. You can check the rates on their website. I would chose this if the rates of renting a room, and having our own bathroom is that important. the location is also good and very accessible to local jeepneys or taxi cabs.

note: I have since tried to contact both hotels online via email and up to now there is no feedback from them. It is very frustrating. I hate having to resort to making a phone call just for inquiries because I want a written record of my inquiries to them. Why do they leave an email address and contact form for their website if no one is checking on it in the first place. I know it’s too early to make a booking but at least I would have more time to look for other alternatives.

3. Make an itinerary

One advantage of becoming a resident in Cebu is you get to know some of the places and know the different routes in the city. If you really want to be a true backpacker, you need a map and a knowledge of the jeepney codes.Unlike in Manila where jeepney signboards let you know where you are going. Cebu’s public transport aka the jeepney have codes 12A-12M – Labangon, 17B – Apas Lahug, 04L -Lahug Ayala, 13C- Talamban, 09H- Bulacao, 03A – Mabolo, 21B – Mandaue, 01A – Urgello, 14D – Ayala. Here is a list of the jeepney codes in Cebu from

Knowing the jeepney routes will help you get around the city. Sure you wont be in an airconditioned vehicle, but you will definitely get a real kick out of riding their jeeps. A word of caution…though it is still relatively safer in Cebu than in Manila, avoid showing off any fancy cellphones or gadgets in public.

My husband and I are still planning out the details for our trip like where will we take Gabby and where will we eat. along the 03A route, we can walk Gabby to the oldest street in the country…Colon and take him to Magellan’s cross and the Sto.Niño Shrine, the Cathedral, and the two museums.
I will make a weekly update for this because I hope this will also convince others that you can go to Cebu on a budget.


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