Cebu is a wonderful place to live for foreigners. It provides more conveniences that Westerners will be use to than can be found in most other parts of the Philippines. The only exception would be Manila. Cebu is both a city and a province. That can be confusing because people often say only Cebu when referring to the city. To help minimize this confusion it is best to say Cebu City if you are referring to the capital city of Cebu. The province of Cebu is located in the middle of the country and is part of the Visayas region. The primary language of Cebu is Cebuano. This language is also known as Visaya and Bisaya. A significant number of people can speak English but most people do not speak it well enough to converse with them in English.

Location of
Cebu City

I have lived in Cebu for over five years. I lived in the city for a few months but moved out to the province in May of 2008. I still live in the same  house located in what is considered northern Cebu province. I live in a small city known as Bogo City. It is living on the edge of the jungle with clean air and superb beaches. Two islands near me are international destinations. They are Bantayan and Malapascua Island.

Many foreigners choose to live in Cebu. That includes more than Americans. There are probably more foreigners from   Cebu Provincial SealKoreans here than any other country. If you want to seek out other expats that are living in the Philippines, you’ll find plenty of them here.

Cebu — A Mix of the Modern and the Ancient

Cebu provides a nice mix of the modern with very nice beaches. You’ll find modern within the city itself. There are beaches around Cebu City but the best beaches will be found as you move out from the city.

Within Cebu City you can find properties that measure up to Western Standards. This is exception though and most buildings will not be up to what many foreigners are accustomed too.  There are hotels that can provide and meet the expectations of the most discriminating guest. The Waterfront Hotel and Casino is one such location. However, the Crimson Resort and Spa is a five star hotel located in Cebu City.  This hotel will cost you over $500 a night! Don’t that  shock you though, I usually stay in hotels at a cost of less than 1000 Philippine pesos which works out to $20 to $25 depending on the exchange rate. Now these are bottom rate hotels and their quality will be far below what most Westerners are use too.  Technically, both of these hotels are located in Mactan. Mactan is a suburb of Cebu.

SM MallTwo standouts in Cebu City are the SM Mall and Ayala Mall. SM Mall is a huge mall. It includes a Duty Free store as well as just about everything you can think of. From Filipino style shops to Canon and nearly every other American shop you can think of.  If you’re homesick for some Western fast food, you can find it at both of these malls. SM Mall also includes an IMAX theater that will rock your insides. Ayala Mall is rumored to have more American goods. I haven’t been able to confirm that. Perhaps they are talking clothing. Many expats prefer Ayala.  It is smaller, very nice and generally more expensive than SM.

There are many tourist attractions in Cebu City. I will be writing several articles about places to visit in Cebu City over the next few days or weeks. I’ll mention a few here and discuss them more in future articles. Those include, Basilica del Santo Nino, The Metropolitan Cathedral, Fort San Pedro, Tops, the Lapu Lapu Shrine and The Taoist Temple just to mention a few.

Within Cebu City you can also find the oldest road in the Philippines, Colon Street.  You’ll find many shops in this area with great prices. It is well known as a great place to buy electronics. It is also well known for not being the most crime free place in the City. It is recommended that you do not wear any jewelry when visiting Colon Street. Even your watch could be cut from your arm without you ever noticing. Your money and wallet should not be in your pocket. Another older location to visit is Fort San Pedro and there are several historical houses open to the public.

Cebu Province Provides Adventure Travel

Getting out in the province is where you’ll really meet the Philippines. Most Filipino live out in the rural areas or out in the province. The term boondocks originates from WWII American veterans that served in the Philippines.

I don’t think you can be in Cebu and be more than 30 minutes from a coast line. Much of the coast line in Cebu is rocky Cebu Mountainsthough. So it might be hard to get into the water in many locations. There are often step cliffs where the water and the island of Cebu meet. Still there are numerous places in Cebu to visit a beach.

In northern Cebu you’ll find Bantayan Island. It is said to be one of the Philippines best kept secrets. Bantayan is a place for serenity. Not far from Bantayan is Malapascua Island. Malapascua is will known for its diving. People travel to Malapascua to dive with the shy Thresher  shark.

To the south of Cebu City, you can swim with Whale sharks in Oslob. Or visit Kawasan Falls in the mountain Barangay Matutinao in the township of Badian.

There many island around the province. You can find a boat captain to take you on an Island hopping trip. The cost of such a trip should be less than $150 and that’s if you rent an entire large pump boat.

Cebu province is sprinkled wtih enough mountains that any place you go, you’ll be able to see a mountain. Cebu City is surrounded by mountains. The landscape is beautiful. You can travel by bus from the center of Cebu to each tip for about $3.00 each way. You can also rent a van or Vhire. The cost of that can vary a great deal depending on where you hire them. The cost will be between $50 to $125.00 for each day.

Cebu One of the Safest Places in the Philippines

Traditional DressCebu province boast the lowest rate of political and civil conflict in the Philippines. There is crime here. Pick pockets and purse snatchers are the biggest threat. I call them purse snatchers but they are more likely to take your cell phone. Cell phones are easy to sell here. Having a local with you can greatly increase your security as well. I hear how dangerous the Philippines is from foreigners. I haven’t seen that in Cebu. I am far safer in Cebu than I am in the USA.

This page is meant to serve as an introduction to the province of Cebu. We will be exploring various places in the province in detail in future articles. I present a balanced picture. I will write of the best of the Philippines and will warn you about the pitfalls. I want you to know as much as possible without actually being here. If you have visited or live in Cebu, please share your impressions.


By Rusty Ferguson

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