Earlier this year, I booked a flight for the first time. Since I am a new solo backpacker, I decided to travel locally instead. I narrowed down my choices to Cebu City, Davao, and Kalibo. After a thorough research, I picked the Queen City of the South. Travelers call it a traveler-friendly city. For aspiring solo travelers, continue reading for a quick and easy solo backpacking guide in Cebu City.

I packed my bags for a two-day travel. It was concise and everything has to be executed as planned with little space for adjustments. After nearly two hours of my plane’s departure from NAIA Terminal 3, we landed past 8 PM at the Mactan Cebu Airport. I took a bus headed to SM Cebu right after. From there, I hailed a Grab to my hotel.

Hotel in Cebu City

This is the most important thing in any travel plans! Luckily these days, travelers are presented with lots of options. Cebu City is teeming with cheap to high-end hotels and hostels. Also, Airbnb is now available in the area with growing number of hosts. I booked a room at Uncle Tom’s Cabin located a few blocks away from Fuente Circle. The room that I got was a steal priced at less than P900. It is a single room complete with my own restroom. It also has a free breakfast! There is no doubt that I will be staying here again on my next visit in Cebu City.

My home for a night at Uncle Tom's
My home for a night at Uncle Tom’s

Food Trip around Cebu

Ask anyone who has been to Cebu City for a food spot and most of them will instantly recommend Larsian. And so, visited the place on my first night I did. If you love barbecues and inihaw, this is the place for you! Choose your meat: chicken, pork, fish, or squid! Pick up a stick or two and have it grilled! Every order comes with a basket of puso (heart-shaped rice in coconut leaves).

Pro-tip: order a bowl of fresh lato or seaweeds! If you haven’t tried it before, I’ll bet you will in love with it at first bite. These goods are guaranteed fresh. Suit yourself because here at Larsian, you will not be up for a fine dining experience. With that said, get ready to eat with your hands.

To cap off my first night in Cebu City, I visited a highly-recommended coffee shop- Coffee Prince Cebu. It is right in front of the Cebu Doctors University Hospital and it will be hard to miss at night due to its colorful lights facade. I instantly fell in love with individual booth setting despite me going alone. I chose a spot to enjoy my cup of Cafe Mocha.

Cebu City Heritage Tour

No local travel is complete without a visit to a city’s famous church. Cebu City plays a large role in Philippine History hence, the title Queen City of the South. The following morning I took a cab from Osmena to get to the historical Magellan’s Cross. The sun was up so I took several shots. Hawkers welcomed me with different items that are on sale: necklaces, wood carvings, candles- you name it! Travelling locally to support local businesses is some sort of a personal advocacy and so I grabbed some souvenirs from them.

Women carrying colored candles roam around the Magellan’s cross offering prayers to different customers. I availed of their package and a woman then danced and prayed for me. Right next to this landmark is the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. There was something majestic about walking through centuries-old hallways of this church. After offering a little prayer, I bought my mom’s request from the church’s souvenir shop- a Santo Nino carving.

Just like Manila, Cebu City also has its version of Intramuros. Fort San Pedro used to be a fortress and is now a major destination for travelers and locals. I visited the spot close to sunset and I captured the perfect view of the sunset.

Carcar Side Trip

Cebu Lechon shops are all over Metro Manila and for a good reason. They are simply flavorful! I did my research prior to this tour and I learned that Carcar is the home of Cebu lechon. So, I had a detour and went south to the public market of Carcar by taking a 40-minute bus ride from Elizabeth Mall. Along the way, the breathtaking view of the ocean made my trip extra memorable. As soon as I arrived at the public market, sweets and treats welcomed my sight and palate. But first I had to attend to my agenda, get a taste of the famous Carcar Lechon.

It wasn’t long before I reached the lechon hub of the place. Different vendors lined up at this section of the market selling their meat at incredibly low prices ranging from P140 to P240 per quarter of a kilo. I ordered 1/4 kilo of lechon and enjoyed it at the carinderia nearby. It is a common practice for travelers to buy lechon and eat them right away with puso.

After a pretty heavy and heavenly meal, I looked for my dad’s request- dangit or dried fish! There is a specific section in the market for these and it’s because they have a strong smell. Travelers need not worry because vendors will pack them in sealed plastic bags. Before I returned to my hotel to pack my bags, I bagged some of Carcar’s famous goods such as bocarillo (candied coconut chips), rosquillos, and rice crispies!

Now I know why many first-time travelers choose this place and why frequent ones keep on returning to this place. There is something charming about the humility and the historical richness of this city. It is like Manila without all the clutter. I will definitely return to this and explore more of what it has to offer.

Comments

Categories: Travel
  • I was in Cebu 2 years ago but I didn’t get the chance to stay longer. Have you tried Zubuchon?

    • I haven’t but I definitely will on my next visit! How was your trip? 🙂

      • we just actually passed by Cebu to get to Bohol.. we only visited Sto Nino church, Magellan Cross, the Chinese Temple (forgot the name) and Lapu Lapu Shrine..that’s just it hahahaha! We’re planning to go back next year and experience Butanding in Oslob

  • Neha Verma

    I have been thinking of taking a backpacking trip and this post comes at just the right time. Will use this information for later

    • Awesome! I hope this will help you in having a great experience in Cebu City! 🙂

  • I have been meaning to visit Phillipines and Cebu is on top of the list. I hope I make that trip soon and then I’ll use these tips from you. Thanks for sharing! x

  • Sreekar Harinatha

    Cebu has been on my radar for a while now. I would be planning a trip with my wife and son though! They loved the pictures especially the deskinned pig:!:

  • Wow– this looks like quite the experience. I have never even heard of Cebu before this so I am glad to hear about it now.

  • Never visited any of these locations, but what I find amazing is that you’re doing it all alone, as a solo backpacker. I find that so inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  • Congrats on your first solo backpacking trip and it is great that you chose somewhere closer to home. It is great that you found some dried fish and was able to immerse yourself in the historical richness of the city x

  • I have heard a lot about Cebu and how wonderful it is. Wow, you bought a flight for the first time and just took that step! Congratulations on doing so, I have never traveled alone ( well except on business trips) and I am glad you had the courage to do this.

    • I just had that extra push of courage at the time. 🙂 I’d suggest you give it a go, it’s a life-changing experience. And yes, please do visit Cebu it was a really nice place with lots of great food. 🙂

  • Sonika Balyan

    Congo on your first trip. i can imagine this feeling of going on solo trip. When i had my first solo trip, I had both scary and amazing feelings at same time. Solo trip is one of its own kind of experience.

    • Yes! It’s kind of a i-gotta-find-myself-experience. 🙂

  • Sarah Kranz

    I have never been on a solo trip before, but it looks like you had a great time in Cebu City. The pictures are wonderful and sounds like a great place to take a vacation!