How to Get to Cebu

Cebu is a fantastic destination, and a must-visit for domestic and international travelers. While Manila might seem like the economic center of the country, Cebu is the beating heart of the Visayas region. There’s so much more to explore in this province, including a rich cultural and historical heritage, gorgeous natural vistas, and hundreds of activities. But before you start planning your itinerary, you have to figure out how to get to Cebu first.

Why travel to Cebu?

Comparable with Boracay, which is considered by many to be the jewel of Visayas, Cebu is packed with things to do and places to see. Tropical paradise is definitely the best descriptor for it, because it’s got everything that makes the Philippines so unique: beautiful, fine sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and lush mangroves and rainforests teeming with life.

Cebu has gorgeous, balmy weather and tranquil waters that earn it the top spot on many travelers’ lists. Not only that, it’s prime location for some incredible sights.

It’s clear that Cebu is the ideal vacation destination for travelers who love the sea and the surf, but also want to spend a bit more time exploring instead of just chilling on the beach. It’s also one of the Philippines’ most ecologically important locations, with over 85% of the ecoregion under formal protection. This makes it not only an essential piece of the Philippines’ ecological diversity, but also a great place for learning more about the country’s natural wonders.

With such an incredible range of sights, biodiversity, and cityscapes to play in, Cebu is the ultimate tropical destination.

If the busy city life of Cebu City or the still, tropical paradise of Moalboal sounds like something you want to see, then you’re going to want to book a trip to the island straightaway. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a quick guide on traveling from Manila to Cebu, as well as other destinations on the island. Have a look below at the best ways to get to Cebu.

Travel Restrictions

While certain domestic tourist spots are slowly opening up during the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers should still pay attention to restrictions and requirements at their chosen destinations. Flights from Manila are still limited, and before booking you should call in with your airline to ensure that you have all the information needed for travel.

How to Get to Cebu from Manila

For flights from Manila to Cebu City, the restrictions and guidelines are listed out below. Cebu City is the capital of Cebu Province, and is where the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located. The Mactan-Cebu International airport serves the general area of Cebu Province, and is the hub where flights from Manila to Cebu will land.

Passengers coming from Manila to Cebu will have to take note of the following restrictions:

  1. Travelers from Manila to Cebu will need to provide a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure. The test must be taken at a testing facility accredited by the Department of Health (DOH). The test should indicate clearly a negative result for the COVID-19 virus, as well as the date and time that the swab test was taken.
  2. Additionally, the DOH accredited facility must email the negative test results to the Cebu City’s Incident Management Team (IMT).
  3. Travelers from Manila to Cebu will need to register at www.s-pass.ph and submit their travel documents. Approved applications will receive a Travel Coordination Permit (TCP) that will allow them to land at Cebu International Airport and enter Cebu City.
  4. Travelers from Manila to Cebu must also register at www.staysafe.ph. Registration will provide you with a personal QR code, which will then be used to gain entry into the City of Cebu.
  5. Travel documents needed for entry into Cebu City must be photographed/scanned before submitting.
  6. For those who would like to travel to other municipalities outside of Cebu, you must coordinate with the Provincial Incident Management Team or the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
  7. Travelers to Cebu must also submit themselves to COVID-19 rapid antigen tests on the 3rd and 7th day from arrival into Cebu City. These tests will be at the travelers’ expense.
  8. Travelers must also present a complete itinerary with tours and accommodations in Cebu City booked via an agency accredited with the Department of Tourism (DOT) or hotel in Cebu City.

Getting to Cebu

As Cebu is an island, the best ways to get to it are via sea or air.

While air travel is usually more expensive, cheap flights from Manila are definitely available. Airlines like Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, or Cebu Pacific Airlines are able to offer discounted seats and cheap flights during several parts of the year, enabling tourists and travelers to get to the island paradise without worrying too much about the cost of the ticket. These cheap flights come at an affordable price, and are usually available during sale periods scattered throughout the year.

Another method of getting to Cebu is via boat or ferry. Cebu has several ports throughout the island, although the main port of entry for ferries is often at Cebu. Taking a ferry to Cebu has a cheaper price than flights from Manila more often than not. However, the tradeoff for travelers is that the travel time can get vastly more extended, as the ferry trip can take the better part of the day or more to reach Cebu’s ports.

Flight from Manila to Cebu

Because Cebu is an island separated from the rest of the Philippine archipelago, the most common way to get to the province is via airplane. Taking a flight from Manila to Cebu involves flying out from any of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s domestic terminals, as well as nearby airports like Clark International Airport, and then landing in Cebu International Airport.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, travelers must check in with their respective airlines regarding the restrictions and requirements necessary for entering the island. Additionally, there is currently a restricted number of flights from Manila and other nearby airports.

Flights may be subject to delays or schedule changes depending on availability of aircraft, as well as coordination between local government units. Travelers should take care to stay updated regarding the schedules of their flights, as well as any updates to requirements or procedures that they may encounter.

On the whole, flights from Manila to Cebu are generally straightforward. This route is served by flights from domestic airlines including Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific. Travelers should follow standard health and safety procedures, including the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and face shields, as well as other requirements laid out by the respective airlines.

During normal travel periods, Cebu International Airport receives flights from several airlines. International travelers can make their way to Cebu and other nearby airports in Cebu via flights from Manila, Davao, or Clark. During the period of community quarantine, however, and based on restrictions laid out by the local government units in Cebu and the rest of the island, international travelers are not permitted to travel to Cebu. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport is still receiving international travelers during the period of community quarantine, but these travelers may not continue to Cebu for tourist purposes.

About James Gonzales

James Gonzales is a Filipino-American travel enthusiast and writer currently based in the Philippines. After living and working in New York for 10 years, James decided he wanted to see more of the world and leave the city behind. In the course of saving up for what would become an epic trip across Asia, he wrote about previous traveling experiences for various travel websites and publications based in the Lower East Side. James focused on journeying through the Philippines in the hopes of understanding his roots, and began Daydreaming in Paradise to share his thoughts and experiences. He's always looking for like-minded travelers to trade stories and swap tips with, and he hopes you'll join him on his journey.