How To Get Around Cebu City

getting around cebu city

For first-time visitors, navigating the streets of Cebu is an adventure in itself. Many say it’s confusing, and there’s some truth to that. A mass transit system is most helpful for tourists, but Cebu doesn’t have one yet. So, instead, you choose any of the following among these modes of transportation:

Jeepney

The word “jeepney” is said to be coined from the words “jeep” and “knee” because passengers sit knee to knee when the vehicle is full. It’s not the most comfortable or the most efficient mode of transport, but it’s useful for short distance trips. Many passengers also report theft and robbery inside jeepneys, so it’s not the safest means especially for unassuming tourists.

To know which jeepney to take, check the route code at the top-center or the sides of the vehicle. The major thoroughfares that a particular jeep will pass will also be indicated on the sides and on a signboard hanging in the front window.

Here are some of the jeepney routes within Ayala – SM City – IT Park

  • 04L – IT Park to SM City Mall (passing Ayala Center Mall) 
  • 04M – Lahug to JY Square Mall (passing Ayala Center ) 
  • 17B/ 17D – Apas, IT Park, Lahug to Carbon market
  • 17C – Apas, IT Park to Caron via Gen. Maxilom Ave.
  • 03Q – Mabolo to SM City (passing Ayala Center)
  • 20A/ 20B – Mandaue City to Ayala Center via Mabolo
  • 12L – Labangon to Ayala
  • 12G – Labangon to SM City
  • 14D – Ayala Mall to Colon (via Escario, Fuente, F. Ramos St./ return trip via Fuente Jones to Capitol)
  • 13C – Talamban, Ayala to Colon
  • 13B – Talamban, Ayala to Carbon via Ramos
  • 62B/62C – Pit-os, Ayala to Carbon

Here are some of the jeepney routes within Cebu City:

  • 03A/ 03L – Mabolo to Colon 
  • 03B – Mabolo to Colon (passing Mango Avenue, Fuente Circle, Jones)
  • 03Q – Mabolo to SM City (passing Ayala Center)
  • 01K – Urgello to Colon, North Bus Terminal, Park Mall 
  • 06B – Guadalupe to Colon via Capitol and Jones Ave.
  • 07B – Banawa to Colon via Capitol and Jones Ave.
  • 02B – South Bus Terminal to Pier area
  • 12D – Labangon to Colon
  • 21A/ 21D – Mandaue City to Manalili to Cebu Cathedral
  • 22I – Mandaue City to Gaisano Country Mall via A.S. Fortuna Street 
  • 24 – going to Consolacion
  • 25 – going to Liloan/Danao

Jeepney routes in Lapu-lapu City:

  • 23D/ MI-23A – Opon Market to Mandaue Coliseum and Park Mall
  • MI-04A – Tamiya to Park Mall (passing Mandaue Coliseum)
  • MI – 02B – Maribago to Park Mall (passing Maribago Bluewater Resort and Cebu White Sand)

When your stop is near, just tell the driver “Lugar lang, boss” to let him know you’re hopping off. If you’re seated far from the driver, hand your change to other passengers and say, “Palihug (please).”  

Fare: Php 8 minimum

Beep

Modern bus-jeepneys or BEEPs offer a more efficient and environment friendly public conveyance than old jeepneys. The name BEEP also refers to the mode of payment that uses a beep card.

There are at least 40 BEEP units now plying around Cebu City. These are fully air-conditioned and equipped with TV, GPS, and CCTV cameras to address comfort and safety concerns of public commuters.

You’ll spot blue and white BEEPs on the streets, which aren’t too different except for their seating capacity.

  • White BEEP – 22 seats but can carry 31 passengers
  • Blue BEEP – 26 seats, can carry up to 33 passengers

Indicated on the top-front and sides of every BEEP is the specific route it plies. As of November 2019, there are only three routes available:

1. Cebu City Hall – Asia Town, I.T. Park

beep route IT Park to City Hall
Photo by: BEEP Program

2. Paseo Arcenas Banawa (R. Duterte St.) - Sykes Panagdait

banawa to panagdait
Photo by: BEEP Program

3. Guadalupe to Carbon market

    • Guadalupe -> Capitol -> Jones Ave. -> Downtown Cebu (vice versa)

BEEPs stop at designated drop-off stations along their route.

Fare: Php 9.50 for the first five kilometers + Php 1.50 for every succeeding kilometre

PeoplesJeep

Following the PUV modernization trend, the Cebu People’s Multi-purpose Cooperative deployed 15 modern jeepneys, called the PeoplesJeep, in September 2019.

PeoplesJeep are basically BEEPs. They have AC, CCTV, GPS, Wi-Fi, dashboard cameras, and a speed limiter. Each jeep can seat 23, with up to 12 standing passengers allowed. 

They use an automatic fare collection system. To pay, you’ll need a beep card, which can be purchased in coop branches and authorized outlets. Cash may be allowed since the BEEP will also have a passenger assistance office on board.

Currently, PeoplesJeep follow four routes:

  • Talamban – Ayala – Colon
  • Lahug – Ayala – SM
  • Bulacao – Colon – SM
  • Talamban – Colon (following the 13C route)

Fare: Php 10 minimum

MyBus

Useful for some trips, MyBus services connect Mactan-Cebu International Airport, SM City Mall, SM Seaside and the North Bus Terminal. Buses run from 6 am to 10 pm at SM City, and from 7am to 9 pm at MCIA. Below are the available MyBus routes:

SM City Cebu – Airport (vice versa)

Sm City Cebu - Airport
Photo by: MyBus

Fare: Php 25-40 

Purchase an ePLUS card for Php 200 at any MyBus station or at SM Supermall to pay for your ride. You can use the remaining credit on other MyBus rides.

Recently, MyBus added the N. Bacalso – BDO Fuente route:

N,bacalso - BDO Fuente route
Photo by: MyBus

If you want to familiarize the streets of Cebu, this is the most convenient means. But if your schedule is tight, choose another conveyance.

Where to Buy and Reload MyBus or Eplus card

  • SM City Cinemas at SM City Cebu and SM Seaside.
  • SM City Cebu and SM Seaside MyBus stations.

Taxi

Taxis are the common choice for tourists simply because they are everywhere and most of them operate 24/7. While public utility vehicles must stick to their designated routes, taxi drivers may take alternative routes to beat traffic, taking you to your destination in less time. 

Only catch is it can be rather difficult to get a taxi, especially during peak hours (7 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 8 pm). At malls, the lines for taxi stretches long around closing hours. 

White taxi fare: Php 40 (USD .77) flag-down rate + Php 13.50 for every succeeding kilometre and Php 2 per minute of waiting time in traffic

Yellow taxi fare: Php 70 (USD 1.35) + P4 for every succeeding 300 meters

Safety tips: Always lock the door once you’ve boarded. There have been incidents when robbers would randomly open taxi doors when traffic is at standstill. Also, check that the meter is running. There’s also a newly reported scam where the driver intentionally forgets to turn on the meter so they can charge a higher than usual fare later.

Grab

To avoid the hassle of waiting for a taxi, download the Grab app so you can book your ride wherever you are. It’s easier to report dodgy activities since Grab shows you general information about your driver and the vehicle you’re riding. 

Via Grab, you can book an affiliate taxi or a private car. You can even choose a 6-seater specifically if you’re travelling with a group. 

While using Grab is safer and more convenient than taking a taxi, the fares can be unreasonably expensive. A typical Php 200-ride can cost up to Php 300 or above during peak hours. Still, the ridesharing service is popular among Cebuanos. Many people don’t mind paying a bit more for a safer and more convenient transportation.

Habal-habal

Habal-habal or motorcycle taxi is by far the fastest way around Cebu. They attract backpackers and travellers on a budget. 

Habal-habal operation is yet to be regulated, so the fares can be pretty inconsistent even for the same route. If you’re great at haggling, try and bargain for a good price before you hop on the bike. Foreigners are generally charged more than locals, though. 

There are certain trips where habal-habals are the best mode of transportation, like when going to Osmena Peak, Kawasan Falls, or other rural tourist attractions. 

As written in our habal-habal guide, here are the fares for the usual routes within Metro Cebu:

  • Ayala to I.T. Park – P30 ($0.57)
  •  Maria Luisa Road to I.T. Park – P70 ($1.33)
  • I.T. Park to SM City – P70 ($1.33)
  • Ayala to SM Seaside – P120 – P150 ($2.3 – $2.8)

Angkas

Angkas is your Grab equivalent for hailing a habal-habal. Using the app, you enter you pick up point and destination and search for rider. The fares on here are preset so there’s no need for haggling. 

Renting a motorcycle/car

If you know how to drive a motorcycle and you have a valid license, you can rent a bike instead. There are peer-to-peer motorbike sharing services like Book2wheel and Rentmotorcebu.com that let you rent on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. They usually offer delivery and pick-up for free. 

Rental prices start at Php 350 (daily), Php 2450 (weekly), and Php 6500 (monthly).

Of course, if you can rent a motorbike, you can most definitely rent a car. You can find a lot of car rentals with a quick Facebook or Google search. Be sure to check the reviews to get the best possible service. 

Hourly rates within Cebu average Php 850 + Php 300 for every succeeding hour, while daily rates average Php 4500. 

Self-drive cars aren’t recommended for anyone unfamiliar with Filipino-style driving. Traffic is usually bumper to bumper. Motorcycles appear out of nowhere without warning, and many drivers perform surprise maneuvers.

V-Hire

If you’re travelling from one city to another (e.g. Cebu City to Lapu-lapu City), a van for hire or V-Hire is an option. They have terminals located outside major malls, near public markets, and inside bus terminals. 

Disclaimer: You might not like the fact that up to four people are crammed into every row, which defeats the AC and makes the trip quite uncomfortable.

Ferry

Ferries sailing along the Mactan Channel were introduced as a solution to the worsening traffic in Cebu. So if you need a quick way to get from Cebu City to Mactan Island, we recommend a ferry boat ride. A ferry departs every 10-20 minutes in Pier 3 bound for Lapu-lapu City.

If you’re coming from Mactan Island, here’s where you can take a ferry boat:

Topline Express Ferry

At Mactan Marina Mall, walk towards Island City Mactan where the ferry terminal is located. The Island Ferry 1 that will take you to Pier 3 in downtown Cebu City. It’s a 30-minute ride coast-to-coast – add to that the time spent buying tickets. Daily route is from 5 am to 9 pm.

Fare: Php 25-30 ($0.48 to $0.57)

Metro Ferry

Go to the Muelle Osmena port near Opon Mercado. Buy your ticket and pay the terminal fee. Metro Ferry will take you to Pier 3 in just 15-20 minutes.

Fare: Php 14 ($0.27) + Php 2 (terminal fee).

Sea Jeepney

From southern Cebu, commuters can now travel to Cebu City onboard the MyBoat “sea jeepney.” The vessel sails from Naga City port to Pier 1 and vice versa for a total of 10 trips daily. Each trip takes 45-60 minutes coast to coast.

MyBoat schedule is as follows:

  • Heading to Cebu City:
    • 5:30 am
    • 7:50 am
    • 10:10 am
    • 2:10 pm
    • 4:30 pm
  • From Cebu City:
    • 6:40 am
    • 9 am
    • 1 pm
    • 3:20 pm
    • 5:40 pm.

Fare: Php 60

Tricycle

tricycle in cebu

For trips within the barangays, people usually take a tricycle. Unlike habal-habals, tricycles have a roof which makes them useful on extremely hot or rainy days. You can get one to take you to the nearest bus/jeep station or to rural locations. 

Tricycles can carry up to 4 passengers at a time. They usually wait for other passengers to ensure full capacity, but you can offer to pay the full-capacity price (pakyaw) if you’re in a rush.

Walking

Walking should be the best mode of transportation, right? After all: you get to use your body, exercise a bit, and can be faster than being stuck in a car with rush hour!

Cebu is generally not very walkable. You can make it work though, if you keep a few things in mind:

Missing or obstructed sidewalks. Many streets force you to walk on the road. Be very mindful of motorcycles and speeding cars.

Fumes. You might consider a face mask for longer walks.

Safety: Many areas are safe to walk, but of course general street smarts must apply. You might want to avoid dogdy streets at night. In the downtown area you are well advised to take precautions. Try not to wear excessive jewelry and leave your phone in your bag in crowded areas. Snatch-and-grab crimes are quite common. 

Rain. When it rains, some roads get partially flooded. Even in recently built places like IT Park, small torrents can form in the streets. That means, in rainy season you might want to bring rain gear that includes your shoes.

About the author

Hey, it’s Chenzi! A writer made in Cebu. Stringing words is my bread and butter, but baking and mothering my 3-year-old are what feed my soul. I have an insatiable thirst for learning.