First time in Cebu? You’re probably wondering what the best way is to get from Mactan airport to Cebu City or other places in Metro Cebu.
The driving distance from Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to downtown Cebu is about 15 km. On normal traffic, you’ll get to your destination in 30-40 minutes. On peak traffic, normally in the late afternoon and early evening, this can stretch to well over an hour.
So what are your transport options from Mactan Airport to Cebu City?
1. MyBus: Cheap travel to SM City Cebu
You can catch a bus right across the Taxi Bay of T1 Domestic Arrival or at the Bus Bay of T2 International Arrival. The bus leaves every 20 minutes, from 7AM to 10PM daily.
As soon as you walk out of the arrival hall, turn right and walk some 100 meters to the bus lane. It’s hard to miss since there’s an overhead sign indicating where the ‘Taxi & Bus Bay’ is.
MyBus requires a tap card, which you can get at the MyBus Cashiers in T1 and T2. Fare is from P25 to P40 ($0.46 – $0.77) depending on where you get off. Listed below are the designated stops of the Airport-Cebu MyBus route:
If your hotel is nowhere near the drop-off points of MyBus, taking a taxi from Mactan airport to Cebu City is going to be more convenient because you won’t have to transfer. Also, taxis operate 24/7 so you don’t have to worry about the timing of your arrival.
The taxi bays are located just across the MyBus station at the Terminal 1 Domestic Arrival and Terminal 2 International Arrival areas. Again, exit the arrival hall, turn right and simply follow the overhead signs for “Taxi & Bus Bay.” There you’ll find two types of taxis:
They’re your regular city taxis authorized to work at Cebu airport. Fares start at P40 ($0.77) with additional P13.50 for every kilometre and P2 per minute of waiting time in traffic.
Yellow taxis are airport-only taxis with a more expensive fee structure than white taxis. Flag down rate is P70 ($1.35) with additional P4 for every succeeding 300 meters. Yellow taxis are arguably safer for tourists because the driver’s information is easier to retrieve if you need to complain. So take one if you have a lot of luggage and valuables with you. Generally, though, a white taxi is fine and the airport staff manning the taxi bay will hand you your taxi’s driver and company information on a piece of paper anyway. So you know where to call if you have complaints.
Some tourists have reported being scammed by taxi drivers, so it’s a good idea to check the meter and make sure it’s running as soon as your trip starts. Both white and yellow taxis must be metered, so don’t accept a flat rate no matter what your driver says.
Expect to pay around P200-250 in a white taxi, which is about $4-5 at today’s exchange rate of $1 to P52. A yellow taxi usually costs P250-300 ($4.8-$5.8).
Payment is by cash only (no debit or credit cards accepted).
3. Grab (Taxi or Private car)
Grab is currently the most popular ridesharing service app in Southeast Asia. You can use it to book a taxi or a private car and pay a fixed fare. You also have the option to specifically book a 6-seater if you’re travelling with a group.
Fares are similar to a white taxi’s, around 200 pesos ($4) or exorbitantly higher on peak hours.
If you don’t already have it, simply download and install the app on your mobile. Create an account and link a credit card (optional). Set this up before your flight because you’ll need an active phone number for the verification code, which will be sent via SMS.
As soon as you arrive at Mactan Cebu International Airport, connect to the free Wi-Fi in the terminal to book your ride. Once you get a car, you can contact your driver to coordinate the meeting point. No scams here since the fare is preset. Everything is transparent.
If you don’t have the app, you can approach a Grab kiosk in the terminal, where a friendly staff will book your ride for you.
4. Angkas: Uber for Motorcycles
This is another ridesharing app, but you use it to book a motorcycle ride rather than a car/taxi ride.
Like Grab, the app is convenient and transparent. All the information you need is provided in the app – your driver’s photo, name, contact number, vehicle registration number, and the price.
Angkas drivers are generally polite, reliable and cautious. They’re easy to spot at the airport, since Angkas drivers wear a blue jacket and helmet bearing the Angkas logo. But you can certainly use the app to communicate with your driver about your meeting point.
Angkas will take you to your destination in a relatively shorter time than a taxi ride. It’s cheaper, too. So if you’re in a rush and have no big luggage to tug around, this option may be worth the try.
5. Sugbo Transit Bus
Sugbo Transit serves Cebu South Bus Terminal to MCIA and vice versa. If you are heading for uptown Cebu City or the southern parts of the island, this is an ideal option.
There are no fixed departures, but a bus leaves every hour from 5AM to 6PM daily.
Like MyBus, Sugbo Transit has PWD access, Wi-Fi and GPS. However, the bus goes on a different route than MyBus, with different stops:
- Cebu South Bus Terminal
- Fuente Osmena (Robinson’s Fuente)
- Robinson’s Galleria
- Cebu North Bus Terminal
- Pacific Mall Mandaue
- Mactan Marina Mall / Island City Mactan
Fare is P40. Cash basis only.
6. Car rental
If you’re travelling with a group, a car rental is pretty convenient and practical. Best to book this before your trip so you can have your car waiting at the airport when you land. Pre-booking means you get to select your car and you know the fees involved.
There will be touts for on-the-spot car hire right outside the terminal building. These can be pricey, and you won’t have much of a choice with the car. So again, shop before you commit.
Important: Traffic in some areas is literally bumper-to-bumper, and some drivers occasionally perform surprise maneuvers. That’s a normal scenario on the streets, which is why a self-drive car isn’t usually recommended for foreigners. Car rental Make sense if you’re travelling to the remote towns of Cebu island, but not towards the city center.
Did we already mention traffic can get really crazy during rush hours? There’s another way to beat that. You can escape the gridlocks of the city by taking a ferry.
Ferries are cheap and they will take you on a scenic cruise along Opon Channel. If traffic is bad and you want to go near where the ferries arrive, this option can save you a bunch of time—and it gives you more of a local experience than sitting in a taxi.
There are two vessels plying the Mactan-Cebu route:
Topline Express Ferry
At the South Wing Entrance of T1, take the Opon Mercado yellow multicab and ask the driver to drop you off at Mactan Marina Mall. Walk towards Island City Mactan, where you can board the Island Ferry 1 that will take you to Pier 3 in downtown Cebu City. It’s a 30-minute ride coast-to-coast.
Fares are set from P25 to P30 ($0.48 to $0.57). Daily route is from 5Am to 9PM.
Take the Opon Mercado multicab and get off at Muelle Osmena port. The multicab ride costs more or less P10. Sometimes, the multicab doesn’t go all the way to Muelle Osmena but stops at Opon Mercado. You can walk to the ferry terminal from there. The easiest way is to ask locals where the port is (they’ll be happy to help).
The Cebu-Mactan Ferry will take you on a 15-20 minute journey to Pier 3, for P14 ($0.27).
From Pier 3, you can take a taxi to your hotel or a jeepney for downtown Cebu.
Fair warning: The lines at the ferry terminal can be long during peak hours. If you want to take a jeepney all the way to the city center, expect multiple transfers before reaching your destination. Going to SM City, take the airport yellow multicab to Marina Mall, then take the jeepney going to Parkmall. In Parkmall, transfer to a jeepney with the code O1K or sign “Urgello” – this will pass by SM City Cebu. At the SM City jeepney terminal, you can take another jeepney going to different parts of the downtown area.
Which option is right for you?
The first 3 options are most preferable to first-timers in Cebu. You just don’t want too much hassle after a flight. That said, it’s good to have plenty of options to get around this beautiful island.
Last Updated: January 2020
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.