Cebu City is the Philippine’s second city, known as ‘Queen of The South’ and was for many years the Philippine’s capital city. However, Cebu City is still not on most people’s travel itinerary unless they are flying in and out to get to some of the other islands or leaving to travel around the rest of Cebu island and explore the many beaches and attractions it has to offer. Less well known and visited than the capital Manila or tropical islands in the local area, travelers want to know ‘Is Cebu City Safe’, and we’re happy to say that, as long as you take the same kind of sensible precautions you would at home, yes Cebu is safe.
The Philippines is a truly world class tourist destination consisting of over 7000 islands spread over a huge area of the eastern pacific and has practically everything a tourist could want: from majestic rice terraces, to traditional fiestas, to the opportunity to swim with whale sharks or see the world’s smallest monkey.
Although it’s not well known outside of the Philippines, tourism in Cebu has been growing consistently for the last few years, with an abundance of activities, gorgeous hotels, travel agencies and impressively low prices that are attracting people from all over the world. But often the rise of tourism in developing countries goes hand in hand with a rise in crime, which is why people are asking if Cebu City is a safe place to visit in 2021.
Is Cebu City Safe Right Now?
Although there are parts of the Philippines that are considered to be unsafe, for example the foreign travel advise from the British foreign office advises against traveling to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to an ongoing conflict with armed groups there, fortunately for travelers Cebu is not in this area and is considered safe for travel.
However, there are still some things travelers should to be aware of. As well as suffering from unpredictable volcanoes and earthquakes, which can strike at any time, the Philippines, and Cebu specifically, is on a typhoon path and is hit by one of these large storms on a practically yearly basis. So when planning your trip take into account the time of year and make sure you are not going to get stuck in the middle of a huge storm. June to December is generally the rainy season, especially around Cebu but as the Philippines is spread over such a large area, think about where you will be going and do your research into the weather wherever possible so you avoid the worst of the weather.
Although the Philippines is a generally safe place to visit make sure to take normal safety measures. Don’t carry large quantities of cash with you; keep your passport somewhere secure (like a safe in your hotel) and keep your valuables out of site
A Travel Safety Belt is an effective and affordable way of protecting your notes, cards, and cash.
Is Cebu City Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
The Philippines is an unusual mix – simultaneously traditional, conservative and Catholic while, at the same time tolerant and easy going.
Cebu can be safe for solo female travellers, just remember to bring your common sense with you when you travel. By sticking to brightly lit tourist areas, not flashing expensive items like jewellery and flashy clothes, and just being aware of your surroundings and environment will make your travels significantly safer.
Be respectful of local customs and dress, especially in religious buildings and dress appropriately. Try to take a tracked taxi such as Grab (the south east Asian equivalent of Uber), which records your pickup, dropoff and driver registration in order to stay extra safe.
Is Cebu City Safe To Live?
Cebu City is certainly a safe place to live, and between Banilad and Talamban is where most other expats live. The Banilad region is where you can expect to find shops with imported goods and expat hangouts such as the Sandtrap Sports Bar.
Although Cebu is a safe place to live, it’s probably a good idea go read the American Embassy’s Security Message. If you are thinking about settling down in the Philippines for a long time you need to be aware that there is a risk of terrorism and it goes up at big gatherings such as protests and sports events. It’s something you should be aware of and take into consideration.
Cebu is a relatively safe city, even within the Philippines, so it is unlikely you will run into any problems but you should be aware of the possible issues when you travel to other parts of the Philippines.
Is Cebu City Safe At Night?
Some parts of Cebu are considered unsafe at night: Downtown Cebu, Colon Street, Pasil, and Duljo Fatima. Avoid going out alone in these areas, especially at night. There are plenty of places that are still “safe” to walk around at night, but they are typically found in the more touristic areas.
Violent crime against tourists such as street muggings are very uncommon, but you should still be aware that they are a possibility. Bear in mind your smartphone or camera may be worth the equivalent of several months work to a poor Filipino and although the locals are generally kind and welcoming a single foreigner wandering around a dark neighbourhood late at night will make an easy and tempting target.
Is The Water In Cebu City Safe To Drink?
You should not drink the water in Cebu city or anywhere on Cebu island. The filtration system used by the Filipino government is not at a good enough standard to be drunk by people who have not grown up there and become used to it. The water is not so unfiltered that you cannot use it to brush your teeth or wash your hair, but you should avoid drinking directly from the tap.
Some methods of filtering tap water, such as using a specialist UV light stick or boiling it are very effective in killing the kind of pathogens that will give you an upset stomach. However, it is common all over south east Asia for the filtration systems to fail to extract the heavy metals that are picked up in pipes and run-off and the personal filtration systems you may have used to clean river water or similar are not effective in dealing with them.
If you have no option then boil the water before drinking in order to stop yourself getting a bad stomach but whenever possible buy bottled water or, even better, use a refillable bottle from a specially filtered tap to cut down on your use of disposable plastics.
Although eating the local food is one of the great joys of traveling anywhere, and Cebu and the Philippines specifically, think about if your food may have been washed in tap water rather than mineral, especially when eating at cheap food stands and shops. Hot fried food is almost always safe but think twice about eating a sandwich from a small vendor with tap water-washed lettuce inside (We speak from experience).
A filter water bottle is an effective way of purifying water to remove any impurities or contaminants.
Are Taxis In Cebu City Safe?
Like other aspects of Cebu City the taxis are generally considered to be safe, however we would recommend using Grab when possible. You can download the app onto your smartphone and as long as you have an internet connection, whether that be through hotel wifi or by buying a local SIM card you can call a taxi and pay with cash when you’re at your destination.
Grab is the South East Asian version of Uber and is used by people all over the Philippines. The taxi drivers are registered with the central system, so your journey to or from your hotel for example, is registered with the app. There is a record of the price, your pickup and drop off locations and times so if something goes wrong or there is a disagreement, the whole thing can be easily tracked and dealt with. In addition is avoids the problem of haggling over the price – you don’t need to worry about being ripped off as everyone gets the same price.
Top 9 Cebu City Safety Tips
- Cebu is a safe city but when moving on to other places within the Philippines avoid western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to an ongoing conflict between the state and various separatist groups.
- Consider the time of year, are you going in Typhoon season? Almost every year an island somewhere in the Philippines is struck by a typhoon or tropical storm and this often leads to loss of life and a huge amount of property damage. The most dangerous time is generally September and October but the Philippines is spread over a large area so make sure to look into what the weather is like before you go.
- Instead of drinking tap water take a reusable bottle and use specially filtered water or buy bottled water. Consider where you are eating and think about if the salad you are buying from a cheap food stall may have been washed in tap water. If you want to eat local, food that is still hot from the oven or grill is almost always the safest.
- Taxis are usually safe, but to be extra safe use an app like Grab to ensure your journey is monitored and avoid getting into arguments with taxi drivers about prices.
- Dengue Fever can be contracted through mosquito bites, even in a city like Cebu, especially in the wet season (June-October) so make sure you use plenty of repellent and keep covered up in order to avoid getting bitten.
- Be careful of pickpockets when traveling on buses, both around the city and on Cebu island. Don’t leave your bag unattended and ideally keep it on your lap. There are anecdotal reports of people leaving bags with valuables for just a short moment, to ask a quick question to the driver for example, and coming back to their bags to find their valuables are missing.
- Cebu is generally safe and violent crime, such as muggings is rare, but be careful when walking around the city at night. A lone tourist walking around dark roads late at night can be an easy target for someone to make a quick buck.
- Be respectful of your behaviour and clothing in churches and other religious sites. Filipinos are easy going and tolerant but you should be respectful when visiting religious sites. Men and women should dress conservatively avoiding short skirts and shorts and covering your shoulders. Men should not try to enter shirtless of wearing only a vest and women should keep the bikini for just the beach.
- Don’t carry around large amounts of cash and keep your passport in your hotel safe, or leave it with reception. You probably wouldn’t walk around your home town with hundreds of dollars in your pockets or your passport on display, so avoid doing it on holiday. If you need to get out a large amount of cash go to an ATM in a popular and well lit location then go immediately to your hotel. Any reputable hotel will have CCTV on the reception so you shouldn’t have any fear about leaving your valuables with the staff there and it will be safer than in your room (especially if you’re staying in a dorm) and a great deal safer than keeping it on you.