How to get from Manila to Cebu
There are two ways to get to Cebu City from Manila. You can either fly from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Mactan-Cebu International Airport which would be the fastest and the most convenient way. Another option is to go by sea. Our best recommendation is as follows: it is the slowest and not necessarily the cheapest way. If you do not have some special motivation to go by sea, opt for a flight.
The air distance between Manila and Cebu is approximately 570 km. Depending on the schedule, the flight time is estimated to be between 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 and a half hour. The sea voyage is likely to rob you off your whole day of life, and anyway will not take less than 22 hours. The sea distance between the Port of Manila and the Port of Cebu is roughly 770 km.
As far as transportation cost is concerned, it can be both expensive or cheap – depending on how much you are ready to spend. The airfare typically ranges between PHP1,500 and PHP9,000 while the sea travel can cost anywhere between PHP1,200 and PHP3,800 – this difference is due to the type of the cabin you choose.
Flights from Manila to Cebu
When flying from Manila to Cebu, it is quite easy to score tickets that cost between PHP1,500 and PHP4,000. The most expensive options can reach PHP9,000 but this is already inclusive of luggage allowance, a light snack, and some more legroom. As always, the rule of thumb in getting the lowest rate is to book early and off-season.
There are three airlines that fly daily from Manila to Cebu. Out of the three, there are two budget carriers, namely Cebu Pacific and AirAsia and then there is the country's flag carrier, Philippine Airlines.
The two former are a great option if you need to save a couple of peso and are used to travel light as they offer fly-only deals that are already inclusive of a 7-kilogram hand-carry luggage. In our experience, Air Asia is stricter with checking your carry-on luggage weight and we usually have great experience flying with Cebu Pacific.
No matter what airline you decide to fly with, expect your air travel to last just under one and a half hour. This is, of course, dependent on air traffic congestion as well as the weather conditions.
Ferry from Manila to Cebu
If you decide to board a ship to travel from Manila to Cebu, expect to shell out around PHP1,200-PHP3,800. This depends mainly on your choice of the cabin on the ship.
Note that crossing the ocean is not for the faint-hearted. You will be out somewhere in the sea for around 22 hours so you will need loads of patience. The voyage is not particularly picturesque and after a couple of hours you have probably seen everything in terms of seascape. If you like taking things slow however then it should not be a problem.
Except for Tuesday and Saturday, there are daily departures of Cebu-bound vessels from Manila. St. Leo The Great leaves the port at 7.30pm on Monday and 9am on Friday. St. Pope John Paul departs every Wednesday at 6.30pm and Sunday at 9am. Saint Francis Xavier has one scheduled trip weekly at 9am every Thursday.
The sea vessels are equipped with facilities and amenities to make your journey as comfortable as possible. These may vary depending on the vessel but in any case you can expect even a dining area, cafe, salon, karaoke and spa. There are common areas with shared bunk beds and private cabins similar to hotel rooms complete with an en-suit toilet and bath.