5-Day Cebu to Baguio Itinerary: Kawasan Falls, Camp John Hay, City Tours

5-Day Cebu to Baguio Itinerary: Kawasan Falls, Camp John Hay, City Tours

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Bantayan Island and StobosaMade up of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines boasts a wide array of scenery that ranges from powdery white sand beaches to breathtaking mountaintop views. Some of the best examples of the country's diversity are Cebu in the Visayas region and Baguio in the Luzon region.

Cebu is home to pristine beaches and clear waters teeming with life that you can explore in diving spots, while Baguio has towering pine trees, strawberry farms, and a cooler climate.

If you want to make the most of your time as you tour the Philippines, visiting these two destinations is recommended, as you can easily fly from one to the other on a direct domestic flight.

To help you plan your Cebu-Baguio trip, we've put together this sample 5-day itinerary that you can use as a guide to creating your own adventure that will take you from Cebu's sunny beaches to Baguio's hilly mountain ranges. 

How to Get to Baguio from Cebu? 

PAL flight taking off from Baguio AirportPhoto by Philippine Airlines

The best way to get to Baguio City from Cebu City is by catching a direct flight from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the Loakan Airport. The Cebu to Baguio flight will only last about two hours, making it the quickest way to the City of Pines. 

Day 1: Cebu City & Mactan Island Tour

Sinulog Festival 1-Hannah ReyesSince the Cebu-Mactan International Airport is located in Cebu, it's best to start your Philippine vacation here as you can fly in from international and local destinations. To make the most of your trip, it's recommended to book a flight that's set to arrive in Cebu in the morning.

After landing, you can take a car rental to your Cebu hotel or book a transfer ahead of time. Aside from flying to Cebu, those staying in nearby islands in the Visayas region can also take a ferry from select destinations like Bohol, Iloilo, and Leyte

Once settled in your Cebu hotel or resort, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the province. We recommend allotting Day 1 to explore Cebu City and Mactan Island to learn about the province's rich culture. Here are some of the best places to visit in Cebu City and Mactan Island that you can add to your Cebu City tours

Temple of Leah

Temple of Leah's facade-2This grand temple was built as a gesture of love for a local businessman's late wife named Leah, hence its name. Inside, you'll find her wide collection of art, antiques, and more. Aside from viewing her fascinating collection, visitors can also enjoy a scenic view of Cebu Island as the temple sits on top of a hill in the town of Busay. 

Mactan Shrine

This shrine commemorates the historic battle between Lapu-Lapu, a local datu (chief), and the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, where Lapu-Lapu was victorious. In honor of his bravery and success, a statue of him was also built at the shrine. It is also a common stop on most Mactan Island tours due to its historical and cultural significance. 

Sirao Garden

Colorful blooms in Sirao Flower GardenSirao Garden is a hillside attraction in the town of Lahug that features rows of colorful blooms. It has also been called the "Little Amsterdam of Cebu" due to its resemblance to the popular flower fields of the European country. Over the years, it has become one of the must-visit flower farms and gardens in the Philippines, thanks to its picturesque fields. 

Magellan's Cross

Magellan's CrossHoused in an octagonal structure made of coral stone, Magellan's Cross remains an important structure for Catholics across the country as it commemorates the introduction of Catholicism in the Philippines. It gets its name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan as he and his crew were the first Spanish forces to set foot in the archipelago. 

Cebu Taoist Temple

Filipino-Chinese communities in Cebu who subscribed to Taoism built this grand temple in 1972. Along with being a place of worship for them, the temple has also become a tourist attraction due to its intricate designs. Among its best features is its facade inspired by the Great Wall of China and the colorful dragon statues on the property.

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

Known as one of the first Chinese settlements in Cebu, this ancestral home gives visitors a peek into how Chinese families that moved to Cebu used to live. Inside, you'll find various exhibits that feature artworks and antiques owned by the Yap-Sandiego family. 

Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño de Cebu

Built in the 1560s, this grand church is the first Catholic church in the country and is one of the must-visit churches in the Philippines. It also houses the image of the Sto. Nino, the city's patron saint that represents Jesus as a Black Holy Child. 

Alegre Guitar Factory

The Alegre Guitar Factory is a family-owned local business that has gained widespread recognition due to the high-quality hand-made guitars they offer. It has also become a popular tourist attraction since visitors can watch the artisans create guitars from scratch and show them the entire process. 

During your first day in Cebu, you can stay in various Cebu hotels and resorts that offer different experiences, such as hotels in the city and beachside resorts. Among the best Cebu resorts are Shanrgri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, and other 5-star hotels in the Philippines.

Day 2: Cebu Province Day Tour: North or South 

Malapascua IslandOn your second day in Cebu, it's recommended to spend it in North Cebu or South Cebu since both areas offer different environments and activities. If you prefer relaxing on powdery white sand beaches and exploring marine ecosystems, you should consider heading to North Cebu. Meanwhile, those who crave adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventures should spend the day in South Cebu. 

South Cebu: Top Attractions & Activities 

South Cebu is perfect for adventure seekers as visitors can go canyoneering, whale shark watching, and snorkeling here. Those excited for an action-packed day can try canyoneering at the Kawasan Falls, while animal lovers can go snorkeling with whale sharks in Oslob or watch the world-famous Moalboal Sardine Run.

We suggest picking one major attraction to spend your day at, then visiting nearby spots after since it's hard to fit all major South Cebu attractions into one day.  

Kawasan Falls and Canyoneering

Canyoneering in Kawasan FallsThis multi-tier waterfall in Badian town is best known for its picturesque blue waters and thrilling canyoneering route. If you want an outdoor adventure, canyoneering in Kawasan Falls is a perfect experience, as it is often among the top things to do in Cebu. For a hassle-free adventure, it's best to book a Kawasan Falls tour ahead of your planned visit here. Read our Kawasan Falls travel guide to know more. 

Oslob Whale Shark Watching

A whale shark swimming near the surfaceOn the other hand, you can go on a slower-paced outdoor trip in Oslob, one of the top places in the Philippines to see and even swim with whale sharks in their natural habitat. These gentle giants often feed in the area and are usually seen close to the water's surface, so you won't have to swim too far to get a glimpse of them. 

Moalboal sardine run

Diver swims near sardines in MoalboalAnother ideal trip for curious explorers is a visit to Moalboal to witness the iconic sardine run just a few feet from the town's shores. This natural phenomenon involves thousands of sardines swimming together, making for a breathtaking underwater sight. You can even swim towards them if you know how to free dive. 

Osmeña Peak

Known as the highest point in Cebu, this summit stands at 1,013 meters above sea level and is one of the must-visit hiking spots in the Philippines. Its height also makes it a perfect place to watch the sunrise over the island, as you can get unobstructed views of the horizon from here. 

Sumilon Island

Another snorkeling and scuba diving hotspot in South Cebu is Sumilon Island. This lush island has been a marine sanctuary since 1974, allowing different fish species and other aquatic animals to thrive in the surrounding coral reefs just a few feet from the island's shores. Along with snorkeling and diving, you can also visit the spotless sandbar during a Sumilon Island tour

Tumalog Falls

Framed by a lush canopy of trees in a forest 126 KM from Cebu City, the Tumalog Falls is a naturally picturesque attraction in the province. Visitors heading to the falls can also unwind and swim in the cascade's natural catch basin filled with cool and refreshing water.

North Cebu: Top Attractions & Activities 

In North Cebu, travelers can explore stunning beaches surrounded by crystal waters teeming with marine life. Among the best places to visit here are Bantayan Island to relax on white sand beaches or Malapascua Island to swim with thresher sharks. As each island offers various activities, it's highly recommended to spend at least one day on either island, so it's best to choose which one to visit ahead of time. 

Bantayan Island 

Bantayan Island sandbarPopular for its powdery white sand, similar to world-famous Boracay Island's White Beach, Bantayan Island is perfect for a tropical getaway in Cebu. The island is about 160 KM from Cebu City and can be reached via a car and boat ride, making it a great option for a day trip.

Aside from lounging on one of the best beaches in Cebu, you can visit other Bantayan Island beaches like Ogtong Cave, Kota Beach, and Hilantagaan Island during your time here.

Malapascua Island

A Thresher Shark diving in Monad Shoal, MalapascuaAs for Malapascua Island, its surrounding waters is a marine sanctuary home to a wide array of aquatic animals. It is also a well-known Cebu diving spot and one of the best Philippine diving spots, as you will find vibrant coral walls here and several thresher sharks that swim here all year round. For a hassle-free experience, you may book Malapascua tours.

Aside from snorkeling and diving, you can also visit other Malapascua beaches like Logon Beach, Guimbitayan Beach, and Langub Beach. 

Following your day tour in South or North Cebu, having dinner at one of the top Cebu restaurants and getting a taste of the famous Cebu lechon is a must-try experience. Afterward, it's time to head back to your hotel or resort, as it's suggested that you fly to Baguio the next morning. 

Day 3: Flight to Baguio & City Tour 

Philippine Airlines craft at Baguio AirportPhoto by Philippine Airlines

When you arrive at Loakan Airport in Baguio, it's best to check in at your chosen Baguio hotel so you can explore the city without any heavy baggage. After settling in your hotel room, you can walk, take public transport, or hail a taxi to the best places to visit in Baguio.

Camp John Hay

Exterior of The ManorCamp John Hay is a must-visit spot during a trip to the city as it offers various activities for people of all ages. This recreational complex features a treetop adventure, an amphitheater, and a world-class golf course surrounded by towering pine trees and fresh air.

You can also drop by The Manor at Camp John Hay, the property's luxury hotel, to walk through its polished gardens or enjoy a warm cup of coffee at its restaurant. 

Burnham Park

Swan boats in Burnham Park, BaguioLocated in the heart of Baguio, Burnham Park offers a refreshing escape from the city's busy streets. This park features a lake, an Igorot garden, and a handful of outdoor activities to try. If it's your first time here, one of the most fun things to do in Baguio is to ride a rowboat across the park's idyllic lake.

Mines View Park

This park offers a scenic view of the Cordillera Mountains and Benguet province's old copper and gold mines, hence its name. The mines date back to the early 20th century when Baguio was still a mining town. Along with dropping by the Mines View Observation Deck, visitors can also pose for photos in traditional Ifugao tribe garbs like the bahag (loincloth), vest, and headdresses. 

Botanical Garden

bridge inside the baguio botanical gardenThis vast garden features several sections and attractions, such as artwork by celebrated local artists, pocket gardens inspired by other countries, and areas commemorating different Cordillera tribes.

Among the most famous artworks here is the bronze statue by Ben Hur Villanueva that represents the contributions of Cordillerans, Americans, Chinese, and Japanese in building Baguio

Tam-Awan Village

entrance to the Tam-awan Village

Discover the rich heritage of the Cordillera region by visiting this cultural spot. The Tam-Awan Village was built to resemble a native Ifugao village and houses various traditional artworks that depict the history of the different tribes. It also offers a stunning vista as it sits on a hillside with several viewing decks. 

Wright Park

Wright Park fronts the main gate of The Mansion and is best known for the pool in the middle of the park. The pool has also been called the "Pool of Pines" as it is lined by tall pine trees on both sides. Aside from taking a stroll here, visitors can also go horseback riding here, which is another popular activity in Baguio. 

Baguio night market

Baguio Night MarketBaguio night market takes place along a portion of Harrison Road every 9 PM to 2 AM. During this time, you will find several stalls lined up along the street that offers great deals on surplus and second-hand apparel such as clothes, bags, and footwear. A nearby food park also opens up at around the same time, so you can take a break from shopping at the flea market when you get tired. 

Between your visits to the different Baguio tourist spots, you can grab a table at any of the best Baguio restaurants for a delicious meal. A handful of them is also located close to popular attractions, so they are perfect for a quick stopover as well.

Day 4: Strawberry Picking and Heritage Tour 

For your last full day in Baguio, you can explore areas outside of the city center. Some of the best things to do are strawberry picking at the farms in La Trinidad, enjoying the view of the StoBoSa colorful houses, admiring the local art at the BenCab Museum, and learning about traditions at the Easter Weaving Room. 

Strawberry picking at La Trinidad

freshly picked strawberries from the strawberry farms in La TrinidadStrawberries are a signature product of Baguio City and the nearby areas since the weather in the highlands is perfect for growing these sweet berries. For the best strawberry-picking experience, head to La Trinidad, the capital of Benguet. Strawberry picking is easily one of the top activities in Baguio and is best enjoyed from November to May.

StoBoSa colorful houses

Colors of StobosaStoBoSa is a blend of three mountainside communities in La Trinidad: Stonehill, Botiw-tiw, and Sadjap. Inspired by the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the local government worked with local artists to transform the previously run-down shanties here into vibrant homes that are now collectively known as the Colors of StoBoSa. The attraction comprises about 200 houses over 18,000 square meters.

BenCab Museum

Exhibit inside BenCab MuseumPhoto by the Department of Tourism

This museum is home to the works of Philippine National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, hence its name. Inside, you'll find several exhibitions depicting the Cordillera people's culture. Along with the paintings and sculptures here, you can also enjoy a cup of coffee at the in-house restaurant called Cafe Sabel, which was named after BenCab's best-known muse. 

Easter Weaving Room

hand-woven cloth in easter weaving roomAnother great place to learn about the province's heritage is the Easter Weaving Room. True to its name, this spot features various looms used by local weavers to create hand-woven pieces like blankets, decorative wall hangings, and ethnic textiles. During certain times throughout the day, you may also witness expert weavers use the looms. 

Day 5: Departure 

Cordillera mountain view from the Mines View Park at nightOn the fifth day of your Philippine vacation, take the time to enjoy a delicious breakfast at your Baguio hotel or a local restaurant before preparing to leave. You can also squeeze in a quick visit to nearby shops to purchase last-minute goodies to take home with you. Once you're ready to go, you can either take a flight to Cebu or take a bus back to Metro Manila

Enjoy scenic views in Cebu and Baguio

Pine trees in Baguio CityRelax on powdery beaches and explore scenic mountain ranges by visiting Cebu Island and Baguio City in one 5-day trip. For a worry-free adventure, you can book all-inclusives Cebu tour packages and Baguio tour packages for your vacation. If you have more time to spare, you can read our articles on the best Cebu tourist spots and Baguio tourist spots to find more attractions you can see and experience on your Philippine getaway. 

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