What's the difference between Cebu and Davao?

My wife and I are planning on spending a month or two in the Philippines from mid December through mid January. We have many teammates there and plan to travel to meet each of them, but want a ‘home base’ for the duration of the stay.

We love being near the beach, stand up paddle boarding, we are novice surfers and we enjoy being able to walk around and access local restaurants, stores, shops, beaches, etc.

Internet speeds don’t worry us much as we lived in Mexico last year and dealt with slow internet without issue.

Access to healthy/organic foods is a big plus for us…

Just trying to figure out if anyone has any insight on these two option in the Philippines that may help us make a decision.


hi, living here almost a year already. healthy/organic food is a problem. the ordinary food here is deep fried everything. too spicy etc. so better to cook by yourself buying everything from the local markets (better avoid malls). or find one of the rare restaurants which server good food. i am living in Manila and i have found few. Regarding the Ceby or Davao, i would recommend you Bohol. This is incredible place for living. Beach, hills, nice city. Cebu is boring.
Apart of Bohol, there is also Palawan, nice island. Internal sucks. not only because its slow, but also because its pricy and slow.
On main island (where Manila is) there are also nice places, like 100islands, white beach, Lauag. Being close to Manils gives you some advantages like to fly anywhere ))).

If you have any specific questions i can help you with - more than welcome. I am in Manila and gonna be here for long.

I grew up in Cebu and I visit Davao for work and family. I’m biased towards Cebu because it’s a bit more urban, there are small shops and restaurants worth exploring as there is an entrepreneurial and creative culture compared to Davao. Diving is better too. But if you want the slow life you have to head out of town and into the neighboring provinces in the island. Cebu has the best of both worlds. There are neighboring beaches nearby, and you can easily hop on a boat to a smaller island with more interesting snorkel spots. Cebu is also the hub that allows you to explore the rest of the Visayas region easily – more islands, more beaches, more diving.
Caveat is as the city becomes more developed traffic is getting increasingly worse. Davao traffic is only slightly better, there’s one major thoroughfare that doesn’t really leave you with a lot of commuting options.
Bohol is definitely a good choice if you just want to stay on the beach for a while, it’s the most rural option among the three.

Cebu seems easier to get to with many direct flights, where Davao seems like I’d have to fly to Manilla or Cebu then change planes… And travel time from Singapore or Bangkok is much longer.

Bohol I’m guessing would be a ferry ride and I can’t imagine the internet there is any better thank Cebu or Davao… This is a work trip, not a vacation, so I don’t know if that is the right spot for us, this trip.

I get the food situation and that is not a problem or deal breaker… Doesn’t seem like either Davao or Cebu offer any benefit there.

I do see many apartment buildings in Davao much closer to the ocean than in Cebu… South of Cebu, there seems to be more accommodations closer to the beach in Talisay City… But not sure if there would be many markets or restaurants around there, or if that would be a pedestrian friendly location.

Both seem to have a few co-working spaces…

Kind of seems like personal preference, I guess… Not seeing anything specific that puts one out ahead of the other. I think I prefer the quieter and slower pace options, which seems like Davao may be.

Cebu for accessibility but Davao has cheaper, better food, the city is famous for eat all you can buffets. If you go during the fruit season, you’ll have access to the best fruits in the country. Sometimes I get full even from the free sampling alone in the fruit stalls. If you smoke, ditch Davao as it has a very strict ordinance against smoking. Internet is quite slow in Davao. I’m not familiar with surfing in Cebu, the surfers in Davao flock to Dahican beach. As for safety, Davao is the safest city in the country.

It depends what you call healthy, too. Deep fry chicken liver in palm/coconut oil (which seems to be the most widely available cooking oil) and that’s a healthy food to me.

There’s also a wide selection of tropical fruits if you move around. The only thing I found lacking in the Philippines was good dairy.

And… healthy or not… sisig and halo-halo… OMG I miss that stuff

Skipped both… Back to Costa Rica after Bali and Thailand.

The crappy food was a deal-breaker!

Gallo Pinto y huevos con Lizano para mi!

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i told ya ))) haha

You should try the soup dishes like sinigang, tinola, caldereta, kare-kare and many more which are mostly fit for paleo diet. Those are what the locals normally eat everyday. Deep fried, I don’t recall a lot of restaurants selling those.

Even in Manila, they prefer cooking instead of dining out. Restaurants, like overseas, are overrated especially when you eat near the tourist spots. I wouldn’t recommend eating near those because they are too pricey. If you search for restaurants a bit far from the malls you can find good food for less than 2 bucks plus it’s a complete meal.