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If you know much about the island of Cebu, you’d know it’s home to hundreds of waterfalls, particularly in South Cebu. What you might not realise is that there are waterfalls in Cebu far closer to the city centre, like Budlaan Falls which is only around 25 minutes from the heart of Cebu City.

We spent a day hiking to Budlaan Falls, swimming with the local kids and exploring the surrounding jungle and river. After a day of adventure, we’ve put together this handy guide to Budlaan Falls for those looking for fun things to do in Cebu City.

HOW TO GET TO BUDLAAN FALLS

It’s only 25 minutes from Lahug to Budlaan, but we really recommend renting a scooter for the day as there’s no direct public transport to Budlaan Falls. There are motorcycle/scooter rentals all over the city and you should be able to pick one up for around ₱400/USD $8. Alternatively, you can hire a motorcycle taxi (habal-habal) from JY Square Mall going to Barangay Budlaan for ₱100-150 one way. If motorbikes aren’t your thing, you can hire a chartered car from GetYourGuide for ₱5,750/USD $117 for up to 12 hours.

Budlaan Falls is on Google Maps, but we’ve pinned the exact location where you’ll need to park your scooter/car on the map above. The road is developed the entire way, however, there are a lot of blind corners going up the mountain so drive carefully! At one point you’ll need to drive through a covered basketball court right before the road splits off going Budlaan. You may think you’ve made a wrong turn, but things are more fun in the Philippines and sometimes they build a basketball court onto a road.

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WHAT TO BRING TO BUDLAAN FALLS

Prepare for your trip to Budlaan Falls with our must-have travel essentials.

Waterproof backpack & phone case: Earth Pak 35L or 55L Heavy Duty Backpack, IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Included (click for price)
Quick-dry microfiber travel towel: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Travel Towel (click for price)
Insulated water bottle: Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle (click for price)
Hiking Sandals: Teva Women’s Hurricane Hiking Sandals (click for price), Teva Men’s Hurricane Hiking Sandals (click for price)

If you’re interested in photography and/or videography this is the gear we can’t live without:

Professional camera: Sony a7iii (click for price)
Action camera: GoPro HERO9 Black (click for price)
Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro (click for price)

BEST CEBU TOUR PACKAGES

HIKING TO BUDLAAN FALLS

Before we started our hike to Budlaan Falls, we stopped by a sari-sari store so we could stock up on snacks and refill our water bottles. There are no facilities at the falls so this store is your last chance to fuel up for the hike.

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The hike to Budlaan Falls is short and easy, only taking us around 20-30 minutes all up. It starts off in an area sparsely populated before turning into untouched jungle. Budlaan Falls is popular amongst local teenagers so the trail is well established and easy to follow. The last stretch is a steep decline down the mountainside to Budlaan Falls below, but aside from that, it’s all relatively flat terrain.

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WHAT TO EXPECT AT BUDLAAN FALLS CEBU

After descending the mountainside you’ll literally pop out on a spot overlooking Budlaan Falls. It’s an impressive stream cascading into a large pool below where there were already some locals swimming and jumping. There are different levels along the surrounding rocks where the brave local kids were cliff jumping, but the water is pretty shallow so we wouldn’t recommend it!

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Fair warning, this is a popular hangout spot with the Cebuano kids, so if you find that the main waterfall and swimming area is too crowded, there is a lower level that may be less busy.

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We hung around the main and lower levels of Budlaan Falls for a while before Carson hiked up around the side of the falls to the very top. This offers a unique perspective of Budlaan Falls, but if you’re an adrenaline junkie wondering if you can cliff dive from here, the answer is a firm no. You can, however, explore the upper levels and the river, and fly your drone to get a view from even higher.

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ADVENTURE BAG CLEANUP WITH JOURNEY ERA

Our first visit to Budlaan Cebu Falls in 2018 looked a little different! We joined Jackson Groves from Journey Era for an Adventure Bag cleanup, where we gathered with around 100 fellow travellers and local Cebuanos to collect trash along the trail to Budlaan Falls. But, you don’t need to be part of a cleanup crew to do your part for Mother Nature, just bring a bag and pick up any pieces of trash you find. And remember, we’re all just guests here.

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Budlaan Falls Cebu Philippines Travel Guide

WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU CITY

BUDGET/HOSTEL: DOWN SOUTH HOSTEL

Down South Hostel in Cebu City is our home away from home. We’ve spent a lot of time in Cebu City and this is our favourite budget accommodation. It’s clean, the rooms are spacious, modern and comfortable, and the communal spaces are beautifully decorated and well designed. There are private rooms as well as dorm spaces to choose from if you’re on a tight budget.

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Down South Hostel Cebu
Image by Down South Hostel

MIDSCALE: THE HENRY HOTEL

The Henry Hotel in Cebu is an urban, art-centric hotel in Banilad. The rooms are colourful and curious, very spacious and the amenities are great for a mid-scale hotel. If you’re looking for something different from your regular copy+paste hotels, this is it.

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The Henry Hotel Cebu
Image by The Henry Hotel

LUXURY: MARCO POLO PLAZA

Marco Polo Plaza is one of, if not the most, iconic hotels in Cebu City. If you’ve got a little extra cash to splash Marco Polo Plaza is a top pick in a prime location, close enough to the city centre to be convenient but far enough away from the chaos to afford you a little peace of mind.

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Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
Image by Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

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