The Central Visayas (Region VII) is a region of the Philippines lying between the Western Visayas and the Eastern Visayas island groupings. The Visayas are roughly the central third of the Philippines, so this region is approximately in the center of the whole country.
This region has some magnificent beaches, many dive spots and, in Cebu City, historic landmarks which date back to 1521. The island of Bohol has the weird Chocolate Hills and diminutive tarsiers and is popular with leisure travelers, including many Koreans and Japanese.
The pioneering Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan was killed at the Battle of Mactan, now Lapu-Lapu, by local chieftain Lapu-lapu in the year 1521. A shrine in Cebu City was built in memory of his death centuries later. The oldest urban center in the Philippines, the walled city in Cebu, was built by the Spanish colonizers in the 16th century; parts of it survive (some only as ruins) and are tourist attractions today. The walled city of Intramuros in Manila was patterned after this walled fortress.
Sinulog Festival in January is the region's most popular religious cultural event. It is centered in Cebu City but also celebrated in many nearby areas.
The region consists of four provinces, all with plenty of beaches and dive resorts. Three of them each consist of one main island with the same name as the province plus various smaller islands nearby. The fourth province, Negros Oriental, is part of the large island of Negros plus some nearby islands.
- Bohol, a major tourist draw with tarsiers (one of the world's smallest primates) and the scenic "Chocolate Hills"
- Cebu Province, economic center and transport hub of the region, with much tourism in some areas
- Negros Oriental, not as urbanized as Cebu, but still populous and fairly prosperous
- Siquijor, a small island province whose history includes tales of witches and sorcerers
Wikivoyage continues to define "Central Visayas" as above. However, in late 2015 the Philippine government changed their administrative system, creating a new official region for Negros island and removing Negros Oriental from their Central Visayas region.
- Metro Cebu, easily the largest urban area in the Visayas, second in the country. It consists mainly of three cities:
- There are also many smaller suburbs; see Metro Cebu for a list.
- Bais City - known for whale and dolphin watching in the Tanon Straits
- Dumaguete - capital of Negros Oriental, popular as both a tourist and retirement destination, with Western restaurants in town and good diving nearby
- Siquijor - capital of Siquijor province
- Tagbilaran - capital of Bohol
- Apo Island — a diving destination near Dumaguete; has a large, protected coral reef
- Malapascua — an island in Cebu Province, but separate from Cebu Island, somewhat to the north. It has beaches, dive shops, and many resorts, mostly upscale
- Olango Island — close to Cebu City, with a bird sanctuary, diving, and some mid-range resorts
- Oslob — village near the southern tip of Cebu island, known for whale shark watching
- Panglao Island, the main resort and diving area on Bohol
This is an overview article. For details of things to see and do, and places to eat, drink or sleep, see the lower-level articles on individual provinces, towns and islands. Links above will lead you to them.
The main language of this region is Cebuano, which is also known as Bisaya. With more than 20 million native speakers, it is the mother tongue for more citizens of the Philippines than any other. Local and regional newscasts are broadcast in Cebuano, and most local newspapers are published in English.
Since before the time of Magellan's visit (1520), Sugbo (as Cebu was then known) had been a world trade centre and many speak English as a second language. Many also speak Tagalog; that language is not native to this region, but rather to Luzon, but is the basis for the official language Filipino which is taught in schools throughout the country.
Sometimes, people in this region also speak in Taglish (Tagalog + English) when they cannot find the appropriate word to use in Tagalog. Youth speaks English with a Cebuano accent, often interchanging i and e as well as o and u while ones from older generations can barely converse in Taglish. Really old people often speak excellent English from US colonial days. Some people will also understand a little of Ilonggo or Waray. The Chinese minority speak Hokkien, a minority of expatriates and immigrants speak their own languages.
When speakers of different Philippine languages meet overseas, they must determine if their conversation will work better in Tagalog or English. Most likely, it will involve both Tagalog and English, thus Taglish. Within this region there is rarely this problem since all natives of this region understand Cebuano. However, some higher officials from outside the region understand very little Cebuano and will want to switch to Taglish.
The jump off point to the region is the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the island city of Lapu-Lapu, part of Metro Cebu. From there, one can easily get to Mandaue (there are two bridges), and on the urban center of Cebu City.
The airport has flights to many cities in East and Southeast Asia, plus Dubai and Los Angeles. It is Cebu Pacific's hub in the Visayas with connecting flights to most major cities in Mindanao and the Visayas, and to tourist destinations such as Boracay through Caticlan Airport and Palawan through Puerto Princesa. All domestic carriers have flights to Mactan-Cebu International Airport from Manila.
There are also airports in Dumaguete (in Sibulan town), and in Tagbilaran. Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly Manila-Tagbilaran and Manila-Dumaguete. Siquijor is the only province in the region without an airport, and it has ferries from all three of the other provinces.
The Port of Cebu is the country's busiest port and a major transport hub with connections all over the Visayas region and some to Manila and Mindanao. Inter-island shipping is served by numerous shipping lines, two of them fastcraft companies which serve all the provinces in the region.
Bus companies serve the Manila-Cebu and Manila-Dumaguete routes from Ali Mall terminal in Cubao, Quezon City.
The Port of Cebu is the region's main gateway. There are also ports in Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, Larena in Siquijor, and Tagbilaran, Getafe and Jagna in Bohol. Inter-island shipping is served by numerous shipping lines, two of them fastcraft companies which serve all the provinces in the region.
It is rare to travel within the region by air; bus or ferry is generally more convenient. For example, one might fly Cebu-Tagbilaran but the ferry (see Tagbilaran#By_boat) is considerably cheaper. It is likely also faster and more convenient since the ports are downtown in both cities while airports are not, and boats go direct while fliers must change planes in Manila.
For the Western Visayas, the commonest route is a bus from Dumaguete or Cebu City to Bacolod, then a ferry from there to Iloilo, and there are buses from Iloilo to any of the provincial capitals on Panay. There are also flights from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Kalibo, the nearest airport to Boracay.
See the "Get in" sections of destination articles for details.