Type : City, Beach, Adventure
Best Date : November – May
Expense : Medium – Expensive
Things to do : Shopping, Nightlife, Canyoning, Whale shark Diving, Trekking, Cliff Diving, Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Water Sports, Island Hopping ect
Points of Interest: Taoist Temple, Lapu Lapu Shrine, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, Kawasan Falls, Ayala Mall, SM seaside, Malapascua Island ect
Cebu is a large Philippine province where Cebu city is its capital. It is most famous for being the islands for Magellan’s (a famous Spanish/ Portuguese explorer) death, over a battle with the natives. The Japanese were also based here during their occupation of Philippines in World War 2. Cebu which is in the centre of the Philippines is also the second most populous region in the country and a place where tourists would go for cultural reason, diving, canyoning, caveneering and most popular diving with the whalesharks.
Cebu is one of my favourite islands in the Philippines, it has everything in one large island. The region offers a variety of holiday types, whether its relaxation, nightlife, diving, swimming, cultural or an adrenaline rush, Cebu has what you want. Furthermore the island is a compatible place for large groups of friends, couples or even a lone traveller.
One reason that people go to Cebu is for its rich culture and history where plenty of old Spanish styled architecture are, most notable being the”Fort San Pedro”, which was built by Spanish and native Cebuano labourers. Lapu-Lapu shrine is also popular with tourism as the memorial is dedicated to the names sake native Cebuano leader who famously killed Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan’s cross which is the cross ordered to be erected by the explorer himself is remarkable, marking the start of Christianity in the Philippines hence the popularity. Chinese culture is also rich in Cebu, the Philippine Chinese Spiritual Temple, Taoist Temple Cebu and the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple portray the influence Chinese people have in Cebu and in the Philippines as a whole.
Once a year masses of people locally and from around the world travel to Cebu, this is for the “Sinulog festival” which is increasingly getting popular each year. Celebrities and mass media attend this highly anticipated festival in Cebu which is celebrated because of the acceptance of Catholicism by locals. Performances and parades around the streets with a statue of Sto Nino are popular in the Sinulog festival. If you are traveling to Cebu try and be in time with the Sinulog festival which happens early January.
Other than culture and history, Cebu offers the more modern aspects such as nightlife and shopping which is ever present in Cebu city. Just like Metro Manila, Cebu city is loaded with malls and shopping centres. IT park, Ayala shopping centre and the newly built SM seaside are huge places of interest in Cebu, for locals and tourists to chill and wind down. The city is also popular for its nightlife and adult entertainment. Mango Avenue is where it all lies, best notable clubs are J. AVE Superclub, Liv Super Club and Sentral (Hip Hop Bar and Club). There are also plenty of Koreans and Japanese in the area so it wont be difficult to find a Karaoke bars in the city.
Activities is mainly what I look for in a holiday, and Cebu spoils me for it. First of all other than Cebu City and Mactan island, the rest of the province is preserved and untouched from its natural beauty and because of this many jungles, waterfalls and canyons are used for adrenaline rush looking tourists. First of all Canyoning, this is where you trek into the jungles, mountains and streams, down waterfalls and into the canyons. This mixes physical strength as you walk for hours and climb steep hills, also challenges mentally as you fight fears of jumping off cliffs, rappelling down waterfalls and encountering different wildlife, all whilst enjoying the picturesque views of the canyons (I can honestly say it feels like your in some kind of tomb raider movie), please refer to more in depth canyoning page. Another activity in Cebu that is enjoyable is the famous Whale shark diving, you can either snorkel with the sharks, scuba dive or just watch from the boat. It costs just 500php (£8) for Filipinos and 1k php (£16) for foreigners for a 15minute snorkel with the sharks, it doesn’t sound very long however but trust me it is more than enough, we got back onto the boat after 5-10 minutes because we’ve had enough. In my opinion, its a must do in Cebu, there isn’t a lot of this in the world and it may be banned in the future as activists protesting that feeding them makes the whales weaker, lazier in the natural world. The whale shark diving now starts early at 7am only till 12am. More commonly activities done in Cebu are the likes of scuba diving, jet skiing, island hoping but more interestingly you can go in a yellow submarine which is offered from various hotels, I have never tried this but will be sure to try this in the future.
It is also possible to have a nice relaxing quiet holiday in Cebu if you go outside the City, Malapascua island is a paradise island, usually a couples retreat, honeymooners however it is also used as a scuba diving destination.
If there is one island you would want to visit that has a variety of things to do then the Cebu region is for you.
To get to Cebu from Manila you could take a ferry at less than 24hours, there are three classes to a ferry, value, cabin, tourist and some ferries have a state and suite rooms. Some tourists do take ferries as a way to tour the seas and some take it for environmental reason. A state or suite room in a ferry can cost up to 5k pesos (£70) whilst the value class can cost 1.5k pesos (£20).
The more popular way to travel to Cebu is a 40min-60min flight to Mactan airport. There are a load of flights going to Mactan airport from Manila (Ninoy Aquino Airport), “Cebu pacific”, “Airasia”, and “Philippine airlines” are the popular carriers. Flights can cost up to 1.5k pesos and rise to 7k pesos one way, depending on the time you book and busyness of the season (refer to airlines page for in depth review)
Transport in Cebu city mimics that of Manila, however if you want to escape the city and go to the outer Cebu country side it could be a little more difficult. The most popular way for tourist to get around is by hotel transports, taxi or rented vehicles. There are also jeepneys however they do have a different appearance than that of the ones in Manila but still have their colourful artwork and design. The majority of hotels in Cebu do have complimentary hourly drop-off and pick-up transports to the main shopping centres and districts such as the Ayala centre, SM Cebu city and the IT park. Marco Polo is one that has this service and this is a convenient way for hotel guests to get around without needing to find a taxi, I personally find these very convenient however working your shopping or touring plans around the hourly pickups or drop offs can be annoying. Taxis like manila are convenient for point to point travel within the city, there are plenty of taxi bays and it is very easy to just get one off the streets. There is also a mode of transportation called “Habal habal” where one just gets on the back of someone’s motorcycle, this is illegal and very dangerous, there are no helmets and is not an approved way of transportation.
To travel outside Cebu city and into the countryside, mountains and beaches, is a bit more difficult. There are bus services to various points of interest such as Moalboal (where the canyons are situated) or Oslob (where the whales sharks are) however I have never honestly used these, so I wont be able to tell you about them. Obviously if you have entered a tour/ trip they would be more likely to arrange your transportation with/without extra fees, they may be a private car or van or an accompanied bus ride. However if nothing has been planned, I advise to rent a car and driver from one of the many companies that do so, these drivers can drive you to any destination of your choosing, they wait for you wherever you wonder, but it is good manners to just give them a bit of money to eat or invite them to eat with you. They are very friendly and act as a tour guide, they will also protect and look after you (your own personal chauffeur for the day).You can also pick the vehicle of your choosing whether a 5 seater Toyota Yaris or a 12 seater Grandia for bigger groups. To rent a car it will cost around 5k pesos (£70) with the driver but depending on the vehicle you choose.
I’d say travelling in Cebu is fairly easy, it is very tourist focused.