Cebu : Things to do 

The beauty of Cebu lies in its beaches, and historical city centre. 

The capital city of the Visayas province of Philippines is not just a tourist destination. Cebu is a well developed sea port trading with countries like the US, and Italy. It also has a thriving IT outsourcing industry. 

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The port of Cebu

I myself was on a business trip to Cebu, and that gave me the opportunity to explore the beaches of Mactan island, the Olango bird sanctuary, and the city centre. My top 5 pics of Cebu are as follows: 

1. Olango bird sanctuary and island: 

Olango Bird Sanctuary: The bird sanctuary is located on the Olango island, which is located a ferry ride away from the Mactan island.  The bird sanctuary has the largest collection of migratory birds in Philippines. But not only that. The landscape itself is so different that it’s worth a visit.

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The Olango Bird Sanctuary
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Migratory birds in the Olango Sanctuary

The Olango island: Sans the sanctuary, the island itself is worth a visit given its rustic beauty. There are no cars on the island, with bikes being the only medium of transportation. Currently there are no hotels on the island, but there is a resort being built. The floating restaurant built on the surrounding sea, is a great attraction. The restaurant serves fresh fish for lunch, and has live musicians enlivening the surrounding. The best thing: you need to take a boat to visit the restaurant! It is advisable to have a guide, or a local language speaker on a visit to the island, otherwise you’re certain to pay a premium on your lunch. The Churches on the island, and the local basketball games on the street give a good view of the local Filipino life: religion and sports. 

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Floating Restaurant in the Olango island
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Boats you take to reach floating restaurants
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You can literally see water under the restaurant
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Fried fish and calamari served in the restaurant

2. Mactan island:

A stay on the Mactan island is a great way to relax, post the flight. As the island houses the airport,at least a night stay in one of its hotels post the flight is a good idea. iVarious hotels are located near the beach, and offer luxurious spa facilities or water sport options. Many hotels also have casinos where you can gamble. As a tourist, I typically prefer spending money on travel itself. 

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Mactan island beach resort: Maribago
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Lounge of the Maribago restaurant

3. The Basilica del Santo Nino:

The Basilica gives a great overview of the religious Filipino society. I went to the Basilica on a Sunday. Though, it is crowded I would recommend it to anyone as the Sunday mass presents a window to the Filipino religious faith. 

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The Basilica del Santo Nino
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The Sunday Mass at the basilica
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Candles lit by the worshippers
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Statues inside the Basilica

 

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Statutes in the Basilica commemorating the journey of the European explorers who bought Christianity to Philippines

4. Fort San Pedro:

Another recommendation, as it was the first fort built in the city. The fort houses antique idols of Jesus Christ, and how Christianity become popular on the island. It also gives a great view of the neighbouring Parks. 

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Entrance of the Fort
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What the Fort looked like when it was just built
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Ancient idol of Mary in the Fort

5. Heritage of Cebu Monument:

Located at the city  centre, the Heritage of Cebu monument is a good ten minute detour from the Fort. The monument was built in an area where once rich Chinese merchants had their mansions. Much of that is not visible now. 

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Heritage of Cebu Monument

Tips:

Flight: Air Asia flys from Singapore to Cebu on a Friday night. This makes Cebu a good weekend getaway from Singapore 

Duration: I would recommend at least a 5 day stay, as the island has great beaches located at 2/3 hour drive from the centre.

Hotel: Once at the centre. The Raddison Blu is a good option for a business traveler. At the Mactan island I opted for Hotel Maribago, which is a better option than Movenpick, given the room size. Should you wish to spend more, the Shangri La is a great option. 

Transport: wherever possible, use Uber otherwise the cab drivers will rip you off! 🙂

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