If you ask me what city in the Philippines is almost identical to Manila, my quick answer is Cebu-energetic, vibrant, progressive and there’s the heavy traffic.
Dubbed as the Queen City of the South, Cebu City is the first Spanish settlement in the country. Both local and foreign tourists frequent the metro, one of the most visited places in the archipelago.
Spend at least a day in the city when you visit Cebu Island. Honestly, though, traffic was crazier compared with my previous visits, as infrastructure developments continue to rise. A good example is the ongoing construction of a new terminal at Mactan International Airport which is slated to be completed in 2018. If all goes well, the world will soon say hello to the very first resort airport.
The focus of my travel this time was the southern part of Cebu, particularly Moalboal and Oslob but I intentionally stayed in the city for a night to catch up with my Cebuano friends. Here are my recommendations If you have limited time to explore the city.
Where to stay in Cebu City?
I booked my room at Cebu Parklane International Hotel via Traveloka. One of the things I consider when looking for a place to stay is the location, Cebu Parklane’s is perfect. Ayala Center Cebu is only 2 blocks away, Magellan’s Cross and Basilica Minore del Santo Niño are 3.9 km away. Mactan-Cebu International Airport is 12.1 km from the property.
I got a cozy superior room with city view. I love that it’s fully carpeted. The bed is comfortable, ambiance is quiet which is perfect for people who are longing for good sleep. What I love the most, though, is the bathtub. Any hotel room with a bathtub always gets an additional star from me.
The hotel has an outdoor pool which is right outside a specialty restaurant. Guests can also use the gym.
The concessionaire, Manuel’s restaurant, on the ground floor serves delectable international and Filipino cuisines. It is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Also, you may hang out at the lobby’s cafe where you can feast on desserts, pastries, and coffee.
Where to Eat in Cebu City?
Everyone would agree that the best food to eat in Cebu is lechon (roasted pork). Gosh! Just thinking about it makes me hungry. From Cebu Parklane Hotel, the closest restaurant that is serving lechon is House of Lechon. We ordered the spicy lechon and it was so good. The skin is crispy, the meat is flavorful. House of Lechon is home to tasty and quality Filipino dishes. I also love their monggo and kilawin. Talking about the interiors, the restaurant has a modern take on traditional Filipino elements. Also, the place is clean and the staff, accommodating. You won’t get wrong with the prices either. We ordered 1/4 kilo of spicy lechon, monggo, kilawin, and a bowl of rice. Total price: P700. Not bad, right?
For dinner, my friends decided to visit Lantaw Floating Restaurant. It’s located in Cordova, which is a bit far from the city center, so I recommend going there via a car.The moment I entered the place, I was sure it’s a hit. The restaurant is huge and so jam-packed I could hardly see a vacant table. I love the ambiance. You can take in the view of city lights and planes taking off. Service is a bit slow since there are many diners. We ordered Kare-Kare, Crispy Garlic Shrimp, Chopsuey and Pancit Canton. It’s worth visiting. I recommend their Pancit Canton-I love it.
I thought we would end the night partying at General Maxilom Avenue, popularly known as Mango. It’s the center of Cebu City’s nightlife. I expected it to be lively. It turned out to be an ordinary road though. Maybe because it was a Sunday. There’s a line of bars, but it just didn’t exude the energy that I was looking for. My friends said it used to be the red district, but the city government shut down non-compliant bars. Let’s leave it there.
So, we decided to have wine instead. It may sound like so Titos of Manila, but I never thought that I would love it. We went to La Vie Parisienne. I’m not sure if wine bars are thriving in Manila. In Cebu City, wine bars are becoming a favorite chill out spot.
I’m not a wine drinker. In fact, it was my first time to visit a wine bar. La Vie’s got cozy vibe, giving me that classy European ambiance. The place is very romantic. If you’re with someone special, I suggest that you take her there. We ordered red wine, the brand of which I couldn’t remember. It was dry and bitter-sweet. All I remember is I paid P1,600 for the bottle. But you can get a cheap one for as low as P300.
What to Do in Cebu City?
There are plenty of things to do in the city and here are some of my suggestions.
- Pray at Basilica Del Santo Niño
- Visit the most iconic landmark in the city: Magellan’s Cross
- Admire the great Chinese masterpiece of Taoist Temple
- Love museums? Visit Museo Sugbo
- I visited 10,000 roses since we ate at Lantaw floating cottage next to it. But, really, it’s not worth the effort.
Looking for more thins to do in the City? Here are some of the best things to do in Cebu City
Instead of doing these, though, I went to Osmeña Peak, the highest point on the island of Cebu. It’s approximately 3 hours away from the city depending on the traffic. To get there, you can take a bus bound for Oslob and get off in Dalaguete. Fare costs P120. From the main road, take a habal-habal going to the peak. This will cost P100 per head, but if you’re alone, you need to pay P200 to cover the vacant seat.
I’m not a fan of riding motorcycles, so if you’re someone like me, bring extra courage because the road uphill has a lot of curves. I didn’t feel safe aboard a habal-habal while traversing a cliffside without a helmet. It was a 40-minute drive to the base point. The view is like that of the mountainous regions of Luzon. The view is so beautiful I no longer felt that I was in Cebu. The weather is cooler. People are wearing bonnet and jacket.
Entrance/Registration fee is P30. Guide fee is P150, but it’s not mandatory. It’s an easy and quick hike from the base point, approximately 20 minutes. Osmeña Peak affords you a beautiful scenery of Moalboal and vivid landscape of the countryside. It has jagged hills with lush green grass. It was worth my ‘buwis-buhay’ habal-habal trip.
It will take me a lot of visits to cover all exciting things to do, not just in the city but on the entire island of Cebu. I noticed, compared with other provinces in the Philippines, Cebu has more and cheaper flights coming from Manila. So, if you’re thinking of flying out of Manila next time, consider Cebu, as it’s just an hour and half away. Daghang Salamat, Cebu! Sa sunod nato nga pag kita. Puhon maayong luwas!