The Best Ways To Spend Your Cebu Trip
November 15, 2018
by Mik Labrador
Cebu is a prominent tourist destination of the Philippines. There is no end to the influx of tourists who visit or decide to stay on the island year after year. One does not need to over research to find wonderful things to do here. There are countless lists out there for the top things to do in Cebu, but here are my personal recommendations for you to maximize your itinerary.
Hit The Beach
Cebu is blessed with beautiful beaches at almost every turn. Head south of the capital city and take a swim with the whale sharks of Oslob, go snorkelling in Moalboal, or you can do both as these places are conveniently located just within a couple of hours drive from each other. Along the way you can consider other top things to do in Cebu such as a day hike to Osmena peak or a refreshing visit to Kawasan falls. Take a trip north and hop on to a ferry either heading to the pristine beaches of Bantayan or Camotes Island. You can also rent a small boat and go island hopping around Cebu and its neighbouring island of Bohol.
Explore Cebuano Cuisine
In Cebu, lechon is the king. You have probably heard of it already upon considering a visit. Cebu makes the best version of this whole roasted pig in the Philippines, which is to say, it is easily the best version you can find anywhere in the world. It even earned the late and great Anthony Bourdain’s now famous quote of being the “Best pig, ever!” Lechon is not only a specialty but also an event. Every year there is a lechon festival held in Cebu’s Talisay city and every Sunday, countless make shift stalls pop-up across town to sell the dish. You don’t have to overthink your options. Just try any one of them and you will likely be blown away.
If lechon is the king then seafood is definitely the queen of Cebuano cuisine. The bounties of the sea fill up the fish markets of Cebu every day; a dizzying array of fresh catches from the island’s surrounding waters. They are prepared masterfully by the locals whether grilled (Sugba), raw mixed with onions, chilis and ginger (Kilaw, similar to the South American dish Ceviche), or stewed (Tinola or Larang). There are also plenty of all-you-can-eat establishments that serve crabs, scallops, oysters and shrimps that have become local favourites.
Visit Downtown For Some History
Although I am not originally from Cebu, I have been living here for more than eleven years. My absolute favourite place to visit is the downtown area. At the centre of it lies Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines. Downtown Cebu is filled with historical spots all within a few blocks away from each other. You can visit the Basilica del Santo Nino, an 18th century Spanish built church which still holds masses to this day and with an architecture that still manages to invoke the occasional gasp from first time visitors. Just outside of the church, you can find Magellan’s cross, the modest structure that houses the original cross erected by the famous explorer during his arrival in Cebu. Also close by, inside of the Plaza Independencia, is Fort San Pedro. Commissioned by Magellan’s successor Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, it was built to protect the island from raiders and attacks coming from the sea. A quick visit to these spots should make it to anyone’s list of the top things to do in Cebu. They represent the best of the city from the bygone times to the present, where they continue to find their place and purpose.
Be A Night Owl
Cebu has a vibrant night life. The locals have a serious approach when it comes to unwinding after work hours. You won’t have to look too far if you are staying within the city to find an open establishment or a videoke bar ready to cater to you. You can also have a weekend gastronomic adventure in the night markets of Sugbo Mercado or The Market. These places are open from Fridays till Sundays, between 5 in the afternoon until 1 in the morning. Foodies visit the collective food stalls to taste both local and international cuisines all in one spot.
Travel During Sinulog
Sinulog is no doubt the grandest, most celebrated festival of Cebu. It happens every third Sunday of January. If you are lucky enough to book your trip around this time, then you should definitely partake in the festivities. The centrepiece of the event is the parade of floats and performances paying homage to the city’s patron saint the Santo Nino. These parades have been known to last an entire day and the whole city moves along with it. Participants get really creative with their entries and there is no shortage of picture perfect moments, great food and authentic experience for you to take part in. Of all the best things to do in Cebu, this is perhaps the highlight, the most coveted, and the one which both locals and tourists wait for every year.
Expand Your Itinerary
Aside from being an enduring contemporary to the countries capital of Manila, Cebu has also been an alternative hub for people travelling within the Philippines. Its location on the map makes it easy for one to reach other popular destinations such as Bohol, Siargao, Siquijor, Iloio, Dumaguete, Cagayan, Camiguin and others. A visit to Cebu will be more than enough to make you fulfilled but if you have room in your itinerary to move on, then you’ve hit the jackpot. From here, you can take short and inexpensive trips by sea to the destinations I’ve mentioned. It won’t cost as much as taking a flight and it is considerably the more scenic route.
Cebu is a can’t-go-wrong destination. It is up there with the best of the best. It is also a practical place for travellers to visit. What I mean is that it is very reasonable in terms of your budget. As a traveller myself, I hold a special place in my heart for destinations that make the best of what you have. Whether you are backpacking your way around the Philippines or you intend to stay for an extended period of time, Cebu is a veritable option. For all its immense beauty and progressive might, it is still easy on the pockets and the Cebuanos are some of the most accommodating people I have ever gotten to know.