Cebu is the "Queen City of the South" on Cebu Island in the Philippines and is one of the most popular destinations in all of the Philippines for foreign visitors with the busiest sea port in the Philippines and the second largest Air hub.
For over 200 years, the second largest and most important city in the country, it is currently the fastest growing large city in the nation with an annual growth of over 5% per year.
Perhaps surprisingly for such a booming metropolitan area, it has white sand beaches (some with ice cream vendors and showers and some untouched), as well as historical sites that reflect its cosmopolitan past. Cebu was in at the birth of Christian proseletising in Asia when it became one of the early commercial hubs between Mexico and China.
The language spoken in Cebu City is Cebuano, which is also known as Bisaya, with about 20 million native speakers.
Since before the time of Magellan's unfortunate visit, Sugbo had been a world trade centre and many speak English as a second language as well as or better than Tagalog.
Sometimes, they also speak in Taglish (Tagalog + English) when they cannot find the appropriate word to use. 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 it. 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.
Filipino is somewhat resented here since, although one of the official national languages of the Philippines and designed to be an amalgamation of the different languages of the Philippine islands, it is seen as a symbol of the unfair domination of the Central Luzon region.
(The basis of the official Filipino language is Tagalog, a Philippine language spoken by the people of Central and Southern Luzon with about 22 million native speakers.
In practical terms, Filipino is the formal name of Tagalog, or even a synonym of it. It is sometimes described as "Tagalog-based", part of a political fiction that the national language is based on an amalgam of Philippine languages rather than on Tagalog alone. It is usually called Tagalog within the Philippines and among Filipinos to differentiate it from other Philippine languages, but it has come to be known as Filipino to differentiate it from the languages of other countries; the former implies a regional origin, the latter a national. This is similar to the the names given to the Spanish language, where Castilian tends to be used within Spain, and Spanish in international settings
Tagalog was chosen mostly because it was the American Commonwealth government in Manila which pushed for a national language to counter what nationalists perceived quite rightly as Americanization of Filipino culture. Manuel L. Quezon, a Tagalog, was head of the Commonwealth government from 1935 to his death in exile in 1944. One of the nationalistic movements pushed by the Tagalogs, together with other groups, was a language movement that declared Filipino as the national language. Lope K. Santos developed his Grammar for the Tagalog language in the first decade of the 20th century, and the movers and shakers in Philippine government and society adopted Tagalog as a basis for the new official language, with an intention to change the lexicon and possibly the syntax to accommodate other ethnic groups. However, this really never happened.
Tagalog is the main grammatical and lexical basis for the official Filipino language, although words from other Philippine languages are included in a tokenistic way. Because of its similarity or resemblance to Tagalog, some people use the word Tagalog in describing the official Filipino language. Also, because the official Filipino language is includes grammatical and lexical elements from other Philippine languages, the official Filipino language is an amalgamation that is generally not intelligible by anyone speaking one of the spoken languages in the Philippines, including Tagalog! In practice, the official Filipino language is not spoken, but is approximated by speaking Tagalog.
This has resulted in considerable resentment by members of the non-dominant Philippine language groups, who continue to use their own languages instead of Filipino in their formal and informal transactions. Also, since members of other language groups have likely learned Tagalog, not official Filipino in school and through the media, they may not identify as speaking Filipino and may instead identify as being Tagalog-speaking. One must keep in mind that official Filipino is not the same as Tagalog, but from a practical standpoint the official Filipino doesn't exist as a spoken language.)
The government and the educational leaders of the country have decreasingly used English as one of the unifying languages for the Philippines. Tagalog is taught and used in the media, and Tagalog in the media is increasingly being mixed with English. Tagalog is morphing to become Taglish in the media. This trend will likely continue as the commercial education system increasingly adopts English in all areas of the country as being necessary to get ahead.
When speakers of different Philippine languages meet, they must determine if their conversation will work better in Tagalog or English. Most likely, it will involve both Tagalog and English, thus Taglish.
The Sentro ng Wikang Filipino (SWF) has started to increase the vocabulary for Filipino, first adding words from other Philippine languages]] from a Tagalog base, and then adding words from English and other Indo-European languages. The goal of SWF seems to create a language that will express scholastic as well as ordinary ideas, thoughts and nuances that are common to Filipinos of whatever ethnic group. In reality this is a naive idea that will probably instead lead to political balkanization and handicapping Tagalog speakers with a continuing idea of their own national superiority.
International flights: 550 Philippine pesos (₱). Filipino nationals and permanent residents must also pay the Philippine Travel Tax of ₱1,620 before they can be issued a boarding pass.
Domestic flights: ₱200 (included in airfare).
Mactan-Cebu International Airport (link to Wikipedia article) (IATA: CEB) (ICAO: RPVM), . This international and domestic airport is a modern alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and passport control and baggage handling is fairly fast and efficient. There are numerous direct daily flights to and from Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and scheduled flights to Japan, Qatar, Malaysia, Taiwan, and China. Aside from this, the airport serves several seasonal charter flights to Russia, China, the United States, and other nations.
Mactan Cebu International is also the main domestic hub outside Manila with a variety of flights around the Philippine archipelago such as to Manila, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Boracay, Clark (just near Angeles City), Siargao (Surigao), Zamboanga, Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Camiguin, General Santos, and Tacloban, among others.
Visitors from North America, Europe, Middle East, and the rest of the world may fly first to Singapore or Hong Kong or Seoul or Kuala Lumpur or Doha to catch a flight to Cebu. If you don't mind braving the horrendous traffic and the cacophonic noise of Manila, you will get a faster connection to Cebu, for there are more than 20 flights daily between the two cities or almost two flights every hour. There are also flights to Cebu from Clark International airport, from which there are further flights on discount airlines to Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Singapore and other points. An extension is under construction.
Lapu-Lapu who is considered the Philippine's first national hero.
Getting in/out - The airport is on Mactan Island in Lapu-Lapu city. It takes about 20-30 min to get to the actual city of Cebu. From the Airport you will need to hire a taxi. If you are staying at one of the nicer hotels they usually can send a free van to pick you up at airport. If you forgot to ask for this you may find that the van of your hotel is there to pick someone else up and you can hitch a ride if there is room. Facilities and amenities at the airport include a shopping center, duty-free shop, souvenir shops, cafés, business centers, food shops, communication facilities, banking facilities, car rentals, hotel and resort reservations, and beauty and health services. Taxis to town are about ₱150-200, but are the only options at night.
To Cebu City Center by Jeepney
This trip requires three steps:
- Take the yellow multi-cab (similar to Jeepney) in front of the Departure Hall to the "Save More" supermarket at the highway. It is a very short ride of about 5 to 10 minutes. PHP 8.
- Take a Jeepney on the highway to the "Park Mall" shopping mall (e.g. line 23 - to be confirmed). To reach the highway, you continue walking for ca. 30 meters in the direction the multicab from 1. was driving, then, you cross the highway. About PHP 10.
- Take any Jeepney that brings you to the city center (e.g. line 01K, which goes via the North Bus Terminal to Colon Street). PHP 8.
Note: The whole journey takes quite a lot of time. It is not known, whether you can do this trip with (a lot of) luggage as space in the Jeepneys is very limited and it can get very crowded. A smaller backpack was fine, though.
Cebu City's domestic port is the country's busiest. Cebu City is home to almost 80 percent of the country's passenger vessels. The country's largest shipping lines, namely WG&A, Sulpicio Lines, Trans-Asia, George & Peter Lines and Lorenzo Shipping Lines, are headquartered in Cebu.
Large passenger ferries with a capacity of 2,000 to 4,000 passengers ply the more distant routes such as Manila, Davao, Butuan City, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro. Medium-sized vessels such as the roll-on/roll-off (roro) types ply nearer destinations while fast ferries transport passengers to and from neighboring islands in two hours or less depending on the destination.
Do as the locals do and catch a colorful jeepney. Unfortunately, there are no websites or literature describing where they go. You can either figure out their routes from destinations printed on the side of the jeepney or ask others for help. They are available 24 hours and cover most of the city. Fares cost P8 if traveling between points within Cebu City and more if going to Mandaue City or Lapu-Lapu.
You can board a jeepney when it's parked at a stop or by flagging one down as they drive past. You can pay the driver or conductor when you alight. If the fare collector is far away, you can pass your money to other passengers and ask him/her to pass it to the collector. Don't be afraid of asking other passengers to do this as this is part of jeepeney etiquette. As such, you are expected to help other passengers pass money.
When nearing your stop, you simply tap a coin on the metallic railing on the roof to ask the driver to stop. You should not ride a jeepney unless you know how your destination looks like.
Remember never to stick any body parts outside the jeepney and watch for pickpockets.
Buses are also available but these tend to ply exclusively along the north-south route. There are two major bus terminals as the name implies for direction of travel - North Bus terminal at Mandaue and South Bus terminal. Ceres Bus lines operates regular bus services from these terminals and are considered the "safer" alternative to the smaller privately operated bus lines.
Taxis are ominpresent in Cebu City. Sadly, there's a decent chance you'll be overcharged by a taxi driver at some point during your trip to Cebu. This should be considered an unfortunate cost of visiting Cebu (or anywhere in the Philippines). You can (and should) report improper taxi behavior to the Department of Tourism in Cebu by phoning +63 32 254 2811.
Unless you're familar with the city, always insist on a metered fare as a negotiated fare will almost always be much higher. If you know the city and need to go a long distance, it may be worth paying a negotiated fare so that the driver doesn't take the scenic route or you become victim of an uncalibrated meter. Late in the evenings, there could be taxis driving with an uncalibrated, inflated meter.
Most trips around the city should not cost more than 100 ₱. The fare from the airport to most of central Cebu should be 200-250 ₱ depending on whether you use the white or yellow cabs (white ones are reportedly cheaper).
If you know the name of the building, establishment, area or street you wish you reach, taxis are still the fastest way to your destination. Most drivers know where almost everything is. If the driver is pleasant, a 10-50 ₱ tip is warranted, especially if he loads or unloads your bags. Most drivers do not have, or will tell you they do not have change, so be ready with 50's and 20's when going on short trips.
It is best to avoid the "Private" taxis as they take advantage of tourists and charge 5-10 times the normal fare. You will find these taxis at the some of the high-class hotels. They are normally owned by the hotel to make money and may charge 500 ₱ for something that should cost 60 ₱. Some hotels make it hard for other taxis to pick you up at their premise and you may need to walk outside to save money.
Another place where private taxis are common is the airport. To avoid them, simply ask a porter for help and for a metered taxi. Downstairs at the exit for arrivals, there is a booth that will flag down a taxi for 70 ₱, but you can also go up the ramp and there are a large number of metered taxis waiting for you. You can also wend your way upstairs to Departures where many metered taxis are available. Fare down town to Ayala or SM Malls should be around 150 ₱ on the meter. You may be told "500" by the driver. Just grab the door handle and say "What, you don't have a meter?" Don't travel unless the meter is used; not using the meter is illegal, and you can report it to local officials.
An empty Basilica del Santo Niño.
Shrines and historical landmarks
- Basilica of Santo Niño (Basilica del Santo Niño (Basilica of the Holy Child)), Osmeña Boulevard, ☎ +63.32.2556697, . A large and venerable church that traces its history to the founding of the convent of the Santo Niño de Cebu in 1565. It contains a statue of the Santo Niño (Holy Child) that regarded as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. The statue was presented by Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana during the baptism of King Humabon and his wife Queen Juana on April 14, 1521. The natives of Cebu were formally Christianized by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Father Andres de Urdaneta on April 27, 1565. However, as they found the natives hostile, the village was set on fire. Later on, in a burnt-out house, a soldier named Juan Camus found the statue untouched. This was proclaimed a miracle. The statue, adorned with gold and precious stones, is in a glass case to the left of the altar. The church sees a constant stream of devotees praying at pews in the sanctuary and in front of statues of saints. The Basilica del Santo Niño Museum (open Tue-Sun 08:00-11:45, 13:30-16:45) contains the vestments used to dress the Santo Niño and jewellery offered to the Santo Niño for use during his feast on the third Sunday of January. 10 ₱.
- Colon St. Brave the cacophanous traffic to see the oldest street in the Philippines with some nice worn-out classical buildings dating back to the American Era. At night, this street transforms into a market with good buys everywhere. Be wary of pickpockets though.
- Fort San Pedro (Fuerza de San Pedro). The smallest Spanish outpost in the Philippines during the colonial era. It has a small museum showcasing the wreckage and treasures from the sunken San Diego galleon from Mexico. The area is scenic with the newly renovated and open-air Plaza Independencia at the entrance.
- Lapu-Lapu Monument, Lapu-Lapu, Mactan Island. Lapu-Lapu was a local hero who fought Ferdinand Magellan during the historic Mactan Landing in 1521. A small marker to Magellan is nearby. A few minutes' walk away is Shangri-La Mactan Hotel Resort and Spa, which is a tourist spot in its own right. The compound is a large park where visitors (even if they don't stay in the hotel) can roam the huge reception and its environs. Check out the beach, the chapel, the spa and the various restaurants.
- Life-size statues of popes, Stations of the Cross and Mysteries of the Holy Rosary in Danao City.
- Magellan's Cross, Plaza Sugbo, off Magallanes St (between the Colegio de Santo Niño (south of the Basilica of Santo Niño) and Cebu City Hall - if you approach the Basilica from Osmeña Boulevard, walk through the courtyard of the Basilica and the Colegio to reach the Plaza). An octagonal building decorated with murals containing a large wooden cross that commemorates the Portuguese conquistador Ferdinand Magellan who planted a wooden cross upon converting the original inhabitants to Christianity. A plaque states that the visible wooden cross contains the original cross, but some historians say the original cross was reduced to firewood by local inhabitants when the Magellan fleet headed elsewhere. Take time to appreciate the various candle sellers who dance around during worship and while selling the candles.
- Casa Gorordo Museum, 35 Lopez Jaena St, ☎ +63 32 2555630 ([email protected], fax: +63 32 2555630), . Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00. A well-preserved Spanish colonial mansion constructed largely of wood, set in a pleasant, manicured garden. The lower floor has a collection of old tools, and an A/C room that has changing displays such as art exhibitions. The more interesting upstairs level was the former living quarters of the Gorordo family. It features lovely carved wooden furniture and a wide patio. The kitchen is particularly interesting, as it contains a traditional dirt stove, a wooden food safe, and a traditional dish drying rack fitted to the outside of the window. Adults: 70 ₱.
The Taoist Temple reflects the Chinese heritage of Cebu.
Museums, nature and other
- Dance with the smoothest criminals in the world Experience the life behind the prison bars and dance with the smooth friendly dangerous criminals in the Philippines. You can mingle and take pictures with them. You don't have to worry since peace maker guards and jail police are around. Still your life is in your hands.
Free performances and bus. We went from Cebu Guest House. The Inmates performances are held every last Saturday of the month.
- Cebu Parkmall and Cebu International Convention Center
- Cebu Provincial Museum (Museo Sugbo), (a short taxi ride from Fort San Pedro). The museum is housed in the former Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, which was once the Carcel de Cebu. Its four Spanish-era buildings made of coral stone contain artifacts relating to the history of Cebu. It is only a short taxi ride from Fort San Pedro.
- Provincial Capitol, which is particularly scenic at night, is by far the largest provincial Capitol building anywhere in the entire archipelago. Its original design is a miniature of the White House and was built during the American Era.
- Heritage of Cebu, (Eastern end of Colon St). A massive and particularly detailed monument showcasing the heritage of Cebu from the old Spanish to the American colonial era.
- Taoist Temple. Visit the temple for a unique look at the island's Chinese heritage. The Chinese make up a significant part of the population, with much of the locals having full, half or part Chinese ancestry.
- Crocolandia. Witness different sizes of crocodiles, snakes, deer and birds.
- Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum, is a musically-themed museum in Cebu City, Philippines that pays homage to the musical heritage of Cebu. This museum is operated under the Tipiganan sa mga Handumanan sa Kanta ug Kinaiyang Sugbuanon (Treasury of Memories) Foundation. It is located along V. Gullas St. (former Manalili) and D. Jakosalem St. Cebu City, which used to be the old building of The Freeman Newspaper and now houses Cebuano and Visayan musical treasures and memorabilia.
- Biking - Go to Tops, which sits literally at the top of the Mt Busay, for an unobstructed view of the entire city at night. There are a few shops and restaurants along the way. At one time taxi drivers charged a whopping 500+ pesos for the ride to Tops but the price has doubled to a ridiculous and non-negotiable 1000 pesos! The best way to experience Tops is by mountain bike. This is a world class climb and on any given day, Cebu's bikers are humping the 45 minute to 1 hr trek filled with switchbacks and views better than you see actually at the very top. Ask your hotel where you can rent a mountain bike. They will have to ask around a bit, but it's worth it. If you are going up by taxi, make sure they will take you back down. Taxis are few and far between from Mt. Busay and it's a long way down!
- Drink, Eat, Laugh and Party - Cebu city is one of the cities which won't miss the party scenes at night, being a major city of commerce and finance in the Philippines; the development of bars, clubs and other commercial establishments are at a fast rate. Take a break from the hectic busy urban life... take a laugh, comedy bars are common in the Philippines and usually Sarcasm the lowest common of wit as most people would say is the common specialty of comedians, don't get pissed at them if they make fun of you, smile back and just get along. Comedy and disco bars, coffee shops and restaurants are found in Gen. Mexilom Ave., Fuenta Rotunda and Osmeña Blvd.
- Ride a Tartanilla - Head to Cebu's old quarters in Carlock St and try riding a horse drawn carriage called a tartanilla. Remember to negotiate with the driver before taking a ride.
- See the scenic view of Cebu City's skyline - The Marcelo Fernan Bridge or Second Mactan Bridge offers some interesting views of the city at night, and is even picturesque from below. Arrange for a taxi to take you there.
- Shop - Cebu City is well known for two spacious and modern malls outside Manila. SM City Cebu and the Ayala Center Cebu are the most famous and luxurious shopping centers at the heart of the city. Boutique shops, mini-malls, themed malls, fine and alfresco dining include ParkMall, Banilad Town Center, among others.
- Sinulog Festival - The island of Cebu gets especially busy on the third Sunday of January due to the Sinulog Festival. It is the local way of honouring the Child Jesus. Main thoroughfares around the city are blocked for an all-day and all-night loud and colourful street party. Don't forget your dancing shoes!
- Swim and Sun - Mactan is actually the popular place when it comes to beaches which is just minutes away from Cebu City and is where the Airport is located. But despite it's popularity, Mactan is a poor choice for travelers who are looking for a real beach experience. One would be hard-pressed to call any beach in Mactan a "paradise"...that is unless you enjoy fenced off, for-pay, mostly man-made muddy swim holes. Two ironies are at work on Mactan. Number #1: If you really like beaches, you are only about 90 minutes from great beaches , world class beaches ( examples include Moalboal and Alona in Bohol)... those are closer to the ones you see on postcards from the philippines. Number #2: most people who enjoy Mactan absolutely hate the sun (count the number of umbrellas opened on any given day in Cebu!) ) and have a slightly less strong aversion to the water...and instead are enjoying mactan as the result of a someone else's generosity or purchased time, or bought a package deal back in korea without knowing any better, or as furloughed cebu city workers who take some pleasure telling co-workers and friends they were at the so and so 3 star hotel for the weekend but do little else than take picture of the event rather than simply enjoying the experience.
For a real beach experience, visit nearby Bantayan Island. It is accessible by chartered plane from Mactan Cebu Airport or through Hagnaya Port (3 hr by car from the city) where it is around an hour ferry ride to Sta Fe port of Bantayan Island. Day trips to Virgin Island can be arranged with your resort as well.
- Snorkel, bird-watching and scuba diving - The island of Olango and its 6 small satellite islands are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving as well as observation of migratory birds.
- Xtreme Rides - Just adjacent Robinson's Mall is the Crown Regency Cebu which is the tallest building in the city. Adventure seekers may head to the top floor to experience a breathtaking view of this modern city and its environs. You may also opt to join in the Xtreme Rides that literally puts you on the edge of the city, or you may walk around the edge of the building (don't worry, safety cables are attached) to experience this once in a lifetime experience. All of these you can enjoy for a small fee.
Ayala Center Cebu Terraces
Cebu City has many shopping malls - the biggest being SM City Cebu, which is a four-level shopping mall with a huge department store, supermarket, movie theater and over 200 shops and restaurants. A more upscale shopping mall is the Ayala Mall, it also has a large department store, two supermarkets and a movie theater, and it offers more restaurants and stores that appeal to tourists. These are modern buildings with lots of western goods in addition to local stores. There are other, older and smaller malls dotted all over the city, such as Country Mall, Robinson's Mall, e-Mall, Mango Square and Cebu Parkmall. In addition to this there are many stores and places to stop. One nice place is the Colon part of the Old Downtown.
If you need to fix something there are hardware stores in all of the malls. Cebu Home and Builders Center along AS Fortuna-Mandaue, Mactan (near old bridge) and Cebu Parkmall is the home depot style that carries the most complete line for finishing and building materials. There is a large warehouse store called Makro, located near SM that offers good prices on goods in bulk. Another great place to buy household goods on the cheap is White Gold, also near SM. For furniture the two best places to go is Sun Gold and Mandaue Foam, just remember to ask for at least 10-20% off the price. If you want to buy groceries, the Metro Supermarket in Ayala Mall is well stocked - local and imported products - and affordable. They also have another supermarket located at the foot of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Mandaue City, their biggest yet. If you are in the southwestern part of Cebu, they also have a store in Toledo City and the City of Naga. Metro also has lots of great buys and the lowest prices you can get in their department stores in Ayala Mall, Mandaue City and Colon St. You may also shop at the SM Supermarket in SM City or for best value go to SaveMore Supermarket in Mactan Marina Mall, e-mall and it's largest branch in VisMin at Cebu Parkmall.
- Fully Booked, Level 2, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu Business Park, ☎ +63 32 4171007, +63 32 4171400 ([email protected]), . A modern bookshop with a good selection of imported fiction and non-fiction books, and a smaller collection of books about the Philippines. There is an in-shop cafe.
- National Book Store, ", ([email protected]). Visit this chain of bookshops located in Ayala Center Cebu, Mango Cebu and SM City Cebu for good deals on local and foreign books, academic texts and stationery.
The great thing about Cebu is that, while being an island paradise, on the one hand, it's also a sophisticated city, with a wide range of pretty decent restaurants to choose from. Street-food abounds in Cebu and is amazingly cheap. You can buy all sorts of Philippine delicacies from the many street stalls scattered around Cebu City.
- SuTuKil - An acronym for sugba (grilled), tula (soup-based/with broth), and kilaw (raw, soaked/pickled in vinegar). This is a popular term for ordering a selection of fresh seafood and meat from the market and cooked any way you like it in an eatery.
- Lechon - Roasted suckling pig. The whole province of Cebu is known for its lechon which is known to be the best in the Philippines.
Cebu has Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Continental, fusion, and of course local restaurants. It also has other international cuisines like American, Spanish, Thai and Indian. For tourists, the two best areas to find great restaurants are Ayala Mall and IT Park. Ayala Center Cebu recently opened a modern extension called The Terraces with an abundance of food choices adjacent to Marriott Hotel. It also has two grocery stores with large sections of food imported from the rest of the world. The IT Park has over 20 great restaurants and most of them are open 24 hours a day. Both of these eating areas offer free WiFi. On the other hand, SM City Cebu also opened an extension to the main mall called SM Northwing with more than 10 choices of local and international cuisines.
But the truth is, Cebu is under-whelming as a culinary destination to just about every traveler who visits. Take for example the above paragraph, written most likely by a local, advising tourists to go to the mall to get a bite to eat. The VERY LAST place travelers from developed countries want to go to when they travel to a less developed one is a shopping mall, no matter how modern or convenient it is. They have come to the Philippines for a unique cultural experience not to experience a copy of their own culture. And this is the major disconnect as to what locals think is a good dining experience and what travelers expect.
There is another reason for the low quality of restaurants in Cebu and both the diner and restaurateur are equally guilty in creating the situation. In short, people can't recognize good food. They have been for so long eating sub-standard cuisine that it is now the only thing they know and like. They are also so easily convinced by advertisement that even crap grub , like fast food, is widely respected and thought of as high quality.
To top it off, they want all this low quality food at low prices and usually want freebies as well. It's no wonder why there are so many buffets in cebu, because that is what most people think is good...in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
So if you are a chef or restaurateur and you are really passionate about food, you are facing an eating public that is ignorant about quality, expects food to be really cheap, in big portions, and boldly wants discounts of all kinds!!! There is no way you can make money in that market unless you pander to that attitude and most chefs worth anything will go elsewhere, leaving the dining scene to very average restaurateurs who run their places very mechanically, just copying what everyone else is doing, making the same food that everyone else is, and never trying to be different.
There are some exceptions, of course and to find them is quite encouraging. They are not anywhere near the main areas, however. And do not let that dissuade you!
- Alberto's Pizza, B. Rodriguez Ave. (opposite Vicente Sotto Hospital). Offers a good and rather affordable locally made thin crust pizza.
- Ang Manok ni Señor Pedro. Specialises in Lechon Manok or roasted chicken which is a local favorite.
- Bens Lechon, Has branches in Mactan Marina Mall, Airport Rd, Parkmall Mandaue and also in White Gold Supermarket., ☎ +63 32 420-4320. ([email protected]). Popular for its Native Cebu Lechon, in its branch in STK Food St. they offer STK an abbreviation for sugba, tuwa and kinilaw, offering sinugbang panga, tuna belly, squid and the famous Bisaya chicken. They also offer pochero, caldertang kambing along with other Filipino dishes.
- Casa Verde, Has branches in Ayala Center Cebu, IT Park and the original restaurant in Ramos.. Well known for their baby back ribs.
- Cielo, (2nd Level, The Forum, Archbishop Reyes), ☎ +63 32 412-9887 ([email protected]). Open daily, except Mon., 11AM-2PM and 6PM-12midnite. Cielo is an authentic Italian style restaurant with a contemporary bar and lounge, the interior and music is quite reminiscent of NY City. Specialties include gourmet pizzas, pasta, osso buco, scallopini ala marsala and traditional Italian desserts such as bread pudding, panna cotta, tartufo.
- CNT Lechon, SM City Cebu. Serves authentic Cebuano Lechon.
- Golden Cowrie, Branches in Salinas Drive, SM Cebu and Robinson's Cybergate., .
- Giuseppe's, Marie Luisa Drive, Banilad. Authentic Italian restaurant.
- Hola Espanol. Spanish cuisine in the Philippines. Try their Paella Negra, and other paella varieties.
- Joule's chicken, Talamban (Across Blue Gym, No signs at all, look for the smoke on your left and motorbikes on your right, and long lines at the window.). Famous for their lechon manok (roasted chicken).
- The Jungle Restaurant, . They serve international cuisine. Aside from dining, they too have entertainment, dances from around the world, fire dancing, Local Filipino traditional dances, Filipino culture, arts and crafts etc.
- La Buona Forchetta da Paolo Ristorante Pizzeria, Advent Business Center, 139 Acacia St., Kamputhaw. is popular among foreign residents for offering authentic Italian cuisine at reasonable prices. Equally noteworthy Italian restaurants are La Tegola (with outlets in Busay and Banilad) and Brescia (Salinas Drive, Lahug), which also has a wide range of imported wines.
- Larsian Barbeque, (Near Fuente). Best and the cheapest around the city. The barbeque portions are small so you have enough space to store dessert. Try various kinds of barbequed local delicacies not for the faint of heart: innards, coagulated blood, squid, hotdogs aside from the usual pork and chicken varieties.
- Mooon Cafe. Is a local restaurant located at the Terraces in Ayala Mall as well as in Guadalupe not far from the Capitol building. Its specialty is Mexican "inspired" food and ambiance, but they serve a wide variety of options.
- Little Saigon Big Bangkok, (5), ☎ +63 32 4150228 ([email protected]), . Is a local restaurant located in the residential neighborhood of Guadalupe,and specializing in authentic thai and vietnamese street food. moderate.
- Gustavian's near Giuseppe's for steaks, euro-continental, and a pub theme. Also in Ayala terraces. Pretty good deli too.
- Siomai sa Tisa. Steamed Pork Siomai served with chili sauce.
- Spice Fusion, It has branches in Banilad Town Center and SM Cebu. They offer a wide selection of Southeast Asian food.
- Tajimaya Yakiniku, Lahug (End of Crossroads Mall). Serves Japanese cuisine.
Desserts, pastries and cakes
- Postrio Bakery and Cafe  - Cebu-based bakeshop and cafe
- Chedz Designer Cakes  - Cebu-based bakeshop specializing in designer birthday and wedding cakes
- La Marea - Cebu-based bakeshops specializing in cakes
- Leonas Cakes and Pastries - Cebu-based dessert and pastry shop with several outlets in Cebu. Try their banana walnut cake.
- Dessert Factory  - Dessert restaurant in Ayala Center Cebu
- Cebu La Fortuna Bakery. Try their masi, a Chinese Filipino sweet product of crush nuts and sugar wrapped in rice paste. This is their only excellent product; the others may not be worth much for a try.
- 10 Dove St - in the village of Santo Nino. The owner converted a garage like structure into a cheap, sandwich bistro. Real star are her fantastic cakes, very fresh, served by the slice from old-fashioned cake platters.
- Mango Avenue and Mango Square is where the bulk of the nightlife is located. The typical venues are nightclubs, bars and karaoke boxes. There is also a variety of girlie clubs lined up on Mango Ave leading up to Mango Square. There are also dispersed clubs and local-frequented bars off the beaten track. Ask a taxi driver of their whereabouts.
- J Ave. (Formerly Juliana's), a large dance club in Mango Square, is crowded every night of the week. 100 ₱ entrance fee that includes one free beer of your choice. A local beer will cost you only 50 ₱ (Red Horse). The more expensive drinks are around 280 ₱. The music is a mix of hip hop and electronic music and it can get pretty loud and bumping. Excellent bar staff. This establishment is especially popular with young Japanese and Korean tourists. Great place for meeting friendly non-prostitute Filipina women, but that's not to say that there aren't working ladies here. (March 2012)
- Se Bens Authentic Cebu Lechon offers the Authentic Cebu Lechon Tastes and Quality with other pulutan menus with your favorite beer along with its Native Filipino short orders such as Pochero or Bolalo on its newly open restaurant and grille. Visit Se Bens to experience the Cebuano Hospitality.
- Waterfront Hotel and Casino Cebu - Gamble away your kid's college fund and drink all night in this 5-star hotel and entertainment center.
- Crossroads is an array of shops and restaurants that offer an alternative nightlife to IT Park which is just nearby.
- Tonros Apartelle, Gorordo Ave, ☎ +63 32 253-4966, +63 32 410-7069, . Budget hotel. All rooms with cable TV, hot water, telephone, air-con and refrigerator. Free Wi-Fi in common area. Rates from 750 ₱ (s/d). (10.31986,123.89965)
- Aysha-Lily Cebu Guesthouse, 211 Mango Ave, ☎ +63 32 233-6010, mobile +63 939 829-7673 or +63 922 822-9449, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Not the cleanest, but OK. Fan room was smelly, aircon room was better. All rooms have shared bathroom - fan rooms with cold shower, A/C rooms with hot. Common area has cable TV. There's an affordable little restaurant in the compound. Free Wi-Fi in all areas. Double fan room ₱545, double A/C ₱775, dorm ₱350.
- Cebuview Tourist Inn, 200 Sanciangko St Brgy. Kalubihan, ☎ +63 32 254-8333. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. All rooms are fully A/C with cable TV and private toilet and bath with hot and cold shower. Family rooms are also available for those travelling in groups. From ₱800. (10.297912,123.898108)
- Casa Rosario, 101 R. Aboitiz St, ☎ +63 32 253 5134, . Simple hotel. Rooms include phone, hot/cold shower, Cable TV & A/C, with refrigerator & internet at additional charge. Restaurant, business center, and laundry service. From ₱1,200. (10.312716,123.895846)
- Cebu Century Hotel, Corner Colon and Pelaez St., ☎ +63 32 2551341 to 1347; 2551652 (fax: +63 32 255-1600), . Budget hotel. All rooms with cable TV, hot water and A/C. ₱620-820(s/d). (10.297161,123.899178)
- Golden Valley Hotel, 155 Pelaez St, ☎ +63 32 253-8660 (fax: +63 32 253-8482), . New hotel in the downtown area. From ₱750.
- Gran Prix Hotels & Suites Cebu (GranPrix Econotel), 3rd Floor Coast Pacific Business Center, Corner F. Ramos St and General Maxilom Ave, ☎ +63 32 254-9169, +63 32 253-3072, . Superior, suite, deluxe and family rooms with A/C, flat-screen cable TV and bath with hot and cold shower. Wi-Fi, function/meeting room, airport transfers and laundry service. From 1,200 ₱ double. (10.309584,123.894305)
- Hotel de Mercedes, 7 Pelaez St, Kamagayan, ☎ +63 32 253-1105 (fax: +63 32 253-3880), . From US$20 (twin). (10.297677,123.898776)
- Kiwilodge Hotel, 1060 G. Tudtud St, Mabolo, ☎ +63 32 232-9550 (fax: +63 32 232-9550), . checkin: 12noon; checkout: 12noon. Free Wi-Fi in bar and restaurant. In the city between Ayala and SM mall, and the Pier. About 5 min from the bar nightlife. From 1,374.00 ₱ (double).
- LJD Dormitory, 0363 Tudtudstreet Nasville Nasipit Talamban, ☎ +63 32 345-4486, . checkin: 6 AM; checkout: 5AM. At the fringe of the universities, business and commercial district. Catering, computer services, game and sports facilities are available. ₱500/unit/night.
- Stakili Estaca Beach Garden Resort, Km. 23 Estaca, Compostela, ☎ +63 32 425-8188 (fax: +63 32 425-8062), . On a 1.2 km beach and covered by tall palms, balete trees and other tropical greens, the Stakili has forty rooms of varying sizes. From ₱1,200.
- Sugbutel Bed & Bath (Hostel), S Osmena St, North Reclamation area, ☎ +63 32 232-8888, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. 3-5 min walk from SM City Cebu Mall complex and close to Cebu International Convention Center (CICC). Hostel accommodation with A/C accommodation area free WiFi, 24 hr security with CCTV cameras, 24 hr back-up generator and entertainment area with wide screen LCD TV. Rooms for 2-8. From ₱250. (10.307009,123.916446)
- Westpoint Inn, 297 Don Gil Garcia St, Capitol Site, ☎ +63 32 254-3433 (fax: +63 32 254-4524), . Simple budget hotel. From US$16 (tw).
- San Remigio Beach Club  Address: Prime Movers Cmpd., Bacalla Subd., Holy Name St., Mabolo, ☎ +63 32 231-0382 , +63 32 422-4070 , +63 32 231-7075. From ₱950.
- Fuente Oro Business Suites, 173 Gov. M. Roa Street, Capitol Site, ☎ +63 32 268-7912, +63 32 2687914-15, . inclusive of breakfast for 2. For more information, visit our website at www.fuenteoro.com. From 1,295 PHP.
- Alpa City Suites Hotel, Hernan Cortes St and F. Cabahug St (Ayala Access Rd), ☎ +63 32 238 1668, +63 32 422 7171, . Daily and monthly packages available. From 3,600 ₱.
- La Gloria Residence Inn, Corner Climaco and Borromeo Streets, ☎ +6332-520-9808, . This inn in Cebu offers rooms equipped with cable/flat screen TV, in-room internet access, telephone, remote-controlled air conditioning and hot and cold shower. Some of the facilities and services offered in La Gloria Residence Inn are salon, spa, coffeeshop, restaurant, conference room with Wi-Fi and audio-video facilities, 24-hour security, Wii rental, laundry service and free Wi-Fi at lobby. Rates starts at 1,478.40 PHP.
- Cityscape Hotel, Ayala Access Road cor. Hernan Cortes St, ☎ +63 32) 238-2489, . All rooms equipped with Air-conditioning, 32-inch TV with cable channels, Mini-bar, NDD/IDD phone, Wi-Fi Internet access, Hot and cold shower. Some of its facilities and services are wimming pool, fitness room/gym, restaurant and 24 hr room service and help desk. Rates Start at 2,388.00 PHP.
- Alta Cebu Resort, Tugbungan, Pilipog, Cordova, ☎ +63 32 496-7881, +63 32 496-7812, +63 32 496-7399, . 3 mi from Lapu Lapu City, 4 mi from Mactan International airport. From US$49.
- Rajah Park Hotel, Fuente Osmeña, ☎ +63 32 412-3337 (fax: +63 32 412-4899), . 8 story hotel with 89 standard and deluxe rooms. Most of the rooms have a view of Fuente Circle park. US$35 for the basic to US$100 for a huge suite.
- SDR Serviced Apartments, Mactan Island (3 minutes from the airport), ☎ +63 32 238-3929 (fax: +63 32 340-7902), . All apartments have kitchen and cooking facilities. Smallest rooms are 36.5² m. They have great deals for long term guests. Also have two bedroom loft apartments of 65.74² m. Include free internet, cable TV, DVD Player and a large refrigerator with freezer. From $35 for the studio.
- Casa del Mar Golf Resort, Brgy. Maño, Bancasan, San Remigio, . Golf and dive hotel. From US$63.
- Castle Peak, F. Cabahug cor. Pres. Quezon St, Villa Aurora Mabolo, . Standard- 1188/2 ₱. Superior- 1388 ₱, deluxe- 1688 ₱. suite- 1888-2488 ₱, extra bed 400 ₱.
- Cebu Grand Hotel, Cebu Capitol Complex, North Escario St., ☎ +63 32 254-6331 (fax: +63 32 254-6363), . 99 rooms. From US$36.
- Cebu Midtown Hotel, Fuente Osmeña, ☎ +63 32 253-9711 (fax: +63 32 253-9763), . Ten storey hotel withs 200 rooms and views of the city. From US$39.
- Costabella Beach Resort, Buyong, Mactan Island, ☎ +63 32 231-4244 (fax: +63 32 231-4415), . From US$70.
- Crown Regency Residences, V. Rama Ave Guadalupe, ☎ +63 32 255-7541, . A/C rooms with coffee and tea-making facilities, 21” cableTV, full baths and living and dining areas. Some of its facilities and services are business centre, swimming pool, safe, basement parking. From US$53.
- Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, Osmeña Blvd, ☎ +63 32 4187777 (fax: +63 32 4187161), . From US$80.
- Crown Regency Suites and Residences, Maximo Patalinghug Jr. Ave, ☎ +63 32 341-4586, . A/C suites with fully-equipped modern kitchen, in-room internet, and 21” cableTV, business centre, function rooms, swimming pool, gym and sports complex. From US$73.
- Nalusuan Island Cebu Resort and Marine Sanctuary, Olango Reef, Cordova, Mactan, ☎ +63 32 492-4388 (fax: +63 32 425-8062), . Aqua sports activities like wave runners, jet skiing, scuba diving, and water skiing. From US$30.
- The Golden Peak Hotel and Suites, cnr of Gorordo and N Escario St, ☎ +63 32 233-9770 ([email protected], fax: 63 32 231-5611), . In Cebu's commercial and financial district, 30 min to Mactan International Airport. 140 guestrooms and suites with sat/cableTV, bath tub, A/C, telephone with IDD and NDD. WIFI free in the lobby or 150₱ for 24hours in room. Walk in special 1000₱ (Jan 2013), AC room, with hot water shower, bath, fridge, Cable TV. From 1,300 ₱.
- Europa Mansionette Inn, ☎ +63 32 420 7885 ([email protected]), . 26 European inspired rooms each reminiscent of a European chalet. From US$29.
- Escario Central Hotel, N.Escario Street, Cebu City, ☎ +63 32 520 2222 ([email protected]), . There are McDonald's, 7-eleven and Zubuchon just outside of the hotel. Quiet and safer area and easy to take jeepney to Ayala Mall or Osmena Circle. Red Room - 1500 ₱, Orange Room - 1800 ₱.
- Alegre Beach Resort, Calumboyan, Sogod, ☎ +63 32 2556388, . From US$190..
- Cebu Parklane International Hotel, Corner Archbishop Reyes Avenue and Escario Street, ☎ (+63 32 234 7000, . Cebu Parklane International Hotel claims to be a five-star hotel but does not really live up to that title. Elevators (lifts) are totally inadequate and you can spend 15 minutes waiting to get to your room when the hotel is crowded with conferences. Avoid.
- Cordova Reef Village Resort, Cordova, ☎ +63 32 2381878. +63 32 2363343, +68 32 2363344. +63 32 4968079, . Resort is surrounded by Camotes Sea in the east and Bohol Strait. It is located at the coastal town of Cordova. From US$150.
- Island and Sun Beach Resort, ☎ +63 32 2381878. +63 32 2363343. +63 32 2363344, . On Hilutungan Island, Cordova. 25 rooms, 25 villas, all A/C with cableTV, refrigirator, bathub, private toilet and hot and cold water. From US$188.
- Hotel Mövenpick Cebu (formerly the Hilton Cebu Resort &: Spa), ☎ +63 32 492-7777, . From US$250.
- Hotel Elizabeth Cebu, Archbishop Reyes Ave, Camputhaw, ☎ +63 2 9122161, . All accommodation rooms have A/C, a private toilet and bath, cableTV, and mini-bar. WiFi, massage service, and a fitness centre/gym. From 4,000 ₱.
Despite widespread poverty and liberal gun laws, Cebu City is a relatively safe city by Western standards where violent crime is rare, particularly against tourists. Cebu is definitely safer than Manila. Your biggest concern should be pickpockets and snatchers (and occasionally muggers) when in downtown Cebu and on jeepneys. Most perpetrators are young children as Philippine law exempts them from jail time for petty theft.
Parts of downtown Cebu can be unsafe at night, particularly along Colon Street and surrounding areas where most of the city's homeless live. If you're male and look remotely foreign or tourist-like, you'll likely be solicited by prostitutes and pimps once nightfall descends in those areas.
Also, watch for vehicles when walking as traffic can be chaotic.
- Australia, ☎ +63 32 231-0437, +63 32-231-0605.
- Belgium, 6th Fl Insular Life Building, Corordo cor., Maxilom Ave, ☎ +63 32 2315330, +63 32 2315333.
- Canada, 45-L Andres Abellana St, ☎ +63 32 256-3320, +63 32 254-4749, +63 32 255-3069.
- Chile, Deligourmet, DGU Bldg, F. Cabahug St, Mabolo, ☎ +63 32 231-0157.
- Denmark, Unit 903, 9th Floor, Keppel Centre, Cebu Business Park, ☎ +63 32 233-1328, +63 32 233-1390.
- Finland, 21st Floor BPI Buendia Center, Senator Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City., Metro Manila, ☎ +63 2 891 5011, + 358 9 1605 5551.
- France, Blue Planet, 556 Juan Luna Ave, Mabolo, ☎ +63 32 320935 to 36.
- Japan, ☎ +63 32 231-7321 to 22.
- Mexico, Mezzanine Floor, Wee Bldg, 424 Gorordo Ave, ☎ +63 32 233-2785, +63 32 233-2792.
- Netherlands, Metaphil Compound, Tipolo, Mandaue City, ☎ +63 32 346-1823, +63 32 346-2660 to 65.
- Norway, Aboitiz & Co. Bldg, Banilad, ☎ +63 32 231-2580.
- China, Cebu Fil-Chinese Volunteers, Don Julio Llorente St, Capitol Site, ☎ +63 32 256-3400.
- Portugal, Cadiz St Corporation, Tingub Rd, Mandaue City, ☎ +63 32 344-0233, +63 32 346-6293.
- Slovakia, Grand Cement Manufacturing Corp., G/F Insular Bank Bldg, Gorordo cor. Maxilom Ave, ☎ +63 32 343-6445.
- South Korea, c/o University of Cebu-Banilad Campus, Banilad, ☎ +63 32 231-6345.
- Spain, 476-G Molave St, Lahug, ☎ +63 32 231-1329, +63 32 231-5159.
- Sweden, 415 Gorordo Ave, Lahug, ☎ +63 32 233-3106.
- Thailand, Eastern Shipping Lines Bldg, M.J. Cuenco Ave, ☎ +63 32 412-4687, +63 32 254-6564.
- Turkey, B. Benedicto and Sons Inc, 103-107 Plaridel St, ☎ +63 32 253-0769.
- United Kingdom, Villa Terrace, Greenhills Rd, Casuntingan, Mandaue City, ☎ +63 32 346-0525, +63 32 346-0269.
- United States (Honorary), #1, G/F Waterfront Cebu City Hotel Bldg, Lahug, ☎ +63 32 231-1261.
The island of Cebu, where Cebu city is located, is made up of various cities, small municipalities and town.
- Bohol — Is another island located east of Cebu Island, popular for its Chocolate hills and tarsier.
- Moalboal beach, bus 2.5-3h from south bus terminal / 115 ₱+10 terminal fee and tricycle to beach ~120 ₱
- Danao, Liloan, Bantayan, Minglanilla — Visit them for beaches.
- Oslob, whale shark seen in Dec 2011 near baragay Tanawan (look for blue painted whaleshark on a portal), bus every 30-60min, last ~3h from south bus terminal / 156 ₱+5 terminal fee. owners ask 100 ₱ entrance fee and 200 ₱ if you want to go on a small 2 persons boat (not really needed as it was happening less than 100 m from beach). starting price for hotels/resort in this area is ~1,400 ₱.
- DOLPHIN WATCHING in the Tanon straight from Malabuyoc (approx. 3hrs by bus in SouthWestern part of Cebu island) Dolphin watching cruises should be reserved at least a week earlier in summer when chances of seeing dolphins are much higher. Best time is early morning so it is recommended to arrive by 6am or spend the previous night at Kawayan Marine, a small beach house which is run by the same local family which operates the dolphin watching. The "Cool Banana" boat can accomodate 20 guests. Boat fees start from 6,000pesos for the 2~3hr trip. Additional fees may be charged if you wish to park and go swimming or walking at white sands, an area near Bais, Negros famous for idyllic white stretches of white sand exposed during low tides.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!