Theres a lot of places to visit and have fun here in the Philippines, while for me Puerto Galera is what I call paradise, theres another place I go when I want to have some more fun in the south, I go to Cebu City.
If you don’t know anything about Cebu City, then this will be a primer for you to get started in your research. I will talk about what to see and things to do when you get there.
Cebu City is the oldest city of the Philippines and it is known as the Queen of the South. It is the second city of the Philippines after Manila. Its economy started in 16 century serving the nearby provinces in the southern, eastern and western Philippines.
Cebu City became a destination for tourists traveling in to nearby islands and its seaport and airport plays an important role in the nation’s development and global tourism. There are direct flights from Cebu to different neighboring countries throughout South East Asia making it as an easy access for tourist.
Modern industries, owned by local and foreign investors alike, are becoming fast growing industries in the Cebu City bringing employment to the area. Some of these industries include import, export, telecommunication, hotels and dive resorts and business process outsourcing (BPO).
Theres also a lot of history surrounding this place, take for example the history in Mactan Cebu.
Mactan Island Cebu
Mactan is a nearby island which is connected to the mainland of Cebu by its two Bridges. The Mactan – Madaue and Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
The island is also known as the site of Ferdinand Magellan’s death in the Battle of Mactan. Magellan had joined forces with Spanish soldiers and was leading them against Lapu-Lapu, the native Visayan chieftain. There are memorials to both men on the island in Lapu-Lapu City.
Mactan is also famous throughout the Philippines for making affordable, durable and world class guitars. It has a long history of guitar making. The manufacturing facilities are family owned and passed on from one generation to another.
Cebu is one of the busiest cities and offer most festive events in the Visayas, one is the Sinulog Festival.
Sinulog Festival in Cebu City
Sinulog is an annual festival celebrated every 3rd Sunday of January, to commemorate the Filipino people in their acceptance of Roman Catholicism. The main feature is a street parade with participants wearing colorful costume dancing on the beat and rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs.
In this festival they also showcase their exotic food with delicacies and a rich livestock supply. Satisfy your hunger for traditional cooking methods of “sugba” grilled and “nilat-an” steamed meats and vegetables. One of my favorite is adobo either chicken or pork or a combination of both.
Adobo has become famous throughout the Philippines and even abroad. During Spanish occupancy, “Adobo” came from Spanish word “Adobar” or to marinate in vinegar and soy sauce.
If you also like to jive and chill out at night, there are numerous clubs, bars and discos you can choose from.
Things to do in Cebu City
Other than the festivals, there are also adventures and fun activities you can do here. Examples are:
- Zip Lines and Cliff Dives
- Swimming with the Whale Sharks
These are just two of the fun activities I’ve tried when I visited Cebu city.
Zip Lines and Cliff Diving
If you like zip lines, well Cebu has one. I took a video of my previous experience of the Cebu city zip line, watch it below.
Swimming with the Whale Sharks
Just 2.5 hours away from Cebu city proper you’ll be at the place called Oslob. In this place there is a controversial event takes place every day.
Locals feeds giant whale sharks that are native in their local waters. This attracts the sharks and keeps them visiting the bay which attracts tourists who want to see the giant creature.
The locals realize that whale sharks are good for business! They’ve figured out they will take in more cash from tourism than fishing. There are lots of foreigners and Filipinos alike who want to come snorkel and dive along side the whale sharks.
The Oslob whale sharks are protected, although it is controversial that the locals are feeding them. Visitors can swim with the sharks but can’t touch. So if you’re in the mood to swim with some of the biggest creatures on the planet, book a trip and check them out in Oslob… but keep your hands to yourself!
These are just some of the things you can do when you visit Cebu City, and theres a lot more for you to discover. Other place you can visit besides Cebu is Bohol and Dumaguete.
Bohol, in Central Visayas, is the 10th largest island in the Philippines. It is made up of of the main island of Bohol (plus 70 smaller surrounding islands), with three main tourist attractions, the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier (the smallest primate in the world), and of course scuba diving. Beyond that, there are lots of things to do which we’ll get you up to speed on for your big trip to Bohol. The first thing to do is to know how to get there!
From Cebu you can either take the ferry or just the regular boat. The ferry can take you to Tagbilaran with in two hours but if you take the regular boat it will take about 4 hours with the entry points, the Tubigon and the Talibon wharfs. Tubigon is the economical way and then you will continue by bus to Tagbilaran.
Things To Do In Bohol
There are couple things you can do while you are in Bohol, these are;
- Scuba Diving and Island Hopping in Panglao Island
- Visiting Hinagdanan Cave
- Explore the Chocolate Hills
- Visit the Tarsier Sanctuary
- Dine on the Loboc River
Panglao Island is famous for scuba diving, island-hopping, and snorkeling. The best spot for scuba diving here are Cabilao, Pamilacan, and Balicasag Islands.
Alona Beach is where most of the dive shops are located and usually this is where all dive boats jump off to nearby dive sites. It also offers plenty of accommodations to choose from and variety of international and local dishes for your meals.
On the weekends, there are several acoustic live music shows to enjoy while dining by the beach. Beyond diving, another is attraction is visiting the Hinagdanan cave.
Visit the Hinagdanan Cave
The Hinagdanan Cave is within easy reach from Panglao by motorbike and easy to find by local signage. This cave is made of limestone and the entrance is around 1m wide in diameter. There are concrete steps that lead to the interior of the cave.
The cave is slippery but there are rope railings to hold on to avoid falling. The name Hinagdanan means “laddered” which refers to the ladder use to get into the interior of the cave. Inside the cave there’s also a lagoon where you can swim.
Next one is probably the most popular place to visit here in Bohol, the chocolate hills.
See the Chocolate Hills of Bohol
The Chocolate Hills a very popular tourist destination with hundreds visiting every day. It is composed of more than 1200 cone-shaped hills with a height of 30 to 40 meters. The hills are covered with grass that turns chocolate-brown in dry season making them look like Hershey’s Kisses. It is believed these hills were formed due to extreme weather change a thousand years ago.
To get here it will take you about an hour and a half on a motorbike. You will pass the towns of Baclayon, Albuquerque, Loay, Loboc, Bilar, and Carmen. Another option is to rent an air con Van for a P4000 tour package.
After visiting the magnificent views of chocolate hills, the next stop is the Tarsier sanctuary.
Visit the Tarsier Sanctuary
The Tarsier Sanctuary is located at the towns of Corella and Sikatuna. The Tarsier is considered to be the world’s smallest primate and is endemic to the country. They are nocturnal animals and measure only 8 – 15 cm from head to toe. It can jump as high as 15 ft and can spin their heads 180 degrees.
Another interesting feature of these animals are that the tail is longer than its body length. People believe the Tarsier existed 45 million years ago, but now they are consider it an an endangered species.
Dine on the Loboc River
After visiting the Chocolate Hills and Tarsier sanctuary you can stop by at the Loboc River. The area is known for its floating restaurants that move along the scenic Loboc/Loay River. As you dine and float along, guitarists playing acoustic and country music serenade you. An hour later the trip will end 2-3 km away at Busay waterfalls.
On your way back, the floating restaurant will make a short stop at one of the native wharfs along the river. Here a group of local dancers entertain you while in singing their local folk songs. One floating restaurant can accommodate 40 -50 people, and they offer a variety of Filipino dishes. The price is around P500. This a great deal for experiencing world class dining while floating along a scenic river.
Bohol Island has loads to offer anyone who wants to see some of the most interesting and unusual attractions in the Philippines. It’s definitely worth visiting on your next vacation.
Another place you should not miss when you visit Philippines is also close to Cebu city, its called Dumaguete.
Dumaguete, on the island of Negros, is a popular destination because of its proximity to Cebu and accessibility to great beach resorts and dive sites. In addition, travelers enjoy dolphin and whale watching in nearby Bais City.
Like traveling in most of the Philippines, getting to Dumaguete from Cebu involves a few steps. As always, start your travel early. On ships we say “Never pull into a harbor you do not know at night”. Same applies for travel in the Philippines. Start early and be sure you have your anchor set before the lights go out.
How to get to Dumaguete
From Cebu City you have three options, these are;
- The Option that takes up to 6 hours
- The route that takes up to 4.5 hours
- The route that will only take 45 minutes
Go to the South Bus Terminal and take the bus that says “Dumaguete or DGTE”.
The fare for the entire trip will be around P200. It’s air conditioned and usually has movies on.
The bus will take you to the Bato port for about 5 hours and drive onto the RORO ship. By then you can grab something to eat and some cold beers at the little seaside restaurants before the ship leaves.
From the RORO boat it will take for about 30 minutes to reach Tandayag Port. After that back on the bus, and it will be additional 30 minutes and the bus can drop you almost anywhere you need when you arrive in the city.
For the second option, you can go to the same terminal and take the bus that says “Bato or Via Liloan”. This bus will cost you around P170 and it will take you to Liloan port.
Upon arriving at the port you will need to transfer to the ferry, the fare will be around P70. The ferry will take you to Sibulan port and from there you’ll need to take a tricycle that can take you to the city, this will cost you around P100.
If you have more cash to spend and need to get there in a short matter of time, then you can take this third option.
From Cebu City you can just “wing it”, we’re talking about jet service with all that entails. Prices will vary but generally will be around P1,800.
This route takes for about 45 minutes from Cebu to Dumaguete, but be warned, sometimes the plane goes to Manila first and can take hours before going to Dumaguete!
When traveling to Dumaguete or anywhere in the Philippines, as always keep your heads up and be aware of where and what is going on, keep your wits about you, and most of all have fun!
Want to Know More?
Theres still a lot more to tell you where to go and what to do when you visit and travel around the Philippines. Of course my favorite is Puerto Galera.
Come and visit me here in Puerto Galera at BADLADZ and I will tell you all about what you need to know about the Philippines.
Editors Note: This blog post was originally published March 21, 2013 and has been updated with revised and additional content.