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The Filipino island of Cebu is an exotic destination that’s been the preserve of well-heeled travellers for years.
Now flights to Cebu are opening up this island paradise to explorers from all over the world, introducing them to the relaxed lifestyle, tropical beaches and unspoilt beauty on offer. Fly to Cebu and discover an island with a unique culture and that typically warm Filipino welcome!
Cebu is both the name of the island and its capital city, but transport around the island is plentiful so it’s easy to explore beyond the boundaries of the city itself. The city is also known as the Queen City of the South and is the largest in the Philippines. One of the more surprising tourist spots in the city is Fort San Pedro. Built in 1565, this fortification is now a tranquil garden with some incredibly photogenic ruins, and is a serene spot away from the roar of Cebu city life. The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is a remarkable site, not just for its spectacular gilded icons and architecture, but for the mere fact that it has managed to survive at all, as it has burned to the ground on three separate occasions! The latest incarnation of the Basilica dates from 1737.
Beyond the city there is plenty of wild beauty to explore, including the Kawasan Falls (20km south of Moalboal), the breathtakingly gorgeous Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary and the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary – over a thousand hectares of sand flats and mangrove that is an internationally important site for migratory birds.
This island is an absolute paradise for anyone who loves watersports. Clear oceans and gentle currents make it perfect for snorkelling and diving, while there are also plenty of jetski hire shops for those who want a more adrenaline-fuelled experience. Wildlife lovers can take a trip out to go whaleshark spotting. These immense, majestic and completely harmless animals are becoming a huge tourist attraction in their own right, but the best way to see them is to take an organised trip to Oslob, located at the south of Cebu island between Boljoon and Santander.
Back in Cebu city it’s possible to take a guided historical tour that includes a horse-drawn carriage ride – an interesting and unusual way to see the sites of the city.
Fresh seafood is a major element in Cebu cuisine. Travel to Cebu and you’ll taste the very best in fresh tuna (look for restaurants that keep it simple by cooking belly steaks on a charcoal grill).
Cebuano specialities also include manok halang halang (spicy chicken soup). For authentic Cebu street food head to the Larsian district, where you’ll find BBQ vendors selling inasal, a marinated chicken barbecue. Other dishes to look out for include kinilaw (or 'kilawin'), a fresh fish dish mixed with spices, and scallops, a Filipino favourite.
The main shopping mall in Cebu is the Ayala Center Cebu at the Cebu Business Park in Cebu City, which unlike a lot of other malls around the world has plenty of green spaces incorporated into its design, making it more of a ‘garden shopping centre’ than the usual concrete and steel mall.
Another large mall experience is the SM City Cebu mall, which is a good location to buy international brands and high-end luxury goods. For a truly local shopping experience head to Carbon Market, a great location to find bargains as well as an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Flights to Cebu arrive at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which is on Mactan Island in Lapu-Lapu city – approximately 20-30 minutes journey time from Cebu City itself.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Cebu please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)
Voltage: 220 V 60 Hz
Plugs: Type A / B / C
Language: Filipino / English / Cebuano
International dialing code: +63