Located to the east of Negros and to the west of Leyte and Bohol islands, Cebu consists of tropical islands and cities in the Visayas region where most tourists enjoy basking under the sun, building sandcastles by the wonderful beaches, learning about the history of the Philippines, and eating local delicacies such as lechon, dried mangoes, danggit, otap, chorizo, and chicharon among others.
In this post, let me share with you the highlights of our travel experience in Cebu last month. With only two days of travel, our Cebu trip itinerary was very intense! 🙂 What to do in Cebu? Listed below are the top recommended 6 tourist attractions for a good vacation trip.
Top 6 Tourist Attractions We Visited in Cebu, Philippines
1. Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa
Via Cebu Pacific Air, we landed at the Mactan Cebu International Airport and were formally welcomed by our hired local tour guide. We rode the transfer van service to our first stop: Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa at Maribago Beach, a resort development on the east coast of Mactan Island. We went in just for a day tour to have a feel of its tropical beach coziness and outdoor swimming pools and view of its mini forest and designed ponds which are home to authentic Japanese koi. Since we came on a legal holiday (Labor Day), regular lunch buffet was served.
I mostly appreciated the cleanliness and quietness of the beach area plus the water activities available (island hopping tour, scuba diving, jet skiing, para-sailing, paddle boating, snorkeling, and fishing). It was just disappointing that Cebu White Sands, known as one of Cebu’s most reputable resorts, only has communal showers that provide absolutely no privacy.
The showers don’t have doors or curtains either, so there’s no other choice than shower in public while clothed or all eyes would be on you. As expected, we heard several complaints from other people as well, especially women. It didn’t help that the changing rooms and toilet were messy, wet, and dirty.
For day tour escapade, cost per head (entrance fee) during weekends and legal holidays is PhP 950/adult and PhP 500/child. This already includes lunch buffet. For regular weekdays, rate is PhP 750/adult with PhP 200 consumable for food and PhP 400/child between 6 and 12 years old. Children who are 5 years old and below are free of charge.
For inquiries or reservation, call (63 32) 268 9000, 495 2226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mactan Shrine
Before driving to our hotel, we dropped by quickly at Mactan Shrine while we were still in Mactan Island. Tourists who are not equipped with historical knowledge will find this site boring, as it looked like an ordinary plaza where Lapu-Lapu’s statue stood. Shops nearby sell souvenirs which you can buy and bring home. For the most part, a good 5-10 minutes of picture-taking and strolling around the whole place would be enough.
In other case, Mactan Shrine is still a worthy spot to visit since it was where Christianity started in the Philippines. It was built in honor of Lapu-Lapu, Ferdinand Magellan, and the Battle of Mactan.
To share a bit of history, Lapu-Lapu was the native chieftain of Mactan Island who resisted the efforts of Magellan to subdue his people to be converted to Christians and to be subjected to the throne of Spain. The subsequent battle between the Spaniards and Lapu-Lapu was held on April 27, 1521. Lapu-Lapu and his men defeated Magellan, and the heroic sculptures in the shrine were erected where the battle took place to celebrate the readiness of the brave warriors in combating invaders.
3. Taoist Temple
With quaint Chinese architecture and beautiful gardens, Taoist Temple in Beverly Hills, Cebu is a great place where culture and religion meet. Atmosphere was serene, making it a nice and solemn place where devotees meditate, reflect, perform incense-lighting rituals, and say prayers for good luck, longevity, and prosperity.
Believers of Taoism and Lao Tze come here to have their questions answered by Jiaobei blocks 筊杯 (wooden moon blocks stating yes, no, or maybe). Reaching the top allowed us to view the splendid city and appreciate all of nature. We also saw how intricate the dragon designs were excellently made.
4. Magellan’s Cross
Magellan’s Cross is another historical landmark that’s a must-visit when in Cebu. This is where Ferdinand Magellan planted a cross in the soil in 1521 and claimed the Philippines for Spain. While we’re not sure if that cross was placed exactly where it is now, it was worth to see the huge cross and the painted ceiling in the small temple (artwork we used to only see in history books) depicting the arrival of Magellan to the area. Ladies outside sell candles for PhP 100 in exchange of blessings and prayers for you and your loved ones.
5. Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño (Minor Basilica of the Holy Child/Santo Niño Church)
We also paid homage to the Holy Child Jesus. Just footsteps away from the Magellan’s Cross and Cebu’s City Hall, Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño is a religious site that truly features the rich history of Christianity. Home of the blessed Sto. Niño, it’s a 16th century church that’s considered as one of the oldest Catholic churches in the Philippines and the main reason why Cebuanos have their annual Sinulog Festival every third Sunday of January, the biggest and longest parade in the city. With impressive structure and plenty of murals, this old church gave us the feeling of being back in the past.
6. Fort San Pedro
In Manila, we live very close to Fort Santiago, Intramuros, and we easily distinguished how Fort San Pedro looked similar. For an entrance fee of PhP 30/person, we had a guided tour that made us walk down memory lane. Fort San Pedro in Cebu houses small museums of relics, pictures, artifacts, and historical memorabilia reminiscent of Spanish influence and colonization in Cebu.
We saw bastions, canons, and water well and entered “rooms” where soldiers were hospitalized and also areas where dead bodies were piled up in the bastion fort. The Fort San Pedro heritage tour lasted about 30 minutes, and we found it quite interesting and educational.
Cebu is becoming quite popular as a holiday getaway in the country where you can find the Philippines’ rich cultural and religious heritage. Our trip has been fun and meaningful, as we have visited these sites and got a better grasp of Philippine history. There’s still more to discover though. Detouring from the beaten path and knowing more local secrets can be twice the fun! 🙂 So if you want to take a quick break from work and unplug from the digital world, consider exploring Cebu’s most famous tourist destinations over the weekend. Reviews of food and restaurants we tried in Cebu will be up soon!