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 cebu@whitesands.com.ph

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.

Wrap Up

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!

About 

Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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44 Responses

  1. mr_jeng

    WOHOOOO!! CEBU!!!!! Cebu has a huge part of my heart… and tummy!!! Aside from the different destination you have mentioned… It is an awesome place for a foodie trip. There are a lot of awesome restos that are really affordable. Compared to Manila, CEBU is the best place to get a huge tummy!! SEAFOOD, INIHAW, and of course LECHON!!! WOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! When you find yourself in CEBU and would like to know about the ins and outs of restos.. contact babe for food. … aka justinne… <<< resident food blogger in cebu :D:D:D

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, I think that people who don’t appreciate history and knowing about the artifacts would more likely be happy just food-tripping in Cebu. There’s food that’s super cheap (compared to prices here in Manila) everywhere, and gosh they’re all delicious!

      We were in the nick of time to get to “pasikot-sikot” of the really good restaurants, but I believe we have tried some good ones that are enough to make our tummies satisfied. 🙂 Oh yes, Justinne, our new KTG kapamilya hahaha!

      Reply
  2. Bluedreamer27

    I guess Cebu trip will never be completed without the Magellan’s Cross… I’m also eager to visit Temple of Leah ^_^
    thanks for sharing Roch

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I’ve never heard about Temple of Leah until just recently from GMA News. It’s dubbed as Cebu’s newest attraction, a great tribute of a husband to his wife just like “Taj Mahal.” Anyone who is into old Greece architecture must visit that. 🙂 You’re welcome!

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Cebu in the Philippines has long captivated travelers with its plethora of natural and cultural wonders. Research more about it and you’ll learn that these tourist destinations make a fine backdrop for a memorable holiday. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Theresa

    Wow, this place looks amazing! The catfish looks really pretty. I’d love to see the place with the cross.

    Reply
  4. Tammileetips

    This is all such beautiful tourist places to visit! I love to explore and learn about different countries. The shrine looks absolutely breathtaking and would be the spot I would want to go and visit if we were to travel there.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, Cebu is home to great travel destinations rich in history, cuisine, culture, and so much more. It’s where you can also find friendly people to ask directions or start a casual conversation with.

      Reply
  5. Melody

    I’ve honestly never thought about visiting the phillipines. After reading your post I see there are some great sites that I need to see. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi Melody! If you’re thinking of visiting the Philippines, Cebu is a good place to start as it’s a fine base for exploring our historical treasures and taking delight in our local specialty dishes. 🙂 Welcome.

      Reply
  6. Jeanine

    Wow, what a great post! I love all your photos I’ve never been anywhere, but the Phillippines has always been a great place in my eyes. I’ve always wanted to visit and sight see. I love that koi pond, I love sitting by them here, we have one in a huge park… So relaxing and quiet. Paddle boating would be SO MUCH FUN! I’ve never done anything as exciting!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Being beside a koi pond and watching how the fish swim feel just relaxing. If time is limited and you hope to explore to pack a lot of places into your itinerary, consider these prime spots. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy

    The resort looks beautiful, it’s a shame they don’t have private showers. I wouldn’t like that either! These places are all fascinating. My husband and I both love history, and to see these sites would be so cool! I love the heroic sculpture. It looks so majestic! Thanks for including all the fascinating history behind them!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, I thought sharing bits of stories will make the post more interesting rather than just sharing about our experience. I’m glad you like them. 🙂 There are far more beaches and resorts in Cebu. This one just happened to be relatively near the airport and day tour rate with lunch seemed most promising among others.

      Reply
  8. Kerri

    Your photos are amazing and truly depict your experience! Traveling abroad is on my bucket list and you have many places that I would love to visit. It looks like you had a great time at Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, we did. It wasn’t the ultimate best resort we’ve come across but it was okay. Cebu will do a fine choice for you to include in your travel bucket list. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Heather Wone

    What a beautifully crafted posts, your photos came out amazing! My husband and I have been discussing a much needed vacation, we would love to visit somewhere outside of the US. I will defiantly have to bring this up to him, the tourist attractions are just breathtaking!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Heather! When in Cebu, you have nothing to worry about because most people can speak English, food are really good and affordable, and tourist attractions are accessible to travelers with tour guides that offer explanation on each site. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Jaime Nicole

    Such beautiful pictures from the Philippines. I love the pics of the temple, and of the plant life. It looks like a lovely place to spend some time. I hope to get there soon!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      To get around once you’re over there, taxis and jeepneys are your friends, particularly if you have time on your hands. Often these modes of transportation in Cebu are very comfortable and reliable, and they will have you rubbing shoulders with the local population. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Fernando Lachica

    You enjoyed exploring Cebu which is the beauty of Visayas region. I am from Negros but I never visited even once. Just be reading, it’s the most beautiful tourist’s attractions so far.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There are more places in the Philippines that are vastly underrated, but Cebu as popular as it is bursting with life is a must-visit. Obviously, these attractions shared in this post are worth going for. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Violy

    I’ve been to all, yey! Cebu is really one of the best cities we have unfortunately the traffic is getting worst. I hope they can resolve the issue so it won’t drive the tourists away.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hehe yeah, our tour guide said the same thing but we were just fortunate at the time of visit since it was when Pacquiao fought against Mayweather. There were only few cars in the streets! 🙂

      Reply
  13. Pal Raine

    I miss travelling to Cebu with family. I went there last year, but its all about work and not to have a vacation.

    Great family bonding is what I love when travelling to other places.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There are natural wonders and also those historical sites that stood the test of time. I’m super glad that they’re maintained and some even restored for tourists and locals to appreciate and remember about what happened in the past.

      Reply
  14. papaleng

    The last time I was in Cebu, yang Mactan’s Shrine, Magellan’s Cross at Fort San Pedro lang ang napuntahan ko. That Taoist Temple amuses me. Next time I’ll be at Cebu, so sure pupuntahan ko yan.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      That Taoist temple is a must-visit! It’s okay to go with the “cliché” places but it’s also good to investigate the “hidden gems.” Learn from the locals and it will make a world of difference.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      What I love most in Cebu is that it has both the populated area where buildings in the vicinity almost make you feel like you’re in Makati/BGC, and there are also those sites where you get the provincial side of Cebu.

      You can afford the good life here and spend mornings just looking at the awesome views. You can also hike amazing mountains or swim in the clearest seas. Give yourself time to appreciate it! 🙂

      Reply
  15. Ashley

    The Taosit Temple is somewhere I’d really like to visit as I’ve been in Cebu for a few months now and have not seen half of what you put in the list haha thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Really? Whoa. I thought these places are already too common, the type that’s always almost included in anyone’s travel bucket list when planning to visit Cebu. You should check them out soon. 🙂

      Reply
  16. Franc Ramon

    I think I’ve been to all this places too. Cebu is really an all-around place to visit. They have beaches, historical and religious attractions. They have the tops, which gives you a panoramic view of the city. They have the cosmopolitan setting and party feel in the main district and a lot more.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, everything is convenient just like here in Manila. Soon, a new SM Cebu will be opened and there will be another bunch of new restaurants and shops to serve as reasons why we should go back next time. 🙂

      Reply
  17. Karen

    I wonder how the Basilica looks like now after the (Bohol) earthquake.My husband was lucky because he was able to set foot in Cebu before the quake and he is planning to bring the whole family there.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      We didn’t find debris or areas that are gravely destructed, at least in the places we toured. Hope you’ll enjoy your visit to Cebu with your family. 😉

      Reply

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