Cebu is considered the oldest city in the Philippines and was thriving as a port city well before the Spaniards arrived in 1521. The Spanish conquest was fierce and in 1565, Cebu came under Spanish rule. The rest of the nation quickly followed and most of the population converted to Catholicism. Although the country is no longer Spanish terrain, Catholicism still runs through the Filipino people's veins.
When you arrive, you'll land at the Cebu Mactan Airport in Lapu Lapu. If you're not groggy from jet lag, you can pay a visit to the Lapu Lapu Shrine. The statue was erected in honour of Datu Lapu Lapu, a local warrior who killed Spanish invader, Ferdinand Magellan.
Make a beeline for Magellan's Cross, which has been standing since the Spanish explorer arrived in 1521. While you're here, you'll notice the candles at the foot of the cross but make sure you look up to admire the ceiling painting too, which depicts Magellan's landing in Cebu. When you’re done there, head to the Basilica Minor del Santo Niño where you'll see the carved replica of Santo Niño, brought over by Ferdinand Magellan and considered Cebu's patron saint. If you're in Cebu in January, you'll be able to take part in the massive street parade dedicated to Santo Niño, the incredible Sinulog Fiesta!
After seeing the main sights of the city, wot about testing Lady Luck at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino? If gambling’s not your thing head to the top floor of the Crown Regency Hotel and go for a sky-high walk around the edge of the building. If you're still feeling dare-devilish, you can give the Edge Coaster a go. Strap yourself in and get ready to be tilted over the side of the Crown Regency from 38 floors up – just don't look down!
Whip out your credit and hit SM and Ayala. These huge shopping centres will keep you busy for days, so pace yourself. If it’s a genuine local shopping experience you’re after then the downtown area of Colon and the bustling Carbon Market is where to go.
When it comes to dining, you've got everything from tasty street food to western cuisine to choose from. Make sure that you try some lechon before you leave though. This spit roasted pork (or chicken if you'd prefer) is eaten throughout the Philippines but Cebu is particularly famous for the dish. When the sun goes down, you can enjoy the nightlife at Mango Avenue and Mango Square in Cebu City or at Park Avenue in Mandaue City.
To get here, grab one of these cheap flights to Cebu and then get around on a jeepney, jump in a taxi or, hire a scooter.
Ready to see Cebu? Book your flights today and while you’re in holiday mode, pick out one of our Cebu hotels.
Image from Peter Binter
Hotels in Cebu start at AU$50 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.