A local Cebuano's guide to the best of Cebu

One of my clients is visiting Cebu for the first time and her last email to me got me all nervous...

Hi Nel,
Flying out now.
Thanks for the offer.
Love to hear about thing to do in Cebu.

I am not nervous because I have nothing to offer; because Cebu definitely has a lot to offer! I know Cebu because I have spent a lifetime here (literally)!

I want every visitor to experience Cebu entirely but obviously short-term visitors can only experience so much in a few days and cramming everything up in such a short time can be dreadfully tiring and could end up in disaster. Something I definitely would not want to happen.

There are just  so many things (too many even) that I would like to brag to visitors about Cebu and so it is just a matter of choosing the best ones that I know are a real embodiment of Cebu and something that visitors would really appreciate.

So fancy restaurants and busy urbanized places will definitely be off of my list and instead include places and activities that are truly local and truly Cebu; however since my client is not a local, security is an important thing to consider.

Since she has a booking in Watefront, proximity is also a big factor so I would have to suggest places that are not too far from where she would be staying.

So, here goes my list:

1.       When in Cebu, definitely visit the religious and culturally-rich churches of Basilica del Santo Niño and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Visit Magellan’s Cross and check out the damages and the reconstruction of the damage done by 2013 earthquake to these old edifices that are great symbols of the Cebuano faith and piety.

2.       Right after you do, you should also grab a chance to see Fort San Pedro. Once a military fort during the Spanish era, it has become one of the venues that make for a picturesque backdrop for weddings and special occasions and you can access the place for a minimum entrance fee.

3.       Never miss Cebu’s local market Carbon. A bustling area of commerce where one can experience hard core trading the Cebuano way and get fresh and affordable fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. Just be careful with your valuable belongings and bring a local along so you don’t get conned. The Carbon Market is a definite feast for the eyes, ears, mouth, hands and legs so definitely immerse in it.

4.       Fairly new in Cebu but has now been getting a lot of attention especially from locals is the SRP or the South Road Properties. It is a wide stretch of coastal land that has been reclaimed and will be home to various business establishments and subdivisions. It is also used as a private access road to other municipalities in Cebu. You can either enjoy this area while inside a vehicle or on your feet; just be extra careful with sometimes speeding vehicles.

5.       Since Cebu is a melting pot of various cultures; along with many Christian churches, there are also various temples. One of the popular and most visited ones is the Cebu Taoist Temple which is located on high ground that will give you with a breathtaking view of the city and shows a little bit of the Chinese culture and heritage inculcated in the history of Cebu. The Chinese community, just like they are in other places, are known in the business industry of Cebu and play a major role in the development of the consumer retail industry such as department stores and retail shops.

6.       If you are looking for the best view of the city especially at night, never miss Tops. Tops is situated in the mountainous area of Busay and offers a 360 (urban and rural) view of the city. Best enjoyed with friends, family and loved ones; always go to Tops with a companion - you’ll need a human blanket as it can get cold and windy while up top.

7.       While you’re in Busay, and craving for adventure, there are a lot of adventure and mountain parks in the area. If you are looking for a not-so-scary and not so expensive zip line ride, you can get one at Doce Pares just below Tops. You also have different zip line options to try for other thrill-seekers.

8.       If it is greater adventure that you are looking for, go as far as Balamban via the TranCentral Highway and check out the other mountain resorts and adventure parks just along the route. You can also have stop-over along the route to eat sweet corn and buy fresh produce or flowers and plants from sellers along the way.

9.       If it’s beaches that you’re into, Cebu does not disappoint either. Just a few minutes from the airport or from various key areas in Cebu are its beaches. Ranging from regular local beaches to high-end ones, you are sure to find those in Mactan, Lapu-lapu. Most of these hotels and resorts also have websites so can check them out prior to your stay and also have Wi-Fi access so you can stay connected even while lying lazily and sun-bathing along the shoreline.

10.   If you want to explore Cebu’s other cities and municipalities, there are buses and V-hires that can take you to other locations with spectacular views, beautiful beaches, native delicacies and friendly people. (Who can mostly converse in English or Tagalog and are more than accommodating to answer curious questions from visitors.)

11.   If you want to taste the best that Cebu has to offer, prepare your taste buds for a myriad of mouth-watering delicacies such as the lechon Cebu (roasted pig that is best paired with puso or hanging rice), green/ ripe/dried mangoes, bibingka and puto (delicacies made with glutinous rice), chicharon (crispy pork skin), inasal na manok (roasted chicken), street food tempura and squid balls, and a host of other palatable local treats.

12.   If you’re like me who craves for fresh sea foods, then you should make it a point to visit one of the SUTUKIL huts in Lapu-Lapu City. SUTUKIL stands for sugba (grill), tuwa (stew), kilaw (ceviche or raw fish cooked in lemon or vinegar). The best part of the SUTUKIL experience is you can pick the fish yourself (some even live ones) and have them prepare it for you the way you like it and in various sumptuous ways. The wait normally takes a while but the feast that awaits is usually worth it!

13.   And lastly, take an adventure the local way by riding a jeepney at least once like a true local Cebuano and say “plete nya bai!” when handing out your 8 peso fair to the fellow beside you who will in turn hand it out to the other passengers until it reaches the driver and saying “lugar nya” when alerting the driver to stop so you can disembark from the vehicle.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or just a cool and relaxing get-away, Cebu is definitely the best place to be in. Where mostly everything is just 30 minutes away, there is a good combination of great food, warm sun, cool beaches, and definitely smart and friendly Cebuanos. ;-) (Ofcourse, I should know… I am proudly Cebuano and definitely proud to be in Cebu!)

08/04/14 @11:08am

(pictures above are from google search - some are separate pictures put into one) 


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