Explore Cebu, the crowned “Queen City of the South” in the Visayas islands of the Philippines
Cebu Guide: What To Do And See
Cebu, the crowned “Queen City of the South” in the Visayas islands of the Philippines is one of those cities in the world where you could truly appreciate its people, the events, its natural beauty, the food, the nightlife and a whole lot more.
Dubbed as one of the safest and the fast-rising economies among the ASEAN’s premier cities aside from their capital, Cebu can bring you both worlds: the exciting and the interesting. Here are just some of Cebu’s terrific getaways and what you could do while you are in Cebu.
Whale Sharks Watching Or... Swimming With Them
Tanawan, Oslob in the southeastern part of Cebu is now famously known as the site for experiencing the rare sight of amazing whale sharks diving in and out and playing in the ocean. It is during the good weather when the water is clear that these whale sharks come out.
They’re huge and massive and are never known to be fiercely violent. So you can swim with them.. subject to government rules … No feeding No approaching them less than 5 feet. Cameras can’t have a flash… but you can swim with them if you’ve got what it takes!
THE SIRAO FLOWER FARM
Sirao Flower Farm is a hillside barangay in the outskirts of Cebu and its main attraction is the blooming of the Celosia flower which may last up to 10 weeks beginning with its blooming. The flowers come in different vivid colors and quite unique in this area. Also called the Cock’s comb or the “burning flower”, as the Greeks called them, the Celosia flowers (local name is “burlas”) look like a fire burning when planted close together and in full bloom, hence the name. When you are here during the blooming season (which takes place June to January during rainy season), you may find yourself inside a tulip field similar to the Netherlands of Europe.
BUWAKAN NI ALEJANDRA
As Cebu’s new pride and gem, the Buwakan Ni Alejandra (Alejandra’s Flower Garden) is now ruling the airwaves of Gaas, Balamban, Cebu. Launched in May 2017, this brand new flower paradise of attraction at the heart of Balamban is taking the netizens by storm. Comprised mainly of different and colorful flowers, the charming and yet adorable nirvana of vivid flowers arranged in fantastic sight is just a few minutes drive from downtown Cebu City (only 32km from the city).
The flower garden has more than 200 species of endemic blooms that sit in a 700 square-meter of private property at the slope of the mountain in Sitio Bunga, Brgy. Gaas, Balamban, Cebu.
The Capilla Sta. Ana Maze Garden
Just a 5-minute ride from downtown Metro Plaza Toledo City is the Capilla Sta. Ana Maze Garden, and see for yourself the verdant London-inspired maze-like garden. This intricately-woven garden mimics one of UK’s awe-inspiring maze garden with an addition of a tour of the Capilla Sta. Ana Museum and Community Center in the same place. In this museum, you will find relics of saints and also considered as one of the largest collection of antiquities in the Philippines, you will be given a 30-minute historical tour of the artifacts before you got to solve the labyrinth maze.
Do you want to witness a sardine run in Cebu just like in South Africa? But you don’t have to go to this African nation, instead, you may want to go to the legendary town of Moalboal in Southern Cebu. Known for its colorful underwater world and white sand beaches, Moalboal also offers a stunning school of sardines swimming together in perfect harmony all year round. Additionally, the bunch of sardines swims closer to shore so you don’t have to rent a boat just to see them, you can actually see or swim with them (you can see them in millions, perhaps!) in batches near a reef drop-off the Panagsama Beach, a mere 20-minute drive away from Moalboal town proper.
Canyoneering in Matutinao Valley with its numerous small waterfalls and fresh water pools. Flex your muscles going upstream to the top, free climb up, struggling against the force of the waterfalls and in the cool and clear waters of the river swim against the current. Don’t be surprised if you see some loose monkeys, large monitor lizards and rare species of birds amidst unique rock formations and lush greenery. The place has a rich wildlife and vegetation.
THE SAMBOAN'S KAWA HOT BATH
Imagine being “cooked” in a giant cauldron (or Kawa) at 40C for 45 minutes, while you are “soaked” in steaming hot water with a choice of herbs and essential oils to release the panuhot from your body. All of this while viewing a grand panorama of the sea (actually, you are poised to admire the Negros Island and the Tañon Strait as your stunning backdrop) while you are simmer. This experience is just like the Kawa Hot Bath in Tibiao, Antique.
But you can enjoy the same adrenaline rush at the Fantasy Lodge Cebu Resort in Brgy. Dalahikan, Samboan, a cliff-side town. The trip from Cebu City down south to this winding coastal road town will take you just a few hours drive (4 hours to be exact with less than PHP200 bus fare) in one of the yellow buses bound for Bato (via Barili)..
Kawasan Falls in Badian
The Kawasan falls consist of three waterfalls, the first one is the largest. The other two are uphill, where water from the first came from them. The Kawasan falls is a “horsetail” (descending water maintains some contact with bedrock) type of waterfall, the area though had some sign of development. But the falls are still there, with its stream much wider you could use raft to float while enjoying the scenery. There are cottages available for rent, mini-restaurants and rooms for overnight stays.
THE OMAGIECA MANGROVE GARDEN
The Omagieca Mangrove Garden is located between the towns of Sta. Fe and Bantayan at the famous Bantayan Island Cebu, where the Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park shows how this system helps in the development of the marine life that serve as the breeding ground for several species of fish. These Mangroves look like the ones at the Sumilon Island where numerous variety of fish are now thriving.
Touted as the restaurant right inside the Obo-ob Mangrove Eco Park, the Omagieca Mangrove Garden Restaurant offers some of the best delicacies of Bantayan Island. So, while you are on tour to visit or explore the mangroves, dine in a cooler atmosphere at the Omagieca! Experience walking on a bamboo platform (walk way) on your way to the restaurant and see the natural ambiance of the resto right along the shoreline.
Aside from dining and mangrove exploration, you can enjoy kayaking and boating inside the eco-park with just a small amount of entrance fee.
THE SINULOG FESTIVAL
Sinulog is actually an ancient ethnic dance performed by the early Cebuanos to pay homage to their gods. With Ferdinand Magellan’s coming in 1521 and his gift of a Sto. Niño (Child Jesus) statue to Rajah Humabon’s wife, the event not only introduced Christianity to Cebu but it became a foundation for the Sinulog’s relevance. A depiction of Queen Juana raising the Sto Nino and blessing her subjects to ward off illnesses and demons became an integral part of the Sinulog Festival.
THE 10,000 ROSES
Experience Korean ambiance and hospitality at the 10,000 Roses Cafe & More located in Brgy. Day-as Cordova, Cebu. Here, witness 10,000 artificial LED roses “planted” on the ground as a tribute to the city’s love-affair with nature and as a campaign against throwing garbage in the environment. The site is open from 10 AM until 10 PM where tourists come to grace witness and photograph the artificial flowers, especially at the start of dusk.
While there is a minimal fee of only PHP20 (management calls it as “environmental fee”, as oppose to entrance fee), because, as they said, “it’s more of an environmental fee to protect the environment”, on which they added, “Visitors must pay the fee at the Municipal Tourism Office at the Municipal Hall before they can proceed to the area where the coffee shop is located.” Anyway, the fee is a small amount going to a big cause!
TEMPLE of LEAH
Just like the world famous Taj Mahal and the dubbed Bridge of Love (San Juanico Bridge), Temple of Leah also professes the eternal love of Teodorico Adarna to his late wife Leah Villa Albino-Adarna.
This Roman inspired structure showcases the explicit designs and delicate Greek mythology statues (collection of Leah) which is now open for the public. Visit and witness this awe worthy edifice located in Brgy. Busay.
The Balay Sa Agta Cave
As compared to Calbiga Samar’s Langon-Gobingob Cavern, considered as the largest cave system in the country, the Argao’s Balay Sa Agta Cave has a natural skylight that lights its mammoth ceiling during the day. Although most of its dome is covered in darkness when the sun is absent, the Balay Sa Agta cave’s gigantic ceiling rivals those caves in Samar.
Once you decide to trek this cave located in the town of Argao in Cebu, be prepared to traverse a narrow path with protruding walls. You must carry with you ropes and other safety gears for trekking. While near this cave is a 30-minute walk to the similarly famous Bugasok Falls and the rice terraces of Brgy. Butong, also nearby.
BASILICA MINORE DEL STO. NIÑO DE CEBU
Built in 1565, by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Father Andres de Urdaneta, this basilica houses the oldest and most celebrated relic in Philippine Christian history: The image of Senor Santo Nino (Infant Jesus). This was actually a present given to the reigning Queen Juana by Ferdinand Magellan during her baptism in April of 1521. Sometime after, a fire destroyed the structure but was rebuilt in 1602 and restored in 1740.
In a novena every Friday, thousands of devotees kneel and pray at the Basilica and every 3rd Sunday of January a giant celebration known as The Sinulog Festival, much like a Mardi Gras is held throughout Cebu.
THE BONTAY BAYWALK IN BANTAYAN ISLAND
One of the fascinating charms of Bantayan Island is its version of Siargao’s Cloud 9 Boardwalk. The town of Madridejos’ Bontay Boardwalk is a 187-meter footbridge that could be found in the Kota Park of this charming town off the coast of Bantayan Island, a 3 to 4-hour bus drive away from downtown Cebu City via Cebu North Terminal. Once you get to the Hagnaya Port in the town of San Remegio, hop in a ferry ride from the port and be at the Santa Fe town, Bantayan Island, in less than one hour. Here, you can fetch a tricycle ride and take you to the town of Madridejos to catch a glimpse of the famous Bontay Boardwalk.
This bay walk connects the shore to a majestic watch balcony overlooking the ocean of the Visayan Sea. Additionally, witness both the terrific sunrise on the morning and a majestic sunset in the evening while feeling the cool sea breeze, as the balcony has a 360-degree view of the ocean.
Carbon Market, the century-old and largest public market in Cebu is a vibrant hub of all types of vendors and merchandise. It has become a major tourist spot because it offers a wide selection of inexpensive Filipino souvenirs, local food and snacks and Filipino-culture-inspired clothing for men and women. Located in the heart of the city, it was named after the Cebu railroad’s coal depository and where it now stands used to be the terminal of the railway line. Carbon market, today continues to be an accessible source of practically anything related to Cebu.
The house stands as a representation of a typical Spanish home, giving the visitor an idea of what it was like to lead an “Illustrado’s” life. It was mostly constructed with wood and stones while the floor was laid out with Molave and the roof with Terra Cota tiles. After undergoing some renovations but keeping its natural, Spanish aura, it opened to the public as a museum in 1983 falling under the Cultural Heritage program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation.
CHAPEL of SAN PEDRO CALUNGSOD
Recently constructed in 2012, this chapel was in honor of a canonized young Visayan saint, by the name of Pedro Calungsod, Located beside the SM Seaside city, it boasts of a rather modern design but with unmistakable solemn walls and ceiling making the place perfect for prayers and meditation.
FORT SAN PEDRO
Enjoying the recognition of being the oldest and smallest fort in the country, Fort San Pedro served as a stronghold of Filipino revolutionaries towards the end of the 19th century. Heading the ground-breaking rites when work first began on May 8, 1565 was Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. Completed in 1738 with an inside area of 2225 square meters, 20 ft high walls with 8 ft thickness and towers about 30 ft high from the ground, it helped the Spaniards ward off Muslim raiders.
During the war years, 1941-1945, Fort San Pedro served as an army camp for Japanese soldiers and after the Liberation of the country, for American troops. Today it is under the care and auspices of the National Museum, which displays gold coins, lockets and other artifacts taken from the old Spanish galleon, San Diego.
FUENTE OSMEÑA CIRCLE
A focal landmark for Cebu in the heart of the city is a rotunda cum park with a quaint-looking, picturesque fountain constantly oozing with what seems like fresh mountain water. It is the famous Fuente Osmeña Circle.
Colon Street in the downtown area of Cebu, regarded as the first and oldest street in the Philippines, having been a part of the original town’s design made by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1565.
In previous decades it gained some notoriety as a sort of a red light district where street women walked its long stretch in search of the fast buck. Today, Colon Street has evolved into a hub of commercial activities with the establishment of shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters and fashion boutiques, helping to regain its fascinating history-laden past.
This marked the beginning of Christianization in Asia. Interestingly, much like the Sistine Chapel, The ceiling of this quaint little chapel had paintings depicting various eras and events of Cebu’s history.
Magellan’s Cross remains in the very same spot where it was supposed to have been originally planted but its protective wooden overlay, said to have been chipped away by people, believing it had miraculous healing powers had been damaged and now has been encased in Tindalo wood and properly secured. Magellan’s Cross is located in front of the old Cebu City Hall building.
CEBU PROVINCIAL CAPITOL
Inaugurated on June 14, 1938 by President Manuel L. Quezon, the Cebu Provincial Capitol is situated along Osmeña Boulevard and serves as the seat of the provincial government. It is known for its elegant ballroom designed in an art deco style and with its enormous crystal chandeliers and full length windows one tends to conjure images of a fairy tale setting
This much-visited shrine is within the Manastery of the Holy Eucharist in Sibonga, Cebu, run by Marian monks. On a huge, beautifully-designed wooden altar sits the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary encased and painted in gold. This is the place where, sometime in 1998, it is said the Virgin Mary image shed tears. Today, people continue to believe in its miraculous healing powers as the testimonial letters of healed people fastened near the altar appear to affirm.
THE HERITAGE of CEBU MONUMENT
Located in the historic Parian district, The Heritage of Cebu Monument is an array of sculptures made of concrete, bronze, brass and steel depicting events from the history pages of Cebu such as the baptism of Rajah Humabon, the reigning monarch at the time and the Battle of Mactan between Lapu-Lapu and Ferdinand Magellan and their men. With the sculptured scenes carved by nationally-famous sculptor, Eduardo Castrillo, this monument celebrating Cebu’s history was completed in the year 2000.
THE TAOIST TEMPLE
Sitting on a high plane about 300 meters from sea level is this temple of worship for Taoism, a religion that adheres to the teaching of ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze. One might see the entrance to the temple as a mini Great Wall of China, with a chapel within the grounds, a library, a souvenir shop and a wishing well.
One of the sacred rituals is the climbing of the 99 steps, said to represent the 99 chapters of Taoism Scriptures and where, when one reaches the top (If he’s still got the energy) lights up joss sticks and have their fortune told by monks.
THE BUTONG RICE TERRACES
Did you know that there are also stunning rice terraces in Cebu and not just in the northern Philippines’ Ifugao region or in Bali, Indonesia? Be amazed of Cebu’s mountain view barangay of Butong in Argao, located just 65km south from downtown Cebu City. The man-made rice terraces stretched from two century-old balete trees and were believed to be constructed by a local farmer in 1982.
There were natural springs emanating from the ground near these balete trees that serve as the terraces’ irrigation system. Discover how these man-made marvels are changing the landscape of Brgy. Butong in Argao, Cebu where each layer of the terraces is supported by rock walls.
is located in the Municipality of Dalaguete in the province of Cebu. The peak is approximately 1,000 meters above sea level making it the highest peak in the island of Cebu.
The peak is part of the Mantalungon mountain range, which is unique from other mountain ranges in the Philippines because of its multiple jagged hills grouped together that overlook and stretch as far as the Badian shorelines. The highest of these hills is the Osmeña Peak named in honor of the famous Osmeña clan in Cebu.
The visual appearance of the Mantalungon range is almost similar in form to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol but the peaks of the ranges are thinner, sharper-pointed and rocky. Unlike the Chocolate Hills, the peaks of the Mantalungon ranges cluster quite near each other and give the impression of being formed from rocks that have survived through time.
Once you reach the Osmeña Peak, you get a 360-degree view of that includes the southwestern coastline of Cebu, and you even see the province of Negros Oriental. However, the peak area is fenced and under private ownership. A lot keeper collects at least 20 pesos from each climber that enters the area and there is a campsite a few meters down the peak. The campsite has a toilet and a bunkhouse available to the public for a fee.
THE RUINS AND OLD CHURCH OF OSLOB
A 3 hours ride from Cebu City is the Ruins and Old Church of Oslob, also known as Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Conception is the oldest church in Cebu City was gutted by fire years ago leaving only the Spanish Architecture. Beside the church is their Ruins, these two Spanish Infrastructure that still exists in Oslob entice tourist attraction.
Perched atop a hill overlooking the entire city of Cebu is this quaintly beautiful viewing deck, popularly known as TOPS. Rising 2500 ft above sea level, Tops is located in the Northern part of the city in the town of Busay, a short 30-minute drive from downtown Cebu.
It affords visitors and sightseers a breathtaking, postcard-perfect view of the city’s skyline, the modern, tropic island of Mactan and Bohol province’s majestic mountains. In the early evening when the sun sets in all its glory, Tops becomes perfect for love-crazy newlyweds, honeymooners hiding from relatives and friends and romantic lovers who might feel like Anthony and Cleopatra reigning over Egypt.
For some old-fashioned family-bonding, the place has cozy spots for picnics or even some nature-friendly campsites where you can pitch your tent if you decide to stay overnight. Bring some light sweaters though as the night mountain air could be a bit chilly.
The flora and fauna of Bojo River creates a natural harbor along the river where one could traverse its majesty through rented banca (called “baroto”) from the locals where guides from the neighborhood would make the whole family paddled through its serene masterpiece. The green scenery and the clear navigable water are highly conducive to children who want to witness the beauty of natural environment different from the jungle of the city.
The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House
During the 1880’s, Maria Florida Yap, the eldest daughter of Don Juan and Doña Maria, married Don Mariano Sandiego who was that time the Cabeza de Barangay of Parian. The house has surpassed a couple of generations. In 2008, the ancestral house was turned over under the care of Val Sandiego and his wife, Ofelia. Val Sandiego, one of Cebu’s famous choreographers, heritage icon and art collector, is the great great grandson of Doña Maria Yap-Sandiego.
Believing that the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is part of Cebu’s history and heritage, Val preserved and carefully restored his ancestor’s home using coral stones glued with egg whites, molave, balayong and terracotta. He also firmly stands never to sell the house no matter what the offer is.
The house is filled with contemporary and ancient artworks, antique pieces and Cebuano-made native furniture. There are also life-sized statues, religious icons and images of saints found around the 2-storey house.
Capitancillo is a small uninhabited island northeast of Cebu Island in the Camotes Sea. It is 6.1 kilometres (3.8 mi) east of Odlot barangay, Bogo. Three areas around the island (the Ormoc Shoal, the Nuñez Shoal, and the southwest wall of Capitancillo) are recognized dive sites. Polambato Port, Nailon Wharf, Marangog Cove, and Odlot Hideaway all serve as jumping-off points to the island from Bogo, and the trip takes anywhere from fifteen to 45 minutes. There are no stores nor accommodation available on the island.
is located around thirty minutes away from Santiago Bay and is just one of the places where visitors have the chance to see the beauty of nature. There are two access points to the lake, Green Lake Park and Lake Danao Park.
Even though it is one of the smaller islands in the Camotes island group, Pacijan Island is home to the biggest lake in the Visayas, Lake Danao. Lake Danao is situated on the northern part of the island and is considered as one of the most breath taking sights in the Lost Horizon of the South.
The Enchanting Guiwanon Cold Spring
Guiwanon Cold Spring is one of favorite destination among citizens of Tabogon and living in nearby neighborhood namely in towns of Sogod and Bogo City, hence it’s also situated along the main road heading to Tabogon proper. So going this destination isn’t really difficult, and if unfamiliar, just don’t fail to remind the driver or the bus conductor to drop you off at Cold Spring (the magical keyword).
At dropping point, you will be walking a few meters to get in this place. Not really far, besides, you’ll only exert a short walk. Any type of vehicle can able to enter and can even park as there is space for parking needs. Just hang on! — at Guiwanon Cold Spring, Tabogon, Cebu.
JVR Island in the Sky Resort
With the resort practically sitting atop the mountainous portion of Balamban, Cebu, the cool distinct temperature of the atmosphere is likely to be compared to that of Baguio’s. With its high altitude, it is hard to feel the heat of the scorching sun.
For an entrance fee of Php50 for adults and Php25 for children below 10 years old, guests and nature enthusiasts can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities while staying at the mountain resort. Aside from the feeling of being one with nature, you can have an exciting walk by crossing a multicolored hanging bridge that will lead you to another fun-filled outdoor activity.
Pescador Island is an island located in the Tañon Strait, a few kilometres from the western coast of the island of Cebu in the Philippines. It is part of the municipality of Moalboal.
The island itself has a lighthouse and access steps on the north and east sides.
the mountain rock of Boljoon town that inspired protests when it was carved to stop falling rocks during landslides, is now a favorite spot that invites visitors who want a good view of the sea, the surrounding islands, the mountains and the town of Boljoon.
The paved highway leading to Barili Municipality passing through the towns of Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando and Carcar is quite comfortable and easy for motorists.
Mantayupan Waterfall, one of the top tourist attractions in this municipality, is approximately 200 feet high from its top to bottom waterfall basin level.
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