Traveling to Cebu City

Traveling to Cebu City

Bantayan Island

Also known as the Queen City of the South, Cebu City, Philippines is Manila’s younger sister, only more laid-back.  She is an emerging export processing zone of choice, IT hub, shopping, fine dining, and party haven, and one of the country’s premier tourist destination.

Cebu is served by Mactan International Airport.  Travelers fly in from Australia, Japan, China, and the rest of Southeast Asia.

When visiting Cebu, apart from the usual official documents you must secure, you need to keep in mind a few things:

  • Cebu has low levels of crime (when compared to Manila) but it is still wise to lock cab doors, avoid deserted alleys and streets even in broad daylight, and avoid taking public transport when there are no other passengers.  That said, leave all valuables in your hotel’s safe deposit vaults;
  • The city has its share of unscrupulous cab drivers.  Beware of agreeing to fixed-price fares.  Use the metered devices instead.  In case of violation, get the cab number and report to the “How’s my driving?” number, or the land transportation agency which has satellite offices in major shopping malls;
  • When shopping for souvenirs, do it early in the day on weekdays.  Market stalls on the curb offer unbeatable prices, but they are also home to sleazy pickpockets.  Otherwise, the city abounds with showrooms of reputable craft designers where shopping can be done more comfortably and safely;
  • When dining al fresco, expect to be approached by itinerants.  Politely shake your head and call the attention of security personnel;
  • Prepare to stew in traffic between 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock in the morning, and four ‘o clock in the afternoon and eight o’clock at night, all days of the week.  Sometimes, lunch time can also get very busy;
  • When exchanging currency, better do it in Forex stations found in all major shopping malls, or banks.  Ignore Forex peddlers that approach you on sidewalks.  Not only do they perpetuate the black market, they also offer ridiculously low exchange rates;
  • Cebu is a devoutly Catholic city and province.  If you are planning to revel in city-wide merrymaking, book your travel to Cebu around the third week of January when it celebrates a weeklong festival in honor of the Infant Jesus;
  • Cebu is blessed with very hot summers, infrequently interrupted by rain.  So pack breathable clothes in bright colors.  The beaches get crowded during the months of March, April and May, but weather is generally warm all-year round.

Cebu is also strategically located in Central Philippines.  You can book a short flight to Boracay, Camiguin, or Samal, where you can enjoy more white beaches, turquoise waters, and regional cuisines and cultures.

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