City of Cebu , "Queen City of the South" and as some call it Little Manila is the second most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines after Metro Manila. In 2016 Cebu landed as #5 on the coveted list of Condé Nast’s Top 20 Best Islands in the World.
It is the first Spanish settlement, the country's oldest city and the first capital of the Philippines.
Cebu city's proximity to many islands, beaches, hotel and resorts, diving locations, heritage sites and high tourist and expat population have fueled the city's tourism industry.
Due to its geographic location, accessibility by air, land and sea transportation, Cebu City has become the tourist gateway to Central and Southern Philippines.
Cebu City is a significant cultural center in the Philippines. The imprint of Spanish and Roman Catholic culture is evident. The city's most famous landmark is Magellan's Cross. This cross, now housed in a chapel, is reputed to have been erected by Ferdinand Magellan.
The Cebu Reggae Festival is a popular Filipino Reggae and Roots music festival, it now has become one of the Philippines' largest annual Reggae Festivals.
The city is readily accessible by air via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport located in Lapu-Lapu City and has direct international flights to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Dubai and South Korea, to name a few.
The downtown area around Colon is very crowded. The uptown area around Fuente Osmena is much more relaxed and is a popular area to stay.
Cebu has beautifully designed large shopping malls. SM Seaside City is currently the 3rd largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the 8th in the world with approximately 447 food and retail shops, including local, national and global brands. Seaside Tower is a 150-meter (equivalent to 50 story) tall tower located at the center of the mall. There are restaurants and coffee shops and a viewing deck at the top of the tower which provides a 360-degree view of Cebu City and the mall.
You can take a break from the hustle and bustle of Cebu's city life and go on a day trip to Bohol, a popular tourist destination for its beaches and resorts. Panglao Island, located just southwest of Tagbilaran, is famous for its diving locations and is routinely listed as one of the top ten diving locations in the world. Numerous tourist resorts and dive centers are in the southern beaches.
The Philippine Tarsier, one of the world's smallest primates, is indigenous to the island.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chocolate Hills-numerous mounds of limestone formations-are the most popular attraction. The formations can be seen by land (climbing the highest point) or by air via ultralight air tours.
I spent 5 days at the Bellevue Resort located on the north-western tip of Panglao Island, and highly recommend this beautiful hotel with friendly staff.
Hundreds of Starfish line the water at the beach outside of the hotel.
In Cebu, I stayed at the Henry hotel and the Harolds in two separate trips. They are both close to the malls and the restaurants.
Henry is a unique boutique hotel with large rooms, incredible interior design and funky decoration (every room has a different style), delicious food, art exhibition in the hotel and friendly staff.
When I was searching for hotels in the heart of the city I came across this hotel and was looking forward to spend time there while visiting Cebu. I am happy to say it was everything I had imagined.
If you are looking for a different experience this four star hotel will fit the bill and you will not be disappointed. Request a room overlooking the pool side; as the street side can get noisy at night.
Harolds is a comfortable hotel that serves great food! Enjoy live music and city views at night on the roof. Just remember to request a room in higher floors. Otherwise, the noise of the city will wake you up!
The beauty of Cebu is that you can have it all. A city with all the amenities that you may need, large expat population, nearby beaches and a thriving economy.