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Cebu City is the "Queen City of the South" on Cebu Island in the Philippines and is one of the most popular destinations in all of the Philippines for foreign visitors with the busiest sea port in the Philippines and the second largest air hub.
The language spoken in Cebu City is Cebuano, which is also known as Bisaya. With about 20 million native speakers, it is the mother tongue for more citizens than any other and local and regional newscasts are broadcast in Cebuano.
Although the national language of Filipino (based on the Southern Luzon dialect of Tagalog) is technically an official language and taught in schools, it is somewhat resented in Cebu as it is seen as a symbol of the unfair domination of the Central Luzon region.
Mactan-Cebu International Airport (link to Wikipedia article) (CEB). This international and domestic airport is a modern alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and passport control and baggage handling is fairly fast and efficient.
Getting in/out - The airport is on Mactan Island in Lapu-Lapu city. It takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour or more to get to the actual city of Cebu. If you are staying at one of the nicer hotels they usually can send a free van to pick you up at airport. If you forgot to ask for this you may find that the van of your hotel is there to pick someone else up and you can hitch a ride if there is room.
Do as the locals do and catch a colorful jeepney. You can board a jeepney when it's parked at a stop or by flagging one down as they drive past. You can pay your fare anytime onboard but it's suggested you pay when alighting. If the fare collector is far away, you can pass your money to other passengers and ask them to pass it to the collector.
Buses are also available but these tend to ply exclusively along the north-south route. There are two major bus terminals as the name implies for direction of travel - North Bus terminal at Mandaue and South Bus terminal. Ceres Bus lines operates regular bus services from these terminals and are considered the "safer" alternative to the smaller privately operated bus lines.
Taxis are omnipresent in Cebu City. To avoid overcharging, choose a white taxi that has the price written on the side, and insist the driver use the meter.
What to see
Shrines and historical landmarks
Basilica of Santo Niño (Basilica of the Holy Child), Osmeña Boulevard. A large and venerable church that traces its history to the founding of the convent of the Santo Niño de Cebu in 1565.
Casa Gorordo Museum, 35 Lopez Jaena St,. A well-preserved Spanish colonial mansion constructed largely of wood, set in a pleasant, manicured garden.
Colon St. Brave the cacophanous traffic to see the oldest street in the Philippines with some nice worn-out classical buildings dating back to the American Era. At night, this street transforms into a market with good buys everywhere. Be wary of pickpockets though.
Fort San Pedro. The smallest Spanish outpost in the Philippines during the colonial era. It has a small museum showcasing the wreckage and treasures from the sunken San Diego galleon from Mexico.
Biking - Go to Tops, which sits literally at the top of the Mt Busay, for an unobstructed view of the entire city at night. Entrance to the garden is 100 pesos per person.
Drink, Eat, Laugh and Party - Cebu city is one of the cities which won't miss the party scenes at night, being a major city of commerce and finance in the Philippines; the development of bars, clubs and other commercial establishments are at a fast rate.
Ride a Tartanilla - Head to Cebu's old quarters in Carlock St and try riding a horse drawn carriage called a tartanilla. Remember to negotiate with the driver before taking a ride.
See the scenic view of Cebu City's skyline - The Marcelo Fernan Bridge or Second Mactan Bridge offers some interesting views of the city at night, and is even picturesque from below. Arrange for a taxi to take you there.
Shop - Cebu City is well known for two spacious and modern malls outside Manila. SM City Cebu and the Ayala Center Cebu are the most famous and luxurious shopping centers at the heart of the city. Boutique shops, mini-malls, themed malls, fine and alfresco dining include ParkMall, Banilad Town Center, among others.
The island of Cebu gets especially busy on the third Sunday of January due to the Sinulog Festival. It is the local way of honouring the Child Jesus. Main thoroughfares around the city are blocked for an all-day and all-night loud and colourful street party. Don't forget your dancing shoes!
Swim and Sun - Mactan is actually the popular place when it comes to beaches which is just minutes away from Cebu City and is where the Airport is located.
Snorkeland bird-watching - The island of Olango and its 6 small satellite islands are ideal for snorkelling as well as observation of migratory birds.
Scuba Diving - Near the city of Cebu there is plenty of good and CHEAP diving places from coral reefs to shipwreck. Also there is one of the cheapest places in South East Asia to get your Open Water Diver certificate.
Cebu City has many shopping malls - the biggest being SM City Cebu, which is a four-level shopping mall with a huge department store, supermarket, movie theater and over 200 shops and restaurants. A more upscale shopping mall is the Ayala Mall, it also has a large department store, two supermarkets and a movie theater, and it offers more restaurants and stores that appeal to tourists.