1. Explore Fort San Pedro
Built by the Spainards when they conquered Cebu (early 1700s), the San Pedro Fort is one of the most magnificent defense structures in the Philippines. This special fort is triangular in shape, with two of the sides facing the sea and the other one protecting the land. An earthquake destroyed part of the fort in the past, but most of it is still intact.
For a very small price, you are allowed to tour all around the fort and learn about the history through photos and artifacts. It’s a great place to spend an hour or two and admire some 300 year old fortress. It’s located in Plaza Indepencia right next to the main pier, and a short walk away from Magellan’s cross.
2. Admire Magellan’s Cross
This was the most unexpected, and coolest thing that I saw in Cebu! I’m sure all of you know who Ferdinand Magellan is, but for those who don’t, he is a famous Catholic Portuguese explorer who was the first person to conduct an organized expedition across the circumference of the world (1500s).
Believe it or not, Magellan was the first to discover Cebu back in 1521, and he planted a cross in the city center. Today, the cross is in a chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, in the exact same spot where Magellan settled in the Philippines. It’s pretty amazing to see, and try to imagine the history that took place under your toes.
3. Shop at SM Cebu
SM Cebu is the 4th largest shopping mall in the Philippines, and part of the 15 biggest shopping malls in the world. Each day, over 120,000 people make a trip to this “shoppers paradise” that offers everything you can imagine.
Despite the Philippines being a ‘cheap’ country in general, I was expecting the mall prices to be average (especially in department stores).. But I was proven wrong! The prices at SM Mall were SO much cheaper here than I’ve seen at any other mall around the world. I bought a new day backpack- that I use everyday- for $4USD. I recommend spending a few hours in this mall and you’ll probably buy more than you are expecting.
4. Party in Mango Square
Mango Square is the center for nightlife in Cebu! All of the city’s best clubs and bars are located in this small compact area. I partied there on Friday and Saturday night and it was a lot of fun. The scene is quite interesting- with lots of young prostitutes and a wide variety of locals and foreigners- but I had a blast going out with the locals. The drinks are extremely cheap, and the cover charge for the clubs were around $5USD and it came with a free drink!
If you want to have some fun in Cebu City, then head to Mango Square at night. It’s located on Mango Avenue near the Fuente Circle and the National Bookstore.
5. Go to Kawasan Waterfalls
Kawasan Waterfalls are located about 2 hours away from Cebu, but it’s absolutely worth the day-trip! I recommend booking the visit with a travel agent (it’s cheap) and they will provide you with transportation and food, etc.
The falls itself are stunningly beautiful. You can jump on a bamboo raft and float along, or just relax and hear the glistening sound of the falls. The water is very cold, so hopefully you get some good sunshine!
6. Walk Down Colon Street
There are thousands of shops here, and everything is extremely cheap. The entire street is busy, dirty and hot, but remind yourself.. You’re in the Philippines! Just be careful and watch your pockets and purses, because people will try to snipe some of your belongings. Also, I recommend going during the daytime beacuse it can get quite dangerous at night. Such a cool and unique experience on Colon!
7. Visit the Basilica del Santo Niño
Santo Niño, or the Basilica of the Holy Child, is an important religious place that was founded in the 16th Century. It is the oldest Roman Catholic Church established in the Philippines, and it was built on the exact spot where the image of Santo Niño de Cebu was found in 1565 by Spanish explorers.
It’s worth checking out, and you might even be able to get inside. I stumbled by this place and somehow found myself in a mass ceremony with thousands of other people. It was crazy!
8. Travel to Oslob to Swim with Sharks
Oslob is an amazing city on the Southern Tip of Cebu Island. It is a little too far for a day trip (3+ hours bus), but I recommend going there for an overnight stay (or even longer) because there are so many cool things to do here.
My favorite thing to do in Oslob was swimming with whale sharks!! Yes, live whale sharks in the water with you, and no cages. It is only like $30USD, and you get to swim with them for 45 minutes. It was SO cool being inches away from them, and these whales are actually harmless (despite the name ‘shark’). You must check it out!
9. Visit Tumalog Waterfalls
I’ve seen a lot of cool nature things in my life, and this absolutely makes my top 3 list. Instead of fast moving water (like most waterfalls I’ve seen), this one sort of trickles down in an interesting way. It’s mesmerizing. I spent like 5 hours here with my friend, bathing in the water, exploring around the rainforest, and taking in the suns rays.
It’s a little difficult to reach the falls. From the main road, you need to take a private car or jump on the back of a motorbike and go up a really steep hill. Of course, you can walk, but it’s a little challenging. Hopefully it’s a hot day so you can enjoy the cold water in the falls!
10. Bargain at Carbon Market
Cebu is home to a large assortment of street markets. The oldest, largest and most famous market is called Carbon, and it’s located in downtown Cebu. I recommend taking a jeepney there (a decked out bus/taxi/jeep) for the experience!
You can buy anything from clothing, to food, to souveneirs and any hand-made goods. The best part? It’s SO CHEAP! Seriously, one of the cheapest markets I’ve ever been to.. Enjoy!
Have you been to Cebu? What was your favorite thing to do?