Cebu City DIY: Exploring the Queen City of the South

It’s time to explore the Queen City of the South, Cebu! Whether you prefer to do it DIY or go with an arranged tour, Cebu City will really impress you. Planning to go to Cebu too? Let’s start, get a piece of paper to draft your own travel itinerary!

The Story

Cebu has been already planned even before our Puerto Princesa, Palawan trip. In fact, we even got our plane tickets first for Cebu before Palawan. 🙂 So that gives us a pro and a con. A pro, we are able to get a round trip ticket w/ pre-selected seats for only Php 750 per person! But the con is, we hurriedly bought the tickets and we ended up having a too short time span for this trip. Anyway, that was a mistake we should not ever repeat. Think twice before getting that cheap ticket next time. However, we managed to utilize the time we got and finally, here it is. We are now ready to share it with you.

The first plan is a tour around Cebu City and Southern Cebu. But our available time will not be enough, provided that we wanted to visit most of the falls and other nature trips Southern Cebu has to offer. So, revising our plans, we decided to do Cebu City and Northern Cebu, specifically, Bantayan Island.

Cebu City

Day 1, 12:30 PM. We arrived in Mactan International Airport just in time for the myBus service leaving the premises. We are lucky not to wait for some more minutes. But, the downside is we are standing for the whole trip! Anyways, it did not take long until we reached SM City Cebu. From SM, we rode a jeepney that will pass by Fort San Pedro. I don’t know how we managed to ride the correct jeepney, but we did. Haha. As you may want to know, jeepneys in Cebu are coded, each code has its own route around the city. I advise you to speak English instead of Tagalog when asking questions specially with the locals. They understand more of English instead of Tagalog.

Fort San Pedro

Panorama Shot of Fort San Pedro

Day 1, 1:30 PM. The conductor told us that we are already here in Fort San Pedro. We unload from the jeepney and started our very first Cebu moment! We don’t know if there are strict traffic rules here but we crossed the pedestrian lane the moment there are no cars passing by. A few steps more, we are in Fort San Pedro. The first thing I did is to take a panorama shot  of the entrance. Mr. Sunshine is very active that day, it’s freaking hot in mid-July. But! That’s a positive, the weather agrees with our plans.

Let me think about history. #fortsanpedro #cebucity

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We toured around the premises and got tired. Few readings inside the museum and we said, we got enough of the historic place (Actually, if you have lots of free time, you can spend a day reading all about history here.) We headed to Sampaguita Suites, our nearby accommodation and prepared for our next adventure.

Entrance Fee: Php 30

Fort San Pedro Gallery

Magellan’s Cross

Day 1, 2:30 PM.  I strategically chosen the hotel that is very accessible on local transport. A plus here is it is also located not more than 100 meters away from the historic Magellan’s Cross!

The place was said to be wherein Ferdinand Magellan started the Christianity in the country. He planted the very first cross in the ground as where the Magellan’s Cross is today.The original cross is also said to be inside the enclosure, the one visible for the public. However, others say that the original cross is not here anymore. Whatever the truth is, it is great to be on this area wherein Christianity started.

Entrance Fee: Free

Magellan’s Cross Gallery

Tip: You can have an unobstructed shot of the cross during the night. 🙂

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu

Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu.

Day 1, 3:00 PM. The church stands just beside Magellan’s Cross. Right after entering the passage, I was astounded by how Cebuanos celebrate the holy mass. Everyone is joyful and really celebrating the event. That is my very first time to attend just a lively mass, it gave me goosebumps at that moment. However, I was not able to complete it as the mass is about to end when we arrived.  We entered the main church, pray for some minutes and got ready to face our next adventure.

Cathedral Gallery

Colon Street

Day 1, 3:30 PM. Colon is the heart of the old Cebu heritage. In Colon Street, you can experience much more of Cebu’s heritage when you go into as what they say, the “Old Cebu Walking Tour“.  Actually, the first three places we went to is already part of the Walking Tour. You can have more of it by going to Rajah Humabon Monument, Heritage of Cebu Monument, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House, Casa Gorordo Museum and Jesuit House Museum. All of these are accessible by walking via Colon.  As much as we like to visit all of these places, we do not have enough time for all. So, with Colon our starting point, we tried our luck again to ride the correct jeepney going to JY Square Mall. I really wish I can go back to Cebu to continue my walking tour. 🙂

JY Square Mall

Day 1, 4:00 PM. After arriving in JY Square Mall, many habal habal (motorbike) drivers will ask where you would want to go. JY Square Mall is the drop-off point in popular destinations around Lahug and Busay, Cebu City like Sirao Flower Garden, Terrazas De Flores, TIEZA Botanical Garden, Tops Lookout, Temple of Leah and Taoist Temple. Unlike via other local transport, the drivers here speak Tagalog, so we didn’t get a hard time dealing with one. I think we got a good deal of Php 800, round trip for two persons to visit four of these places.

Sirao Flower Garden

Day 1, 4:30 PM. Sirao Flower Garden is the farthest and highest point in Busay along Cebu Transcentral Highway. Being that, expect that the road will be steep at times. Wind will also be colder! I must have brought my jacket during our visit! 🙂 There are two Sirao Farm in the area, the ones we visited is the second one (If you are coming from Lahug) that has a windmill.

The garden claims itself to be a little version of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Both gardens have Celosia flowers as their highlights. I can’t speak for the other garden, but visiting Sirao Flower Garden is a must on your list when you visit Cebu.

Entrance Fee: Php 50

The windmill trademark of the Sirao Garden.

Sirao Farm Gallery

Terrazas De Flores

Day 1, 5:30 PM. Terrazas De Flores is the first of its kind here in the Philippines. It was named Terrazas De Flores as it mimics the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao – only that the rice fields are replaced with beautiful flowers.

It is going twilight during our time of visit so I guess I did not experience the place during its best. Flowers are in its full bloom during mornings, that will be the best time to visit Terrazas De Flores. All in all, Terrazas De Flores give us it’s own take on how a garden should be. It is worth the wait as the place was said to be constructed and prepared for many years before it was opened to the public.

Entrance Fee: Php 100

Terraces of flowers.

Terraza’s De Flores Gallery

Tops Lookout

Day 1, 6:30 PM. Tops Lookout gives the best panoramic view of Cebu City. Atop of the Nivel Hills, Tops is the right place and the right time to just stare in the dark with glowing lights of the city like fireflies. Before sunset is the best time to go here as you can enjoy both worlds of day and night.

The place is known for its fortress-like ambiance. Although the busy metropolitan is right in front of us, we can barely hear any noise where we stand on. Tops Lookout is just perfect whenever you want to have a romantic date with someone or to have a peaceful “me” time.

From the circular rooms that forms like a tunnel to the hexagon-shaped blocks of the lawn, Tops Lookout is undeniably a masterpiece sitting 610 meters above Cebu City.

Entrance Fee: Php 100

Tops Lookout Gallery

Temple of Leah

Day 1, 7:30 PM. Temple of Leah brought us back to Roman Empire. It is what it feels upon entering the courtyard. The golden lions, the statues, the granite floors, the beams of foundation, the big bronze statue. Everything is surreal, is it a mistake that I am still in the Philippines? No, because the place is real. It is also comparable to Taj Mahal in India in some aspects. But unlike Taj Mahal as a mausoleum, Temple of Leah is a shrine of a wife’s memory.

Temple of Leah Night Shot.

The temple was constructed in 2012 as a sign of love of Teodorico Adarna for his late wife, Leah Adarna. If you are a Filipino, the family name may sound familiar to you as Teodorico and Leah are the grandparents of an artist, Ellen Adarna.  During our visit, the temple is still on construction as most of its sections will still take years of architectural designing to build on a 5,000 square meter lot. For me, the place is a bit too much as a sign of undying love. However, Temple of Leah will be indeed an undying structure as it was meant to withstand for many many decades for the next generation to see.

Entrance Fee: Php 50

Temple of Leah Gallery

End of Day 1

Day 1 is a tiring but a time worthy adventure of Cebu City. We asked Kuya driver what jeepney can bring us to Rico’s Lechon for us to have our dinner. We are not good on this “jeepney codes” thing. I even forget what it is, is it either 17A or 17B. 😛 Anyway, we found the place but were disappointed because there is no piece of Lechon left for us. We’re a bit pissed off. We just rode another jeepney and took our dinner in McDonalds near Sampaguita Suites.

Day 2: Bantayan Island, Northern Cebu

Guide Map

To make planning easier, we pinned the places to see and other key areas around Cebu City on the map below. You can print or save it for future use:

Unvisited Places

TIEZA Botanical Garden. We wanted to visit this new botanical garden that has celosia flowers beside a lake. However, prior weather conditions did not permit such because the road going to the garden was blocked by debris of landslide. Oh, better to be safe.

Taoist Temple. We omitted this one since we think we are not into Taoism. Don’t take this as a harsh thing but you can visit this also if you have more time. Also, the temple is the nearest tourist spot from JY Square Mall. Being that, this is the most accessible place among all listed in this post.

Expenses Summary

All expenses quoted for two persons.

Transportation:
– myBus (Mactan Airport to SM Cebu, 25 x 2) – 50
– Jeepney (SM Cebu to Fort San Pedro, 8 x 2) – 16
– Jeepney (Colon to JY, 8 x 2) – 16
– Habal-Habal (roundtrip) – 800
– Jeepney (JY to Capitol, 8 x 2) – 16
– Jeepney (Capitol to Sto. Nino, 8 x 2) – 16

Entrance Fees:
– Fort San Pedro (30 x 2) – 60
– Sirao Flower Garden (50 x 2) – 100
– Terrazas De Flores (100 x 2) – 200
– Tops Lookout (100 x 2) – 200
– Temple of Leah (50 x 2) – 100

Subtotal = Php 1574
Per pax = Php 787

Food/Misc:
– Lunch – 184
– Dinner – 197
– Water/Toiletries, etc – 210

Accommodation:
– Sampaguita Suites (Twin Room) – 848

Grand Total = Php 3013
Per pax = Php 1506.50

Extend your Cebu Trip: Bantayan Island, Northern Cebu

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