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Big Jim's Philippines Experience
Metro Cebu Tour
For my walking tour of DownTown Cebu City,
go to the bottom of the page
For ideas on what to see on a tour of Metro Cebu, watch my Cebu City tour video, on Youtube.
There is a Cebu
City, A Cebu island, A Cebu Province and a Metro Cebu.
On the tour, you could visit a casino or a a duty free shop. So, before you leave home, you should make sure you have everything you need such as camera and passport and are appropriately dressed for the places you want to visit. That is, if you are male, you will need to be wearing long pants and shoes to enter the casino. You will need your passport for duty free purchases and as it is likely to be hot, have shorts to change into. Not many public toilets have toilet paper, so it is a good idea to bring some of your own. Also, it is a good idea to bring water to keep you hydrated.
A good place to start a Cebu City tour is Casa Gorordo, a historical home in downtown Cebu City.
Casa Gorordo is the home of the first Filipino bishop. It is set up as it would have been in the late nineteenth century. You will see many interesting artefacts there including furniture from the period and Filipino art. Unfortunately, they do not allow photos. Casa Gorordo has toilets and a small admission fee. For a small extra fee, usually you can have a guided tour of the casa.
The pier area is close to Casa Gorordo. So, after Casa Gorordo, pass through the pier area. There is a road along the waterfront. To get onto the road, go to pier one. From pier one, drive along to pier three. Along this road, you will see many different and interest types of boats and ships.
After checking out the shipping, head back to near Pier 1. That is where you will find Fort San Pedro.
Fort San Pedro is the first site of Spanish/Western occupation in the Philippines. Originally the fort was made of wood but was converted to stone some years later. Laying around the fort you will see old cannons. The fort also contains a museum with historical Spanish and Filipino artefacts. One room has a model of the San Diego which sunk in 1600 plus pieces recovered from the San Diego. There is no filming in the museum but you can film the rest of the fort. There are postcards and souvenirs for sale. The fort has public toilets and a small admission fee.
In front of Fort San Pedro is the Plaza Independencia. Most of the time it is relatively empty. On Sundays, many people on their day off will hang out there. It has a tunnel running underneath that completes the coastal road connection from Talisay City to Cebu City via the SRP (South Road Properties). Next to Plaza Independencia is Malacaņang of the South
From Malacaņang of the South, you can walk or ride to the Cebu City Hall. Near this spot are located the Magellan's cross, The Basilica Minore del Sto. Niņo (locally called Sto. Niņo Basilica) and the Sto. Niņo Basilica museum.
Magellan's Cross was originally planted by Ferdinand Magellan on 21st April 1521. Because of it's delicate nature, it is now encased in tindalo wood. The building housing the cross has a mural painted on the ceiling depicting the planting of the cross. For those history buffs with an eye for detail, you will notice that the cross in the mural is lashed together while a painting housed in Fort San Pedro depicting the same scene has the cross nailed together. There is no entrance fee to see the cross however there is a donation box and expect to be accosted by numerous vendors trying to sell belts, candles, guitars and more.
The Sto. Niņo Basilica has no entrance fee. There is a donation box as you enter and there is a donation box if you want to use their candles. The candles available from the basilica are designed for use with the candle holders. Don't bother with the candles for sale by the touts as they look silly burning away beside the rest. The inside of the church has many interesting artworks, statues and decorations to see. It also houses the Sto. Niņo, a doll of the baby Jesus. Expect a long line up to view the doll and touch or wipe the glass casing housing it. Many Filipinos will spend a short time in front of it praying. Filming inside the Basilica is up to your conscience. I personally would not film inside the basilica. There are public toilets available and a shop for buying all your Catholic necessities. The attached Museum contains many Filipino historical artefacts including clothing for the Sto. Niņo doll from hundreds of years past plus some artwork. The museum has a small entrance fee but no filming is allowed. If you are not religious, stay away from here at special religious times such as Easter, Christmas and Sinulog on the third Sunday in January. The crowds are absolutely massive and you will wait in huge lines just to get inside and then maybe not see anything.
After Sto. Niņo Basilica, drive through the historic Carbon market area.
The Carbon Markets have been in existence since at least the nineteenth century and maybe hundreds of years longer. They sell all sorts of goods there from fresh food to clothing and religious items. You can also dine there very cheaply. Keep your cameras ready for the Kalesas (horse drawn carriages, also known as Tartanillas). The Kalesas are very rare elsewhere in Cebu City but are used regularly in the Carbon market are for moving passengers and goods.
After the Carbon Market area, pass by Fuente Osmeņa (the circle on Osmeņa Boulevarde) and the Capitol building on your way to the Taoist Temple. I don't stop at the Capitol building or Fuente Osmena but passing this way is a more scenic and more interesting than any other on the way to the Taoist temple.
The Taoist temple is located on Canon Road in Beverly Hills which is where some of the richest people in Cebu City live. Before you can get near the temple, you have to pass a gate with guard. He will take the license of the driver and hand it back as you leave. To get the best view of the temple you start at the bottom however the temple has many steps. Special arrangements are in place for disabled guests wanting to visit the temple. You enter at what I would call the middle level of the temple complex from Third Street. On the middle level is the main temple, toilets and a shop. The upper level has more temples and some small pools with a fountain. The temple complex has no entrance fee but there are donation boxes. You can burn incense in the temples. There is no filming allowed inside each individual temple but filming from outside is ok. Also, they expect you to keep quiet as this is a religious complex.
After the Taoist temple, proceed to the Top, which is a lookout overlooking Talisay City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Mactan Island and more. On a clear day, you can see the islands of Leyte and Bohol. You can ring the friendship bell at the Top. Ring 3 times for everlasting friendship The Top has about P100 entrance for visitors and a smaller fee for locals. It has public toilets, tables and chairs for dining and small store for buying drinks and snacks.
From the Top, proceed to the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug. The hotel used to contain two duty free shops but the supermarket style duty free shop has now been transferred to the SM Mall North Wing. It still contains one duty free shop (the duty free shops are where you will need your passport if you want to make purchases). The Waterfront also has the US consulate and a casino which has a dress code. If you want to look inside the casino, you will need to wear long pants, shoes and a shirt with sleeves. Because it is usually hot while touring, you may want to wear shorts on the tour and carry long pants to change into. There is an entrance fee for the casino but no entrance fee otherwise. There are public toilets in the lobby of the hotel. The small picture below shows the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, taken from the Top. It is the white building which looks like a castle.
After the Waterfront hotel, go past, or drop into the Ayala mall and/or the SM Mall. Perhaps choose one of the malls to have lunch. Ayala Mall has a new terrace section with many quality dining choices at a reasonable price. Certainly the price will be well below what you would pay for an equivalent meal in a westernised country.
These are the two biggest malls in Cebu City and are both entertainment hubs with restaurants, children's entertainment, cinemas, including an Imax theatre and usual mall shopping. The SM mall also has a 10 pin bowling alley and a fun centre with bump cars (dodgem cars). The Ayala Mall has a small food court with low cost dining options while the SM mall's food court is much larger and has many more low cost dining options.
From the malls, proceed through Mandaue City across the old bridge to Lapu-Lapu City where you can visit guitar factories. Some of the guitar factories, such as Alegre, show you how they make the guitars. After the guitars, head off to the Lapu-Lapu monument. The Lapu-Lapu monument is situated at the site where Lapu-Lapu's warriors defeated the troops of Ferdinand Magellan in a battle on 27th April 1521 in which the explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, was himself killed. You can see a depiction of the battle, a statue of Lapu-lapu erected by Filipinos and a monument to Ferdinand Magellan erected in the nineteenth century.
There is no actual fee to enter the shrine area but there are donation boxes. The shrine area has public toilets.
Near the Lapu-Lapu monument are many shell vendors selling an assortment of shell souvenirs. There are also small stores for buying snacks and drinks.
Cross over the new bridge on your way back home.
The tour should take about 8 hours with lunch.
I used to be a partner in a tourism business in Cebu City and we ran tours of Cebu, including the above Cebu City Tour. Our driver for the tours was Danny Noy. Danny is a taxi driver of many years experience and has proved himself to be very reliable. Danny has his own business now. If you would like someone to take you around on the tour, Danny would be an excellent choice. Danny's website is here.
Original page created for www.cebutours.com by Jim Sibbick with assistance from Paul Petrea
The first 7 places listed on the tour are situated in downtown Cebu City. Use this map to help you locate all of them. Click on the map to enlarge it.
The map is courtesy of Ezi Maps (United Tourist Promotions) +63 45 6257708
If you would like an original Cebu City map, order one online from their website
For Downtown Cebu City
Use the above map to assist you in locating all the sites.
Click on the map to enlarge it.
For your walking tour,
It is an easy walk.
Distance to walk from Pier One to Casa Gorordo is about 2 kilometres or a bit more than a 1 mile.
How long it takes will be completely up to you! If you take the time to stop and read every sign and look at every artefact, it will take all day. If you want to just breeze past everything, you may take as little as an hour. I have personally tested the route several times. By myself and in a group. In a group, the tour was 4 hours, with a 40 minute lunch stop at Sunburst, which is a restaurant near the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. It specialises in fried chicken but has many other cheap dining choices. If you want to go to Sunburst, turn left into Legaspi Street instead of turning right, after walking along Zamora Street.
From Casa Gorordo, if it is inconvenient to walk back to your accommodation, walk back to Colon. There are many taxis on Colon that will use the meter. Do not walk back to Pier 1, even though you will have noticed many taxis there. The taxis at Pier 1 will not usually use the meter.
However, if you want to walk back to Pier 1, continue along L Jaena Street to the end. Turn right into M.J. Cuenco Avenue. Walk along M.J. Cuenco Avenue to the Plaza Independencia. Turn Left into the Legaspi Extension and walk down to pier 1. The total length of this trip, from Pier 1 back to Pier 1, will be about 3 kilometres or 2 miles.
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