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Cebu City Travel Guide : Exploring the Queen City of the south

Cebu City Travel guide

Cebu City is a first class city located in the Central Visayas region, the southern part of the Philippines.  It is also the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines. If you’re from Manila you will definitely compare the difference of both cities. It is not surprising why Cebu was dubbed as The Queen City of the South.
Cebu City Travel Guide

The Queen City of the South

First of all, I would like to share with you the reasons why I really like Cebu City. We traveled around the Cebu city throughout the day since it’s the last day of our stay in Cebu and the last tour in our itinerary before we go to Bohol. It’s really a great and memorable experience that is worth to share.

There are so many things in Cebu City that you will definitely miss when you go back to Manila. Food, people, places, their culture, and etc. These are just one of those many reasons why we should visit Cebu at least once. Another thing that I really love in Cebu city is the traffic!! Yes! unlike in Manila which is most of the road was filled with vehicles especially during rush hours, the traffic in Cebu City is not that heavy as you think! I guess it is also because of the population, the population in Cebu city is around 900,000 + while the population in Metro Manila is roughly 13,000,000. You would say that Cebu City is one of the progressive city in the Philippines because of a number of buildings and huge infrastructures that you can see around especially in their Business district like in the Cebu Business Park and Cebu IT Park.

cebu guitars
Another thing I really love in Cebu: you can find a lot of guitars just on the sidewalk ranging from Php 500.00 to Php 3000.00 (Pwede nyo pang tawaran! :D)

Based on the history, the name “Cebu” came from the old Cebuano word “Sibu or sibo”, means trade. It was the shortened word for “sinibuyang hingpit” or the place for trading.  It was originally applied to the harbors of the town of Sugbu, which is the ancient name for Cebu City. The second busiest airport in the Philippines is also located in Cebu, which is the Mactan – Cebu International Airport.

Cebu city is filled with so many beautiful tourist destinations and magnificent attraction that you will surely get in love with Cebu.  So I made this blog post to guide and showcase some of the best tourists destinations in Cebu City, The Cebu City travel guide.

Here is the list of places you should visit in Cebu City.

1. Magellan’s Cross

Magellan’s Cross is located in the heart of Cebu city. The Magellan’s Cross is one of the most popular and famous landmarks in Cebu because of its history. The original Magellan’s cross was encased in a Tindalo Wood to protect from people who get small parts of the cross for a souvenir or in the belief that the cross possesses miraculous power.

Cebu City travel guide
Magellan’s Cross

Cebu City Travel Guide

Cebu City Travel Guide

The cross is placed inside the mini chapel next to Basilica Minore del Santo Niño or commonly known as Santo Niño Basilica. The Santo Niño Basilica was built on the image of Santo Niño was found.

Magellan's Cross in Cebu
Santo Niño Church
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cebu travel guide
Santo Niño Basilica entrance

Cebu City Travel Guide
Colorful candles under the Magellan’s Cross

Cebu City Travel Guide

In front of the cross, you can see the Cebu City Hall.

VIEW ON MAP

HOW TO GET THERE

Magellan’s cross is very accessible, I asked some locals there and they said that there are a lot of jeepneys in Cebu City that passes through the Cebu city hall which just in front of the Santo Niño church and Magellan’s Cross.  Another option is a taxi. Grab is also operating in Cebu City so I can give you a referral link so your ride can be discounted. Once you signed up using our referral link, you will get ₱ 40.00 discount.

For Grab, just click this link https://invite.grab.co/aj49058 

2. Temple of Leah

Another stunning landmark and one of the newest attraction in Cebu is the Temple of Leah. This Greek architecture inspired design was constructed in 2012 and located in Roosevelt Street Barangay Busay, Cebu City.

Temple of leah cebu

temple of leah in cebu

Temple of Leah: Made of love

The Temple of Leah symbolizes the exceptional and undying love of Mr. Teodorico Adarna to his wife Leah V. Albino-Adarna.

Temple of Leah in Cebu

I remembered the story of the Nebuchadnezzar II, a Chaldean king of Neo-Babylonian empire who built Hanging Garden of Babylon also to his wife Queen Amytis and the Taj Mahal of India built to immortalize the love and memory of the wife of Shah Jahan. These buildings are just an example of what a man can do for love.

Photo courtesy of TempleOfLeah Facebook Fan page.

At the deck of the temple, you can see the astonishing view of Cebu City.

The Doric order design of pillars is huge. The design is easy to recognize since it is the simplest among the three Greek architecture style.

Cebu city guide
There are two huge lions guarding the temple at each side of the stair.
Temple of Leah Cebu
Temple of leah
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Inside the temple, you can see the 10ft tall bronze statue of Queen Leah Albino Adarna wearing a crown and holding a flower. The Temple of Leah has an art museum, gallery, and library where all of the lifetime collections of Leah Albino-Adarna are showcased in the 24 chambers of this temple principally for the members of the family who cherish her memory.

Temple of Leah Cebu

Going to Greece or Rome will surely cost a lot of money and would take years for most of us to afford it. So, why not to visit Temple of Leah first? I’m sure you will definitely feel that you are in the ancient Greece and Rome.

Temple of Leah is still under construction but tourists are already welcome to visit the temple.

Entrance fee: P50 per person

Visiting hours: 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Contact Number: (032) 233-5032

 VIEW ON MAP

HOW TO GET THERE

  • From Cebu proper, ride a jeepney at the University of San Carlos in front of Jollibee.(Fare: ₱ 8.00)
  • Drop off at JY Square
  • Ride another jeepney going to Busay (₱ 10.00)
  • Drop off at the mountain view highway intersection.
  • Take a walk going to Temple of Leah.

Via Habal – Habal

  • Ride a habal-habal from JY Square going to Temple of Leah(Fare: ₱ 50 – ₱100.00)

Taxi

You can also hail a taxi or Grab. I can share you a referral link to get ₱40.00 discount, just click this link https://invite.grab.co/aj49058

3. Taoist Temple

Taoist Temple Cebu

The Cebu Taoist Temple is another one of the famous tourist attraction in Cebu City. This non-catholic shrine in Cebu is very popular because of its design and proximity to the city proper. The Taoist temple was built by the Chinese community in 1972, located in Beverly Hills Subdivision. The architectural design was derived from the typical multi-tiered Taoist temples in China, this temple has an elevation of 300 meters above sea level. Non-worshipers are also welcome to enter the temple. The view of the modern and crowded city of Cebu that can be seen from the temple is spectacular.

Always observe silence and attain holiness in every part of the temple.

taoist temple view

A telescope on the balcony of the temple that you can be used to see a much clear view of the city.

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Taoist temple
Taoist Temple Cebu

THE TEMPLE DESIGN

The first thing I noticed is the entrance and the pathway going up to the temple seem like a replica of Great Wall of China. The temple is painted with the color green and red from the stair up to the roof of the temple. You can see that in every corner of the roof of the temple has a Chinese dragon acts like a guardian or protector of the temple. The Chinese character is written on every beam and pillar of the temple.

Temple in cebu

 

Chinese dragons are placed in every corner of the roof, their green and yellow color and the color of the blue skies complementing each other which can be seen from the base of the temple.

Taoist Temple Cebu

On the upper part, you can see a stack of the umbrella-like temple. This temple is another prayer room and it’s bigger than the main temple building. As same as the main temple, every beam and pillar have a regular style Chinese calligraphy is written on it. The temple is wooden-framed and has garden structures. The Quiet and holiness of the place provide an unblemished environment in which devotees can cultivate their inner selves.

PHOTOS

Taoist temple
A big Bagua in Taoist temple
The multi-tiered temple at the back
Taoist Temple Cebu
Chinese Dragon: The guardians of the temple

INSIDE THE TEMPLE

Actually, taking photos inside the temple is highly prohibited because for the devotees, it is so divine and holy. You are only allowed to take photos outside the complex. Since I can’t provide photos, I will share a bit what you can see inside the temple. In the center, you can see the main altar with drawings of their goddess, a long table and a pot where joss stick is placed. There’s a row of pillows placed on the floor which would help you to kneel down to ask some guidance and prayers.

COMMUNICATING WITH GOD

Taoism procedures by using a pair of kidney-shaped wooden blocks as a medium to communicate with god for your questions, problems, or wish.

  1. First of all, you must wash your hands to represent cleanliness
  2. Light a joss stick, then kneel down by holding a joss stick with both hands and pray for guidance to enlighten your problem or wish
  3. Hold a pair of blessed wooden blocks, flat side up with both hands.
  4. Ask your question, problem or wish in a simple manner.(one question at a time)
  5. Drop the wooden blocks gently to the floor and your answer will be according to its position.

1 Flat, 1 half-round is equal to YES, 2 half rounds are equal to NO and 2 flats is equal to MAYBE.

I tried to ask for some prayers since  Aj that time is in the hospital and have a sick. But before you ask question, prayers, and wishes, you must ask God first if you are accepted to communicate with him. Luckily, when I dropped the wooden blocks, the position is 1 flat and 1 half-round which means yes!

VISITING HOURS

Based on the schedule posted in the temple, it is open from Monday to Sunday from 9 AM – 5 PM. The admission is free of charge and non-worshipers are also welcome to enter the temple. They are very strict when it comes to dressing. Like in Simala church and other temple and church around the world. Shorts and sleeveless are not allowed if you want to enter the main worship temple.

Cebu Travel guide

VIEW ON MAP

HOW TO GET THERE

Taoist temple is also accessible by taxi. I researched about the transportation here in Taoist temple and unfortunately, they say that there is no public transportation directly outside the temple. You must inform the driver to make your ride round-trip. But if you are lucky enough, you can get a taxi by waiting to pass outside the gate. But if not, you have to walk down the hill towards the main road.

Another option is to get a package tour or a day tour van around the city of Cebu, I highly recommend it because it is less hassle.

4. Sirao Farm

Sirao farm Cebu


This place was dubbed as the “Mini Amsterdam” since Amsterdam in Netherlands is popular for their beautiful flower gardens. This tourist attraction is a very famous garden in Cebu, The Sirao Flower Garden located at Sitio Tawagan, Barangay Sirao just a few minutes drive from JY Square in Cebu city.

 

Sirao farm Cebu

Most of the flower that you can see in Sirao farm is called Celosia,  the name of this flame-like flower was derived from the Ancient Greek word “kḗleos” which means burning. The Celosia have different colors, some colors are red, orange, purple, pink and some are yellow.

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flowers in Sirao farm
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Sirao farm

There are other varieties of flowers grown on the farm aside from Celosia such as Sun Flower, tulips, daisy, etc that makes the surroundings so amazing, beautiful and instagramalbe.

sun flower sirao farm
Sun Flower

You may also try their ATV ride for just ₱ 100.00 (30 minutes). (We didn’t rent that ATV, that was only for pictorial purposes hahaha)

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Sirao farm
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BEST TIME TO VISIT

  • The peak season is April –  May, and October – November.
  • This place is best to visit when sunny day so you can take a perfect picture of the flowers.
  • Best time to visit Sirao Farm is when the sun is up, don’t go there when it’s already 5:00 pm, the closing time I think is 6:00 PM

VIEW ON MAP

HOW TO GET THERE

Just like what I said in my previous post about Cebu, we have a tour package which is included a van Transpo. So this guide is based only on my research, so then, I could help you if you don’t have any package tour in Cebu.

There are two options to get in Sirao farm.

First is Taxi, second is habal-habal(Single motorcycle).

  • From any point of the city, you can ride a taxi or jeepney going to JY in Lahug, Cebu city.
  • Then from JY Square, you can ride a Habal-habal, they say the fare is more or less ₱ 300.00 per person(I don’t think if it’s back and forth) just ask the locals around 🙂

5. FORT SAN PEDRO

Aside from the Spanish cuartel in Oslob,  there is another amazing Spanish structure that you can be found in Cebu, located near the Plaza Independencia, in the pier area of Cebu City. While there are several Spanish structures were built around the country the Fort San Pedro is known as the smallest and the oldest fort in the Philippines since Cebu is where the first Spanish settlement took place. The purpose of Fort San Pedro that’s why it was built it’s because it serves as a military defense and also used as a prison for local rebels during the time of the Philippine Revolution.

Fort San pedro

This fort is rich in history and was built by Spanish and Cebuano laborers in 1565, but the present fort was constructed in 1738. Prior to the reclamation of the port area, only one side of the port was on land – the other two sides were heavily armed facing the sea. Almost 500 years later, the brick wall is still good and remained intact.

fort san pedro entrance
If you look closely, there’s a Santo Niño placed on the top of the entrance of Fort San Pedro

Fort san pedro cebu guide

Cebu tour
Fort san pedro
inside the fort san pedro

Inside the Fort, you can see a museum and gallery that shows the history of Cebu and the fort San Pedro in the past.

A huge painting of Lapu-Lapu inside Fort San Pedro
Magellan cebu
Portrait of Miguel Lopez De Legaspi near the entrance of Fort San Pedro

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Fort San Pedro is just 8-10 minutes away from our hotel(San Marino Residences).

HOW TO GET THERE

Fort San Pedro is close to the Pier area of Cebu city. If you are already on the pier you can take a walk going to Fort San Pedro. It is very accessible from any point of the city like the other destinations I mentioned above.

So from any point of the city, you can ride a jeepney(Php 7.50) going to Colon Street, and ask the driver to drop you off at the Plaza Independencia. If you want to hail a taxi we have a referral code in Grab, just click this link https://invite.grab.co/aj49058 so you can get a discount when you sign up.

 

For a more detailed guide on how to go to Cebu tourist spots. You can visit this site. https://goo.gl/PQGs4l

You may also want to book to Cebu City Tour to avoid overpricing.


Thanks for reading

I hope this Cebu city travel guide will help you 🙂

You might also want to read our Cebu Adventure series

Don’t forget to share to Facebook, Twitter or other social media so other may benefit as well 🙂

If you found errors, email us at @[email protected]

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About Benjoe Vidal

Benjoe Vidal is a full-time software engineer, part-time travel blogger, and a Hobbyist Photographer. Aside from writing codes he also loves to share and write his travel experiences. He hates describing himself and writing in third person. He is the guy behind this travel blog.
View all posts by Benjoe Vidal →

19 thoughts on “Cebu City Travel Guide : Exploring the Queen City of the south

  1. Thanks for this intro to Cebu! I will visit later this year and had no idea what to expect. Interesting that most of the sights seem to be rather recent — much in contrast to what I’ve seen so far on my Asian explorations.

    Can’t wait to visit!

    Happy continued travels!
    Carola

    1. Thanks Carola! Aside from that, there’s a lot of interesting places and amazing tourists spots you would want to visit when you come here in Cebu 🙂 I hope your trip would be great!

  2. Hi, great travel tips and travel spots you indicated for Cebu!
    As you describe it, it looks like a mix of cultures with a lot to explore: Temple of Leah in Greece style, the Taoist Temple with Chinese decorations, Sirao Farm with the beautiful flowers that look like the ones you find in the Keukenhof gardens in Holland. I’m from Europe, and North America is for not the only place to have traveled outside Europe, but I’m glad to have found you post to motivate me to go and explore more!
    Happy travels!

    1. Thanks Lulia! I can say that Cebu city is one of the places that should be in your bucket list when you visit the Philippines 🙂 That’s right, mix of cultures with a lot to explore! Thank you Lulia!

  3. I love the temples! and I love that you are able to pray to God. The Temple of Leah does look like Greece style! Your pictures are beautiful! I think i would want to rent an ATV haha

    happy travels!

  4. I am planning a trip to the Phillipines soon.. I don’t really like cities but Cebu looks interesting. Your pictures are lovely as well!

  5. Everything is so colorful, especially the temple! I haven’t been to Asia yet but I’m itching to go and am going to try to make it over next year! Hopefully I’ll be able to go to the Philippines! I’ve never even heard of Cebu but it looks incredible!

  6. Your picture qualities are amazing! This looks like paradise and I LOVE that you included the interactive maps on your article, very helpful!

  7. We didn’t had enough time to do a city tour since we visited the southern part of Cebu and partied at Sinulog when we travelled there 🙁 But that just means more reasons to come back! Awesome list! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. I’d love to visit all the temples! The architecture looks so great and there’s quite a lot of nature there as well. Thanks for the info, it makes much easier to orient on the place.

  9. Yah! with about 7,641 island in the Philippines, Cebu is just one of a kind and a very nice place that should be on your travel bucket list when you visit Philippines, thank you Sara 🙂

  10. This is such an informative post! I almost booked a flight to Cebu once (read as: actually booked the flight and then frantically cancelled when I realised how far off I was!) because I didn’t check the airport codes properly, and now I’m kind of wishing I’d actually gone! It seems there’s a ridiculous amount of things to do and see – far more than I thought!
    I’m hoping to visit the Philippines in early 2018 so I’ll have to come back to this post for ideas when it’s more set in stone.

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