Wandering Cebu: What to Expect on Your Revenge Travel this 2022
Itching to travel again? Now’s the best time to catch a good travel deal. Philippine Airlines (PAL) recently launched an anniversary seat sale to celebrate its 81st anniversary. And the best place to travel? Cebu. It’s the most ideal destination to go to as of the moment because resorts and hotels are currently offering discounted packages–perfect for a budget-friendly trip.
Exciting offers from PAL
Aside from PAL’s seat sale, they’re set to roll out exciting digital innovations for their customers. One is the enhanced Hiraya Flight Pass, the first and only customizable and shareable flight travel pass in the domestic travel industry. Another one is a new Dear PAL Gift Card with unique features to watch out for. Lastly, they’ll have a revamped mobile-first website featuring a fresh new interface and smoother experience that will enable passengers to access services they need with fewer clicks!
To mark the occasion, PAL and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) invited travel writers and social media influencers to join an 8-day familiarization tour (fam tour) to rediscover three well-loved island destinations: Boracay in Aklan, Cebu City, and Coron in Palawan. The tour puts a spotlight on TPB-recommended attractions, activities, and experiences that echo how #ItsMoreFuninthePhilippines and #ItsMoreFunWithYou.
After our Boracay revenge travel, we left our hotel for our early morning flight to the Queen City of the South, Cebu.
Day 3 – Welcome to Cebu!
Upon arrival at the Mactan International Airport, our first stop was, of course, lechon. We headed to Rico’s Lechon branch in Mandaue City. The chain is famous for its best-tasting, crispy Cebu Carcar Lechon that comes in two flavors–original and spicy. Aside from the star of the meal, we had Pancit Bam-i, also known as Pancit Bisaya. This flavorful dish is made with a mix of pancit canton and sotanghon noodles, topped with shrimp and meat. We also had pinakbet and pork sinigang to complete the filling lunch.
After having a feast at Rico’s Lechon, we proceeded to the posh Shangri-La Mactan, our home for three nights on Mactan Island in Cebu.
Once dubbed as the Philippines’ largest resort, Shangri-La Mactan covers 13 hectares of land. The resort has 530 well-appointed guest rooms and suites, its own private man-made beach cove, two outdoor swimming pools, a 6-hole golf course, and its very own 6-hectare marine sanctuary, home to over 100 species of fish and corals.
Aside from the amenities which I immensely enjoyed, the highlight of my stay was my own suite. I stayed in room 7115 which was spacious and fragrant, made fancier by my very own veranda facing a garden view, infinity pool, and the ocean from afar. My room has its own Nespresso machine and a fast internet connection which were both very helpful as I needed to finish some tasks that day. I devoured their complimentary pastry given to guests after checking in to pair my cup of coffee.
What I liked the most about Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is their conscious effort to promote and practice environmentally friendly energy conservation measures. They provide refillable glass water bottles to avoid the use of plastic water bottles, and they also use refillable containers for their liquid soap, shampoo, and hair conditioners.
For dinner, we had a welcome party in the garden which was also attended by PAL Marketing, Partnerships & Events Manager Kit Javier, DOT Central Visayas Supervising Tourism Operations Officer Judilyn Quiachon, PAL Sr. Assistant Vice President for Sales Harry Inoferio, Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu General Manager Dave Junker, DOT Central Visayas Regional Director Shalimar Tamano, Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu Director of Sales and Marketing Melissa Ann Santiago, and TPB Public Relations Officer IV Febbie Alacapa.
Suffice to say, my stay here definitely made my travel memorable, thanks to the unparalleled luxury the hotel offered.
Day 4 – More mouthwatering food, history, and a cooking demo
Thanks to the comfortable bed and plush pillows, I had a good night’s sleep. I’ve been looking forward to waking up in the morning for two reasons: the glorious sunrise from my veranda and the breakfast buffet. I’m a big fan of breakfast buffets and Shangri-La Mactan has always been on the top of my list in Cebu. Their breakfast spread contains a wide variety of hearty dishes, from slices of bread to salads, Filipino food, dim sum, and noodles. To put an end to my power breakfast, I had suman, a glutinous rice cake, and sikwate (hot chocolate).
I spent my early morning free time walking near the beach before we gathered at the lobby for our lunch at the popular Pig and Palm restaurant. Owned by Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton, the upscale restaurant offers beautifully-curated and delicious meals.
For starters, they served their best-selling Brioche paired with onion jam and thyme butter. We also had a mildly sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken, which was uniquely served with kimchi-flavored ketchup.
But my favorite among all is their poached grouper sitting on a bed of parsley Adlai. It had gruyere crust and balsamic caviar on top of the grouper which made the dish all the more delectable.
The confit pork belly was served next, drizzled with apple caramel sauce. It was sweet and tender, served with broccoli and caramelized onions on the side.
For dessert, we had Banoffee Souffle with chocolate sauce and chocolate sorbet on the side. It was the perfect sweet treat to end our lunch feast. For me, it was the best lunch we’ve had so far.
After lunch, it was time for us to burn some calories. We visited the popular Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House. The house is all that remains of Parian street in the 1600s. It was built before the 17th century and was formerly known as “Balay nga Bato ug Kahoy,” but is now widely popular by the name Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.
Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is one of the oldest of its kind in this region. The exact location of this ancient house is along Mabini Street in Parian. Expert historians claim that the house was evidently built in the year 1675.
After braving the heat and exploring the oldest house in Cebu, we headed to the Chocolate Chamber located inside Robinsons Galleria Cebu. As soon as you step into the cafe you are hit by the intense fragrance of the cacao that emanates from the various chocolate products they have on display.
We also had the privilege to meet Raquel Choa, Cebu’s Chocolate Queen. They also have an in-house chocolate expert that explains everything about chocolate, from how their chocolate is processed and transformed into a finished product. The small shop has a full assortment of hand-crafted cacao products for pasalubong.
It was already dark when we arrived at the event place for our next activity– dinner and cooking demo at one of the most popular wedding venues in Cebu, called Circa 1900.
Circa 1900 is actually a well-maintained old house. As a person who appreciates ancient architecture, it was a delight for me to see that antique houses are being repurposed without losing their charm.
The cooking demo featured tulob uswa – a popular Cebuano street food that originated in the Pasil neighborhood of Cebu City. Its main ingredients are pork liver and brain, sautéed with garlic, onions, shrimp paste, and chilis. Tulob uswa is best paired with steaming hot rice for a satisfying meal.
After the cooking demo, we had a sumptuous dinner. They served chicken binakol, crispy pata, mixed vegetables, calamares, sisig, and baby back ribs. For dessert, we had ice cream and slices of assorted cakes.
Day 5 – A Day with Music and Nature
We started our day with the usual buffet breakfast at the hotel. We were given free time in the morning, then we gathered at the lobby for our lunch at Abalone Buffet Restaurant inside Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark. Abalone, regarded as one of the best buffet places in Mactan, offers a buffet spread that consists of Japanese food, salads, bread, pizza and pasta, and fruits and dessert section. It was the perfect lunch for those who want a variety of flavors to try. With more than 300 seats, the place is recommended for those traveling in big groups.
Our next stop was at the famous guitar factory in Mactan called Alegre Guitars, owned and managed by musician and luthier, Fernando “Bebot” Allegre. The factory has been in operation for many generations already and was passed over to him by his parents.
This place was quite memorable for me as this is actually where I bought my first ever guitar. I had hoped to learn how to play the instrument but due to my busy schedule, I figured to just give it as a gift to a friend of mine. But since the pandemic started, I had the urge to learn how to play the guitar this time around. I didn’t have one anymore, so our visit to Alegre Guitars was the perfect opportunity for me. I finally bought one, and I chose the type of acoustic guitar, with the type of wood, color, and texture I prefer. Here’s to hoping I can learn the basics very soon!
From Lapu Lapu City, we went off to Balamban to visit a beautiful hanging garden. Regarded as the “Little Tagaytay of Cebu,” the road leading to the garden is quite an adventure. It was drizzling and foggy when we visited the place but as soon as we arrived, it was surprisingly colder outside compared to when we were in the car.
The hanging flower garden is called Buwakan ni Alejandra, one of Cebu’s newest tourist attractions. I didn’t quite expect that the place would look so majestic in real life. The garden was filled with colorful flowers which were a feast for the eye. It’s truly a must-see destination, especially for photo shoots!
Our last stop was at Liel’s Kitchen for dinner. Liel’s Kitchen serves modern Japanese dishes. It’s situated about 20-25 minutes away from Cebu City Proper within the compound of Serenity Farm and Resort. We sampled a wide array of gyoza, maki rolls, tempura, and ramen. With good food and a great panoramic view of the Busay mountains, this spot is definitely a must-visit on your next trip to Cebu.
Our fun-filled 5-day Cebu fam tour getaway is definitely a memory to treasure. I enjoyed every stop, and what I loved the most about it was that we had plenty of time to unwind and savor the moment without the rush.
A Hassle-free Cebu trip
The trip was made convenient and hassle-free, thanks to Global Access Travel and Tours. Contact Jick Dizon at [email protected] which I personally recommend. For safe and secure travels, make sure to book with trusted tour operators with DOT and TPB accreditations.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) marks its 81st anniversary with a stronger commitment to fly forward as a renewed flag carrier, better positioned to bring passengers to more exciting destinations locally and globally as the world opens up for tourism once again.
To revive wanderlust and confidence in traveling, PAL will be working closely with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, the marketing and promotions arms of the Department of Tourism (DOT), in assuring travelers that the tourism industry is ready to welcome them and is well equipped with all the needed safety measures and health protocols.
Cebu City Travel Requirements
For fully vaccinated individuals:
- Valid photo ID with signature
- Vaccination Card with QR Code/Vaccination Certificate
For unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals:
- Valid photo ID with signature
- Negative RT-PCR Test Result from any DOH-accredited laboratories taken within seventy-two (72) hours; or
- Negative Antigen/ Saliva Test Result from any DOH-accredited laboratories taken within forty-eight (48) hours
How to get to Cebu
Philippine Airlines flies Cebu-Manila-Cebu 9 times daily. Travel time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Other cities with flights to Cebu include Tokyo for international flight, and Bacolod, Busuanga, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Boracay, Clark, Davao, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Siargao, Tacloban, and Zamboanga. For more flight information, visit Philippine Airlines’ website.
Read: Manila Travel Requirements