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Cebu is an hour's flight away from Manila. Cebu is a long narrow island stretching 225 kilometers from north to south. It is surrounded by 167 neighboring smaller islands, that includes Mactan Island, Bantayan, Malapascua, Olango, and the Camotes Islands.

Cebu City, its capital, also known as the Queen City of the South, is the oldest and second most important city in terms of business and tourism in the country. Cebu’s top tourist draws are its world-class beach resorts. Metropolitan Cebu is also composed of the adjoining cities of Mandaue and Lapu-lapu. Cebu is the Country’s oldest Spanish settlement, dating from 1565 when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi established a permanent habitation first known as Santissimo Nobre de Jesus. It was actually the capital of the new city of Manila, was established in Luzon in 1517.

Mactan International Airport, Cebu
Magellan's Cross in Cebu City

There are many places of interest in Cebu City. One is “Magellan's Cross” which was named after Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who came to Cebu in the early 1500s. Pieces of the original cross are believed to be encased in the present cross. The monument is just across the street from the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. It used to be the only Catholic Basilica in East Asia. The basilica houses the famous “Santo Niño” the patron saint of the Cebuanos. Other historical relics are Fort San Pedro and Colon Street, the oldest in the country.

Fuente Osmeña is a favorite city promenade, while the Taoist Temple at Beverly Hills and Tops Lookout at Busay offers spectacular views of the city. Notable museums include Casa Gorordo (a restored 19th-century house), University of San Carlos Museum, and the Jumalon Butterfly Museum, which features artworks made entirely from butterfly wings.

Lapu-Lapu Monument at Punta Engano
Lapu-Lapu Monument marker at Punta Engano
Magellan Monument at Punta Engano
Mactan Battle

The booming metropolis is also home to several modern shopping malls and a sprawling business park. Mactan Island is home to the Lapu-Lapu Monument and the much older Magellan Monument at Punta Engano, both near the traditional battle site between the two historical figures. The island’s famed beach resorts are located at the island’s eastern coast, just half an hour away from Mactan International Airport.

Cebu’s other attractions can be found both south and north of Metro Cebu as well as in the surrounding seas. Carcar has many colonial houses (especially its restored Bahay na Tisa) and the Moorish-style Church of St. Catherine. Notable beaches can be found in Argao and Dalaguetec the former also has a splendid 8th-century church. Montalongon is the Little Baguio of Cebu with its upland vegetable and flower farms.

Boljoon’s well-preserved Church of St. Willam is now a national cultural treasure. At the southern tip is Sumilon Island, site of the country’s first marine reserve with its coral reefs; adjoining Tanon Strait is a whale and dolphin habitat. On the west coast is Moalboal one of the country’s most popular dive sites; its top sites are Panagsama Beach and Pescador Island. Badian Island has white sand beaches. In Matutinao is Kawasan Falls with its natural pools.

Samboan has Escala de Jacob, an impressive hilltop watchtower. Balamban is the site of a national park. The road north leads to Danao, famous for its paltik or gun industry. Sogod has attractive beaches and a world-class resort. At the northern tip are the islands of Bantayan, with its sandy beaches, and Malapascua Island, which has powder-fine sand. Olango Island across Mactan is becoming popular as a bird- watching site due to its status as a sanctuary of migratory birds coming from as far as China and Siberia.

Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa Cebu, a five-star luxury resort, is a lush garden retreat ideal for vacationers and families. It features kid's play areas, a wide range of restaurants, and CHI, one of the largest and most luxurious spas in the region.

Chapel at Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa Cebu
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa Cebu
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa Cebu
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa Cebu

The January Sinulog Festival celebrates the feast of the Sto. Niño. Souvenirs include guitars, rattan furniture and shell handicrafts. Delicacies include otap (sugared biscuits), turrones (rolled wafers), dried mangoes, lechon Cebu, danggit (dried fish) and an almost endless variety of seafood.

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