Cebu, Jewel of the Philippines

Travel Cebu

Although tourism as an industry suffered from a significant drop in the twelve months from June 2008 to June 2009, it should be noted that there were countries and cities which actually increased the number of visitors during that time – no small achievement in a period when belt-tightening was the order of the day in many people’s estimation. One of the areas to increase its visitor numbers was the Philippine city and larger metropolitan area of Cebu. The Philippines is one of Asia’s largest and most diverse countries, and this makes it attractive to tourists. It hosted the ASEAN Tourism Forum in 1998 and the East Asian Tourism Forum four years later.

Tourists to Cebu can be guaranteed of seeing a city and larger province that has a varied landscape – one moment you can be in the excellent shopping district and the next you are out among leafy parks and public gardens. It is this type of easy, natural variety that makes the city and the province so attractive to so many people. This is not a place that will only appeal to a certain kind of visitor. Shopping is definitely an option for visitors to Cebu, with some wonderful malls neighbouring smaller more specialised stores and providing everything the visitor could wish for. Unlike  many other cities, Cebu does this without looking or being terribly congested or built-up. At the same time it is historic without being anachronistic.

Strange though it may seem Cebu has something in common with Los Angeles – an area going by the name Beverley Hills. While the LA version is home to a great many of the world’s most famous people, Cebu’s version is known more for its Taoist Temple. Set 300 meters above sea level and built as recently as 1972, the Cebu Taoist Temple is an attraction which really should be seen. It is a towering center of worship that is accessible by any one of three meandering routes that take the visitor through trees and other greenery. It is visited by every school student in the area as part of their education, and is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. It is the centerpiece of the city’s tourist industry, but by no means the full extent of it.

There is always plenty to see and do in Cebu city and neighbouring cities and towns and although the journey to get there can take some time from a Western starting point – over a day by air from New York, for example – it is worth it for some of the finest buildings, best shopping and finest dining in Asia. There are numerous five star hotels and resorts to stay in, and beyond the Taoist Temple there are a few national parks as well as excellent beaches. The Basilica Minore del Santo Nino is also worth seeing, as it is home to the oldest religious relic in all of the Philippines. Frankly, there are so many reasons to go to Cebu for a break, it is no wonder the tourist numbers visiting have increased.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on July 24, 2009.