Have it all in Cebu, an island province in Central Philippines, where you can switch from diving with whale sharks and lazing on white-sand beaches to shopping, wining and dining in the country’s oldest city
Where? Comprising Cebu City and around 150 smaller islands, Cebu sits in the Central Visayas region.
How? Fly to Mactan-Cebu International Airport from Singapore or domestic destinations. You can also hop on daily buses from Dumaguete, Negros Oriental and Bacolod, Negros Occidental.
Why? The ‘Queen City of the South’ hosts Sinulog Festival – a fun-loving, week-long celebration of the Holy Child – on the third Sunday of January. The country’s most popular party includes Mardi Gras-style parades, parties, concerts, beauty pageants and flash sales. Cebu’s beaches aren’t half bad, either…
What? Get up close and personal with whale sharks around Oslob, hit Mactan island’s beaches and resorts, hop on a boat with Islands Banca Cruises and admire the local birdlife at Olango Island’s bird sanctuary. Visit heritage sites around Carcar city (including St. Catherine of Alexandria Church), beach-hop on Bantayan Island and swim with thresher sharks around Malapascua Island. In Cebu City, tick off some cultural lures: Basilica del Santo Santo Niño; Magellan’s Cross; Fort San Pedro; Parian district; Jesuit House; Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House and Casa Gorordo. Then go shopping: don’t miss Kenneth Cobonpue’s award-winning furniture showroom; pick up jewellery and homeware from Avatar Style in Lapu-Lapu. Dance the night away in one of Cebu City’s night haunts, which include Vudu, Gilt at Crossroads and Blu.
Try… Cebu’s moreish snacks: danggit (crispy dried fish, eaten with rice and vinegar) from the Taboan dried fish market; puso (boiled rice, wrapped in leaves) and, most famous of all, lechón: roasted suckling pig. American chef Anthony Bourdain reckons Zubuchon restaurant serves the country’s most succulent version.