• 7 reasons why Cebu is SEA's hidden gem!

    I think it’s no secret that we absolutely ADORE the Philippines. We have been to Iloilo (quite a few times), Boracay (twice) and (briefly to) Manila... And all our experiences thus far in Philippines has been positive. Filipinos are wonderful people and this is a huge factor for us. Let’s not forget the wonderful landscapes and beaches that take our breath away Every. Single. Time. 

    As we have now officially graduated into the working world, the reality is that we are unable to travel for long periods on a whim. So as we planned our annual trip together, we had the following criteria in mind: 
    1. It should fall between 4-5days (over the weekend) 
    2. It had to have an adventure element
    3. Cost-friendly 
    4. Relatively safe (to keep our parents happy) 
    With that in mind, we hopped on to Skyscanner to check flight prices and managed to score flights for around S$250 each (Singapore to Cebu return). We were looking to travel in mid December which is probably why the tickets were not the lowest they could have been. Well, we did have other options but we took a leap with the love and gratitude we had for Philippines and opted for Cebu!

    Cebu was such a memorable trip for us and it's crazy how little people knew about Cebu. After our SUPERB trip to Cebu, here's 

    7 reasons why we think Cebu is SEA's hidden gem!!

    1. Insane number of waterfalls in proximity
    Cebu is blessed with many of these nature creations. Waterfalls practically litter every corner of Cebu, particularly in the southern region. To prove our point, here's a screen shot of the area on Google maps - 

    Waterfalls in the southern part of Cebu (near Samboan)

    And with waterfalls.... Comes canyoning! Hahaha however a point to note- at Kawasan Falls, the canyoning here consists mainly of jumping from the different levels of waterfalls. Due to the limited number of days and the amount of guts we had (which we emptied at Kawasan Falls), we only covered 2 falls - Kawasan Falls and Aguinid Falls

    Kawasan Falls 
    The usual photo you catch online of Kawasan Falls is ONE of the levels. When you go high, there are in fact 15m, 10m, 3m height of falls for you to jump off of. 

    We paid for the HALF-canyoning. Meaning, we would only jump from 10m, 5m and 3m. Well we were actually very happy that option existed. I honestly do not think we can survive from hours we will stand at the foot of the 15m waterfall. 10m took us (I mean Div) at least an hour to jump lol.

    If you could only see the fear in her face HAHAHA

    On this note, please watch our video above. You get a glimpse of how we look like in the face of a 10m jump, and of course, the beautiful area of Kawasan Falls.

    And on that very day, we concluded, I had more guts than her. 

    Yupp, I did it first!!! *at the top of my lungs*

    Kawasan Falls 
    (This is the OG level that appears everywhere on the web where all the tourists gather to pay money and sit on the flat bamboo raft and get pulled across under the waterfall for a tour and a back massage lol please comment in the comment section on whether you think we took the ride.) 

    Sorry this caption wasn't suppose to be this long. 

    Aguinid Falls
    Aguinid Falls is a less popular waterfall but I loved it way more than Kawasan Falls simply because there were lesser people and I felt that it was not yet commercialised so it's a lot more pretty, clean and quiet! Note that conquering Aguinid Falls requires a lot more physical strength - climbing up level 2 of the falls by only holding on to a rope, climbing up the roots of a tree to get to level 4. Plus Aguinid Falls had free mud masks! (HAHA okay that depends on your tour guide. Maybe if you were as lovable as us, you will get free mud masks that comes naturally from the grounds of the waterfall.)

    Seeing this makes my heart skip a beat 

    In fact, Aguinid Falls was recommended to us by our habal-habal driver - he said it was way better than Tumalog Falls, which is nearer and more accessible to the Whale Shark Watching spot. We took his advice because we read online that a dam sits on top of Tumalog Falls restricting the water flow.
    All in all, I would say we made the right choice, for real.

     2. Gorgeous whale sharks

    Yes, we had two sharks right in front of our eyes 

    Going for Oslob whale sharks had been always on our itinerary but like I said we had depleted all the guts we had at Kawasan Falls and the journey to Osmena Peak, so we were rather hesitant about going... Especially since we had to leave at 5am to catch the first sightings. I am so thankful both our lazy asses got up and moving, albeit we were 2 hours behind schedule. The experience was totally worth it. 

    At first we took it slow, entering the water cautiously but before we knew it, we were swimming (waddling) right beside the whale sharks.

    Why does this deserve an entire point on its own? 

    It (literally) took our breath away. It was adrenaline pumping, heart thumping rush like we have never felt before. Div thinks she got goosebumps but um I don't think so... You should have seen her in the water (you can, if you watch our video above), she was so frigging excited.

    Yes, her guts grew the longer she stayed in the water

    They should not bite you/harm you if you keep by the rules and stay the required distance away and not do anything to irritate them. I would also like to note, yes the water does smell fishy BUT COME ON YOU'RE IN THE SEA SWIMMING WITH WHALE-SHARKS - Does life get any better than this? 

    3. Shopping

    Credits to: http://emjaefotos.com/

    The shopping in Cebu city was, well it surpassed our expectations because we had none. 

    We were told half a day in Cebu city was enough but I think we spent the better part of 2 days in Cebu City shoppingWe highly recommend Elizabeth mall (think of E mall like a much more affordable version of Far East Shopping Mall haha) and Colon Street Night market (like Pratunam Market)

    Credits to: https://ohwemjae.files.wordpress.com/

    Unfortunately, there aren't as many photos for E mall (Credits to: http://c8.alamy.com/)

    Unfortunately we do not have many photos to prove our point (I can't believe it either)..... but thank goodness for Google. We were so engrossed in shopping, carrying our goods and chasing for transport. Div really prefers this over Bangkok - Reasonable prices, friendly stall owners who would entertain a little haggling - I mean what more could you ask for?

    Also, I would like to point out that.... Cebu is not as commercialised as Bangkok so there is still a certain rawness that we love so much about Cebu.

    4. Food

    Our favourite "Filipino" street food has got to be Siew Mai. I think we had at least 50 Siew Mai each throughout our entire trip. This was the food we looked forward to the most since our last trip to Philippines.

    Div will probably delete this photo since she hates that I take picture of food half eaten already BUT THIS IS THE ONLY PHOTO I HAVE OF OUR BIG MAK BURGER omg it taste so good when it was fresh off the grill!

    Siew Mais and Big Mak burgers are usually found on the streets which is why they are so affordable and tasty. But that's not all!

    We also highly recommend the "fast food" restaurants in Cebu - our favourites are Orange Brutus, Island Grill and Inasal! Cheap, good and relatively healthy food (we like to tell ourselves that since everything is grilled). And these are usually found in malls which makes it a good alternative on days where you do not really want to go out/ you have only got shopping malls around you. 

    The meat of the fish was extremely tender and eaten with the pickles? *Faints* (From Island Grill)

    By the way, we found Island Grill from a happy incident. After our late night massage, we decided to treat ourselves to Gerry's Grill. Why is Gerry's Grill considered a treat, you may ask. Um.. because it would have cost us more than a normal meal in Cebu. So we thought we had enough cash on us but it was only UNTIL WE GOT A TABLE DID WE POOL OUR MONEY AND REALISE we did not even have enough for their famous grilled squid. So we wandered the mall looking for something cheaper but our hearts still desired grilled seafood. 

    Thank goodness for this happy mistake because we wandered into Island Grill that was so much better than Gerry's Grill. It was really value for money! The whole meal cost us S$4 each! We absolutely demolished it. 

    And omg... Orange Brutus

    Like what Div says, this is like pepper lunch but better. Enough said. 

    There is so much good food in Cebu you best believe we will definitely make another trip to the Philippines to fill our tummies hehe!

    5. The people

    Okay it is widely known that Filipinos are extremely hospitable people, kind and very friendly. Its really true. We never once met a rude Filipino throughout this entire trip and everyone was extremely willing to help us with directions, chat with us and find out a bit about our culture. It is always a pleasure for us to be around Filipinos, even in Singapore!

    6. English

    Bus attendants are really friendly

    The great thing about Cebu, or rather anywhere in the Philippines is, English is widely spoken. Everyone, and I mean everyone, from the hawker to the habal-habal driver, to the fast food service crew to the hotel staff, everyone speaks pretty much perfect English. 

    Can you imagine getting a habal-habal driver and negotiating the price every single time successfully? Or successfully telling them to exclude the butter/cheese every single time? Or boarding buses, not knowing where to stop but the bus driver/attendant can tell you where? It's awesome. That's the great thing - there is never really a language barrier. And I find when two people understand each other, it is always way easier to learn and understand about the other person's culture.

    7. Affordable

    And of course we gotta end with this - anywhere you travel within the Philippines, it’s considerably affordable. Note that this is in comparison to the standard of living in Singapore. This is great not only for the budget traveller, but even if you’re a traveller seeking a luxury holiday, Cebu is one place where you can really stretch your dollar. But again, have a reasonable expectation of Cebu. There might not be a well-built pavement everywhere but if you are not too particular, Cebu is definitely a place for you to go to.

    Clean and affordable hotel at Cebu City

    Clean and really affordable stay at TGH Guesthouse in Badian

    (SUMMARY) Actual Budget (per pax):
    Airport Tax$20.00
    Shopping (not in list)$104.00
    Insurance (not in list)$15.00

    If you are looking for more information/details/detailed breakdown of our trip please hop on over here to see our See our "5D4N Itinerary in Cebu (50% ADVENTURE + 30% SIGHTSEEING + 20% SHOPPING) " here.

    And until next time, this is us signing off!

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    1 comment:

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