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Old 12-08-2013, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I'm going to Singapore/Malaysia next week to visit family and friends, and was thinking of possibly going on a short trip somewhere from S'pore. Thought about Japan but it's a bit cold and might be a wee bit expensive, and then thought about the Philippines, since I'd never been. Don't want to go to Manila, prefer somehow quieter, more laid back, with nice beaches, coral reefs, good food that's cheap to stay for maybe 5 nights. Cebu seems interesting, the idea of a Catholic tropical Asian country seems a novelty.

Anyone been? Is it interesting? How safe is it for a solo traveller? Do you think it's safe to walk around at night? Are there a lot of touts/scammers/taxi/jeepney drivers who will con you? What about dodgy travel agents/tour operators? I don't want to go somewhere like Bangkok that's full of them, I hope the Filipinos aren't the same (not saying all Thais are like that, but enough of them were) What is some food you might recommend?

 
Old 12-08-2013, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Macao
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I've been to Cebu about 7-8 times. I like it. It's not that great of a travel destination in itself, but if a person like the Philippines, it's basically all the positives of Manila, with few of the negatives.

Safety. It's way safer than Manila. That being said, I don't like wandering around downtown Cebu, and I never got a great vibe from Mactan Island either (where the airport is, and the resorts - i.e. beaches).

I usually stay in Uptown Cebu at La Florentina (which is a very reasonably-priced pension house), not too far from Ayala Mall. It's a better part of Cebu, not too far from Luhag, which is more upscale restaurants and bars and such. If you do stay at La Florentina Pensione House, there is also a Spanish Wine Bar right around the corner from it. You can also find nightlife in the mall, of all places, which is also about a 5-10 minute walk from the Pension House. I feel safe walking around that area at night, although there are a few people lingering around once in awhile.

Regarding touts/taxis/etc. Refreshingly, Cebu is way more honest and safer with taxi stuff than Manila. Dodgy travel agents, always had good experiences with them in Cebu too. The people in Cebu, are generally, good.
 
Old 12-08-2013, 12:06 PM
 
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Cebu is only quiet, organized, safe in comparison to Manila. If you've never been to Manila and just go to Cebu, you won't understand all the good things that people are saying about Cebu. Don't go there with high hopes; it's still in the Philippines. In Manila there are larger nice areas. Manila has the very nice parts and the very bad parts.

But with Cebu, it's easier to leave the city and then you can see the "real Philippines" by exploring the island of Cebu. I'm not sure if the northern areas have recovered fro the typhoon though
 
Old 12-08-2013, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Florida & Cebu, Philippines
2,808 posts, read 2,435,783 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
I'm going to Singapore/Malaysia next week to visit family and friends, and was thinking of possibly going on a short trip somewhere from S'pore. Thought about Japan but it's a bit cold and might be a wee bit expensive, and then thought about the Philippines, since I'd never been. Don't want to go to Manila, prefer somehow quieter, more laid back, with nice beaches, coral reefs, good food that's cheap to stay for maybe 5 nights. Cebu seems interesting, the idea of a Catholic tropical Asian country seems a novelty.

Anyone been? Is it interesting? How safe is it for a solo traveller? Do you think it's safe to walk around at night? Are there a lot of touts/scammers/taxi/jeepney drivers who will con you? What about dodgy travel agents/tour operators? I don't want to go somewhere like Bangkok that's full of them, I hope the Filipinos aren't the same (not saying all Thais are like that, but enough of them were) What is some food you might recommend?
I love Cebu and for the most part I find it safe once you know your way around, my advice would be to mostly take taxis at night since they are so inexpensive.

Walking around some areas at night such as downtown Colon or on Gen Max also known as Mango where many of the girly bars and where lots of ladyboys hang out might not be a great idea but the areas of IT Park and around Ayala Mall are very safe to walk around at night, again while keeping in mind that it is still a poor country.

There are street beggars kids who hang around the Robinsons Mall area which can be a pain at times so be careful of pickpockets if they should happen to surround you and be forceful in your voice when you say walay kwarta (pronounced wah-lie quartah) which means I have no money and that tells them you are not a tourist since you can speak some of the language.

Also when getting into a white taxis say meter lang or metro lang and do not go anywhere unless the driver turn on the meter. If you arrive at Cebu airport with very little luggage then you can go upstairs and catch a white taxi for less than the yellow airport only taxis but while the yellow ones cost more, they are much better regulated for a person new to Cebu.

As for beaches, one of the best on Cebu island, the area was badly damaged, so possibly you can go to one at some of the resorts on Mactan but do not expect a really beautiful beach in the Cebu City area. If you want a beautiful beach go to Boracay or Bohol's Panglao beach.

Have fun!
 
Old 12-08-2013, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Thanks for the advice, I'm reading similar things on the net. I'd want a place where I can experience Filipino culture, not just lay on a beach. There's a guest house there for $15 a night, I mean it LOOKS okay and has decent reviews:

Cebu Guesthouse Home

What do you think?

Tiger Airways has pretty cheap flights to Cebu, like $70 one way.

What would be some alternatives to Cebu that are similar?
 
Old 12-09-2013, 12:56 AM
 
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^ It doesn't really matter what city you go to, lowland Filipino culture is fairly homogenized (many would argue with me) so you'll experience true Filipino culture almost anywhere. The languages are the biggest difference from place to place, but you won't even notice those. Then there are differences that come with urban vs rural, but that's true in any country
 
Old 12-09-2013, 03:04 AM
 
Location: Macao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smtchll View Post
^ It doesn't really matter what city you go to, lowland Filipino culture is fairly homogenized (many would argue with me) so you'll experience true Filipino culture almost anywhere.
I would agree with this!

The Postman, You'll 100% be immersed in Filipino culture the moment you arrive in the Philippines. It's NOT like Thailand at all, where there are a million tourists all over the place.

The Philippines is basically just you and a ton of Filipinos and the random 'oh a foreigner is over there' observation scattered about in it.

Best place to experience Filipino culture, in my opinion, is oddly enough, going to the MALL. They are a huge pasttime in the Philippines, and they get out of the jumbled up dirty sidewalks and away from touts as well. You go into them, and it's a world to itself - cinemas, bowling alleys, bars, restaurants of all types of qualities, on and on.

The beaches around Mactan Island/Cebu, are basically resorts with high prices and foreigners and not much of the Filipino experience. But since they are kind of costly and not so interesting, you probably wouldn't gravitate towards them all that much anyways.
 
Old 12-09-2013, 03:42 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,231,639 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
I would agree with this!

The Postman, You'll 100% be immersed in Filipino culture the moment you arrive in the Philippines. It's NOT like Thailand at all, where there are a million tourists all over the place.

The Philippines is basically just you and a ton of Filipinos and the random 'oh a foreigner is over there' observation scattered about in it.

Best place to experience Filipino culture, in my opinion, is oddly enough, going to the MALL. They are a huge pasttime in the Philippines, and they get out of the jumbled up dirty sidewalks and away from touts as well. You go into them, and it's a world to itself - cinemas, bowling alleys, bars, restaurants of all types of qualities, on and on.

The beaches around Mactan Island/Cebu, are basically resorts with high prices and foreigners and not much of the Filipino experience. But since they are kind of costly and not so interesting, you probably wouldn't gravitate towards them all that much anyways.
Nice. Since there's been talk about Christmas in the Philippines, I wonder if it would be a good time to stay there and experience what it's like? Then again airfares look like they'll go up.

Are there nice public beaches walkable from Cebu City with some nice reefs for snorkelling? What about jet-ski hire or scooter, recommended? How safe are the streets for motorcyclists/pedestrians?
 
Old 12-09-2013, 04:11 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,945 posts, read 36,144,182 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Nice. Since there's been talk about Christmas in the Philippines, I wonder if it would be a good time to stay there and experience what it's like? Then again airfares look like they'll go up.

Are there nice public beaches walkable from Cebu City with some nice reefs for snorkelling? What about jet-ski hire or scooter, recommended? How safe are the streets for motorcyclists/pedestrians?
Christmas is a huge celebration in the Philippines.

I can't think of any good public beaches in Cebu City. Zero. You'd think they'd have them, but they don't. They might exist, but I doubt if they'd be any good. The 'resorts' on where the foreigners go for beaches. But your average Filipino couldn't afford the resort prices to go to those beaches.

In short, Cebu isn't really a 'beach vacation', sadly. If you have time, you could take a ferry over to Bohol and stay at Alona Beach, which is a beach vacation. Mostly couples though, not really fun like Thailand or anything like that.

You could also go north of Cebu City towards Malapascua and Bantayan Islands. They have beaches and cottages and such. Again, nothing like Thailand, but they are there, and very pretty and beautiful to look at. I've gone to all three of those listed. Bantayan Island is a big island, and kind of spread out, but quite nice. Saw some really nice live music there. Malapascua is much smaller, and famous for diving and seeing hammerhead sharks. I also saw some (rooster)-fighting there.

Ah...I think if you are solo traveling, those beaches might be a little too quiet and a little dull for a person on their own. If beaches and Philippines and want to socialize too, Boracay is unmatched, followed by Mindoro's Puerto Galera's White Beach, neither of which is near Cebu though.

Philippines has some gorgeous islands. But, for the most part, people bring their friends or families or girlfriend with them to the beach. A bit boring to go by yourself to most of the islands. Completely different from Thailand in that regard.

Just contributing additional information. But, Cebu and beaches and such, isn't really all that good. The tourist attractions are TOPS - an overlook view of the entire city, a Taoist Temple (I forget the name), and I can't think of what else one would see. I think most people end up in Cebu on their way to other places in the Visayas.

Cebu DOES have an interesting collection of old 50- or 60-year-old PLUS white guys married to a 30-something Filipina with young little kids in tow, strolling about in the malls. I've often thought the city is very comfortable enough for 'living', so divorced lonely white guys seem to end up settling down there on their retirement income, and starting a second family with some local Filipina. It's something I routinely notice in Cebu. Which basically means it's not all that popular as a tourist destination itself, but has a certain 'amenities' element that attracts some foreigners to set down some roots and settle down as they get old. In short, they find it comfortable enough to have a family, and spend their time at restaurants and malls, at cheaper prices than the West.

Last edited by Tiger Beer; 12-09-2013 at 04:32 AM..
 
Old 12-09-2013, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Czech Republic
2,384 posts, read 5,846,437 times
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Try spending New Year in Boracay. Boracay is the most popular beach resort in the Philippines.
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