First time in Cebu, Philippines is a fantastic experience. The airport is small and comfortable, fairly near City. The ATM does not always work, so bring 5000 PHP (pesos), buy something to get 100-pesos bills (US$ 2, 30); airport drivers are clever here, too: “sorry no change”. Make sure there is a meter, and that it shows 40 pesos. If not do not go with him, get another taxi. The ride to your hotel should be 80-200 pesos, if far from the airport, no more than 250 inside Cebu City/Mandaue.
At your hotel, you should find that they speak good English. They are friendly and want to help. As for tips, it is not common use in Cebu. If you want to give, 10 or 20 pesos will give you a smile. The average day wage is 300 pesos in hotels. Upon arrival, leave your values and passport in the safe deposit (it is a good idea always to bring a Xerox of your passport in your wallet).
You may want to buy a bottle of mineral water at the hotel; a price of 20-30 pesos is average, unless you chose an expensive hotel. 7 Eleven stores always nearby, have Summit, natural spring water.
If you do not want to eat at the hotel, the receptionist will recommend a restaurant nearby with Western style food, 3-600 pesos for two. You may want a McDonald’s or Jollibee; they are all over. You also find small street restaurants for Filipinos. Here you pay 100 pesos for a local meal for two, soft drinks included.
Downtown you find Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Cathedral Museum of Cebu, a natural starting place. All within walking distance, you find the history of Cebu, street life, Metro Gaisano (shopping mall) and hundreds of small shops.
Less than a mile north from there, you find Abellana Sports Complex, also called Cebu City Sports Complex, a public track and field stadium. Here you also can swim in a wonderful, huge swimming pool for 30 pesos.
Filipinos are friendly, and they really like foreigners, “americanos” (U.S. Forces liberated them from a brutal Japanese regime during last world war). You will also win their respect, if you learn just a few words in Cebuano. Cebuano for Foreigners (with corresponding audio) is cheap and made easy to learn. You will not regret the time you spent on this.
You like to walk in the street in the middle of the day. Sunhat or umbrella (against sun) is a good idea.
Wish you good luck in your adventure.
- Pedersen, author
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