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The Philippines – Cebu City and El Nido in 8 Days

Guest post by thadeus_d3

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

My family and I went to the Philippines in June, which is the start of rainy season. We experienced great weather in Cebu City, but it rained half the time we were in El Nido, Palawan. Overall a great trip, but we spent too many days in Cebu City. I’d recommend staying there 3 days tops. Taxi’s across town will cost $3 USD max and nice hotels are very affordable.

If you plan on visiting El Nido, there’s a few things you should know. First, accommodations are very basic, with few mid-range options, unless you stay at a one of the few high end resorts. The area is being built up, so that will likely change in a few years. Be sure to book a room with a backup generator because there are scheduled blackouts everyday. Secondly, you have 2 options to get to El Nido. You could fly to PPS Airport for around $50 roundtrip and take a 6 hour van ride to El Nido (for about $10pp). Alternatively, you can fly AirSwift directly to El Nido for about $220 pp. We opted to fly directly to El Nido.

Day 1: Arrival into Cebu

After arriving and settling in our hotel, we decided to head out for dinner. We visited Mango Square to explore a bit and eventually made our way to Zubuchon to try Lechon. Lechon is roasted suckling pig and it didn’t disappoint.

Day 2

  • Kawasan Falls
  • White Beach Moalboal

We woke up early to grab a bus from Cebu City south bus terminal to Moalboal, which is a beach town known for great snorkeling and scuba diving. The ride took around 3 hours and cost ~$1.50 pp for an air conditioned bus. The falls are stunning with bright blue water. We spent a few hours swimming before taking a tricycle to white beach. White beach is one of the nicest beaches on the mainland, with clear water and white sand. There’s plenty of great restaurants and shops along the beach.

Day 3

  • Fort San Pedro
  • Magellan’s Cross
  • Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu Pilgrim Center
  • Taoist Temple
  • Metro Colon Supermarket

We spent most of the day at the top 3 bullet points above. All 3 locations are historically significant and you can walk between them. Afterwards, we took a taxi to Taoist temple which overlooks Cebu City. At night, we visited Metro Colon, which is Cebu’s version of Times Square. Metro Colon is one of the best places to shop and eat traditional Filipino food.

Day 4: Cebu

We visited Taoist Temple again since my mother was sick and missed it the first time around. Next, we visited SM City Mall to shop for souvenirs and let the kids play in the arcade. It was a great way to pass the time. $2 worth of tokens would last around 45 minutes for both children – VERY inexpensive.

Day 5: Flight to El Nido

Our flight left for El Nido in the afternoon, so we visited SM City mall to kill time. My mother and wife got $5 pedicures while I took the kids to the arcade. Afterwards, we took the short 90 minute flight direct to El Nido. After settling in, we took a tricycle to Las Cabanas Beach. We wanted to catch the sunset there, but we narrowly missed it. Las Cabanas Beach is truly paradise. The beach is lined with palm trees and there’s huge limestone karsts that line bacuit bay -making a very pretty silhouette at night.

Day 6: El Nido Tour C

Tours are huge in El Nido. They are sold all over the island and cost around $23pp and it’s generally ~15 people on a boat. They last from 8am to 4pm and include a delicious lunch served on the boat. Some of the boats are “party boats” and didn’t really appeal to our family. I did some research and found Ilde from Midnight Sun el Nido Island Tours (midnightsun_elnido_islandtours@yahoo). You can get a private boat for the same exact price as the other tours. It’s much quieter and you can pick and choose the order of the attractions. We decided to do the tour in reverse order, so there were fewer tourist around. Great call.

The scenery on this tour is unbelievable. Just do a google image search for ‘El Nido Tour C’.

Day 7: El Nido Tour A

We woke up to monsoonlike rain. We thought for sure the tour would be canceled. El Nido town is very small, with little to do, so we hoped that we could still do Tour A.  Fortunately, they do not cancel tours for rain. Tour A is mostly lagoons and beaches. It was great and the rain let up for a bit, but we preferred Tour C. I’m sure the weather had something to do with it.  Again, checkout google images to see just how beautiful it is.

Day 8: Back to Cebu

After we arrived back in Cebu, we visited Metro Colon to do some more shopping. My wife and I went ended the night in Mango Square to go clubbing. There’s a ton of options, with no cover and a wide range of American music. We had a blast.

Traveled in June 2017

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