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No one leaves to go traveling without conducting some form of research.
If you’re going abroad for the holidays and have decided to travel to Cebu in particular for the New Year, you ought to look up the best hotels and learn about Filipino culture as much as you can. Research helps travelers get out of trouble. It prevents them from going to a country metaphorically blind.
It also helps them avoid getting lost, having to pay more than they’re supposed to, and so on. Cebu is a relatively safe place to travel to, but it never hurts to be safe.
So hold on to your tickets for a moment. Before you travel, here are some things you need to know about the Philippines, particularly Cebu City itself.
To get into the province of Cebu, you will need the following:
Your vaccination card (or your proof of vaccination)
Your valid ID
Pass the symptom checking/screening at the port when you arrive
Getting into the city proper will require the following:
Passport and Visa
Debit or credit card
Aside from those, other essentials that need to be packed are as follows:
A travel bag (get a sturdy one)
A smaller bag (so you can explore during the day without carrying a huge backpack)
Universal travel adapters (because some countries have different designed outlets)
Water bottle (I suggest you get a reusable one for safety and financial purposes)
Medications (talk to your doctor first before you travel)
Camera (because you’re going to want to take a lot of pictures)
Headphones (traveling requires some music to listen to)
Reliable shoes (make sure they can handle a day’s worth of walking)
Comfortable clothes (have one or two nice outfits in hand)
Sunscreen (the country is known for being very hot, so you need this the most)
Toiletries (make sure they’re travel-sized)
A couple of plastic bags (for your dirty clothes and wet bathing suit – plastic bags are very handy in the Philippines, just make sure to segregate accordingly)
The Philippines relies heavily on jeepneys. There are other modes of transportation as well, like buses, taxis, trains (mostly in Metro Manila), motorcycle taxis (habal-habal), and tricycles, but the country is mostly known for the jeepneys, since they are the cheapest.
You should know where you want to go before boarding a jeepney (the names of the areas, the stops, and how long it will take to reach your destination). You should also be aware of where you are at all times because telling the driver where you will be dropped off is completely up to you. For that, check your Google Maps as often as possible and ask for directions if you’re confused.
Bonus tip: If you want to get off, call out “lugar lang.” It’s usually “para po,” but since this is Cebu, it’s best to speak in Cebuano instead of Tagalog. Those words just mean it’s your stop and you wish to get out of the vehicle.
There are many places to stay in Cebu. Hotels, cheap or expensive, run rampant all over the city. It’s just a matter of timing that you need to worry about. During celebrations and events – like the holidays and Sinulog during January – the city itself is super busy.
Hotels and establishments are almost always full. You need to book in advance – around two to three weeks, if not more – just so you can score a single room. You won’t just be competing with other tourists. There are also locals from different provinces who want to be part of the celebration, since Cebu City is the center of it in Central Visayas.
Recommended hotels to stay in Cebu:
The New Year’s Eve party at La Vie in the Sky offers not only a dinner buffet and free-flowing wine, but also the widest view you can find in Busay, overlooking nearly all of Metro Cebu. The price could go as low as 1,700 Php and go up from there, depending on the room you plan on getting.
This one can be found on Mactan Island. This is for beach lovers who go to the Philippines to get away from the winter. Since there is no winter in the Philippines, expect sunny skies with the occasional light rain. Every day is beach day, therefore spending the New Year on the beach is ideal.
This hotel is located outside Cebu Business Park. It would sometimes conduct foam-pool parties on New Year’s. If you want to stay in this hotel, prepare your very own swimwear so you can enjoy the night away.
Their prices will range around 2,400 Php and go up from there.
New Year in Cebu is almost identical to their Christmas, with the exception of it being louder.
There are fireworks, kids running around blowing tiny horns, and people turning on their cars and motorbikes to make them growl loudly to welcome the New Year. They also have a New Year’s Noche Buena, although it isn’t as extravagant. It is called Media Noche.
During Media Noche, some of the dishes that appeared during Christmas Noche Buena may be served once again. But with Media Noche, it will have more sweets, a lot of round-shaped foods, and 12 round fruits.
Having round objects and food for the New Year is a tradition in the Philippines. So it’s only natural that they have cake, pizza, and many more for the midnight feast.
The fireworks, of course, will be just as extravagant as anywhere else in the world. Some hotels will even have a fireworks presentation as well as a feast.
Now that you know what to do and expect, all that’s left to do is go on that flight and have fun during the holidays! Remember that traveling to another country is different from traveling to a different state in America. Rules and safety concerns are entirely different. Don’t forget to respect the locals as you experience their New Year traditions.
This concludes our Cebu travel guide. Have fun on your journey!