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In the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu is at once the island, metropolitan area and provincial capital. The seat of Christianity in the Philippines since Ferdinand Magellan first planted a cross on the shoreline, the city has played host to a number of mixed foreign settlers who left a lasting impression on the landscape and culture. Spain, particularly, has had a strong colonial presence and Catholic legacy. As a centre for trade, commerce, arts and education the city is a mishmash of the old and new, and offers a real flavor of Philippine life in all its guises. The lust for life is apparent 24 hours a day, the common usage of English makes everything quite simple and the welcoming smiles of the locals seem to greet you wherever you go.
Since Cebu was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, the city has a lot of historical attractions to offer its visitors. The large sea port and air hub has also contributed to the modernisation of the city and the urban culture mix with the old heritage. Cebu offers its visitors a unique experience.
With its location in the heart of the Philippine archipelago it is easy to go for an excursion outside the city. Visit another island or discover the nearby surroundings of the main island of Cebu.
Eating in Cebu is an experience with a multinational choice of restaurants, particularly around the Ayala district. The undecided should try a Filipino turo-turo—literally ’point-point’ restaurant, where patrons point at whatever they fancy from a spread of dishes. Street-food abounds in Cebu and is amazingly cheap, sugba or sinugba (barbecue) is particularly popular and include marinated sweet pork, chicken and seafood on sticks. For dessert, "Halo-Halo," is a refreshing mix of grated ice, sweet beans, tropical fruits and ice cream.
The big city can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and a quick energising break can be wished for. Sit down at one of the many cafes and enjoy a cup of coffee or a refreshing drink, and maybe a small snack or cake. Some of the cafes also provide WiFi for their customers.
Cebu is a haven for partyphiles, particularly along Colon Street and Osmena Boulevard, with clubs pounding until day light at weekends and until 3.00 during the week. The concept of bars here is somewhat different and there are few places to go that offer a simple place to have a drink and quiet conversation. Cebu also has two 24-hour casinos located in both of the Waterfront Hotels.
Shop till you drop or until the money runs out, which in a city with so many fantastic bargains isn't a stretch to imagine. Cebu is the country’s leading producer of hand-crafted products such as shell crafts, baskets and woven cloth fashion, accessories, silver and various gifts. Highlights of mall shopping include the downtown Ayala Centre, SM-Cebu and Gaissano Country Mall in Baniland; Colon Street has both small and large department stores. For some haggling adventure, the vibrant public market of Carbon on Briones and Calderon Streets sells just about everything over an area of seven blocks. For that something a little different and authentic, Lapu-lapu city on Mactan Island has a long heritage of guitar making and a number of factories are open to the public for purchases.
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