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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

CEBU CITY - Basic Restaurant/Hotel Info

CEBU CITY - Basic Restaurant/Hotel Info

GUIDE only :

Use the information below as a broad guide only.

It will be more than helpful in getting you started.

I personally visit Philippines as much as possible , and then update the info below. Otherwise updates are based on proven reliable sources.

"Reviewed" (below) means info re-read and adjusted where necessary.

UPDATES : Reviewed February 2009

Manila was once described as the pearl of the Orient (2nd Millenium , no more : ). Then along came the popularity of Cebu which was described as the Pearl of the South. Not as a whoring destination , but as a place to live. You will decide whether its a pearl or a sows ear : ) Perhaps you have already been to Cebu and have drawn your own conclusions.

It could never be a pearl to me because of its pollution and peak hour traffic congestion, but it will never be a sows ear either. It has a nice balance between being sinful and provincial . Provincial meaning, relaxed friendly natural people and environment.

For some the sin side is lacking, when compared with Manila and Angeles , and they are right.

Even so , Cebu might be for you , you'll never never know if you dont give it a go !

Maps - Asian style maps in general , are not up to scratch, Filipino ones no exception. A respectable one for Cebu is the "E-Z Map", which I purchased at the National Book Store , Mango (also known as Maxilom) Avenue , 2 mins walk from Fuente Osmena (uptown).

Population - Cebu City has a scattered population of around 1.5 million. It's spread out , with few high rises.

OVERVIEW : Subjective (personal opinion) of course .....

Transport .. On arrival , newbies should consider the Limousine service located at ground level , Cebu Airport. Details below. Around Cebu City itself ... taxis are cheap and usually free of hassles (not like Manila : )

Accommodation ... Budget accom : 1. Kiwi Lodge 2. Holiday Plaza Hotel 3. Cebu Midtown. Medium to higher priced accom ... 1. Marriot 2. Waterfront Lahug. Details below.

Restaurants ... Kiwi Lodge , or for seafood ... Lighthouse Restaurant Mango Avenue. Fast food McDonalds or Shakeys Pizza. Details below.

TRANSPORT : Cebu is a great spot for checking out the many surrouding Visayan Islands. It was my base for such reconnoitres in days of old, but now that I have satisfied my curiosity regarding all the important islands of the Philippines I stay mainly in Cebu with forays into the 'new territories' of Mindanao, on odd occasions . But I always return to the 'Pearl'. The only sensible way to get to Cebu is by air, taking about one hour. Three airlines to choose from : Philippine Airlines (PAL) ; Air Philippines (budget airline owned by PAL) and Cebu Pacific Airline (usually the chepest fares).

I have tried Ocean Liners on a number of occasions, in days of yore , but its not such an exciting trip, awfully slow (18/20 hrs and P1300 on the cheap ) , and if you look back on the RP's sea tragedies you'd never step on one of their rusty ocean liners. The more modern Ferries cost even more than P1300. Check : for details. Short inter- island trips on the modern Catamarans/Trimirans , a different matter , recommended when the alternative is small plane air travel. Avoid small planes.

From Cebu Airport - You can pay P400 or more for a limo (regular sedan in reality) to the city some distance away (30/45 mins) , tickets on sale inside the arrivals hall/baggage collect area ground level , to your right before you exit. If no one there , ask airport staff/security where it is. This is the safest smoothest way to go.

Alternatively : Inside the terminal ask Security , whoever , for the stairs to the domestic terminal. Walk up there with your bags and secure a taxi that has just dropped off a passenger. You will see them lined up to your right as you exit the Domestic Terminal. Make sure he uses his meter and it should be around P125 to the city itself. You just might happen to land a rip-off driver if you catch a regular taxi outside the International terminal.( Correct meter fare there approx P125) Not recommended for a smooth start to your Cebu stay. Catching the limo. for P400 , or a regular taxi upstairs at Domestics for P125 , is the best way.

Within Cebu City there are ample, modestly priced and honest taxi's. P35 flagfall. Plus nowadays an additional P10 gasoline levy. Average fare after that around P55 all up , everything included. In addition , a bundle of Jeepneys go hither and thither like ants , P6 regular trip. Might have inflated a Pesos or two , since gasoline hike. Watch your pockets whilst on Jeepneys wherever you are in the RP. On occasions a fellow passenger pulls out a gun and empties everybodys pockets. That is , daylight robbery on the Jeepneys. Doesn't happen often , but does happen , especially away from the City Centre itself. Out of town, the motorised tricycle taxi is at your service for off road trips. That is, roads feeding into the main roads. One of the things that sets Cebu apart from Manila , is the taxi's and their pleasant and largely non conniving drivers. Exceptions prevail : )

ACCOMMODATION : is in abundance. Reminds me of Chiangmai in the north of Thailand. Always plenty of accommodation. I think of Chiangmai as a sister city to Cebu in the Philippines. Similar size, similar charm and provinciality, with ample pussy if you know your way around. One difference is the cost of accommodation. Thailands accommodation overall is cheaper and usually cleaner, tidier and better maintained. Superior accommodaton ? yes but only marginally. As usual, if you have no choice of your own, give one of the following a try and if not to your satisfaction keep searching until you find something that suits. I must have tried fifteen or more places until I settled into my current secret hideaway and I found this hideaway through a Filipino. Intermediaries in the Philippines are important. I suggest you try them , with caution. They can make things go ever so smoothly. And they can also be a 'pain' : )

The currency quoted on this website is the Filipino Pesos. For conversion to your local currency refer to :

Pat attention to 1 , 2 , and 3 below :

1. "Kiwi Lodge" , 1060 G.Tudtud Street , Mabolo , Cebu City. Phone : 06332 2329550. If calling within Philippines (but outside Cebu City) : 032 2329550 Within Cebu City : 2329550 .w.Email: ........

Tudtud pronounced : Toodtood. Standard Room P991. Deluxe Room P1232. Share Twin Room P1227. Rooms P991 - P1774. Nice enough rooms (subjective personal opinion only ... I'm a budget traveller). All rooms are air conditioned , Cable TV , IDD Phone , Ensuite bathrooms with hot water. Also basic Restaurant with good food , Basic Bar with old guys hangin around. Karma is good at Kiwi. About a P55 taxi ride from Fuente Osmena (uptown heart of Cebu City). All taxi drivers know it. Give this one serious consideration fella's I liked everything about the place , only qualification , hard core whores might feel out of place sitting at the bar , or in restaurant. Regular pay for play girls and regular girls , no problem. They can stay overnight , no prob. Something of a 'family' atomosphere pervades this place , hence girls with a hard core whore look/attitude about them might feel out of place. I would say no more than 5% of guests have overnight pay for players with them at the breakfast table next morning. Entrance and exit with Ladies of the Night (LON's) is ok. No real "walk of shame" : )

Plus : Good food , nice laid back ambience , efficient service.

Minus : Not close to GoGo Bars etc , but only P50/60 taxi ride away. Your catching taxis all the time in Cebu City , but they are cheap and hassle free. Not like Manila : )

2. Eddies Hotel , F. Manalo Street , which is off Maxilom/Mango Ave, just before the imposing Sto Cristo Church (in Mango Ave) . P1600/2000. Latest info I have is , they might not allow overnight guests (ladies). Others say this is not correct ladies allowed. Enquire at their email address below , if your interested in Eddies. Just ask "overnight guests allowed" ?

The Hotel is relatively new and thus the rooms still in good shape. Walking distance from the Mango Ave/Gen Maxillom (same road) Go-Go scene. Your virtually in the centre of the up town nightlife. Cause it is located in a side street , it's not so easy to get a taxi from , although walk a hundred metres and your on Mango Ave and heaps of passing taxi's. Info re Eddies Hotel :

Plus : Two min walk to GoGo Bars , and fairly central in all respects.

Minus : Only time I used their Restaurant , it was terrible. Place has no heart/soul , but fairly new. Not sure if management feels comfortable with you bringing hookers into their place , but plenty of guys do : )

Kiwi Lodge for my money is far superior , its got ambience/heart/soul. Not so Eddies : )

All of this info belongs to

3. Holiday Plaza Hotel - F. Ramos St , 100mtrs or so from Robinsons Department Store/Cebu Midtown Hotel. Not far from the GoGo Bars , can walk safely , day or night. In the 'heart' of Cebu City (my heart anyway : )

If your not in the Rajah/Fuente Osmena area , get a taxi to Kanirag Hotel , Ramos Street Cebu City (uptown , not in sleazy downtown) (pronounced : kar-nee-rug ....and every taxi driver knows it) and walk a few metres up towards Robinsons Store (Nth ?) /Mango Avenue and you will see the relatively new Holiday Plaza Hotel on the right hand side. Some guys are even saying the rooms are getting a 'tired' look. Geez , you cant build a new hotel every day. This Hotel has a better reputation than Kanirag (forget Kanirag , except for nice restaurant) and is a quieter location than Park Place Hotel/Rajah Park Hotel (name changes like the wind). No problem with chicks at Holiday Plaza. You will find booking agents/prices etc on Google. Rooms are P1900 and up. Internet showing P2400 and up , most prob those are the ones that include Buffet Breakfast (?). Nice rooftop Restaurant. Give this one serious consideration. Google it for more info and pics.

Plus : I like the area and location. Its possible to walk to Silver Dollar GoGo Bar (5 mins max) and Mango Ave Bars (7/10mins) and safe to do so. Mongers like the place.

Minus : Really do not know of any , but there is bound to be something wrong with the place. Especially if your all the time looking for a hotel that has just been built yesterday : )

4. Cebu Midtown , very close to Hollywood Plaza. Built on top of Robinsons Department Store and Supermarket. Not far from GoGo Bars. Good location but a bit pricey for a budget monger like me , P1900 and up. They might try and get higher sucker prices from you. Overnight ladies no problem. Apparently rooms might have a bit of a tired look by now, but its got location , location. Some guys want new hotels all the time .. not possible. Still popular with Mongers regardless. Check Google for latest details re Cebu Midtown. Personally , I would go for Hollywood Plaza Hotel before Cebu Midtown. UPDATE : Rumour has it that Cebu Midtown charge an extra P300 if you have an overnight lady.

Plus/Minus : This place does not do anything for me , but plenty of Mongers use it.

5. Marriott Hotel - Cardinal Rosales Ave , Cebu Biz Park. Walking distance from Ayala Shopping Mall. Not cheap , $65/85 and up per room. Nice hotel. So far as I know , no problems with overnight ladies. You can always google and ask by email "overnight guests ok" and if they say yes "any surcharge" ?

6. Rajah Park Hotel

This one changes its name often , and goes up and down with popularity. Its got location , location though : )

Location : It's opposite Fuente Osmena (circle park) , and so its location is described as 'Fuente Osmena'. All taxi drivers know it. There is a big sign outside on the building "Casino Filipino". Phone : 253 1131 Website : , alternatively , Previously called 'Garwood' Hotel etc.

The Park opposite , is a small circle , and in days of yore (not now) was a pick up place , but not now. Hotel rooms P1750/2500 and up. No extra for overnight guest. Security Box , Sky TV (Cable ) and Laundry - yes. Price includes Buffet Breakfast and government taxes. Very good central location. Possibly Massage on the premises. For the first timer with a little bit of money to spend on accommodation , it's worth considering. But I would put Holiday Plaza (above) before it. Ignore taxi touts outside this Hotel , walk away (northerly/uphill) from the hotel and flag a passing taxi. You might google for latest email address etc.

Rajah is convenient for the uptown area. Not a bad first hotel for a newcomer to Cebu City.There are other less expensive Hotels not far away in Ramos Street too. Kanirag is one, but better , is the one opposite Kanirag , called Hollywood Plaza Hotel (see.3.above). Both 2 mins walking distance from Rajah Place Hotel.

Plus : Location.

Minus : Touts hang around the front. Catch a passing taxi , not a standby taxi.

6. Jacinta Pension House - Osmena Blvd , near 'Capitol' (Regional Parliament). Nowadays , I think forget this very basic budget place , unless your finding difficulty in finding something and/or are on a very tight budget.

At the top of Osmena Blvd, near 'Capitol' and thus uptown. Walking distance from Monet Casa/Whore House. Whorist friendly and only P500 approx per night. Some steps to encounter every time you return to your lodgings , drunk as a skunk : ) Also a bit of a walk down Osmena Blvd to where 'life' starts - Fuente Osmena/circle park area. Taxi/Jeepney ride to down town/other areas. For folks on a tight budget only. I never stay there. A litte bit 'offside' for me (remote).

7. St Moritz Hotel. Info removed not recommended anymore.

Downtown area :

Bit run down , and pimps frequent the area. I would never stay downtown. But if you like a bit of sleaze , and potential for pick pockets , cheap chicks beer etc , here it is :

8 , 9 and 10 should be considered , if your interested in this kind of accommodation .....

8. Cebu View Tourist Inn , 200 Sanciangko Street, near the corner of Pelaez St. In the pimp area admittedly , but if your going to be in this area (pimps will approach you all the time) this Hotel is most probably the best value. New , fresh , solidly constructed. Double size rooms P5/600 and up. Air con, Security Box available. Absolutely no problem with chicks overnight and no extra charge. . Surprisingly they did not have an email address to give me. Phone 254.8333 Fax 254 9777 PS : Myself , I would never stay in this grotty pimp area. But for someone else , new to Phils and SE Asia , fraternising in this area could be quite an experience. World famous 'Our Place' foreigners bar is located close by.

Plus/Minus : Your right in down town 'sleazy'. Might be for you : )

9. Sogo Hotel, next door to Cebu View. This is principally a short time hotel where you can take your Jonquera girls (see Nightlife notes) or whoever. P660 24 hours , P160 2 hours plus P85 per hour over the 2 hours. Cable TV and porno channels. A respectable brothel hotel , with lots of cummings and goings : ) PS : Myself , I would never stay in this grotty pimp area.

Plus/Minus : Your right in down town 'sleazy'. Might be for you : )

10. McSherry Pension House. Pelaez St , downtown, in a laneway next to Mercedes Hotel. It's a pimp area. Rooms with Air Con P350 and up. Well known place , but because of its location, I have never stayed there. Certainly backpacker budget/cheap charlie hangout : ) Your right in the middle of 'sleaze' action , when your staying at McSherrys : ) Two mins walk to Colon Street and the working classes shops/stores. Lots of 'keen' girls working and shopping in those stores. PS : Myself , I would never stay in this grotty pimp area.

Plus/Minus : Your right in down town 'sleazy'. Might be for you : )

Say 10 mins walk away from this area , is another run down location :

11. Pacific Tourist Inn, Manalili St, Downtown. Budget accom, should be around P5/600. Downtown (amongst 'the workers' and untidy streets). Fairly popular with expat budget travellers. Not my kind of location. Not a particularly safe place to be walking around at night. Taxi to and from front door , then it's ok. No probs with overnight chicks and rooms quite good for the money you pay. PS : Myself , I would never stay in this 'rough' area.

Uptown and more conveniet location :

12. Fuente Pension. Uptown. In a side street behind Rajah Place (No.5. above). Taxi drivers know it. It's illustrated on the E-Z Map (look for Osmena Circle/Fuente Osmena. Just to the right of that). From memory , it's in the P500 range. However did not check rooms cause they had no vacant rooms at the time (good sign). It's located very conveniently to everything , including public transport and is 'up town' , which is always a plus. The only thing that disturbed me a little was the street it is located in is rather too quiet , and ideal therefore for some one to 'jump' you late at night. Day time , no problems whatsover. Late at night , maybe a security risk. At night taxi in , taxi out front door , absolutely no probs. Only prob taxis do not pass by it's door , so you would either have to walk through to Osmena Blvd (2 mins) and catch taxis passing by Rajah Park Hotel or get Front Desk to ring for a taxi. You should check if F Pension charges extra for overnight guests, P100 would be a normal charge , if they do.

Plus : Cheap , good location , except maybe walking to it late at night might be dicey.

Minus : Well it has a real 'budget' feel about it , apart from that , go for it : )


More Hotel info : have a good reputation.

RESTAURANTS : are also in abundance. As you know, I'd put Thailand ahead in the Restaurant department. Even so, I eat well in Cebu City cause I know where to go for what I want. You might have to search around for your kind of Restaurant. To help you get started here is a list of places that I sometimes frequent. See what you think of them.

1. Kiwi Lodge , G. Tud Tud St , Mabolo. (Pron: Tood Tood) About a P55 ride from Fuente Osmena area. All taxi drivers know it. Serves food 7am to about 9pm daily. I can confidently recommend this one. Try it first , if you dont like , maybe your going to find it hard to get a decent western style feed in Cebu City : )

2. Lighthouse Restaurant , Mango Avenue. All taxi drivers know it. Seafood. This was 'paradise' in days of old , havent been for a while cause they closed the place down for more than a year for renovations , plus prices kept going up and up. Definitely worth one visit if you like seafood. Nice ambience and atmosphere days of old . Great place to bring a girl. Arrive before 8pm to be sure of seat (old days difficult after 8pm , dont know about right now , shall try next trip).

3. Ayala Shopping Centre - P40 taxi ride from Park Place Hotel. Prop at 'Idea Italia' Coffee Shop, ground floor near main entrance. Have a snack. Nice view watching the passers by , and the odd Freelancer might give you the glad eye. Alternatively eat at any of the restaurants/bars in the Ayala Entertainment Centre (see nightlife notes , Freelancers)

4. Shoemart Shopping Mall - 2/3 kms from Ayala. Plenty of Restaurants upstairs, and ladies walking around 'shopping' , working in Department Stores etc. Have a snack at the "French Baker Restaurant" , good for perving on passing babes. The new Northern entrance has a string of Restaurants to your right , as you walk up the stairs. Taxi ride (P60 plus) away from Cebu Central (Fuente).

5. McDonalds, Shakeys Pizza Restaurants and many others, a plenty. They are scattered everywhere. All neat, tidy and efficiently run. Well, not all, but most.

6. Eddies Log Cabin - Difficult to find , only for the curious : )

This was most probably the first expat Coffee Shop in Cebu City. Started after World War 2 by an ex Marine, Eddie. Just say to the taxi driver ," Eddies Log Cabin, M.C. Briones (pron. 'bree-on-ees') Street, near Customs (pron. koos-tooms) and keep your fingers crossed, cause some taxi drivers , strange as it may seem, are fuzzy on its whereabouts. Don't let taxi drivers take you to Eddies Hotel by mistake, they are at two very different locations. I found Eddies Hotel Restaurant (not Coffee Shop) 'terrible' , by way (dif. cook) . Log Cabin : Steaks etc , good cook. Drop off and pick up in front of the Coffee Shop/Log Cabin. When departing at night , Eddies security guard will blow his whistle for a taxi. Alternatively the waiter will help you hail a taxi. Not the best of areas to be walking around in at night. (not far from the wharf area) . Open 9am to 2pm and then 6pm to 10pm. Closed on Sundays.

All of this info belongs to


Travellers Cheques - Nowadays it is not so easy to change Travellers Cheques. Changers cite too much fluctuation in the value of the Pesos and ten days to collect their money , as the reason for their reluctance to change TC's. No problem with Amex though :

Ayala Shopping Centre/Mall , is where I change my money nowadays ...

1. American Express , located at Ayala Shopping Centre , for changing of Amex TC's. Just tell taxi driver "Ayala Est entrance" (East is pronounced Est). When you alight you will see Turista Shop , to its right 'Adventure Intl Tours' where Amex resides (small Amex Logo on glass door). Phone 231.6747 Ask and insist on some small denominations (P500's at least) at Amex , otherwise they will give you all thou' notes, which aren't always easy to change. Sit down in the Lounge chair and secrete the cash away , before you step outside the Amex Office. Cash not exchanged , only TC's.

2. Facing Amex and to the left there is a narrow entrance to Ayala , Security guy at door checking bags. Enter there and when in side Ayala , turn hard right and walk down to the circle , taking left side of circle and you will see a little Booth : "GPC Money Exchange" (Ground Floor).

3. There is also another Money Changer upstairs , not far from Bo's Coffee Shop. Reputedly a slightly better exchange rate. This is where I have been changing lately. Ask for its whereabouts , its tucked away , not clearly in view. (1st Floor UK/2nd Floor USA). If you catch a taxi to Ayala Shopping Mall , ask taxi to drop you off at Bo's (Bow's as in bow and tie) Coffee Shop entrance. Walk up stairway and straight ahead , its tucked away at right hand corner 30/40mtrs away.

4. Not recommended for inexperienced travellers , but another alternative : In addition to Ayala , budget type accommodation places will ring around for you and get the best rate. Changer calls to your room , if you want. No extra charge. Count each and every note in front of the 'messenger' who delivers the money , before you hand over your U$. I used this method in days of yore , but not anymore , change at Ayala nowadays.

5. ATM's - Just about everywhere. I would not feel comfortable getting money on the footpath though. Fairly high street crime in the Philippines. Equitable Bank is well organised for that kind of transaction. NOTE : Last trip I noticed I lost 5% on the exchange rate , using ATM's. See Cash Advances below. Secure ATM's with Guard can be found in Citibank building not far (40/50mtrs) from Starbucks Ayala. Very secure and private. But I have decided to bring cash notes with me nowadays. Dont like the bank sharks ripping me off with poor exchange rates and bank charges. Convenient though : )

All of this info belongs to

6. I used the following cash advances procedure in days of yore , but not any more. ATM's quicker , more convenient.

Cash Advances - I usually have an ATM card and cash. Found a bank that did not charge one single cent for giving me cash advances . A Bank not charging - unheard of ! My home bank only charged U$1.25 for each transaction , regardless of the amount of the transaction. Equitable Bank (Cebu City) was the bank who gave me an advance without any charge whatsoever. Pesos 20,000 (min.) and up to 50, 000 max cash advances every day pos. Two pic ID's necessary. Secrete the money away BEFORE stepping outside and stand close to the armed Bank Security Guards outside the bank , to hail a taxi straight back to your room with all the loot. Safe and secure way to collect a bundle of dough.

Equitable Banks : The one in F. Gonzales Street downtown is the best. Also there is a big one in J. Luna St , Reclamation , opposite SM Mall.


Cialis/Viagra : You should be able to purchase without prescription at all of the major pharmacies. Angeles City street purchases are apparently the best for this. Myself don't use substances , make sure I have got a hottie = dont need any 'external' help : )

I use almost exclusively Mercury Drug store at Fuente Osmena (all taxi drivers know it). Possibly best stock supply in town. Too many others say "out of stock".

Now that the 'Basics' have been taken care of we can consider 'nocturnal activities'.

Cebu has sufficient for most.


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