These days, it can be pretty hard to decide where to go when we are so tempted with airfare deals all year round. Budget carriers offering attractive low cost options make travelling to neighbouring countries even more affordable and convenient.

How about island hopping in the tropics? Our region is blessed with sparkling pristine waters, scenic natural landscape and rich cultural heritage. Venture a little further, in less than 4 hours flight away, the Philippine islands have what it takes for an idyllic retreat.

Here is an itinerary for 5 Days/ 4 Nights in Cebu and Bohol.

To Cebu & Bohol via Cebu Pacific Air

Cebu Pacific Air is the Philippines’ largest national flag carrier, the youngest that only consists of brand new aircraft fleet in the country. From Singapore, Cebu Pacific Air flies four direct routes to Manila, Cebu, Clark and Iloilo. It offers the lowest year-round Lite Fares in the Philippines, covering a route network of 32 domestic locations and 19 international destinations.

On board Cebu Pacific Air.

Cebu Day 1

Mactan Island Tour

Being one of the touristy islands of Cebu province, Mactan Island has a bit of history to tell. It was a Spanish colony in the 16th century. Upon arrival in 1521, explorer Ferdinand Magellan was embattled in tribal warfare among the tribal groups and finally killed by Lapu-Lapu, one of the tribal chiefs. He became the ruler of Mactan Island and the first Filipino hero in history.

Lapu-Lapu shrine, the bronze statue of the hero who resisted the Spanish colonization.

The Magellan shrine is located nearby as well. The memorial tower of explorer Ferdinand Magellan is believed to be the area where Magellan was killed.

Alegre Guitar Factory

Alegre Guitar is reputable for its exceptional guitar craftmanship in the Philippines, one of the best on Mactan Island in Cebu. Made of indigenous materials, the quality guitars are exported to many countries including the United States, Australia and Japan.

At the Alegre Guitar Factory, visitors and buyers have the chance to see and understand the process of guitar-making. Additional info: www.facebook.com/alegre.guitars.3/info

Profood Factory Visit

Did you know that Cebu is the dried mango capital of the Philippines?

Profood is the largest Philippine based dried fruit producer and takes pride in setting the standard of world class processed fruit products. Its products are widely sold in the country and all over the world.

From the factory gallery, mango lovers and visitors can look at the production floor on how the mangoes are manually peeled and sliced by skilled workers before the processed mangoes are hand-picked for packaging to ensure quality sealed.

You can also buy Profood products at the factory.  Some of them can be found at our local supermarkets as well!

Profood Factory address: Highway, Maguikay, Mandaue City,Metro Cebu, Philippines.
Web: www.profoodcorp.com

Accommodation in Cebu

Marco Polo Plaza is the only five-star hotel in Cebu City, a prestigious landmark centrally located within 10 minutes from the business district and shopping malls, half an hour to the Mactan International Airport.

Accredited as the Deluxe Class Hotel, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu boasts over 300 tastefully appointed guest rooms with luxury fittings and furnished with 32-inch LCD TV, coffee and tea-making facilities, mini-bar and in-room safe among others.

The overall hotel experience is enhanced by well-equipped facilities and amenities including speciality restaurants, gym, tennis court, swimming pool, spa and beauty salon. Complimentary shuttle service to the shopping areas is provided.

Website: www.marcopoloplazacebu.com

Cebu Day 2

Cebu City Tour

The 16th century Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (or Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño) reflects a harmonious blend of Romanesque, Islamic and neoclassical architectural styles, echoing elegance and simplicity in its well-preserved facade of original stone texture.

At the chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the Magellan’s Cross was planted during the time when Cebu became a Spanish colony. According to sources, the cross is a replica as the original one had been destroyed after explorer Magellan was killed.

The Heritage of Cebu Monument is a sculptural tableau depicting scenes of significant events in Cebu history.  Constructed out of bronze, brass, steel and concrete, the monument is at the Parian District where residences of distinguished families during the Spanish colonial time were located.

Also located in the Parian District, the Yap-San Diego Ancestral House will take you back to the late 18th century and feel the lifestyle of a rich family in Cebu during the Spanish colonial era. The ancestral house was built by Chinese merchants of that time and now it is a private museum that is part of the Casa Gorordo Museum Complex open to the public.

Inside the ancestral house, antique furniture, kitchenware, figurines, religious images and vintage items are on displayed, exuding an authentic atmosphere of the past. Sometimes, you will meet the owner of the house if he comes back!

Fort San Pedro has a lot of history to tell. No one seems to know exactly when the stone fort was first constructed. However, some claimed that it was built in 1630 by the Spanish and Cebuano laboureres. The stone fort is located in Plaza Indepedencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City.

Built in the 70s, the Cebu Taoist Temple is perched at 300 metres above sea level. Climb the 99 steps to the entrance that mirrors a mini Great Wall of China and be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Cebu City. You can catch the gorgeous sunset view as well.

The temple is open to Taoist devotees and non-devotees alike. Location: Suburb of Beverly Hills, about 6 km north of downtown Cebu.

So much about city sightseeing and historic tour, it’s time to get the adrenaline pumping!

At the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, the tallest hotel tower in the Philippines, challenge your fear of height with Sky Experience Adventure. Hop onto the world’s first Edge Coaster for an exhilarating sky ride and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Cebu City and the surroundings.

Still can’t get enough of adrenaline rush? Get tethered and take on the challenge of the country’s first and only Sky Walk Extreme! At most, your legs turn jelly.

Find out more on other activities that Sky Experience Adventure can offer here:  www.skyexperienceadventure.com

Address: Tower 1, Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, Fuente Towers, Fuente Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City, 6000 Philippines
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (from 2pm till 12mn); Saturday (from 10am till 2am) & Sunday (from 10am till 2mn)

Bohol Day 3

You might already know about the Chocolate Hills. The unique geological formation is the most famous tourist attraction in Bohol province as well as one of top attractions in the Philippines.

Why the name ‘Chocolate Hills”?  The numerous conical mounds of karst formation are covered in verdant vegetation that turns brown like Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses during the dry season.

Get up close and personal with the Philippine tarsier at the Philippine Tarsier Foundation. These small primates are protected species and kept in their natural habitat as they are suicidal and can’t survive long if they are encaged.

It’s not easy to spot the nocturnal tarsiers so the keepers of the park will try to trace them every morning by the smell or poop.

The Baclayon Church is not only historic and well-preserved, it’s a national heritage that was declared as a National Historic Treasure in the Philippines. The 16th century Catholic Church was built by Spanish priests and is considered as one of the oldest churches in the country.

Can you perceive a natural phenomenon of a human face on the façade of the church?

The interior of the Baclayon Church. Opening Hours: 8am-12pm; 1pm-5pm

How often do city dwellers like us get the chance to dine in a setting surrounded by bushes, coconut trees and tropical vegetation? It’s not surprising the Loboc River on Bohol Island is one of the main tourist attractions for cruises that dubbed as floating restaurants. Guests can enjoy buffet while immersing in Boholano songs played by the band on board the floating restaurant.

While cruising down the river, the floating restaurant will stop at a station where the guests are welcome by young tinikling dancers performing the traditional Philippine dance.

Pamilacan & Balicasag Island Hopping

Get up as early as 5am for island hopping in Bohol. Go for dolphin watching around Pamilacan Island. When in season, you might be able to see whale sharks too!

Balicasag Island offers a memorable experience to snorkellers and divers with colourful corals and a rich diversity of marine life. If you are lucky, you can even spot a turtle swimming past the beautiful coral cliff.

Alona Beach, Bohol Island

Beach lovers will find a range of water sports activities run by different operators at the Alona Beach. Slow down your walking pace and try sea walking at 5 metres underwater on the seabed! Diving instructors will assist the sea walkers to move around the seabed against the underwater currents. Relax and feel like you are part of the marine community with curious fish gliding by you!

Cebu Day 4

Shopping and eating!

As the popular saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. You may shudder at the sight of it, but the balut is a delicacy in the Philippines. Those who have eaten a balut shared that it tastes like egg yolk and the white has a tough and chewy texture of cartilage.

You can see that the 16 days balut shown here is a fertilized duck embryo. Would you eat a balut?

Cebu City has a few shopping malls like Ayala Malls 360 and SM City Cebu to satiate your shopping appetite. Explore the nooks and corners of the city by jeepneys and spend the remaining time on shopping for souvenirs before leaving for Mactan International Airport. The Cebu-Singapore flight via Cebu Pacific Air departs at around 8pm.

A colourful jeepney in Cebu.

Special thanks to the Department of Tourism, the Philippines and Cebu Pacific Air for the invitation to Cebu and Bohol.