If you want the total Philippines tourist experience, head to the Queen City of the South: Cebu. Cebu, the capital city of the Province of Cebu, is a close second in economic growth to Manila. With its Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and American influences, Cebu's rich cultural heritage is evident in its churches, shrines and museums. The cacophony of jeepneys, taxis and other vehicles on Colon Street and other thoroughfares remind you that Cebu is not just largest seaport in the Philippines, but is a burgeoning metropolis in its own right. Still, just a short distance from the city center, are scenic white sand beaches and idyllic waterfalls that will lead you to believe you've been transported to another place and time.
Start at the Basilica del Santo Nińo on Osmeńa Boulevard, which houses a statue of the Holy Child, considered to be the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. The Basilica also has its own museum that includes the vestments used to dress the image. Magellan's Cross in Plaza Sugbo features historical murals and the large wooden cross that Magellan planted upon converting the island to Christianity. The Taoist Temple, the Cebu Provincial Museum and Fort San Pedro, built in 1738 to repel Muslim raiders, are also worth a visit. If you're looking for more a beach vacation, head to the beaches of Mactan or Moalboal. You can also go shark watching on Malapascua Island and bird-watching, snorkeling and diving at the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Don't miss the twin waterfalls at Kawasan Falls in Badian. For a spectacular view of the city from the top, try renting a mountain bike and head to Tops Lookout at Mt. Busay.
You'll never go hungry in Cebu. Whether you want Filipino cuisine, with is a hearty blend of its Spanish, Chinese and American influences, or good old-fashioned fast food, there are many restaurants along Gen. Maxilom Avenue, Fuente Rotunda and Osmeńa Boulevard that will cater to your appetite. Most of the malls in the city also have their own food courts with a variety of stalls specializing in world cuisines.
There are many shopping malls in Cebu, the most popular of which are SM City Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu and Robinson's Galleria. Smaller malls like e-Mall, Cebu Parkmall and Country Mall can help widen your shopping experience. If you want to try your hand at street shopping, however, head to Colon in the Old Downtown.
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