Philippines: Asia’s new hot spot
Many of you may be familiar with the clear waters of Thailand, so perhaps it’s time to change your travel tune this year as Emirates introduces a direct flight to Cebu, an island located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines.
First Class Emirates steward, Imad Boujemaoui, is already familiar with the island, which was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, and gives us the insider scope on what to do, see and eat when you’re there.
Where’s the best place to get local cuisine in Cebu? What should we order?
There’s an open-air food court called Larsian Barbecue located at Fuente Osmena and it’s open 24/7. There are lots of stalls that offer pretty much the same food, like skewered chicken, stuffed fish, shrimps and hotdogs. But order Cebu’s famous chorizo and you won’t be disappointed.
Best place for breakfast?
I have a sweet tooth, so for breakfast I need my croissant or any pastries. La Vie Parisienne is the place to be. The freshly baked pastries smell incredible and the macaroons are delicious. Also head there for dinner if you want to enjoy a nice wine from their cellar along with a cheese platter. Located in Lahug, Cebu City, the French bakery is the ideal place to hang out with friends. At night, the entire garden area is lit up by bright pink lights from the trees.
What would you recommend stocking up on in Cebu?
For local delicacies, make sure you get Cebu’s dried mangoes or try the Rosquillos cookies, the distinctive snack unique to Cebu. Puto and Sikwate are also popular. Puto is steamed sticky rice mixed with coconut milk and Sikwate is a hot chocolate drink. And you should try the oval shaped delicious Salvaro coconut crackers.
What are the top three tourist attractions we should not miss out on?
You have to try snorkelling or Scuba diving with whale sharks in Oslob; go canyoneering in Alegria where you end up at the impressive Kawasan Falls in Moalboal; and make sure you spend a day at the Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort for the ultimate day of relaxing.
Wardrobe essentials for Cebu?
Just stick to a t-shirt and a pair of shorts with a pair of Havaianas for day. For dinner, I’d suggest wearing jeans with a plain shirt, and depending on the weather I might wear a sports jacket with my favourite All Stars Converse shoes.
What’s your favourite memory from your trips to Cebu?
It has always been one of my dreams to swim with whale sharks and last month I dived with five of them. It really was a magical moment to be surrounded by the world’s largest fish. If you are an adventurer, I highly recommend the Alegria canyoneering where you will be walking, cliff jumping, falls sliding and swimming for about four hours before you finally reach The Kawasan Falls.
Best photo you took there?
Face to face with the whale shark [see banner].
Are there any favourite hobbies of yours we should try while we’re there?
The number one water activity in Cebu is Scuba diving. You’ll find lots of dive spots and it’s also a good place to get your Scuba diving PADI licence. Otherwise, I’d recommend spending the day fly-fishing, banana boating, jet skiing or parasailing.