Our first real experiences of the Philippines was our Cebu city guesthouse, since we had decided to skip Manila completely on our way in, and take an ongoing domestic Philippines Airlines flight to the islands.
We would spend just one day in Cebu City, before leaving early the next morning for Moalboal on the West coast of Cebu island.
On arrival at Cebu airport we exited the terminal, walked up the ramp across the road, and took a white taxi to the Ayala Shopping Mall.
The yellow taxis charge 350 pesos, but our driver ran his meter and charged us 230 pesos (50 pesos to the euro). The traffic was really heavy, so the trip took a good 50 mins. The Ayala Shopping Mall doesn’t actually open till 10 am, but luckily one breakfast place (ArmyNavy) was already open.
We whiled away some time munching burritos and quesadillas, with beer and tea (470 pesos).
Our next priority was to find a suitable cash machine. When we arrived in Manila, I had no option but to get a small amount of cash from a Philippine bank ATM. The problem with that is you pay 200 pesos bank charges on any transaction, and the maximum you can take is 10,000 pesos.
I was therefore looking for a HSBC ATM, where there are no bank charges, and you can take 20,000 pesos. We found one opposite the Marriott hotel just outside the Ayala Mall.
We then went back in the Mall and bought a prepaid SIM card for 40 pesos.
Cebu City Guesthouse – New Era Pension Inn
After that, a helpful security guard gave us directions to our hotel, which was about 20 mins walk away. We’d booked our accommodation, The New Era Pension Inn, because this was the only place we could find that offered early check-in (from 9 am). Everywhere else had check-in from 2 pm, with a substantial surcharge for early check-in. This place was also reasonably priced at €32, including breakfast.
Although close to the business center, the Pension is located in a typical poor Filipino street area, with chickens and children dodging between the cars on the narrow congested streets.
The New Era Pension Inn is surprisingly modern. Small rooms, but clean and comfortable. When we arrived, our hostess told us that check-in was normally from 2 pm!
I politely pointed out that her online booking form suggested different. The situation was quickly resolved in our favour, but I’m just glad we didn’t turn up at 7 am, straight from the airport. After 2 days travelling, we were really looking forward to a shower and change of clothes.
Next morning, there was no sign of breakfast. Instead, we were given 2 meal vouchers and told we could use them at a small eatery at the end of the road. There, we cashed them in for a very basic breakfast of toast, eggs and coffee.
After that it was time to head over to the South Bus Terminal for the next leg of our journey – to Moalboal on the west coast of Cebu island. Once there we planned to spend a few days settling in – with a little snorkeling – before continuing our journey to Bohol.
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