The Philippines is known for its festivals bursting with colors and cheers and if you haven’t been to one yet then 2016 should be the year to tick them off of your travel list! A great jumpstart to your list would be to visit the Queen City of the South, Cebu and sadsad (dance) your way to its grand annual festival – the Sinulog Festival!
The Sinulog is held every third Sunday of January to celebrate the Feast of Santo Niño and the festival’s highlight is the epic and colorful grand parade that lasts for almost an entire day and is participated by contingents coming from all over the Philippines. Laden in bright, colorful and intricate costumes, these participants dance gracefully to the Sinulog beat in honor of the child Jesus or the Señor Santo Niño.
Being a Cebuano myself and an annual attendee of the Sinulog Festival, I highly recommend that you experience Sinulog at least once in your life, and getting there doesn’t have to expensive too. All it needs is careful planning and your limited budget can certainly go a long way.
Flying to Cebu
Booking early is the key. With the thousands of locals and foreigners flocking in to get to Cebu, airfares could get really expensive. And the closer it gets to the festival date, expect the price to really skyrocket. That is why I always book as early as soon as I confirm the dates of the Sinulog weekend.
But don’t fret, seat sales are here to the rescue! Keep an eye on seat sales and you can score really affordable tickets!
Airasia is one our favorite reliable airlines that offers affordable flights to Cebu. And this year, Cebu-bound passengers flying from January 12 to 16, 2016 are in for a big treat! AirAsia is giving away “Sinulog Kits” that will give you access to parties and food trip so you can have the ultimate Cebu experience!
Each Sinulog Kit distributed on-board by their flight crew contains a whistle (trust me, this will be very useful in making noise during the festivities), a Sinulog 101 booklet, and discount coupons to their partner establishments including Dong Juan, Dimsum Break/Ding Qua Qua, Harbour City, Coffee Prince, Coffee Bean Scent, Ulli’s Streets of Asia, Pizza Republic, Handuraw, Golden Cowrie/Hukad, Captain A’s, Ayer’s Lechon, and the Laguna Group/Café Laguna, Laguna Garden.
TAXI TIP! (Updated) Upon arrival at the Mactan International Airport, opt for the white, metered taxi stand just outside the Arrival area to take you to the city. They are less expensive than the yellow airport taxis.
Where to Stay
Hotels and inns are usually fully booked months before Sinulog so it is highly recommended to book early as well. If possible and available, book your accommodation along the Sinulog route. Top locations to book are at the Fuente Osmeña area and Mango Avenue. For budget accommodation, you can check out Sampaguita Suites, Apple Tree Suites, Cebu Guest House, and Elegant Circle Inn to name a few.
You can also stay with friends who are willing to share a space. Couchsurfing can be a good alternative too!
Where to Eat
If there’s one thing I so love about Cebu, is that food is abundant and cheap!
Larsian is the place to go for cheap, inihaw (or sinugba) goodness. Best to eat with puso (hanging rice) and ice-cold soda or beer!
Look for Siomai sa Tisa. You’ll keep coming back for more.
And of course, don’t forget to make a budget for it and eat LECHON. My personal favorite would be Rico’s Spicy Lechon.
The whole week leading to the Sinulog Grand Parade is filled with lots of events that you can check out. There is really no need to spend much to enjoy the festivities that Sinulog offers.
On Saturday, you can witness the fluvial procession of the Niño early in the morning. And on the afternoon, join thousands of devotees for a religious procession around the city that ends at the Basilica del Sto. Niño wherein a mass is held and is capped with fireworks.
If parties are your thing, Cebu is filled with parties left and right during the Sinulog weekend. Head on to the party street, Mango Avenue, and your options are endless. For AirAsia passengers, entrance is free at The Distillery Cebu from January 11-18 with a free cocktail upon presentation of boarding pass and coupon.
Elektromundo Sinulog is also happening that weekend and for the first 500 AirAsia passengers who buy tickets will get a discount. Tickets can be purchased at City Times Square or Liv Superclub from Jan 12-16.
On Sunday, make sure to prepare yourself for a lot of walking! People will crowd and line up the streets to catch the Sinulog parade. Street dancers, explosion of colors, high energy all around and the air is filled with music, drumbeat and cheers.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind to survive the Sinulog parade:
- You will do a lot of walking as most of the major streets will be closed. Strut the streets in your most reliable and comfortable footwear.
- To keep yourself hydrated, carry a bottle of water with you at all times.
- Sunblock is your best friend.
- Safe keep your valuables as pickpockets are prevalent as well.
- Wear comfy clothes and don’t forget to bring an extra shirt.
- Rain or shine, take with you a hat or an umbrella/poncho.
- Make sure your camera is fully charged and memory cards a plenty. You don’t wanna miss those picture-perfect moments!
- And lastly, just have fun and enjoy! You can get your face painted or get a henna tattoo instead, cheer with the crowd, and dance to the thrilling drumbeats of Sinulog!
Viva Pit Señor! Hope to see you in Sinulog this January!
For affordable flights and ticket promos, check out Philippines AirAsia, at www.airasia.com.
And for more information and updates about Cebu’s Sinulog Festival, visit www.sinulog.ph and facebook.com/AirAsiaPhilippines
You can also check out the official SINULOG 2016 Schedule of Activities here: www.sinulog.ph/index.php/events/sinulog-2016-schedule-of-activities
Hey author of this article… The white taxis (the ones that are more affordable than the yellow taxis) are no longer on the second floor (Departure Area), but are at the White Taxi Stand just outside the Arrival Area. This was one of the improvements done recently by the new management, to improve travelers’ convenience.
Also, I think there’s still MyBus, which takes you from airport to SM City Cebu, for less than PHP100.
Please update your “TAXI TIP!” note.