Our journey from Cebu to Mactan Airport in Philippines (Day 10)

In this final post of my 10-day Philippines Tour, I’ll be sharing our short but very interesting journey getting from Cebu to Mactan Airport. You’ll also read tips that can help you save money and avoid the common taxi scams.

Mactan Cebu Airport
Mactan Cebu Airport (source: airports-worldwide.com)

In case you are looking for a hotel to stay in Cebu, you may also be interested to read my mini-review of Mandarin Plaza, Cebu. Read on! 


Buffet Breakfast at Mandarin Plaza, Cebu


I was surprised that the buffet breakfast at 4-star Mandarin Plaza was held in a small and narrow area within the lobby.  It would be alright if the food was good. Sadly, the food was mediocre even by my (low) standard.

Mandarin Plaza Cebu
Disappointing breakfast – Veggies were under-cooked and the rest were cold.

When we both left the table to collect our second round of food, we’d intentionally set our utensils to signal that we were not done (folk and knife separated). Our tea and juices and some food items were untouched. When we came back only a minute later, our table was being cleared and the staff had sat down two new guests.

To our astonishment, the staff didn’t ask the new guests to leave. Instead, the staff requested that we who were already eating and holding on to our new plates of items to move to a small table next to the garbage bin.

Mandarin Plaza Cebu
My view while having breakfast

When we resumed our breakfast, the staff were standing within an arm’s length disposing rubbish and clearing plates. We left VERY soon after.

This was the first time something like this has happened in our hotel breakfast experience, and it spooked us. We never dare leave our table unguarded in all our future hotel buffet experience. Sigh.


Mini-Review of Mandarin Plaza, Cebu

Mandarin Plaza, Cebu has a strategic location being next to a big and modern mall – Ayala Mall. Although the room was dated, it provided us with a good night rest in its comfortable bed and fluffy pillow. The view from our room was also unblocked. Although we were allocated a room opposite the lift lobby, we didn’t get any noise disturbance probably due to good sound-proofing of the room.

Unfortunately, Mandarin Plaza (Cebu) has its flaws too. It’d missed the mark of a 4-star hotel as were required to queue and wait for hours during check-in. Breakfast service was horrible and food was cold and sub-standard. Nothing on the buffet counter was nice!

I probably won’t stay here again.

Mandarin Plaza Cebu
Queuing at Mandarin Plaza, Cebu


Tricks used by Taxi Drivers in Cebu


After we checked out of Mandarin Plaza, a taxi that we hailed by the side of the road stopped and helped us load our luggage. Once we entered the taxi, the driver said he wanted another P100 on top of the meter rate because of bad traffic to airport. That’s him requesting for about 50% premium. 

We were decisive and stepped out of the taxi immediately. No worries as the next taxi came within a minute and no such ‘special request’ was made.

TIP: If a taxi driver starts finding ways to get you to pay extra, just stay firm and leave. Sometimes, it’s not just about money as P100 is really no big deal especially to foreigners who hold strong currencies. The point is to discourage taxi industry (especially in South-East Asia) from scamming against tourists.


Our Unique Taxi Experience in Cebu

After boarding the new taxi, we started witnessing something really interesting. During the jam, the taxi driver ordered food from a vendor who was straddling on the road, from lane to lane.

Cebu to Mactan Airport
Street vendor selling food to drivers
Cebu to Mactan Airport
Taxi driver ordering lunch from street vendor

I’m not sure what the driver ordered, but he munched a bit, then spat out some stuff through the window. This carried on for a while until he finished his lunch and burped really loudly like we were invisible. Next, he wound down the window and threw the plastic bag out onto the road.

We, Singaporeans are unused to such a behavior as our country places great importance on cleanliness and hygiene. So it was pretty unusual to see people dumping litter whenever they go (or drive). Such behavioral change would probably take decades to inculcate and we have to thank our forefather for having the foresight to implement it since the 1970s or 80s.

INFO: If you are travelling in a large group, take a look at this Private Mactan-Cebu Airport Transfer. It has the option to ferry up to 10 people in one vehicle. 


Cater Enough Time from Cebu to Mactan Airport


The 15km journey from our hotel in Cebu to Mactan Airport took 1.5 hours. There, we queued and entered the first security baggage scan.

Mactan Cebu Airport
First queue to check-in

After that, it was another 30-minute queue to check-into the airport.

Mactan Cebu Airport
Standing in line – another 30-minute queue

That’s not the end. There’s another queue where a terminal fee of P700 per pax was payable before entering the immigration.

TIP: Don’t spend all your money in Cebu or Boracay. Reserve P700 per pax for the airport terminal fee.


By the time we reached the boarding gate, we had no time to eat or shop even though we’d left our hotel 3 hours before departure time.

TIP: Things are less predictable here. It’s better to play safe and cater lots of time for yourself to get from Cebu to Mactan Airport.

Thank you for staying with me in this Philippines (Cebu/Borcay/Bohol) travelogue.  I’ll be sharing my Eastern Taiwan Travelogue in the next travel series. Stay tuned!

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