One of the quintessential parts of life in Cebu City is the habal-habal (or simply habal), basically a motorcycle taxi. It’s one of the most popular forms of transportation in the provincial capital of Cebu Province, especially for those who want to avoid the occasional heavy traffic. If you want to get to your destination quickly, then the habal-habal is the answer.
Riding a habal-habal has also become a tourist activity in and of itself. One might even say that a tour of Cebu City is incomplete if you haven’t ridden even once. In addition, there are also some destinations that can only be reached or is more easily reached by these motorcycle taxis. So, if you want the full experience, here are some of the best Cebu City tourist destinations that you can reach via habal-habal.
Beverly Hills and Taoist Temple
Those staying in hotels in Lahug, Cebu City are in luck because one of the most popular tourist spots in Lahug is the Taoist Temple. Located inside Beverly Hills Subdivision, the temple was built in 1972 by the city’s sizeable Chinese community. The multi-tiered temple features a beautiful entrance gate, gardens, statues, and stairs that are designed to look like those found in famous landmarks in the Chinese mainland. From the balcony, there’s a beautiful panoramic view of the city. If you want, you may also drop a coin in the wishing well to the right side of the temple.
Note that the habal-habal will only be allowed until the entrance of the subdivision. Reaching the Taoist Temple will take another 20 to 30 minutes of walking, but at least there are a lot of trees to provide some shade and a light breeze if you’re walking under the afternoon sun. Make sure to follow the rules for visitors of the temple as it is, after all, a religious site.
Temple of Leah
Also called the Taj Mahal of Cebu, the Temple of Leah was built in 2011 by Teodorico Soriano Adarna for his wife Leah. It’s located in Barangay Busay, about 6 kilometers from Lahug and about 8.7 kilometers from the city center. The temple features elements from Greek and Roman architecture, with a grand sweeping staircase, gigantic brass statues, and a towering fountain in front. You can also find a museum, an art gallery, and a library inside the temple. Many of the temple’s chambers feature Leah’s favorite and beloved personal belongings. For the main display, a 9-foot bronze statue of Leah can be found in the middle of the temple.
Tops Lookout, or simply Tops to the locals, is located on top of Busay and Nivel Hills. At more than 600 meters above sea level, Tops will give you a gorgeous view of the Cebu cityscape, glimpses of Mandaue and Mactan Island, and even the coast of Bohol. Tops itself is a sight to behold, with its concrete-and-stone structure and hexagonal tiles that make it look like a fort or castle. Tops is a popular picnic spot, although there are also restaurants nearby for a nice lunch or dinner. If you visit in the late afternoon, you can catch the gorgeous sunset and see the city come alive with lights as the day draws to a close. Of course, Tops is also perfect for stargazing since the skies are clear from most of smog from the city. Don’t forget to bring a sweatshirt or jacket because the breeze can get quite cold in the evening, especially during weeks late in the year.
Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden
Terrazas de Flores is only about a kilometer or so away from Tops. As its name suggests, Terrazas de Flores is a flower garden that’s arranged to form terraces. It features 127 species of tropical plants and flowers, which thrive beautifully due to the cool weather in the area. Other forms of art like music, paintings, and poetry are also featured in the garden, creating a truly tranquil atmosphere for all visitors. There are plenty of cabanas and seating areas where you can relax, while the in-house café provides overlooking view of the garden even as you enjoy a delicious snack or meal.
Sirao Flower Farm
Sirao Flower Farm is perhaps the most popular among the flower gardens in Cebu. Called the “Little Amsterdam of Cebu,” Sirao Flower Farm began as a humble garden with the purpose of providing a flower harvest for All Souls Day. When the garden began to attract more visitors, the owners decided to keep the flowers and cultivate the farm instead. Today, Sirao Flower Farm is home to colorful celosias, sunflowers, daisies, chrysanthemums, and more. Beside Sirao Flower Farm is Sirao Pictorial Garden and Camping Site (PCGS) for those who want to take a dip in a beautiful pool and take even more pictures of flowers.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already had a habal-habal ride before. It will always be part of the Cebu City experience. So go on, be a full-blown tourist! Let the habal-habal take you to your next Cebu destination.