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Province of Cebu

Planning trip to Cebu and Bohol in Jan

I'm planning a two week trip towards the end of January, that I'm hoping will include Cebu, Bohol (Panglao) and then on to Malaybalay. I'll probably fly directly into Cebu first... I just learned there's a big festival going on the 3rd week of January. While I'd like to see that, I bet things will be booked up and crowded. What would be the first day I can safely fly into Cebu without encountering what's left of the festival?

From what I've read, I think I may be best off saving most of my beachgoing fun for Panglao, correct? In that case, I'd probably want to stay in a good hotel in the city. Friends have stayed in Shangri-La Mactan and were thrilled, but staying in an expensive beach resort that no one wants to step foot out of isn't really my thing.

What would be good to stay in that isn't too expensive? And, once there, what should we do with our time? I'm seeing the city with the idea in mind that someday I may want to permanently move there, or maybe just buy some property that I rarely see (until retirement) but let relatives live in for nominal fee. So, it would be good if I could get a realistic non-touristy overview of the city somehow. What city and/or island tours are available? I'd be up for even an all-day tour. Are there places on the island outside the city that would make good day-long destinations? I love photography, beaches and nature.

Also, how long would be good to stay in Cebu before hopping on a ferry to Tagbilaran City (for Panglao stay)? I'm thinking 3 nights. (And then maybe 5-7 in Panglao with the rest in Malaybalay.) FYI, Malaybalay is the only one of these destinations I've actually been to. I'm completely unfamiliar with Cebu and Bohol. For comparison purposes, I did spend some wonderful days in Boracay.


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