Cebu is one of the dream destinations of many vacationers and even people who are looking to relocate to a warmer and more relaxed environment. The allure of Cebu is in the balance between beautiful natural wonders and modern high-technology infrastructure.
Anyone who has ever been to Cebu knows about the magnificent beaches, lakes, waterfalls and other natural beauty of the islands. What makes it even better is how all of these are interspersed within a bustling and vibrant city that has all the technology and conveniences that comes with city life. For instance, Cebu has its fair share of huge shopping malls that sell everything you will ever need, while also providing you with much needed entertainment for you and your family on those times that you get tired of too much sun and beach activities.
Here are some of the best malls that Cebu has to offer.
1. SM Seaside
Despite being just a bit outside of the metropolis, it is worth taking a trip to SM Seaside Cebu. The view alone is enough reason to take that 20 minute drive from the city. The rooftop terrace of the mall where people can just walk or sit around offers 360-degree views of Cebu’s mountains and seas where you can have a view of the Cebu Strait.
There are also a lot of cafes and restaurants on the rooftop where you can dine or drink al fresco while enjoying the scenic views. It is a good place to just hang around and chill alone or with your friends or take photos with your family.
The mall is relatively more modern than all the other malls in Cebu, or even in the Philippines’ capital, Metro Manila. It just opened in late 2015 and features an ultra modern design and high technology structures. It is a circular shaped mall with modern architecture using a lot of glass and windows to let natural sunlight in during the daytime. At nighttime, all the lights shine including the purple lights that illuminate the Rubik’s cube-like sculpture in the very front of the building, as well as the colorful lights that brighten up the central tower of the structure, making the whole building look like it came straight out of an ultra modern sci-fi film. The central tower is 150-meter high and will open soon and will feature dining areas and viewing decks, 50-storeys above ground level.
The mall features a large screen cinema that is 30% bigger than the regular cinema. It uses modern projection and sound technology that creates a higher level of cinematic experience when viewing crisper images, brighter and more vibrant colors and hearing top-of-the line sound systems that all work together to create an immersive viewing experience.
What makes the mall even better than the rest is how child-friendly and elderly-friendly the whole place is. The elevators are spacious and efficient for those in trolleys and wheelchairs. These trolleys and wheelchairs are also available for rent when you want to explore the mall but the kids or elders are too tired to walk around. The halls and walkways are extremely spacious so that the kids can just run around without disrupting the foot traffic. There are also a lot of entertainment options available for kids such as an ice rink, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, and even a waterpark in the mall’s garden. The adults will also be well entertained with the huge variety of shops and restaurants that are available within this huge mall.
Getting there does not pose any hassle, whether you drive or take public transport. It’s a 20-minute drive from Cebu City center and 40 minute drive from Mactan-Cebu International Airport. The parking building is huge so finding a spot is not going to be a problem even during busy weekends. There are buses going to the mall from most main locations in the city as well.
2. Ayala Center Cebu
Conveniently Located in the heart of Cebu city: Cebu Business Park, where the city’s financial and business district lie along with a multitude of condominiums and hotels, Ayala Center is one of the most popular malls in the city. Because of this, it can be quite a daunting task to get to it if you do not live nearby. Driving to it will only take you about 35 minutes from the airport, however, this time can be doubled due to the traffic situation around the center. Finding a parking spot can also be tricky as you may find that the parking areas are always full especially during weekends.
Having said that, the thousands of locals and tourists who flock to the mall everyday remain undeterred. The mall can get a bit crowded and most places can get full especially when the kids are out of school and during weekends. This may be because of the mall’s design, features and options that keep drawing in the crowds.
There is a plethora of choices within the mall, in terms of shopping and dining experiences. The mall offers a diversified experience, as the shops range from the affordable brands to the high-end luxury. The same goes for the food choices that range from fast food to fancy fine dining restaurants. The architecture and design of the mall is quite unique. Most restaurants of the mall are located in the terraces facing the large garden in the middle of the mall. Customers can dine while looking out to the wide-open garden where the kids can play in the outdoor playground, watch the water fountain or simply run around the grass. The garden is a popular place for people to just relax, sit and walk around.
The mall also makes sure to provide various activities for customers in their many event spaces. They may host free concerts, school activities, job fairs, food fairs and weekend markets so the customers can expect variety in their experiences.
The mall is also known for their extravagant décor and displays that are in line with the season. For instance, during Christmas seasons, the mall boasts of a wonderful display of lights during nighttime that the customers are always eager to watch and take photos.
3. Robinson’s Galleria Cebu
If you’re not a fan of crowds and going through heavy traffic to get to a mall, Robinson’s Galleria Cebu might be your best bet. It is located away from the city’s bustling central business district, which means less traffic, more parking spaces, and no crowds. The mall is perfect for Mandaue residents or those who just have a long layover in the Mactan International Airport. Located near the coast of the North reclamation area, just 30 minutes away from the airport, this mall is easily accessible despite being just outside of the city center. As expected, you can avoid traffic going to this mall instead of going all the way to the city center; in addition, there are plenty of parking spaces.
Dubbed as the cleanest mall in Cebu, Robinson’s Galleria is indeed one of the most orderly and organized malls in the island. The hallways and walkways are shiny, new and white. There is hardly any crowd in the mall, which makes the wide walkways even better.
Having just officially opened towards the end of 2015, the mall interior is still incomplete, as a lot of the shop spaces are yet to be occupied. Due to the shortage of stores, customers may feel like there are limited choices in terms of places to eat and shop.
Nevertheless, the mall does not scrimp on decorations and upkeep. It provides a calm, cool and relaxing haven from the scorching heat outside, as the whole building is well air-conditioned, and every corner is kept clean and tidy. The lobby has environmentally friendly and beautiful decorations with which a lot of people take photos.
A huge hotel is built on the upper floors of the mall, which makes it the most convenient mall for hotel guests who just want to shop, dine or go to the cinema.
4. SM City Cebu
Despite being viewed by locals as relatively less posh compared to the malls that have been previously mentioned in this list, SM City Cebu is still in contention as being one of the best malls in Cebu. Beaten only by SM seaside, SM City Cebu is the second largest mall in all of Cebu, and seventh largest in the Philippines.
With the mall initially intending to cater to low to middle wage working class, the selection of shops and dining places are not as diverse as the others on this list, as most shops and restaurants in the mall are on the more affordable side of the spectrum. You can’t expect to find luxury and high-end brands in this mall, but nonetheless, the mall still offers a lot of different shops and restaurants to choose from without breaking the bank.
Recently, the mall expanded by building a north wing, the shops and restaurants in which are more catered to the upper class customers, which made the mall more diverse than before.
It also offers a lot of entertainment choices for the whole family like a bowling alley, an amusement center and large halls that have been the venue of a lot of free concerts in the past.
Just 25 minutes away from the airport, and 10 minutes away from the center, the mall is conveniently located close to a lot of hotels and high rise condominiums, and easily accessible by walking, driving or using public transport. However, as with the problems of the other establishments within the city center, expect some heavy traffic en route, and some trouble with finding a parking space should you decide to drive down there.
Somewhere between the city center and the Mactan International airport is Parkmall. It is about 20 minutes from the city center, and 20 minutes away from the airport.
As the name suggests, the mall is characterized by the large green park that surrounds the building. The mall is not as big as the other malls in the city, but its unique architecture and ambiance, as well as its location draw in people from both Cebu and Mandaue. Furthermore, it is the first mall in Cebu that encourages pets. Thus, you can expect to see various dogs and their owners strolling along the park and even within the mall. Simply relaxing on the many sitting areas of the park and watching the various animals go by, some of them in pet costumes and strollers, is enough to keep you entertained.
Since the mall is not as spacious as the others, the choices for shopping and dining and other activities are limited, however, if you know what you need and you don’t need to go through hundreds of shops to find what you are looking for, this is the mall for you. It is easily accessible by driving and public transport, but be forewarned, parking spaces are scarce.
Cebu still has a number of other malls that did not make it to this list but are still worth visiting. These include The Gaisano Grand Mall and mall chains, City Mall, Pacific Mall and many others.
Whichever mall you choose to go to, you will soon find that Cebu certainly has it all. You will never run out of choices and variety. Whether you prefer dining indoors out of the hot sun or al fresco while enjoying the scenery, or whether you prefer local Cebuano cuisine or international delicacies, you can find whatever you crave for in one of the gigantic malls of Cebu. As for shopping, you can find anything you need no matter the price range you are willing to spend. Whether you choose to go ultra luxury or budget-friendly, you can’t go wrong with these malls.
Lazzie Lynn is an exhausted and sleep-deprived mom of three young children whose passion includes writing, traveling, online shopping, and reading funny memes online. She has a knack for working while carrying a baby in one arm and eating a whole meal in just two minutes (before the baby wakes up). With her eyes closed, she can write adeptly about family and parenting, homeschooling, child development, digital marketing, SEO, online career opportunities, and specific topics on lifestyle, health, travel, and technology.