If you’re traveling within the Philippines, inevitably you’ll land come through Mactan Airport in Cebu City, which is one of the major hubs for Cebu Pacific Airlines. They have almost as many flights going in and out of Mactan as they do Manila every day, and it’s the gateway to so many amazing smaller islands. The only problem is that for lack of enough direct flights going from Island A to Island B in the Philippines, you might have to stop in Cebu just for a layover – and have hours and hours to kill at the Mactan Airport. In fact, people sometimes avoid flying through Cebu because the layover would be 4, 5 hours or longer. Or, they make the opposite mistake and book connecting flights that are way too tight, and inevitably miss their flight because Cebu Pacific is about 80% late. Too many otherwise awesome trips and cheap tickets get cast aside because of fear for the dreaded long layover in Cebu.
Don’t worry – I’m going to hook you up so not only will you not fear the Cebu layover, but actually look forward to it!
What to Do at Mactan Airport on a Layover
Let’s say you’re going from Dumaguete to Clark Airport, like I did, with a stop in Cebu and a 4-hour layover. The first thing to do is confirm with the airline that your check-in luggage is booked all the way to your final destination, which it should be, save for some unusual circumstance or airline switch.
So when you arrive in Mactan Airport, you’ll head through the baggage area to the exit, anyway. If you need a SIM card or load up a quick cell service package on your phone so you’ll have internet throughout your layover, there are Globe and Smart kiosks right near the bank machines.
Next, go outside and take a hard left along the sidewalk. There’s a 7-11 there if you need toiletries or anything else.
Now, you’ll cross the street (careful!) and walk up the big ramp. Go inside the airport again (this is the arrival terminal where you’ll be leaving from) and, once again, walk out of the exit. Cross the street again, and you’ll find yourself at a long metal gate along the sidewalk. There’s a stairwell leading down from the gate and the street, and now you’re on the right track to get to the Waterfront Hotel. (There will be an attendant on duty most of the time at the bottom of the stairs so you can ask him for directions.) The whole walk shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes.
Once you’re inside the Waterfront, you’ll see they have a lounge area in the lobby with big, comfy chairs and sofas. Feel free to plop down there and chill and even ask them if there is an outlet nearby to recharge your devices.
Or, you can hit their nice restaurant in the lobby. It’s not cheap, but it’s great to hang out and get some good quality grub during your layover. They have a breakfast buffet and then a lunch buffet that’s really amazing. The lunch buffet normally costs 899 Pesos (about $18), so it’s definitely not cheap, but ask them for the Fly and Dine special that will get you 20% off if you show your ticket. Or, you can just order a coffee and use their free and password-less wifi. They seriously are used to travelers so they won’t mind at all if you kick it there for hours.
If you get the urge to adventure out, they have a great swimming pool on the bottom floor and even a weight room. Or, there’s a casino inside the hotel! Even more relaxing, there’s a 24-hour massage place at the hotel.
Keep your eye on the clock, but we now know it will only take you like 2-3 minutes to make the walk back into the airport to your arrival terminal. You’ll be all checked in and ready to head right to your gate.
If you time it right, you’ll only have to wait for less than an hour inside the airport, and you can get a coffee or watch something or listen to music on your now-charged devices.
Safe flying and you’re very welcome!