Monday, March 27, 2017

Cebu, Philippines: Marco Polo Views & Visiting Sirao Flower Farm

My mum has expressed interest in going to the most-raved about local attraction on Instagram and Facebook, the Sirao Flower Farms in the mountains of Busay in Cebu. But she complained that nobody really wanted to go with her so the visit never happened.

As a backgrounder, my mum loves flowers. I guess, most mums do.

Sirao Flower Garden Cebu

The window of opportunity came when I suggested a visit to the flower farms after the company Christmas ‘Eat-All-You-Can’ lunch at Vikings. They have given the rest of the afternoon free for the employees, so why don’t we take advantage of the free time as well and visit this flower farm? There has been some change of wind, because suddenly, everyone wanted to go, haha.

So off we piled up in 2 cars but before going to Busay, we had to pass by Marco Polo Hotel. This was just a few days before Christmas so we had to endure a horrible traffic, in which I managed to even doze off to sleep throughout the ride inside the car. A 15-minute ride took almost an hour! That is the sad situation of the traffic in Cebu City. Luckily, Marco Polo is on the same route to Busay.

By the way, before you proceed, just FYI – As of January 2017, there have been reports of landslides in the area of Sirao Peak. Read this: Visitors Entry to Sirao Flower Farms Restricted

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

MARCO POLO HOTEL & VIEWS

At the lobby of the Marco Polo Hotel were this huge Christmas Tree and a mock-up fireplace. This hotel used to be the only 5-star hotel in town back in my days. I had very fond memories of the underground discotheque here called BAI. I am talking about the 80’s people, my high school days, and please, believe me, I was a prim and proper girl raised by Catholic nuns. *wink* Anyway, the hotel still looks good but it’s not the best anymore.

SisterJ and Myrhh are staying here for the evening for a wedding of a friend. We inspected their room and the views. I am crazy about views so I made sure to take some pictures.

Marco Polo Hotel Cebu

The lobby of Marco Polo Hotel. We were here last Christmas.

View Marco Polo Hotel Cebu
View Marco Polo Cebu

The view from the room, the back side of the hotel.

Marco Polo Cebu
View Marco Polo Cebu

The view of the city of Cebu from the Marco Polo Hotel.

SIRAO FLOWER GARDENS / FARMS

From Marco Polo, we quickly proceeded, on a convoy to Sirao. The drive took almost an hour and it was quite easy to follow as there were directional signs along the road. The views were also nice during the ride and the roads were okay as well, but just before reaching Sirao we had to go through an ongoing roadwork. It is good that they are doing something with the roads here.

Finally reaching Sirao, we searched for easy parking. Car parking here is very limited if preferring to park near the farms. Additionally, when it rains, the parking areas get muddy. It is expected that you pay a few pesos (P10-20) for parking through a local who guards the area.

For those who would like to come here with public transport, I have read and seen as well, taxis and habal-habal services. I have no idea how much they cost but the latter I would only recommend if you are feeling adventurous because you will have to sit at the back of the habal-habal motorcycle rider and hug him for 1 hour, haha. Not comfy and not safe at all. Better yet, take a taxi. In addition, you will also have to negotiate for your return and the waiting time.


We arrived quite late in the afternoon so we were in a hurry. Twilight was approaching and time was not on our side. But my mum got stuck at the first fruit stall she saw. Sigh, very predictable. The small street to the flower gardens have rows of makeshift stalls selling souvenirs, food and drinks, and fresh fruits. I had to remind her that if she stays longer with the fruit vendor, she will not see her flowers in broad daylight! Ugh, mums. LOL.

To give an idea where the Flower Farms are located:



I have used Ayala Centre here as the starting location. Very important: Add another hour for traffic leeway.

There are 2 flower gardens here in Sirao and each has its own entrance fee. These gardens are first and foremost ‘flower farms’ which means they grow and harvest these flowers, and then sell them to the local market, and in between, they added a garden for people to visit and enjoy. At both farm gardens, visitors can buy or pick flowers for a fee.

  • SIRAO PICTORIAL GARDEN & CAMPING SITE – This is the first flower farm we came across on the road and they charge P30 per person entrance fee. This is also the flower farm we have visited. The farm is not that big and is set in a hilly landscape which was nice as it gave the farm garden an element of form. There were concrete blocks used as pathways and we saw a couple of huts where guests can take shelter in. On a clear day, the views from the top and with the surrounding mountains were stunning. We were quite lucky that it was a dry day and we still had daylight. You have to pay extra if you want to camp here overnight.
  • SIRAO GARDEN, LITTLE AMSTERDAM – This is the next flower farm down the road. I have no idea how much their entrance fee is. We were told that there are better pictorial opportunities here because it is the mini Amsterdam with flower fields, you can have a selfie with a windmill and even wear a Dutch costume. WTF? Volendam style? *lol* No way! Goodness, sorry, I had to laugh.

CELOSIA ARGENTEA (COCKSCOMB)

The celebrity flower here at Sirao is the Celosia Argentea, in English Cockscomb.

The flowers I believe are not blooming all year round, so to avoid disappointment it’s best to maybe check the flower farms’ Facebook pages (see link above), or get in touch with them through the phone before embarking on the almost 1-hour ride to Sirao peak.

They do have other flower species here but the Celosia dominated the farm landscape during our visit last December.

Celosia Sirao Flower Cebu
sirao cebu

Based on what I have learned, the best months to come here are before the big Cebu festivities requiring massive sales of flowers such as the All Soul’s/Saint’s Day on 1-2 November and the Sinulog (date varies) in January. We were here in December just a few days before Christmas and the Celosia Argentea were in full bloom.

Celosia, by the way, is the official flower of the Sinulog (Sto. Nino festival) celebrations.

I did some googling as well to see what other local bloggers were saying, and a number of them have the same recycled information posted on their blogs. One subject caught my attention, in particular, was the claim that Celosia came from Amsterdam. Firstly, people should stop referring Amsterdam as some sort of country. The name of the country please is the Netherlands. Secondly, for your info, there are NO flower fields in Amsterdam. Thirdly, in my 14+ years of living here in the Netherlands, I have yet to see a Celosia Argentea. I have also been to the world famous Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse (not in Amsterdam!) and do not think I have come across these flowers!

TIP: Just before reaching Sirao, you will find the ‘Temple of Leah’ which has a big and nice viewing terrace with fantastic panoramic views of Cebu. Might as well drop by here if you have the time. We wanted to but it was starting to get dark so we decided to go to another place where we could sit down and relax with a drink.

So, would I recommend this outing? Well yes, but only if you fancy flowers. If not, skip it.

PICTURE GALLERY - SIRAO PICTORIAL GARDEN & CAMPING SITE

Fruit stand Sirao Cebu

The fruit stand where my mum got stuck. She bought some bananas.

Sirao Flower Park Cebu
Celosia Sirao Peak Cebu

This is the Sirao Pictorial Garden and Camping Site, one of the two flower garden and farms here. This flower farm is set in a hilly ground with beautiful views of the surroundings.

Celosia Sirao Peak Cebu
Sirao Flower Garden in Busay, Cebu
Sirao Flower Garden in Busay

A visit here is not complete, of course, without taking the obligatory group pictures.

Sirao Flower Park Cebu
Sirao Flower Garden in Busay, Cebu, Philippines
Sirao Pictorial Garden & Camping Site in Busay, Cebu, Philippines

Twilight at the Sirao peak.

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Busay, Lahug (Cebu - Visayas Region), the Philippines

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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