Monday, November 21, 2011

Mactan Cebu International Airport Shops

There is a bit of catharsis to be had in commerce. This makes shopping or window shopping a relaxing activity while waiting for flight departures at the airport. Though this isn't exactly my scene, I have posted features here on airports, the services they offer, and the shops they have - as part of my travel survival posts. They may not be beautiful sights, but they remain an essential part of travel.

In this post, we try to document the shops found at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA). Compared to NAIA 3, shops here are more local fare than international brands. In fact, a good number of these shops (or stores) feel like sari-sari store, with a smattering and bits of everything on their shelves.

The shops are mostly found in four areas. First, at the entrance hall just before passing through security check. Second is at the check-in hall. Third is the pre-departure hall, which has the most number of shops. The fourth one is at the international pre-departure area which we probably won't see since we don't see ourselves leaving the country through Cebu.

"Atin Ito" (This is Ours) is one of the bigger shops at the Departure Building just before the check-in hallway.  It has handicrafts, books and souvenirs.

cXpress is also a new shop, replacing what used to be D'Lindth beside PhilPost.

Money Changer beside the bright and colorful "Island Souvenir".

There are 2 ATM machines: a Land Bank and a BPI ATM machine as you enter the departure building. Further on are the following: Value Money Changer (for your foreign exchange requirements), Gala Cafe (fruits and seafood), Islands Souvenir, Visual Expressions Arts Shop, Hi-Tech Telecommunications - Airport Internet (telecom, internet, gaming, long distance calls, phone cards, printing), Jeshan and Ann Gift Shop and Souvenirs; the comfy but pricey Cafe Cesario (top photo), cXpress shop (replacing D'Lindth Snackshoppe and Pasalubong) and PhilPost (below, for your postcard and snail mail needs). There's a huge waiting area near PhilPost if you came in too early to check-in.

Cafe Cesario offers Pinoy cuisine: lechon kawali is worth a budget-busting P320 - and this doesn't even include your rice yet; braised pork belly (humba) at P210; pork chicken adobo, which I ordered, has tasty adobo sauce but the chicken is bony and the pork meat isn't even tender. Even the serving feels too limited for something that's worth P200+ without the rice. Order a soda and a small serving of rice, and you're unappealingly set back more than you'd care to spend on your next meal. There are several turo turo more appetizing inside the check-in hall and even at the pre-departure area at a price a fraction of what you'd pay in Cafe Cesario. Cafe Cesario is affiliated with Hotel Cesario located in M.L. Quezon Highway in Lapu Lapu City. They open from 1 AM to 9 PM daily!

The entrance hall also has Relaxing Massage booth with rates similar to those in Manila or Davao: foot spa at P250; foot spa with pedicure at P300; 1-hour massage at P250; 30-minute massage at P130, manicure and pedicure at P75, and so on. There's another massage stall at the check-in hallway and then again at the pre-departure area.

At the extreme end of this entrance hallway (prior to entry into the check-in hallway) are several travel shops:  A Zest Air ticketing office, Tiger Airways, Sea Air, and ETA Air. I have never heard of ETA Air until now, but they have flights departing from Cebu to places like Romblon, Camiguin, Cotabato, Tandag, Maasin, Masbate, Catarman, Tacloban, Iligan, Pagadian, Jolo, Siargao, Tawi tawi, Zamboanga, Sta. Fe-Bantayan, etc. Their future international flights include Port Moresby, Seoul, Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu, and Jakarta. They have a catch phrase that says: "We fly you the Pinoy Happy Way" which doesn't seem like such a savvy verbal hook. But this is great news so we're wishing ETA Air good luck. More air carriers will bring better service to the current crop of airlines serving the country. Here is their website:

After these airline hub, there's the passenger's waiting area, and beside it are the toilets.

Shops after security check (at the Check-in Hallways)are as follows: Lulanbies Pasalubong Center (they have this really confusing signage: Lulanbies? Lulanbles?), Airport Guitar Center, Christian Ventures (books, Christian magazines, etc.), another Gala Cafe Bar/El Garaje Pasalubong, Echevarrias Rolling Snack Bar (Dimsum and Native Food), Cash N' Carry Food Delicacy.

There is a Malayan Insurance Counter and the new Concierge Luggage and More: left luggage, shipping, and packing needs. Beside this is a payphone beside the main entrance from the outside hallway. Across this payphone is the Office for Quarantine Services, and nearby is the Airphil Express Office, beside the Cebu Pacific check-in counters.

The check-in counters have assigned spaces. From right to left: Zest Air, Airphil Express, Philippine Airlines, then Cebu Pacific which has the most number of check-in counters. Beside Bo's Coffee, is a massage stall. Right across the massage corner is the Wildlife Office (where you'd probably need clearances and permits for your animals).

Cash 'N Carry Food Delicacy offers turo turo fare and rice meals, right across Zest Air and Airphil Express check-in counters. Island Souvenirs have shirts as low as P260. 

Pre-Departure Shops and Bars (Updated pre-departure shops as of August 2014)

Bo's Coffee Club, Mikel's Philippine Delicacies, Ato-MCIAA Employees Multipurpose Cooperative (a shop, not an office), Silangan Snack Bar, Ricky's Pasalubong Center, Twin's Pasalubong, Sinia's Snack Bar, Bennette's Snack Shop (Pudding Taho & Snow Ice), the brightly lit Dunkin Donuts, Clothes Minded (an apparel shop), Reflections Gift Shop, Alma Gift-Novelties and Guitars (or is it Alika?), Massage (right at the corner near Gate 4 and 5 and the toilet), Marlboro Buon Volo Smoking Cafe and Lounge, a separate Smart Bro free internet counter, and MCIAA MD station (for those who require health attention), the Mabuhay Lounge of Philippine Airlines and Ezekiel Souvenirs.

They have a small hallway where occasional exhibits are held. I chanced on a painting exhibit once. This area is flanked by a massage stall and the toilets.

The stalls across the pre-departure hall include Timex Watch, Bag Tag, Island Souvenirs, another watch stall without a name, Fruit Magic, and Coffee Dream.

If you've read enough "pasalubong" in this post, this is a Tagalog word referring to gifts you buy from travels.

There was a cafe the interested me - Cafe Wien, and if you've traveled around Europe, you'd know that some quarters call Vienna (Austrian capital) as Wien. You read this in sign boards or train posts when your hopping in transits. Imagine, an Austrian cuisine in the heart of Cebu? Do they have strudels and schnitzels too like the Germans? Maybe I can try their germnodel or schweinbraten? The thought made me salivate. I eagerly checked it out then saw delectable photos of the following (see photo below): beef caldereta, lechon, chili con carne, baby pork ribs, beef tapa! Darn! How Austrian! :) But to be fair, their meals looked delicious, I'd have tried them if I didn't get my breakfast prior to my airport arrival. I've tried a meal here recently, but though they're pricy, food is good and has bigger serving; a lot better than Cafe Cesario outside.

Update: New Set of Shops at the Domestic Predeparture Hall

As of August 2014, most of the shops at the domestic pre-departure area have been "removed" and very few of the "old batch" were allowed to continue operations, e.g. Dunkin Donuts, Bo's Coffee, Potato Corner, etc. Check out these new Pre-departure shops here:

New Shops:

Shop lovers will have enough shops to fill their time with.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

The Visayan version of Starbucks - Bo's Coffee Club, with branches found all over Visayas and Mindanao.

Cafe Wien

Cafe Wien's menu

Pre-departure area

Smoking Cafe

Fruit shakes and juices at Fruit Magic.


Ola said...

I love Austrian food but most of them I like their coffee:)

eye in the sky said...

Too bad I haven't tried Austrian coffee, but I'll keep it in mind. :)