Mitzi Ilagan | Pinoytrekker.com
Out of the 7,641 (this is the updated count!) islands in the Philippines, you’d probably choose Boracay, Palawan, or Batanes if you’d be given a chance. These are the most famous destinations, especially for foreign tourists. For someone’s who’s had her first out-of-town and airplane ride to a faraway province, I could say that Bohol may be one of the best destinations. It’s basically the best of both worlds. Here’s why:
Thanks to Cebu Pacific’s seat sale, the two-way fare was less than Php 1500. We arrived at Tagbilaran Airport at around 2:30 pm. From there, you could ride a tricycle (Php 150-250) to your hotel. We have booked for 3 nights at Panglao Regents Park Resort which is an accomodation 5-minutes away from Alona Beach.
Just like a typical tourist, I have decided to book for a Bohol tour package around the province. A DIY vacation trip may have made me save money, but I didn’t wanna get lost and miss other tourist spots. For the countryside tour around the main island of Bohol, I have booked with Valeroso Travel & Tours. They have an office near Alona Beach with a large label, “Tourist Information”. It was kind of deceiving because I thought that it was an establishment of the local government. As I got inside, the receptionist gladly handed a piece of paper with a list of tourist destinations and its fees. Here’s a tip: If you think that you’ve finally found the cheapest tours on Facebook, there are cheaper packages in Bohol, just like in Valeroso.
So, after paying for the countryside tour, we decided to walk along Alona Beach. True to the reviews I found on Facebook, it seem like it’s the Boracay counterpart (though I haven’t been to Boracay). Bars and restaurants are usually crowded at night time, with mostly European and Asian tourists. There are also grocery stores around, both local and Korean. But because you’re near a tourist-flocked area, expect that prices are a bit higher.
Here’s the itinerary and entrance fees for the countryside tour:
8:00-8:30 am ETD
9:30 am Baclayon Church (Php 50)
10:10 am Python Sanctuary (Php 45)
10:35 am Butterfly House (Php 45)
11:00 am Loboc Eco Adventure Park (Php 400 for combo ride: 1 way zipline, 1-way cable car; Php 300: 2-way cable car)
11:45 am Loboc River Cruise (Php 450 for entrance fee and buffet)
1:30 pm Tarsier Sanctuary (Php 60)
2:30 Chocolate Hills ATV area (Php 900 for a 30-minute buggy ride or 1-hour ATV ride)
3:20 Chocolate Hills!!! (Php 50)
3:40 Loboc Man-made forest
4:00 Hanging Bridge (Php 20)
5:00 pm Blood Compact Monument
As for our experience, it was only I and my partner who were the only Pinoys who joined the tour. The rest were foreigners who filled the two vehicles. It was surprising but overwhelming to see a lot of tourists at Bohol because our tour date was a Thursday and it wasn’t even officially summer yet. Remember to bring extra clothes, water, extra cash for pasalubong, sunglasses, and a powerbank (because every destination would eat up your battery as you take endless snaps and videos).
Yesterday was for the land, today’s for the sea. Even when Bohol’s more known for the Chocolate Hills, it has islands which are equally jaw-dropping and impressive as what Palawan and Batangas could offer. Here’s the itinerary for the sea tour.
6:00 am ETD Alona Beach
7:30 am Dolphin watching
8:00 am Balicasag Island
8:30 am Snorkelling/Turtle Spotting (Balicasag Island)
10:30 am Rest/Lunch
11:30 am Departure for Virgin Island
12:00 nn Virgin Island
1:00pm ETA Alona Beach
We have availed the tour from Valeroso Tours, too for Php 700, including the use of snorkeling gear. After that, we opted to rent a motorcycle for our next destinations. Motorcycles are the usual means of transportation of tourists. You could rent it for Php 400-600/day. For our Panglao island tour, we ended up with these two destinations:
From Alona Beach, the cave is easy to locate, especially with the help of Google Maps. Today, it looks like the usual tourist spot with souvenir stores around but you’ll be surprised as you descend through the flight of cemented stairs. There, you’ll find a cave with an underground lake with a greenish surface. You could swim in it, but you’ll have to know that it’s like at least 10 feet deep. For non-swimmers, life vests could be borrowed from the guides.
Bohol Bee Farm
After a dip in Hinagdanan, we directly went to this known farm. I have seen this farm restaurant in most blogs, so I have decided to visit it, too.
The farm tour is Php 20, which in includes a staff showing you around the bees in honeycombs, their garden, and the factory of the different products such as organic ice cream, vegetable bread, and a variety of spreads (pesto and chocolate spread are must-buy pasalubongs!).
In Bohol, some locals speak English (when talking to foreigners), some people speak Bisaya or Cebuano — the in-between’s gold. That’s because when you’re lost, finding someone who speaks and understands Tagalog would be your light. But even so, the locals are friendly, and street signages are present in tourist spots.