Bohol and Panglao

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Bohol is probably the most serious threat to Boracay’s supremacy in the tourism business. Bohol is not as crowded and has more to offer than white sand beaches. Its top attractions are Panglao Island and 74 more islands within its jurisdiction, the Loboc River Cruise,  and the Chocolate Hills. Indeed, one can stay in Bohol for one month and not run out of interesting sights to see.

Bohol Countryside Tour

This is how tour operators call the one day tour that includes Chocolate Hills. This is the most popular tour booked by visitors to Bohol.

The nearest point is the Blood Compact Shrine. It features a metal sculpture of the “sandugo” between Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna and their men. I had to wait for other tourists who pose with the cast for their souvenir shots before I was able to take a photo sans tourists.

Not Portuguese? I’ll drink to that

Nearby is the Baclayon Church, said to be the second-oldest church in the Philippines. Don’t ask me which one is the oldest, I have yet to research on that.

Bohol Python

I don’t know why this is part of the tour. Just a 30-ft python in a cage. With a few birds in cages, too. Skip this and find better use of your tour time.

This is all you will see. Waste of time and money (entrance fee si small, though, but still not worth it.

Tarsier Encounter. Some accounts say that the tarsier is the second-smallest primate, some say it is the smallest. Well, all I can say is that it is really small, about 4 inches long, and I wouldn’t think of cuddling it. Its tail is long, and longer than its body.

Loay Bolo making industry. A stop to see their local version of “panday”.

You will have to check-in your balisong, or you will be arrested by the airport security

Man-made mahogany forest. This is beautiful. It is surreal in the sense that Filipinos generally destroy forests, but in Bohol they make them. A stretch of more than one kilometer in Bilar town.

the reverse of deforestation

Chocolate Hills in Carmen. Visible even as we approach the view deck, built on top of one of the hills. There are accommodations on the hill, as well as restaurants and souvenir shops. Made me feel like I was in Baguio’s Mines View Park area.

 

Butterfly Sanctuary. For a small entrance fee, visitors are toured by professional guides. They talk about the different varieties, the scientific names of each specie (and who would remember at least one?), how the butterflies mate, the plants that serve as food, as well as host plants where they lay their eggs.

my cam caught the butterflies mating

Clarin Ancestral House. The Clarins are prominent Boholanos, with members of the family having served as senators before our time. A coffee shop serves patrons at the ground floor, and in the garden.

Loboc Town. The most intriguing sight is the old Loboc Church with an unfinished elevated road beside it. The elevated road (like the skyway) is supposed to have traversed the road but the church was on the way. The plan called for the demolition of the church until the resistance to this foolish undertaking won. Imagine tearing down an old, historic church. Why? Locals are saying that the skyway was conceptualized as an excuse to tear down the church and, in the process, dig up the wealth that people say are buried underneath, buried by the retreating Japanese during the second world war.

the skyway that was stopped (see right)

this beautiful and historic church almost went down

Loboc River Cruise. Easily one of the highlights of a Bohol tour. Buffet lunch is P300, but guests pay a terminal fee. Sumptuous lunch, with free softdrinks. The boat then moves thru the river, and turns around after reaching the falls, It then docks momentarily in one of the permanent rafts on the side of the river and guests are treated to singing and dancing by locals clad in their native costumes. Some guests join the dance, and try the tinikling.

do not miss this experience, and make sure you do Loboc and not Loay

a show by the locals, joined later by visitors

The Bohol Countryside Tour costs P2,200 per person, minimum 2 persons, and includes a professional guide on an air-conditioned car, and driver. All meals and entrance fees are included. Guests pay double when traveling solo (minimum is 2 pax). Tour is available in hotel tour desks. If you want to pre-book, call my tour agent: Aurora Travel and Tours , phone (038) 4120287 and ask for Leony Mendoza

Panglao Island Tour

For those who have never been to Panglao, be aware that you don’t need to ride a boat for Panglao Island. The island is separated by s small channel from the mainland and is connected by two bridges on both ends to Tagbilaran City. There are two municipalities in Panglao Island: Dauis and Panglao.

Panglao Church

A  tour is normally booked by visitors who decide not to stay overnight in Panglao Island. The tour includes a visit to Dauis Church, the Hinagdanan Cave, Panglao Church, Bohol Bee Farm, and Bohol Beach Club. Tour fee of P2,500 per head includes lunch at Bohol Bee Farm. Can be booked in any of the hotel tour desks, too, or the travel agent I used, above.

Dauis Church, Panglao Island

Where to stay

In Tagbilaran, I stayed at the Soledad Suites, and I will be happy to recommend this hotel to travelers. It is new, clean, and the rooms are comfortable. The restaurant has a limited menu, but the food is good. The cafe and bar is popular even among the locals and can get rather busy at night. The staff is professional and more attentive than in most hotels. I will definitely book in this hotel again if I should be back in Tagbilaran.

comfortable room for P2,000

Soledad Suites has rooms from P2,000 to P3,200. It is refreshing to see “water from the faucet is potable”. Call them at (038) 4113074.

A friend of mine who happened to be in Tagbilaran when I was there was happy about his accommodations in Villa del Sol. I suggest you also check them out. They welcome packages that include the room, the tours, and transfers to and from airport/pier. Their website is http://www.villadelsolbohol.com/index.asp

Accommodations in  Panglao

I first went to Alona Kew, the most recommended high-end resort after the Bohol Beach Club. I chose a superior beachfront room (P4,100) but was told their credit card facility was off at the moment. They suggested I go to the nearby BPI ATM, but I figured I don’t want to stay in a place requiring cash transactions. My driver told me that his guest last week was also asked for cash payments, saying also their credit-card connection was out of order. A high-end resort requiring cash and using out-of-order credit card connections for more than a week as a reason?  Besides, I was honestly turned off by their lobby and front desk area which seemed more appropriate in a city setting, not in a resort island. But some people like uber comfort and they do have P5,000 suites within the hotel building,  and a presidential suite at P12,000. I decided to check out a nother resort instead. But in case you want to book Alona Kew, you may call (038)5029042, 0r 5029027. Make sure their credit card facility is working if you forgot to bring your bundles of cash.

The resort that my driver suggested was Dumaluan, right beside Bohol Beach Club. I got an executive beach front room for P4,000. It was the room nearest the beach, with no room nearer. Room 101, and I made a note of it because I will specify this room when I go back. This is my idea of a beach resort. On hindsight, I liked this better than the much-hyped Alona Kew.

view from my ground level room in Dumaluan

The resort looks more alive. There are hammocks near the white sand beach. There are oversized all-weather wooden chairs and tables on the sand, just a few meters away from the water. They have lunch and dinner (by candlelight) settings near the water, too. There is a swimming pool with cottages around it. Pool tables are also available for enthusiasts, and may be booked by the hour. In the evening, diners were treated to live entertainment by a local band.

Dumaluan Beach Resort has rooms starting at P1,300 and suites for P6,000 and P7,000. They have water-sports facilities and can arrange for diving tours. You can book by phone (038) 5029092, 5029081. Visit their website http://www.dumaluanbeach.com

Bee Farm is interesting, and I think I will stay there one night on my return to Panglao. They are the Bohol version of Sonya’s garden and Ilog Maria (Silang,Cavite), combined. The theme is Balinese, and shabby chic. They have a beautiful cafe serving organic buffet lunches, up on a cliff with the beautiful blue waters as the view.

colony suite: P7,000 for 4pax

interesting shop

Accommodations ar Bee Farm start at P3,000, including the beautiful Colony Suite which can accommodate a group of 4 at P7,00o. Phone (038) 5022288, 5022297, mobile 09173041491

There are several other accommodations in Panglao. If you want to play it safe, book your first day in one of the better resorts, and then walk on the beach and find cheaper inns where you can move for the rest of your stay.

Shopping

If you get tired if island life and would want a city feel again, go to either BQ Mall or the Island City Mall. known to locals as ICM. ICM is big and has an SM feel to it.

Beyond Tagbilaran and Panglao

The 3 most popular islands off Panglao are Pamilacan, Balicasag, and Cabilao. A Dolphin Watching +Balicasag Island Tour will cost P3,000 for 1-4 pax

All of these are within the vicinity of Tagbilaran and Panglao. I will write separately about the northern towns farthest from Tagbilaran. They can be covered only by another tour and would be impractical to cover when one visits Bohol for just 2-3 days. To cover the rest, one needs to stay at least a day more, on a private car. Or 2-3 days more when commuting.

a 2-3 day visit will confine you to the lower left portion of this map

How to go to Bohol

The most popular access to Bohol is via a fast ferry from Cebu which takes just two hours. The boat is fast and comfortable. You can even check in your luggage at only P25 per piece. The pier is right there in Tagbilaran City.

Visitors can also fly to Tagbilaran, direct from Manila.

In my case, I was in Camiguin and the locals said boats travel the seas from there to Bohol.

boat from Balbagon, Camiguin to Jagna, Bohol

I canceled my other trips, including a visit to Zamboanga, and took the boat to Bohol instead, traveling for 3 1/2 hours to the port in Jagna, more than an hour away from Tagbilaran.

ihaw-ihaw on the ro-ro deck

visit to the navigation deck

Jagna, Bohol

Aircon vans are available in the town proper to ferry passengers to Tacloban  (fare : P80), but the dispatchers pack the vans like sardines, and the vans don’t leave until they are filled to capacity. You can rent a van all to yourself for P1,000 and not have to wait.


and the travel from Jagna to Tagbilaran is on picturesque coastal road

42 thoughts on “Bohol and Panglao

  1. I agree with you 100%. Bohol has much to offer than Boracay. We fell in love with Panglao and its many sites.

    Keep on sending, Boy. Thanks

  2. Gee, BoyP, I am really jealous with your lakwatsa/exploits. Are there foreign tourists visiting these places? Is it safe to bring a non-Filipino travel companion?

    Interesting posts. Thanks.

    • In fact, Bohol is a top tourist destination. It is very safe, much much safer than any metropolis. Definitely safer that Manhattan or SanFo. Lots of foreigners there. In fact, most of the resorts in Bohol, Siquijor, and Camiguin are owned by foreigners who married locals.

  3. That elevated highway is really dumb. An elevated highway in a small town and targeting an old church/ national shrine for demolition. Did those politicians really thought they could get away with it? What a waste. Here in my city, any structure that is more than 50 years old cannot be demolished or even altered without an National Heritage Preservation or Environmental Impact Review – to be deliberated in a public open forum (usually a City Council Hearing).

  4. nice blog..thanks for sharing me my husband and son will visit bohol this december for 3 dauys only..any idea how much how much money we’re going to spend on the whole trip?thanks

  5. I love your page! I am planning a trip to the Philippines and could use some advice! I will be in Camiguin and want to go to Panglao from there! I see that you did that! Can you e-mail me privately and tell me how you got there? Also, I am looking at recommendations for places to stay. It is hard to book these places on-line! Any help will be appreciated!

    • Just take a boat from the Port of Balbagon, near Bahay Bakasyunan Resort in Camiguin. Camiguin is a small province, and Port of Balbagon is easy to find. In fact, check with the inn/resort you will be staying in in Camiguin – – they know the boat schedules. The boat takes you to Jagna, on the opposite end of Bohol from panglao. There are vans that ferry passengers from there to Tagbilaran. Panglao is just off Tagbilaran, you get there by crossing the bridge. Local transpo or taxi is available.

      • About how long is the boat trip from Balbagon to Janga……and then how long is the ride from Janga to Tagbailaran?

      • My boat ride then was 3 1/2 hours, but that was because the fast ferry was dry docked. I figure it is back in service, and the ride is just 2 hours, I was told. From Jagna, the ride is a little over an hour, but factor in waiting time. The van moves only when it is filled to the rafters. I couldn’t wait, so I rented a van all to myself then

  6. Thank you so much! You are so helpful! I will probably ask you more questions as I continue to plan my trip! I hope you don’t mind?

    • I am having such a hard time with this because I want to stay so long at EVERY place. The way I have my itinerary, I will have three whole days in Camiguin and Two whole days in Panglao. I have one travel day in between……so the whole days, we can use to dive and site see. Do you think this is enough time? I also thought about not going to Camiguin and just staying in Panglao the entire time. What is your opinion?

      • That will depend on how much diving you want to do. Camiguin is just so restful, and unique, I wouldn’t suggest you skip it. If you want more dive days, then spend two whole days in Camiguin, and three in Panglao. The islands off Panglao are, I am told, very good dive destinations. Having said that, let me create another “problem” for you. Look up Apo Island off Siquijor, touted as one of the best dive spots in the world. And Siquijor is lovely, it is one of my Top 5 places in the Philippines. You can also go to Apo Island from Dumaguete City. These places are covered in my blog.

  7. On omy visit on Bohol, we stayed in Dumaluan, the solemn part of Panglao. Had a 2 day land tour and 1 sea tour.

    Miss the tarsier and the dolphin. I can say that one of my unforgettable trip, the place is mesmerizing!

  8. Pingback: 2010 in review « BoyP Lakwatsa

  9. I have a client going to Manila, Borocay and Cebu. He will be in PI for 4 wks with an PI resident. I have sent him to Boracay before via Caitclan, he is an avid diver. Any recommedations there, not too expensive on the beach, he stayed at Nigi Nigi last time. Would you recommend Bohol Divers Resort in Panglao and do you have any recommedations in Cebu? Should they take the ferry between Bohol and Cebu. I appreciate any insight you may give me!

    • Unfortunately I am not a diver, and may not be of much help. I have a lot of diver friends, though. In Bohol, my favorite resort is still Dumaluan, and they can arrange dives to the nearby islands/dive sites. What I do know is that you may want to send your friend to Apo Island off Dumaguete and Siquijor, said to be one of the best dive spost in the world. You can read about this in my Siquijor blog. Yes, your client can take the ferry from Bohol to Cebu and vice versa. They are the primary means of transport between these two islands. There are several schedules, practically every hour. The ride is cheap and quite comfortable.

  10. i really enjoyed reading ur very informative blog. my hubby & i will be visiting bohol come march 7-9. was abt to book at flushing meadows when i suddenly saw and read ur blog site..interesting and very helpful indeed. just decided to book at dumaluan instead. THANKS TO YOU!

  11. oh and YES INDEED!!! We had a great time with our BOHOL escapade. Big thanks to you señor boy lakwatsa!!! Your tips and suggestions were indeed very helpful. You were very right with your comments & comparison bet Dumaluan 1 & 2. Both have excellent beach view but If ur just after the beach stay at Dumaluan1 (cheapest room is P1800) bec they offer cheaper rooms but don’t expect good service from their staff…so stay at Dumaluan 2 (cheapest room is P2500) instead. Oooops btw, pls include “Mang Pepe” our tour guide/driver in ur list of commendations/recommendations for those who wud like to visist bohol…he took vry good care of us while we were there..”THANKS AGAIN Mang Pepe” U can reach him at 0928-6133234.

    • Happy to hear you enjoyed Bohol, and that my tips were useful. Our reader-friends will surely look for Mang Pepe with your endorsement. Keep the lakwatsa spirit – – makes us all stay young.

    • Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte was the best diving that I experienced EVER and I have been diving for 15 years. I have not been to APO but probably next trip 🙂

  12. Bhol,palawan and Batanes, these are places na gusto ko puntahan, before my retirement. with our prayers and support, i know Bohol will stand again..

  13. Fiinally, I got your blog..after searching with names somewhat same as yours but definitely not as vivid and informative as your blogs. We had booked our flight to Tagbilaran long before the earthquake..so we have to go! Any advise for a newcomer/visitor to the place at its present condition? Where to stay? How to spend the 3 days with a limited budget but nonetheless, a momentous trip to Bohol. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon…keep it up Boy and stay safe in all your travels.

    • I honestly would not know the situation at the moment. What I do know is that the Panglao resorts have not been damaged to the point where they can’t receive guests. I have not contacted my favorite resort DUMALUAN. If I have the time, I in fact would want to visit and see how the churches look now, other than what I saw on TV. Whatever happens, Bohol is beautiful.

    • Oh dear! I like Bohol Island when it comes to its beauty. But when it comes failtciies like you have mentioned it feels devastating. I have experienced that But the worst thing I’ve experienced. Most of the people who are working as tricycle drive, hired car driver, and jobless are always taking advantages to the foreign visitor even if your local. They will not move if you will not give them few pesos they always wants extra pay. or let say tips all the time. Not like in Davao City where you will find the most beautiful airport in the Philippines. And if you want a taxi they will used meters. ( driver say Passengers are most appreciated a tip is a bunos! ) I’m impressed.There was a rumour to build a new airport they say at Panglao Island. I don’t think so the Island is not too strong I mean the foundation and not too big to build an airport. Maybe a bigger airport in Tagbilaran City. There is no investor to invest for new airport. I wonder why the government haven’t notice that their airport needs improvement.

  14. hi. maybe you can help me plan an itinerary for a 4days 3nights trip in bohol. i really dont know where to stay and how to start the day. will be leaving manila at 7am and will depart on the 4th day at 3pm. thanks! your suggestion is much appreciated.

    • Hi, for limited days vacation i recommend the first day of arrival will tour to panglao island which include DAUIS CHURCH, PANGLAO CHURCH, SHELLMUSEUM, BOHOL BE FARM, and stay at the hotel in Alona Beach, the next day will be your countryside tours and thats Chocolate hills , tarsier, loboc, baclayun , hanging bridge, man made forest, butterly , and the next day is Island hopping, balicasag island, virgin island,
      okey…

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