Dear Bohol Virgin,
So you’re heading to Bohol in a few days. I’m sure you’re pretty excited. I can see you holding that long white bond paper with a “Must Visit In Bohol” list. And I’m sure you’re also spending alot of time browsing the internet and reading articles about the island.
Let me tell you something: Whenever I think of Bohol, I am always reminded of its radiance. Why? Because it has so many interesting things to offer from historical landmarks to delicious food. It’s as serene as the rest of the islands in the Visayas region, but it’s never dull when you’re there.
Sad to say this but there are travel blogs that would actually tell you to “skip Bohol”. To be honest, it can be very “touristy”. But who can blame these tourists? Fact is, the island is beautiful, the air is fresh, the locals are genuinely nice, and everything is dirt cheap. It’s pretty hard to ignore such wondrous offerings.
So I’m saying this: don’t be discouraged by the naysayers. Bohol is amazing, and if you go during the right, non-peak season (like November), you will experience perfect weather and relaxation.
So let’s go back to your itinerary…let’s see…there’s the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Conservation area in Loboc…That’s good! Can I recommend a few more? Here goes…
……Visit the Baclayon Baluarte
The Baclayon Church is, no doubt, part of your itinerary. But there’s another interesting area right in front of it: the Baclayon Baluarte. It is a small port where boats from nearby Pamilacan Island dock. The best thing about the Baluarte is the food stalls that open in the afternoon until about 11 or 12 in the evening. You can sit in one of the tables, eat delicious barbeque, drink beer and feel the breeze of the Bohol sea right in front of you. This is definitely one of the best places in Bohol to relax. The food and liquor are cheap. There are no karaokes in this area so your ears are safe from all the chaos. This is “local experience” at its finest.
….you may also want to head to Pamilacan Island
I have so much praise for the beaches of Panglao Island, but if you don’t want your trip to be so touristy, head to nearby Pamilacan Island. You have to go there by boat from the Baclayon port and the ride takes about 45 minutes depending on the tide. It can be expensive if you choose to book a two-way private ride to the island, but you can ride with the fishermen who usually dock at the port for only Php35. This is what locals, who can’t afford a thousand peso ride to reach the island, do. Most of the passengers wait as early as 7am to catch the fishing boat. Suggestion: be there as early as 7. If you see locals around, talk to them and ask if they’re heading to the island. It’s worth the wait!
Need a good lunch? Eat at Payag Restaurant…
Bohol has a lot of good restaurants to offer and one of them is Payag Restaurant in Tagbilaran proper. The specialty of the restaurant is none other than chicken inato, which is Bohol’s answer to the Chicken Inasal of Bacolod. It has a distinctive Bohol-style taste which is a bit sweeter than the Bacolod inasal. But what I love most about the restaurant is their delicious serving of Binakhaw for just Php 89. It’s similar to the Kilawin, which is a raw fish dish soaked in vinegar and chili, but it has a more “milky” taste that makes it so mouth watering. Overall, I’m giving this restaurant an A rating for food, ambiance, and price.
..if you want an afternoon snack, there’s Cafe Lawis..
This courtyard restaurant stands right behind Dauis Church. But I have to warn you first: be patient. Why? Because it might take awhile for food to be served. But like Pamilacan, it’s worth the wait. The tranquil ambiance and the nature that surrounds Cafe Lawis make it a perfect place for a late afternoon coffee or a romantic dinner. Good news: the Halo-Halo is WORLD CLASS. Better news: It’s not expensive.
Lastly…ride the bus!
Alona Beach in Panglao Island is a tourist area but it’s a place to see and experience. If you don’t want to spend a lot for transportation, try riding the bus instead. Here’s how: from Tagbilaran, go to the NATIONAL MUSEUM Bohol Branch in front of Plaza Rizal. Hop on the TAWALA bus and tell the driver to drop you off at Alona. You’ll know you’re in Alona once you see BPI Panglao to your left and Paragayo Resort to your right. Get off the bus when you see these landmarks and head to the narrow road right beside BPI Panglao. Just walk straight until you reach the beach front (Alona Beach). If you want to go back to Tagbilaran, wait for the TAGBILARAN bus outside BPI.
Fare going to Alona = Php25
Going back to Tagbilaran = Php25
Total cost = Php50
You save hundreds…versus a Habal-habal which costs Php400 for two way
or a private car which is about Php500 or more
Riding the bus isn’t just cheap, it’s also a great way to experience “local” transportation.
So there you have it! I hope you’ll have a good time in Bohol. Stay safe and keep that mind and heart of yours open. And remember, be nice to the locals. They are the ones who make this island a true paradise.
This post was also featured in the Bohol Gateway Travel and Tours Website. Please click the link to see the entry.