One Cheap Philippine Travel Guide to Cebu and Bohol
Cebu & Bohol Trip
A Cheap Philippine Travel Guide to Cebu and Bohol
First Things First
At the start of June this year (2018), my small family of three decided to go out on a vacation. Destination is set at the islands of Cebu and Bohol. Now a quick check on the Internet will reveal that there is much to visit in these two islands, but that is not my objective. The purpose of this article is to help those who would want to visit the same two islands, get the best out of it by the least possible expenses, buy take-homes, and capture the best moments both on video and still photographs. So if boozing is not your main purpose for the visit along with the night life, perhaps this piece will be of help.
Get the Best Airline Promos from Philippine Airlines ONLY
First, find the best promo flights ONLY from Philippine Airlines. Remember to be on the constant lookout for the cheapest possible flights only from Philippine Airlines. The reason behind this is that six years ago, my wife (then only girlfriend) and I had a similar trip to Cebu with Air Philippines, and the experience was not a good one compared to that of the Philippine Airlines’. Philippine Airlines’ trips are on time, with a reasonable snack, and the stewardesses do not do the ‘choreographed safety rundown measures’ which are not only funny but also quite embarrassing. Philippine Airlines have overhead retractable screens which formally instruct passengers what to do in and out of a plane in case of an emergency. This formal setting is a great 'pleaser' not to mention better leg room in-between seats. Now about the cost of tickets, ours was less than Php 1,000 pesos or $20 dollars for a one-way flight to Cebu. This price of $20 includes the actual flight and terminal fee. We booked our flight less than two months before our actual trip hence the cheaper price. Oh, Clark airport charges terminal fees but Cebu does not…something which is a bit odd though.
Get the Services of AirBnB!
Second, use AirBnB for the best possible accommodations instead of hotels. Our house in Cebu is Php 3,000 ($60) per day. It is three-story apartment situated at SunValley Subdivision along V. Rama which is roughly two (2) kilometers away from the center of Cebu. It has four rooms with a washing machine, small kitchen, backup water system since the Cebu water system rations water during the hot summer season. We did experience water loss in our last day but the backup system kicked in and everything was back to normal. Considering that the Cebu city life has so many similarities to that of the cosmopolitan and suburban Metro Manila and Angeles City way-of-life, there was no needed adjustment for us except for the dialect barrier. Nonetheless, our stay was great and we had no problem traveling around the best sites. Our other destination, Bohol, was a better one. Our stay in Panglao, Bohol was a really great one since the entire two-storey house with five bedrooms has a swimming pool and a stay-in driver and his family of three (they are the caretakers of the property). Anything you need, just have to go downstairs and tell the driver what you need and presto! Forgot to tell that since we did not really want to spend much money, my wife invited co-teachers to be with us on the trip so the Panglao house was ideal since our group was composed of 10 adults and two toddlers (ages two and four). The house was rented for Php 7,000 ($140) per day; we used it for two days. Take note that in the $140 per day rental fee, the van is already paid for transport to and from the airport. Van rental in Cebu was not included in the cheaper $60 per day price so we had to contact someone. The price was Php 1,200 ($24) for a one-way short to trip while a whole-day rental is set at Php 4,500 ($90).
Panglao is a small spot in Bohol which will be the home of a new airport in the near future. Just less than a kilometer from our rented house are scores of beach resorts. Our driver said that the best (since it is less visited therefore has fewer people) is the Dimaluan Beach Resort. I have to admit that the powder white sand below the salt water and peddle-like granules of grinded shells and rocks make the best combination. It was the only beach where I caught a baby octopus! The entrance fee was only Php 30 for adults and Php 20 for kids. It is a lot better than the other beach resorts we have been to up North of the Philippines where there are no proper rest rooms, shower rooms, or dressing rooms considering that we had to pay for a less than a dollar each. The huts or cottages were not forced to be paid or rented unlike with other resorts and since we had little time left, we opted not to rent one. In most beach resorts, cottages must be rented since the management usually makes more money from them than from the individual entry payments of beach goers.
As for the trip within Bohol, the price was set at Php 1,100 ($22) per head for our 10-adult group which totals to Php 11,000 for a whole day trip. Note that this Php 1,100 is inclusive of payments for entries to the spots we visited which includes a sumptuous lunch at the river barges (floating restaurant) in Loboc River. You better try this one because it really feels great having a small live band playing while having a buffet on a motorized barge in the Loboc River. One will definitely feel extra special. The places we visited are: The Chocolate Hills, The Bohol Tarsier Conservation Area, The Man-Made Forest (must stop-spot), The Long River Cruise Floating Restaurant, The Blood Compact Shrine, The Butterfly Farm, The Baclayon Church, and The Dimaluan Beach Resort. As for our provisions, we bought supplies of grocery items at the Tagbilaran area; this is where we disembark from our OceanJet ride from Cebu and bought fruits and fishes at the nearest market near our rented house.
As for the Cebu trip, the van rental of Php 4,500 for a whole day trip was NOT INCLUSIVE of any entry passes to the spots we visited. The passes range from a price of Php 20 to Php 100. The places we visited are: The Taoist temple (no payment, just donation), Siaro Flower Garden, Temple of Leah, Top of Cebu, lunch at the famous boneless Cebu Letchon, and finally at the Blue Reef Resort when swimmers get to step on solid reef instead of sand. The total expenses for the Blue Reef Resort was Php 1,000 (Php 800 for the cottage with karaoke but extra Php 100 for the remaining 9th and 10th members of our group).
NOTE: In order to get to Bohol from Cebu and vice - versa, one must avail the services at the Cebu Pier. One way ride on the OceanJet (the fastest sea vehicle according to our Cebu driver) is Php 500 ($10) and Php 400 ($8) for kids.
Getting a direct flight from Clark to Bohol may be faster but the ticket price is doubled even during promos. The travel time from to and from Bohol is almost two hours (1 hour and 45 minutes to be exact).
The Take Homes for Friends and Families
Cebu is popular for ‘danggit,’ a type of dried fish which Filipinos love to eat with steaming hot rich laced with carabao milk during breakfast. Such meal is considered rare and totally wanting! Another item Cebu is known for is the dried mangoes which sell about 30% cheaper than the regular price in grocery stores around Metro Manila and Angeles City. Shamrock Otap is also a famous treat for travellers. Bohol is known for tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills so expect most of the ‘pasalubong’ to be about these place and animal. There are many stores selling souvenirs for those waiting at home but buy them not at the airport since the price are usually expensive. But just in case someone has a penchant for weird things, the dried worms in Bohol would be a great blowout. However, a real treat would be the Peanut Kisses since they are packed nicely and most people in other cities may have had them. The best place to buy them in large packs in at the Bohol Tarsier Conservation Area since they only sell for a whopping Php 12.50 per small pack. An entire package sells for Php 200 only whereas at the airport, each small pack is sold at Php 25 to Php 30 apiece. At the Chocolate Hills souvenir shop, the items INSIDE the small compact at the end of the open hall are where the prices are lowest. Items OUTSIDE are usually more expensive even sometimes nearly doubling the selling price INSIDE the stalls.
Going to and from the Airport Scheme
Going to and from the Clark Airport on your vehicle is a breeze since it has a great system for parking and leaving vehicles. We used our trusty Hyundai Eon and got a parking space at Park ‘N Fly on Monday around 7AM and got back around 3PM Friday; we only paid Php 390 for the parking fee. This is better than asking someone to bring and pick you up at the airport especially if you have your own vehicle to drive. We first thought of using Grab for ferrying to and from the airport but there was much confusion on whether will there be available Grab car for our morning boarding and our return home comes Friday.
All in all even with all the extras we had to buy and pay, our small family of three (my wife, our four-year old daughter, and I), spent not more than Php 20,000 ($500) for the entire five-day vacation in Cebu and Bohol. Travelling in a group was economical for us since we had the chance to rent via AirBnB a nice house at Panglao, Bohol and at Cebu City complete with all the amenities we needed. All we had to do was buy the things we wanted to eat or cook them at the house (so we can save money) and see the places we wanted to as time allowed us. The Cebu experience was quite a so-so since the roads are narrow and the traffic was bad plus the driving behavior is Cebu was something Baby Driver probably had to learn from --- highly erratic and unpredictably insane making you want to puke at the next red light.
Dimaluan Beach Resort: Catching a Baby Octopus
© 2018 Reginaldo Gatus Suyom