Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where to stay in Bohol

When I was looking for our accommodations in Panglao, I must admit I had a hard time looking for the one just right for us. Being cheapskate that we are, of course budget is always on our top list when deciding where to stay. After browsing the net, reading travel forums, and checking tripadvisor, we opted to stay at Cherry’s @ Home Too Inland Resort.

You won't miss it because of the signage
It’s a family-run hotel with a very commendable service. They have housekeeping services; our room was spotlessly clean every time we arrived from our day tour. They changed the towels everyday and the sheets were replaced twice on our four-day stay. Cherry’s also have free wi-fi and guests can use their computer for free internet. And lastly, they have a mini swimming pool. Talk about value for money..

@ home at Cherry's
Room rates:
Php 1,650 Standard Twin Room
Php 1,350 Standard Room (no window)
Php 2,650 Quadruple Room (4 persons)
Php 3,600 Family Room (6 persons)
Includes complimentary breakfast for 2 persons.

Standard room w/o window 
Clean and spacious bathroom

If Cherry's suits your taste, contact them thru the details below. They immediately responds via email and SMS. 

Cherry's @ Home Too Inland Resort
+63.38.502.4049 (Telephone)
+63.928.992.2209 (Cellphone)
www.cherryshome.com

They also have a sister resort - Cherry’s @Home which is actually their first resort. It offers cheaper rooms. 
Php 1,000/night
Php 300/night/extra person
Breakfast not included.

Panglao offers a variety of accommodations from high-end to budget. We stayed in Alona Beach in Panglao and here are some of the accommodations in Alona that you may want to consider for your trip.

Amarela Resort
+63.38.502.9407-98 (Telephone)
+63.906.588.4145 (Cellphone)

Cozy room at Amarela (photo taken from their website)
Alona Kew Beach Resort
+63.38.502.9042 (Telephone)
Room rates available here
www.alona-kew.com


New hotel building of Alona Kew
Bohol Casa Nino
+63.38.502.4030 (Telephone)
boholcasanino.com

Standard room at Bohol Casa Nino (photo taken from their website)
InnBox Bed & Bath
+63.917.306.0014 (Cellphone)
inbox@yahoo.com

1 night = Php 1,400/night good for 2 persons
3 nights =  Php 1,200/night good for 2 persons
6 nights =  Php 1,000/night good for 2 persons

The Inn Box
Ging Ging Homes
+63.919.597.0925
with wi-fi  =  Php 850
with cable and 2 beds = Php 1,500 with aircondition

I must mention Bohol Bee Farm (BBF) in Dauis. I loved the ambiance of the farm and I wanted to try their organic dishes but due to time constraint I wasn't able to. Maybe on my next Bohol trip, I will stay at BBF.

Bohol Bee Farm
Ms. Vicky Wallace
Dao, Dauis, Panglao Island, Bohol
+63,38.502.2288 (Telephone)
+63.917.304.1491 (Cellphone)

The Barn Room (photo taken from their website)

Outside the barn room
If you plan to stay in Tagbilaran City, here are a few suggestions.

La Roca Hotel
Graham Ave Tagbilaran City
+63.38.411.3178 (Telephone)
+63.915.3374.002 (Cellphone)

Panda Tea Garden Suites
JA Clarin St (in front of NIA)
+63.38.501.8773 (Telephone)
+63.923.708.4293, 917.631.9658, 918.935.9178 (Cellphone)

Room types at Panda Tea Garden Suites (taken from their site)
Bohol Tropics Resort
Graham Ave, Tagbilaran City
+63.38.411.3510-14

Villa  del Sol
VP Inting Ave, Mansasa Seaside, Tagbilaran City
+63.38.325.6760, 411.5581 (Telephone)
Manila Booking Office: 1451 La Paz St, Paco Manila
+63.2.563.6861

Standard room at Villa del Sol (taken from their website)
Kode Inn
57 Graham Ave, Tagbilaran City
+63.38.235.7251, 501.8029 (Telephone)

Twin room at Kode Inn (taken from their website)
Plenty of choices huh? Every traveler will never run out of options of where to stay in Bohol. On my next trip, I'm eyeing to stay in Amarela Resort or Bohol Bee Farm. How about you? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 3: Beaching in Bohol

Our last day in Bohol was time well-spent for beach bumming. Yay! We were hoping for a good weather that day because the past few days were cloudy. 

First thing in our agenda is dolphin watching in Pamilacan Island. We started a bit late because our boatman arrived a little past 6am. Chances to see dolphins are higher after sunrise. When we arrived in the site, there were around 20 boats circling in the water and all waiting for the sight of dolphins. We waited about 20 minutes or so before we spotted a group of dolphins in the water. The feeling was ecstatic =) I’ve seen dolphin shows but witnessing the dolphins actually very near us was a different experience. Of course, they didn't jump high off the water like in the dolphin shows but they were very playful.They know that the boats were chasing them and they would let the boats run after them. 

photo taken from bohol.ph
After that, we headed to nearby Balicasag Island. Balicasag Island is a marine sanctuary of healthy corals where abundant fishes thrive. We rented a small boat (Php400 for2/pax) to bring us to the marine sanctuary. We had to rent aqua shoes so the corals won’t hurt our feet. The water was just waist deep because it was low tide but the boatman can also bring you to the deeper part of the sea. It was  a great underwater experience for me. There were lots of fishes of different colors and sizes. To be honest, I don’t know how to swim but snorkeling and seeing the fishes motivated me to keep afloat and feed them. Because I don't have decent camera, I have to grab this!

photo taken from TripAdvisor
Then, we’re off to another island destination, Virgin Island. As we we’re nearing the island, we saw a crescent shape sand bar. Upon seeing it, I immediately thought of White Island in Camiguin. 
 
sandbar at Virgin Island
We we’re the only ones in the sandbar which was perfect. Erick and I had a great time chilling out in the island. We could have brought ice cold beer!

chillin' at Virgin Island
when i say jump, you say how high?
We boarded our banca once more and then docked at the main Virgin Island and explored the other sides of the island. I noticed that there are litters on the island. I saw one food wrapper and picked it up. I hope tourists visiting the island should be more conscientious about leaving their garbage behind. After all, we are just visitors and we have no right to leave our trash. So please...

After finishing with our island hopping, we went back to Alona and had a quick lunch. 

Then we’re off to Bohol Beach Club (BBC) for more beach time! Day tour tickets cost Php500 of which Php350 is consumable..just enough to cover our meals for lunch or dinner.

What I like most with BBC is the long stretch of beach unlike in Alona where the establishments are just a few meters away from the beach. Let the pictures speak for themselves..

view from my beach bed
hunk by the beach. hehe
beach bunny
We love the sunset! Compared to other beaches where the sun sets in the sea, in Panglao the sun sets at the back of the island. It was a very beautiful dusk.

sunset in Bohol Beach Club
amber is the color of my energy
One of the greatest beach experience..Bohol, we will be back soon!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 2: Danao Adventure Park

We wanted to include in our itinerary Danao  Adventure  Park because of the latest adventure ride – The Plunge. Our problem is we didn't know how to get there from Panglao. Renting a car is not in our option because rental ranges from Php3000-5000 and we are on a budget trip. There has to be some way I said. Armed with my research skills, I checked online if there were directions how to get to Danao  Adventure Park via commute. I found bits and pieces of information from E.A.T Danao website and some travel forums. So I was confident that we will be able to make it to Danao on our second day.

But you can’t expect that everything will go smoothly as planned. That’s what happened to us. The bus trips to Danao are limited and the last trip in the morning is 8AM. Guess what? We missed the 8AM bus by a few minutes. Boo.

When we learned that the bus has left already, I thought okay maybe we could have other plans like beach bumming at Bohol Beach Club. But Erick, the insistent one, convinced me that we proceed with our Danao plan by other means.

How to get there

If you’re coming from Panglao, hail the jeepney in Alona with the signboard Tagbilaran. Fares costs Php25. Tell the driver that you will be getting off at Dao Integrated Bus Terminal.

Tagbilaran to Danao
1)       Catch the bus with the route Tagbilaran-Danao at Dao Bus Terminal. I got the information below from E.A.T. Danao website.
Trips per day from Tagbilaran to Danao:

Morning: 5:00 am, 6:00am, 8:00am
Afternoon: 12:00 noon, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm, and 6:30 pm last trip

Trips per day from Danao to Tagbilaran:

Morning:  4:00am, 5:30am, 6:00am, 7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 11:30am,
Afternoon: 1:30pm, 4:00pm, 5:00 pm last trip

* Bus fare is P75.00
* Buses are at Integrated Bus Terminal – Dao – Dampas, Tagbilaran City
* Bus will only be at Poblacion, Danao. Motor for hire (habal-habal) are available to transport guests going to the Adventure Park at P30.00/person. We encourage guests to look for drivers wearing patch with Danao Adventure Park logo

Make sure that you are in the bus terminal before 8am. We were late so we missed the bus. If by chance, you missed the bus, don’t fret. You can still go to Danao by another option.

2)       Take the bus with the signboard Tagbilaran-Tubigon in the same bus terminal. Fare costs Php50. The trip will take approximately 1 hr and 30 minutes. If you took the 8am trip, you will be in Tubigon before 10am. Hire a tricycle that can take you to Danao Adventure Park. The tryke will wait for you while you are in the park. Renting the tryke whole day costs around Php700-800, depends on your haggling skills. But after seeing the conditions of the roads on the way to Danao, I’m not sure if you can still have the nerve to haggle with the tryke driver.

Danao, finally

Suislide

To the Suislide
I wasn’t feeling gutsy so I settled for Suislide. Suislide is a combination of the word “suis” which is the sound of the cable and “slide”. It could also mean suicide if you’re afraid of heights.

Suislide is basically the same as the zipline where a pulley is suspended on a cable mounted on an inclined cliff. The ride consists of two lines, back and forth.


Prepping up
When I was getting ready for my Suislide, I felt nervous. I tried zipline before it was in a sitting position; this one’s in flying angle. Whew!  As the crew shouted “bombs away”, I braced myself for the exhilarating ride. The Suislide takes around less than a minute from one mountain cliff to another. While there, I just enjoyed the view of the river running between the mountains.


Bombs away!

Find meeeee

For Php350 and two rides, it was worth it.

The Plunge

Whenever, I hear the word “Plunge” what comes into my mind is the Nestea commercial where the model took a plunge in a picnic mat and fell freely into a pool. Sounds familiar? That is if you are a 90s kid..

It says it all
The Plunge somehow works in the same way. Danao Adventure Park boasts “The Plunge” as the best fear factor experience among other adventure activities it offers.  One has to literally plunge to an open air where about two seconds, the plunger will all be defenseless, feel nothing and left all alone.

The Plunge is a canyon swing adventure attraction mounted over a 200 meter high and 300 meter wide gorge. A person would have to do a 45 meters free fall before being launched on a pendulum swing measuring to a hundred meter diameter. The ride costs Php700.

Erick took the Plunge and I saw him literally swinging like a pendulum. But I bet it was one memorable ride for him.

Uno
Dos
Tres


There ya go
Woohoo
Ultimate ride approved!
Danao Adventure Park also offers other activities such as ziplet, river trekking and tubing, kayaking, wall climbing, village tour, camping, rapelling, root climbing, and caving. If you’re the adventurous-type, you can’t miss Danao.
They also provide accommodations from Php600-1000 per night depending on your budget. Renting a tent is a lot cheaper at Php200. Hehe
Adventure packages are also offered. Details are found in the E.A.T. Danao website. 

It was a long, tiring, and adventure-filled day for us. If you are looking for something aside from the usual Bohol sights like Chocolate Hills and dolphin watching, then E.A.T. Danao Adventure Park is for you.

One last note. The provincial government of Bohol should pave the roads leading to Danao so it can be more accessible. Traveling on a rough road was annoying. I kept saying Danao must be worth it; good thing it was. Also, a reliable and inexpensive transport system must be set-up to attract more tourists especially travelers who are on a budget.

contact information:
E.A.T. Danao
+63.38.415.0777/510.0033

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 1: Bohol Countryside Tour

Tagbilaran City is an hour and fifteen minutes away by plane from Manila. We boarded the first Philippine Airlines flight and left Manila around 5:30am. We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise while were cruising the sky en route Bohol.

Good morning sunshine!
We arrived in Tagbilaran and immediately started our countryside tour. We hired the services of Bohol Speedcar Rental for Php 1520/head including all entrance fees and lunch cruise.
Touchdown Tagbilaran
Our first stop is the Blood Compact Site. The site marks an important event in the early history of the Philippines. The sculptures depict the "sandugo" or blood compact done by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna of Bohol. The blood compact is considered as the First Treaty of Friendship between two different races, religions, cultures, and civilizations.

Blood Compact
Just a few minutes away from the site is Baclayon Church. Baclayon Chuch is the second oldest stone church next to San Agustin Church in Intramuros Manila. It is made of coral stones from the sea and skillfully crafted by Boholano artisans.

Baclayon Church
A close encounter with the tarsiers is an experience not to be missed when in Bohol. The tarsier is the smallest primate measuring less than a foot. I didn’t dare to touch or play with them because they were very active; one tarsier almost jumped in my face. 

Watcha lookin at?
Passing by the man-made forest provides a relaxing view with all the mahogany trees planted along the road terrain. We stopped by the end of the forest to take some pictures.

 Stopover at the man-made forest
Finally, we’ve reached the highlight of our countryside tour. You’ve never been to Bohol if you haven’t seen Chocolate Hills. Chocolate Hills is one of the world’s wonders with 1,268 hills to be exact. The hills turn into brown during summer season; but during our visit the hills were vibrant green maybe because it was raining the past few days in Bohol.

Finally, Chocolate Hills
Another interesting animal encounter was with the butterflies in Simply Butterflies Conservation Center. The butterfly tour was fun mainly because we got to see the life cycle of a butterfly from larva to butterfly stage. Our tour guide was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable which made our tour more interactive.

Beautiful butterflies
It was an early lunch for us at 11am. We boarded Boat #9 for our Loboc Lunch Cruise. The lunch cruise was relaxing. Cruising Loboc River gives you a glimpse of traditional rural life. Children play in the water, women gather and spend their afternoons outside their houses, and one can simply take a nap in a hammock - the simple life. 
 
Loboc Lunch Cruise

Let's eat!!
After lunch, we headed to the Tigbao Hanging Bridge which connects two villages. The bridge is made up of steel and bamboo woods. There’s nothing really to see in the bridge but the view of the river is calming. And yeah, there are souvenir shops at both ends of the bridge.
At the Hanging Bridge
We drove towards Tagbilaran and then headed to Panglao Island. We stopped by Dauis Church first. One feature of the church that caught my attention is its painted ceilings. The paintings are very intricate and detailed.

Dauis Church
Last item on our itinerary is Bohol Bee Farm. It wasn’t originally included in our packaged tour but we asked our driver to bring us to the farm. I love Bohol Bee Farm! We were able to make it to the farm tour and we learned a lot about organic farming, bee farming, vermiculture, and other livelihood activities.
 
Bee mine =) 

The organic ice cream was super yummy, one of the best I've ever tasted plus it’s really healthy! When I go back to Bohol, I will definitely stay in Bohol Bee Farm even just for an overnight.
I could eat this all day!
And yeah, we were able to squeeze some beach time later in afternoon. It was a perfect beach day; it wasn't so hot and the water was cool.

Beaching in Alona
First day in Bohol and my summer has officially started =)

contact information:

Hans
+63.906.507.7848
Bohol Speedcar Rental
boholspeedcarrental.multiply.com

Bohol Bee Farm
Ms. Vicky Wallace
Dao, Dauis, Panglao Island, Bohol
+63.38.502.2288
vickywallace@boholbeefarm.com
http://www.boholbeefarm.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hawker Food in Manila

I’ve always loved Singaporean hawker food. So when Erick and I discovered that there is foodie place near Columns that serves Singaporean and other Asian dishes, we made a recent trip to the place one rainy Saturday noon.

Hawking in Manila
101 Hawker Food House is not hard to find. It’s just at the back of Mercury Drugstore fronting Makati Central Post Office along Buendia. The food house is opposite a vacant lot which is being developed by Greenfield into a condominium/commercial building. The place doesn’t look like a hawker food court at all. But that was okay since we wanted to eat comfortably.

Upon checking their menu, we were delighted to see our Singaporean favorites at such affordable prices (Php 100 – 150).

We ordered Hainanese chicken, Thai Bagoong rice, and Singaporean Laksa (which I am craving recently). I had teh tarik which Erick tried as well. For dishes little more than a hundred bucks, we enjoyed our Singaporean food fest. The food was good and satisfying.

Let the food fest begin!
The Hainanese chicken was tender and tasted good together with the chili dip. We should have probably ordered plain rice so we can better savor the Hainanese chicken but Erick liked their bagoong rice. My personal favorite is the laksa, a coconut-based curry soup. With its thick texture and creamy and spicy taste, how could I not love it?

My personal fave - laksa
We also loved their teh tarik; it was a good alternative to our Thai iced tea craving which we haven’t satisfied yet.. I told Erick that I could probably make teh tarik at home. Just a tea bag, condensed milk, and some “pulling and pouring” technique,..voila teh tarik in 5 minutes..

Teh tarik, please
Overall, we are happy with our food experience at 101 Hawker Food House. The place was clean, service was quick, food was enough to satisfy our hawker food cravings, prices were pocket-friendly (our total bill is Php450), and yeah it’s just conveniently located in Makati. We will definitely be back soon!

contact information: 
101 Hawker Food House
Unit 102, Campos Rueda Bldg
101 Urban Ave, Makati  Metro Manila
At the back of Mercury Drug Buendia, across Makati CPO
+63.2.886.7329
Accepts delivery