Panglao Island, Philippines
We have made it to the Philippines – one of the places I was most excited about to visit! It took a very long day of travelling – 19 hours worth of trains, buses, 2 (delayed) flights, long immigration queues, taxis, boats and trikes to make it to Panglao Island!
Where to Stay in Panglao Island
We had heard that the best place to stay was near Alona Beach – however, it is a very resort-based place and a lot of hotels were out of our price range! So, we looked for something more in our budget that was a 30 minute walk to the beach.
Isla Davina Inn
This place was rather sweet with huts surrounding the pool. We had a budget double room – and that was exactly what is was! Small room with a double bed and table and fan, tiny bathroom with a toilet, sink and cold saltwater shower!
We had quite a few ants, but the place was definitely clean and the staff (even though we were unsure who the staff were half the time) were happy to help if we asked for something. We also had a following of cute cats who enjoyed our balcony and a cute puppy we saw on occasions!
The other downside, was that this hotel didn’t really offer food, and there wasn’t a lot around in terms of restaurants. It was good for us in terms of budget, but I probably would recommend paying a little extra to be nearer the beach, bars and restaurants.
Things to do in Panglao Island
Visit Alona Beach
Really nice stretch of beach with soft sand and pretty clear water! There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from both on the beach front and close by. In the evening there is so much fresh fish on display in front of all the restaurants too – perfect for seafood lovers!
There is a newly opened 7-eleven near-by for snacks and drinks if you wish to take a picnic to the beach. We also discovered their soft serve choc and vanilla ice cream for 15 pesos (30p) which we couldn’t get enough of!
Around this area are all the trike drivers waiting to take you somewhere – however their prices seem very high for tourists and they refuse to barter – lots of walking for us!
I really enjoyed our afternoon there and we got some really cute pictures!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best weather in Panglao so were stuck in a lot with the rain pouring down outside – it meant we spent a lot of our time ‘cat-sitting’ and getting some planning done, but we didn’t see too much of the island or enjoy the beach as much as we would have liked.
We popped down to Daneo beach closer to our hotel, but it wasn’t worth it! The tide was out which didn’t help but the sand seemed dirty and the place had a deserted feel to it. But we may have seen it on a bad day – my advice would be to stick to Alona!
There is a bus that circles the island and will take you to the other popular spots for dirt cheap, such as Panglao old town with it’s history, you can also visit other islands from here. On the other side of the island is Hinagdanan Cave, a popular spot for tourists.
Where to Eat/Drink in Alona Beach
This is one of the top rated places on the island to eat. It is open for breakfast and lunch, closing around 4pm. It is run by a man called Dave (originally from Brixton) and he will happily have a chat with you and give you plenty of tourist tips, he wrote us a whole list!
The food was also really good – both western and Filipino food is offered. We enjoyed the pizza (really good), and tuna melt, and even came back the next day for more! We were getting our western food fix here!
Aluna Beach Bar
We didn’t eat here, but we did enjoy a few happy hour drinks on the beach! It was really cheap (about 75p a beer) and social due to the big rectangular bar. It also had really good music I was enjoying singing along too – I could have stayed there all night!
Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
We grabbed the local bus from outside Isla Davina (Panglao Island) to take us into the city as it was so much cheaper than a trike – it is also air conditioned and plays films! Just flag it down on the side of the road.
The city isn’t anything special but was a good base for us as we had a Bohol day trip booked and a return ferry to get!
Where to Stay in Tagbilaran City
Dayview Tourist Home
This place was perfect for us – spacious room and bathroom, hot shower, toiletries, kettle with coffee, air conditioning and a TV! It was really clean and comfortable! My pick of accommodation of course!
It is also close to a massive discount store/supermarket so we stocked up on food, snacks, beer and fruit for the next few days!
Just a warning, there is a loud siren that goes off twice around 10pm – it freaked me out at first, but as it repeated the second night, I could only presume it was a daily test run!
Where to Eat in Tagbilaran City
James had found this place and it was only about a 10 minute walk away from our hotel. We got there and it was a nice spacious restaurant with lots of large groups dining there – it had a good atmosphere.
We ate garlic chicken, pork belly, rice and noodles. The portions were really good and the price was decent considering we were in a proper restaurant!
The fast food chain of the Philippines! You will see these everywhere – they specialise in fried chicken that comes with rice or spaghetti with tomato sauce. However, they also offer burgers, hot dogs and chips like a fast food chain usually does!
Jollibee seemed like quite an eclectic mix of food for us, but filipinos seem to love it! Its quick, easy and cheap if you are on a budget or just want a quick bite.
Things to do from Tagbilaran City
Bohol Countryside Tour (£22 on Klook)
We booked a private tour through Klook and our driver arrived at 9am to pick us up. Paul, our driver/guide, went through the itinerary and agreed for us to add anything in we wanted as long as we were back before 5pm.
He offered a lot of information about Bohol throughout the tour.
Chocolate Hills Adventure Park Zipline (around £4 each, Klook)
We had booked the zipline experience as an extra and Paul agreed to take us here first. The staff were so friendly and welcoming!
We had to climb up so many stairs to get to our activity but the view of the famous Chocolate Hills were quite incredible! We got strapped into our harnesses and I walked up to my zip line with James back at the beginning for photos!
I had a surfboard zipline – it was so much fun ‘surfing’ speedily down with Chocolate Hills in the background! James got me a few good shots too. The staff also take photos, but unfortunately, mine didn’t come out as the SD card was broken!
James chose the cycle wire, where you cycle over a zipline both ways, also with a cool view! He said he really enjoyed it. We paid 120 pesos for James to have his photos downloaded onto my phone and have one copy!
There are also obstacle type courses as this adventure park!
If you like adventure, you can also quad bike around the Chocolate Hills but we passed on this occasion.
Chocolate Hills View Point
We arrived here next, even though we had already seen a pretty good view. Our driver actually questioned whether we needed this stop, but we wanted to see for ourselves.
There are a few steps to get up, but you pretty much have a 360 view of the hundreds of hills surrounding you! The hills were still fairly green due to the time of year, and they usually turn more ‘chocolatey’ in the summer months – still quite a sight to see though!
There is a conservation and a sanctuary that look after the Tarsiers in Bohol. Paul explained then as ‘mini Yoda’s’ which I thought was quite a funny (and accurate) description! They are endangered, so hopefully the species will last if looked after.
You walk around a small forest where the workers point out the tiny little animals gripping onto the trees. We only saw around 5 of the creatures. They were tiny – smaller than a fist and so cute in an ugly gremlin way!
Just a tip though – walk around slowly and take it in, as it really isn’t that big and we were done in about 8 minutes – we didn’t realise until we were at the exit! So, we bought matching tarsier keyrings as a memento!
Man Made Mongrove Forest
We drove through this, and stopped for a couple of quick photos. It was explained that all the thousands of trees here were replanted after deforestation – therefore man made. Paul stated due to this there is very little wildlife that live in the trees or grounds. Interesting!
Loboc River Lunch Cruise
The tour included lunch floating along Loboc river – it was a buffet of local cuisine and really tasty! We even had a live singer on board!
The river cruise was really relaxed and enjoyable, the scenery was very lush and green. We stopped by the edge and had a singing and dancing performance by a local school group and witnessed other locals playing the in the river – swimming, using rope swings – some showing off in front of the boats doing summersaults!
This was a bit of an odd place – we were rushed around a small zoo area by a very camp Filipino cross dresser who called the animals celebrity names, barely giving us a chance to see them!
We were then lead around to see a massive albino python that James got in with for photos – although it seemed very tame so unsure if it was just used to people, or prepared for tourists in another way…
Following this we were shown the skin of the biggest snake they ever housed – it was huge – like a horror movie size! We were shown numerous other snakes and they tried to sell us photos. We agreed to hold one and take our own photos for a donation.
I really wouldn’t bother going here!
Baclayon Church (Oldest in Bohol)
Philippines is 95% Roman Catholic in religion, and there is evidence of this every where (all trikes in Bohol have a section of the bible painted on – all are different and recorded by government!).
This is due to the beliefs being introduced by the Spanish/Portugese in 1500s. The church was rather grand inside and out – it had intricate ceiling paintings and a large space. Not as special on the outside but still large and made of stone, although apparently some was reconstructed after a natural disaster.
There is also a museum to visit for a fee if you wish.
The Blood Compact Shrine
This is a sculpture portraying the bond between Phillipines and Spain (religion influence as mentioned above) where both parties drank a liquid including the blood of the other.
The sight was nothing special, just a sculpture, but it has huge historic significance. I think there are plans to develop the site into something bigger also.
All in all, the tour was really interesting. We were back by 4pm and even though there were plenty of stops it felt relaxing. It was actually really nice to have a private tour so we could ask questions, change the itinerary and make the most of seeing Bohol. All within the comfort of an a/c car!
Cebu City, Philippines
We had a couple of nights in Cebu to conclude the Bohol section of the trip. It was so busy – packed full of people and cars and trikes but full of atmosphere!
Where to Stay in Cebu
This was a reasonable priced double room in a pretty good location in the city. It was clean and a decent size, just no window! It was close to plenty of restaurants and shops too, so pretty convenient.
Where to Eat in Cebu
Fuente Osmena Circle
This place is surrounded by food outlets, and in the centre of the circle is an array of night street food from local dishes to ice cream. There is a fountain in the centre, a few stalls selling toys, a stage with dance performances and a big Christmas tree (at the time). We had already eaten, but felt we missed out a little not trying here!
What to do in Cebu
Inflatable Island/Happy Beach
After deciding against a trip to Oslob for the Whale Sharks (its an unethical practice) we booked to go to Happy Beach. We used public transport (a 15-minute walk, bus from the bus station, a jeepney and a boat) which worked out very cheap but took almost 3 hours! Some of that can be blamed on the horrendous traffic of Cebu City!
Make sure you allow enough time for your travels. A simple trip from the airport to the ferry port can take longer than 1 hour, when it should be a 15 minute trip.
When we arrived, we were transported to the jetty by an inflatable flamingo – positive start! We checked in and took in our surroundings – the beach was small and quiet with clear waters, the inflatable obstacle course was huge, and the relaxed area by the pool were so photo worthy!
Pink umbrellas and beanbags, multi-coloured palm trees and comfy beach beds, unicorns floating in the pool! Even better, we pretty much had the place to ourselves!
We took photos, dropped our stuff by our claimed bean bags and headed off for ‘orientation’ for our inflatable timeslot! Life Jackets on, we headed for the fun part!
We were taken around by 2 enthusiastic and friendly lifeguards and pretty much had the course to ourselves. Just think of ‘total wipeout’ – that is exactly what this was like. It is not easy to look graceful when you are slipping all over the place and falling into the water left, right and centre!
However – I did end up with a lost ring, bruises and a black eye from being launched from a giant inflatable pillow! All in the name of fun!
After our hour was up, we went and dried off in the sun on our bean bags, watched the fun dance show of the staff and had a photo with the giant unicorn mascot! Before long we had to look at leaving as we expected it to be a long journey back.
Apart from it being a pain to get to (and the devastation of the lost jewellery) it was a really fun day and worth going to for a little fun in the sun! We may have been lucky that it was so quiet though as we were told it can get super busy.
Our time in Cebu/Bohol was nice and seemed relaxed. The busyness of Cebu mixed with the chilled time in Panglao was a nice introduction/test to the Philippines.
We are a little gutted we didn’t get down to Moalboal for the waterfalls and snorkeling, but there’s always a next time!
We weren’t too lucky with the weather at all times but that can’t be helped! Still, lots of memories from this place on our travel journey! Next up – Palawan!