A thousand green hills in Carmen. Cruising through blue-green waters while dining in Loboc. A two-kilometer stretch of man-made Mahogany forest in Bilar and Loboc.
These may easily be the top three reasons why tourists from all over the world choose the laid-back setting of Bohol to relax and breakaway from the hustle and the bustle of the city.
Bohol is home to the famous Chocolate Hills and offers a variety of options for spending time for relaxation, going on an adventure, and trying out local food.
Now, traveling is surely fun with family and friends—but sometimes, going out on a journey on your own may just be what you need to find peace and quiet for your tired and weary soul. [See yourself sitting on the floor at the corner of a dark, forsaken room?] Alright, back to the light. Here are some recommendations on how to do your solo travel to Bohol for 3 days and 2 nights on a shoestring budget. Because, yes, finding peace and quiet ought to be affordable. And I found them, along with a lot of fun and adventure, while still keeping both my arms and legs!
Where to stay
My pick in Tagbilaran would be Tr3ats Guest House Bohol
. The place is very neat and dorm rooms start at PhP388* ($8.10)** while private rooms, at PhP950 ($19.80). The address is 16 Bagong Lipunan Road, Tagbilaran City.
Private room (Photos from Tr3ats Guest House Bohol)
Tr3ats Guest House Bohol is 15 minutes away from Tagbilaran Seaport. Flat rate for motorcycles/pedicabs from the seaport to Tr3ats is PhP50, or a little over one dollar. You might come across motorcycle/pedicab drivers who do not know where the place is, but you can try mentioning Al Niño swimming pool and they might just get that. Guests are free to use the swimming pool, which is adjacent to the guest house, until 10 PM.
The guest house has clean and well-maintained facilities from the dorm rooms up to the comfort rooms—and that makes it really good for the price you pay.
Tr3ats Guest House Bohol also has a Cebu counterpart; you may be interested to know if you’re planning to go to Cebu on your next trip
Bohol Coco Farm guest house
Bohol Coco Farm room
Meanwhile, in Panglao, Bohol Coco Farm is a suitable place for budget travel just like Tr3ats Guest House. It is a family-owned backpacker’s place has helpful owners and staff who will give you directions on where to go and what to do.
Bohol Coco Farm is a good starting point for doing activities such as checking out the beaches in the area, like Alona Beach, Bikini Beach, and Bolod or Dumaluan Beach. Bohol Coco Farm is just 10 to 15 minutes way from another farm, Bohol Bee Farm, by bike.
At PhP350 ($7.30) per night for dorm rooms or PhP700 ($14.60) for private rooms, you get a free organic breakfast fresh from the property’s very own farm.
Where to go
Without a doubt, the quintessential must-see place in Bohol is the widely-publicized Chocolate Hills found in Carmen, an hour and a half to two hours away from Tagbilaran. The bus ride from Tagbilaran to Carmen costs PhP50.
Chocolate Hills, one of the most popular tourist spots in Bohol
The habal-habal (local term for motorcycles) going up from the entrance will cost you PhP20 to PhP50, depending on your haggling skills. The entrance fee to the Chocolate Hills is PhP50 worth of tickets priced at PhP5 each.
“Coming-home gifts” or souvenirs you take home to your family and friends when you get back from vacation are available around the area. The cheapest pasalubong finds in Bohol
, such as key chains, cost only about PhP15 to PhP50.
Bilar Man-Made Forest
If you are still in the mood for some walk amidst nature, you can check out the Bilar-Loboc man-made forest, a two-kilometer stretch of Mahogany trees. You can also make a stopover in this landmark and take snaps as you will pass by this place before reaching Chocolate Hills. (Tip: You can take the front seat of the bus/jeepney to get a wide, front-row view of the forest, which can save you the time and money!)
If it is your first time to go to Loboc, it is best to sit by the driver to know more about the river cruise. Most of them are always eager to tell tourists about the popular destination. You can also ask him how long it takes to get there from Tagbilaran (okay, don’t ask, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes), and how to go about reserving a spot for the Loboc river cruise and lunch, if you find it fitting to spend more than PhP450 (rate for adults) for the cruise and the lunch that normally lasts for an hour.
Where and What to Eat
For tourists, Loboc tourism staff Gina Espiritu recommends budget-friendly Acacia de Bubu in Tagbilaran. It is one of Bohol’s watering holes known for its barbeques.
Ask your friends who have been to Bohol and they will most likely tell you to try eating on a floating restaurant in Loboc Tourism Complex, home of the famed Loboc River Cruise. However, if you are on a really tight budget, you can skip the river cruise and eating on floating restaurants and simply marvel on the blue green Loboc River instead.
Well-known coming-home, edible gifts from Bohol for family and friends at home or for you to eat while in transit include sikwate (hot chocolate) and Peanut Kisses. A serving of sikwate costs PhP15 ($0.30) - PhP30 ($0.63) while a pack of Peanut Kisses (pack of 15 to20 pieces) costs PhP250 ($5.22).
Going around Bohol on a shoestring budget only means one thing: you have to commute. However, if you know how to drive a motorcycle and you are not afraid or shy to ask strangers for directions, renting a motorcycle is also one of the most cost-efficient way of touring the province.
If you have extra money saved, you might also consider taking a day trip with one of Bohol’s trusty drivers. If you want to try traveling in Bohol’s tricycles, I recommend Jayward Digal at (+63) 910-280-8989). Jayward’s Tagbilaran-Panglao rate starts at PhP300 ($6.26). If you want to rent a car with a driver, you can contact Lino at (+63) 9194787693. Lino’s Tagbilaran-Panglao rate starts at PhP500 ($10.43); his day tour rate for 1 to4 persons is at PhP1,800 ($36).
On the other hand, if you are feeling a little on the loose and confident that you have enough cash for a more comfortable travel, you can contact Lande Lawangon of Wow Bohol Travel and Tours at (+63) 928-758-2804 to arrange your trip.
For somebody who has traveled solo when time permits, I can say that the key to making the most out of your trip without spending too much is to ask. Ask how much the flat rate from point A to point B is; ask the cheapest way to get to your point of interest from where you are staying; ask your cab/tricycle/habal-habal/bus driver where to check out local products; and, ask for recommendations because locals usually know the ins at outs of every place.
So, go and experience Bohol even if you are traveling on a budget and traveling by yourself.
Budget Summary for Bohol Trip on a Budget – Three (3) Days, Two (2) Nights (3D2N)
|Boat Fare (CEB-TAG VV) (There are also cheaper alternatives to this, but if you prefer air-conditioned over open-air boats, you might want to consider SuperCat’s Deluxe seats)||PhP700|
|Terminal Fees (CEB-TAG VV)||PhP45|
|Accommodation – Tr3ats Guest House||PhP300|
|Accommodation – Bohol Coco Farm||PhP350|
|Transportation – jeepneys, bus, and tricycle transfers; habal-habal tour (Estimate for 3D2N)||PhP800|
|Food, including Loboc River Cruise meal (Estimate for 3D2N)||PhP1,500|
|Others – entrance fee to Chocolate Hills, pasalubong||PhP500|
QUICK TIPS FOR TRAVELERS
● You can spend lower than the budget mentioned above depending on your choice of transportation and food.
● Think the driver is asking for too much? If haggling doesn’t work, ask the driver some information about the place and how to make the most out of your stay—cheaper alternative to getting a tour guide.
● Wear light clothes when traveling. After all, Bohol is in a tropical country and you wouldn’t want to carry heavy faux fur coats while riding a habal-habal.
*All prices mentioned are subject to change without prior notice.
**$1 = P47.90 for the purpose of this article.