Friday, October 1, 2010
Picture Perfect Bohol (Part 1)
Picture Perfect Bohol (Part 1)
Lj T. Salceda
The Philippines is such a blessed country. This I realize every time I travel. We have beauty, treasures and endless potential from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao. I've witnessed and marveled how God has been SO generous to us Filipinos and even foreigners who come and enjoy our 7,107 islands, our people and our culture.
While I was preparing for the book fair and the book launch, I knew I will need a vacation after a such a stressful and hectic schedule. So an out-of-town trip is a must! My boyfriend was also coming to support my book- another reason to go on a trip/vacay.
I was torn between – Davao or Bohol. Both are in my list of “places-to-visit,” unfortunately I can only go to one place since I have a limited budget and time. I excitedly started doing research for my next trip. In any vacay or travel, planning is an integral part. Personally, I don't mind doing the leg work because I both love traveling and planning. I asked friends, read reviews and contacted resorts. After a few weeks of taking down notes and consultation (there were 5 of us in the trip, 2 of them have been to Davao before), we unanimously decided- it's time for a Bohol Adventure!
AIRFARE / FLIGHTS
Since I am a PAL Mabuhay miles member, boarding a different airline company was not an option for me. I used my accumulated miles and only paid P900 for a round trip ticket. But I had to pay P3,000+/person (round trip) for the rest of my companions. All in all, our airfare totaled P14,000 (5 persons). For your travels, remember to set aside a budget for cabs to and fro the airport (if you don't have a car/someone to drive you off), airport fee of P200/person and other possible expenses like food or drinks. Avoid eating at the airport if you're on a tight budget. The food there is pricey and it’s not worth your hard-earned money. Just to give you an idea, a regular rice meal with adobo as viand plus soda costs a minimum of P250/order. You could grab something to eat at a nearby fast food chain before checking-in.
Three weeks before our target date, I went to the PAL Office in Cubao to purchase our tickets. I later found out that if you use credit card and book online, you’ll save more moolah. That’s a difference of almost P500/ticket. Problem, is I don’t have a credit card, so I pay everything in cash.
Btw, from years of personal traveling experience one of the best times to go on a vacation or tour (domestic) in the Philippines is during the month of September. Although this time of the year is still considered rainy season, most islands in the Visayas or Mindanao areas don’t get rains/typhoons during in September. It’s not a peak season either as classes are still on-going and resorts usually offer Rainy Day packages. Some things to consider when you’re looking for flights: the weather, travel (peak) seasons, budget and even your airline’s arrival/departure time.
BUDGET and ACCOMMODATION
After securing our flight, we needed a place to stay. One of the good things about Bohol is there’s no shortage of accommodation. You can choose from the pricey, 5-star hotels or resorts to the affordable, basic yet still comfortable bed and breakfast inns. Majority of your budget will also go to accommodation especially if it's a package you want to get.
I asked friends and turned to travel blogs on-line for ideas. I narrowed my list to three possible “temporary homes” while in Bohol: Dumaluan Resort (as suggested by Ate Haydee, Ptr. Jay and FB Friends); Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa (as suggested by Ate Maloi) and Bohol Bee Farm (from the reviews I’ve read on-line).
Things to remember when choosing for a place to stay:
1. FACILITIES - What are you looking for in a resort/hotel? Do you want it to have spacious rooms, a big pool, a stone-throw away from the beach, wi-fi accessibility, souvenir shops etc?
2. PRICE RANGE – Is it under your budget? Do they have packages/promos?
3. FOOD and DRINKS – Most resorts have canteens and restaurants, some even have bars, but not all of them have good food. If they don’t have satisfying or affordable food, can you get it somewhere near? Can you cook in your room? Is the resort located near a store/grocery/market?
4. SERVICE – Are the staff accommodating, friendly, helpful, respectful etc.? Can they offer alternatives or ideas regarding tours or transpo or other things you need?
5. ACCESSIBILITY – Is it near the airport or the beach or other tourist destinations? Do they offer transport service (airport/seaport pick-up)? If not, are they near public transpo/terminals/rentals? Is the road safe and comfortable for travelers?
6. OTHER OFFERS – Do you want to have a massage? Jet-ski? Banana boat rides? Snorkeling gear?
After weighing in all the options, I decided to avail of Dumaluan Resort’s Rainy day package which covers rooms, use of facilities including the pool, airport transpo, tours and daily breakfast. I deposited half of the total amount of our package to their bank account 2 weeks before our arrival.
Since we wanted to try everything that Bohol has to offer, we decided to add another day to our package. We paid a total of P30,000 for 3n/4d, 2 rooms, 3 tours for 5 people for our stay in Bohol. Lunch and dinner excluded, except for lunch at the Loboc River Cruise (part of the package).
Part 2: Itinerary and more tips from our Bohol trip.