Having done a fair bit of travelling throughout South East Asia in the last four years, I’ve realized that there should be an order in which you visit countries. For example, Thailand should be first on the list: it’s cheap, easy to navigate, incredibly tourist friendly, and there’s a wide range of things to do and see. Somewhere like the Philippines could easily be second. I had previously traveled to El Nido, Palawan and Boracay, where I went on some of the most incredible island hopping tours and woke up to an immaculate white sand beach every morning. So, heading to Bohol for my third trip to the Philippines was, to be honest, a bit of a disappointment.
Panglao Island, Bohol is a good destination for those who are looking for an easy to get to short beach holiday. Panglao Island is a less developed version of Boracay, which for some might be great as it’s not as crowded (though it certainly looks like it’s becoming that way) or Westernized. However, that also means there’s not quite as much to do. In an attempt to fit as much as possible into a vacation, here are 10 things to do in Panglao Island, Bohol; from lounging on the beach and eating fresh seafood, to exploring Bohol during the day and watching a fire show at night.
Aside from the Bohol Countryside Tour, another popular trip is the Panglao Island Hopping Tour which takes you out onto the water for a day of dolphin watching, snorkeling on Balicasag Island, and finally to The Virgin Island. You can easily book this tour through your hotel or find someone selling these tours along Alona Beach. Be sure to negotiate a price beforehand; expect to pay 1,200 – 1,800 PHP depending on how many people are in your group, time of year, and how good your haggling skills are. If you’ve gone on other island hopping tours in South East Asia before (like the surreal island hopping in El Nido), this tour will likely be incomparable, and, at least for us, was not at all what we had expected.
Bohol is a small island in the Philippines, just south of Cebu, that is well-known for diving, its Chocolate Hills, and Tarsiers. One of the most popular tours offered is the Bohol Countryside Tour; a day-long tour consisting of seven different sightseeing spots throughout the island. We had wanted to do this tour to get a glimpse of Bohol, but didn’t want to go to a few of the sightseeing stops, so we ended up hiring a private car for roughly the same price as a group tour and had a much better experience.
El Nido allures travelers with its stunning island hopping tours, diving, and serene beauty. After you have scratched these off your to-do list and are looking for something a bit more adventurous to do, you should look into climbing up one of the mammoth limestone cliffs that surround El Nido town proper. The only one I know of is climbing up Mt. Taraw, El Nido. Before arriving, I had read about others who had done the climb and saw how breathtaking the views were. Afterwards, I knew this was something I had to do while I was here.
As amazingly wonderful as the town of El Nido is, it’s missing one thing. Because of the looming limestone cliffs to the west of the town, you are unable to see the sunset. This also means it gets dark much earlier in the day than you would probably like. Thankfully, we ended up finding a solution to our lack-of-a-beautiful-sunset problem.
El Nido island hopping tours are one of the main attractions in this charming town. When you head there, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is which tour to go on. Fortunately, I was able to go on two incredible tours: Tour A and Tour C. If you’ve read up on island hopping in El Nido, you’ll probably know that Tour A is highly recommended if you can only do one during your stay. If possible, you should try to get around to going on both tours.
As I mentioned in my last post, El Nido is a must-visit destination with its incomparable beauty and small town charm. When you visit, you will undoubtedly go on an island hopping tour, as it is one of the main things to do here. There are four tours you can choose from, cleverly named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. These tours are a great way to explore the islands of El Nido and take in all of its rare visual appeal. Tour A and C are the most popular tours, which I was lucky enough to have been able to do both. However, if you can only squeeze one tour in during your stay, I would recommend doing Tour A.
The small town of El Nido exudes this quaint, friendly, and charming vibe throughout. El Nido is not as developed as many other popular South East Asian destinations (though it might very well become just that in the near future), which I really liked about it, so don’t expect a street filled with bars and drunken tourists, or any chain restaurants or shops.
After we had been in Puerto Princesa for two nights, we made our way via van to the -almost- northern most part of Palawan; El Nido. The ride there was pretty painful; it took about 6 or so hours with multiple stops picking up and dropping off passengers (both tourists and locals) along the way in the towns of Roxas, Taytay, and who knows where else. However, I was in for a real treat on the ride back to Puerto Princesa when we were stuck in a much smaller van with the same amount of people, and had a pregnant lady moaning as if she were having contractions and an older woman who was horking into a baggy that she tied around the back of a seat… But, I digress.