Bohol bound

We’re going back to the Philippines for a much anticipated vacation in December and thinking that it may be a good time to visit some of the country’s tourist attractions as well, I originally set my sights on a 2 day/3 night stay somewhere in Palawan. However, the idea didn’t sit well with hubby, who wanted to go somewhere where there are more things to do and see than swimming and sun baking on the beach.

He wanted to see the tarsiers and the chocolate hills in Tagbilaran, Bohol and since its nearby island of Panglao is dotted with beach resorts as well, we thought it the best compromise for a travel destination. Knowing nothing about where to stay in Bohol, I lurked at Filipino forums PinoyExchange and Female Network for some ideas. Both have good threads on Bohol accomodations, tours and travel agencies.

Thinking that getting room, tour and airline ticket rates in this day and age of the internet would make everything a cinch, I emailed some travel agencies in the Philippines and even filled out online forms to ask for information. Things I’ve learned from this experience are:

  1. Most of the travel agencies and resorts never reply to emails.
  2. People who answer the email don’t read it properly or try to understand it. When I say I’d be needing a room for a couple, I didn’t expect the person to come right back and ask, how many people?
  3. Information is given piecemeal. If you ask for prices, that’s all you get. People who answer the emails won’t even qualify what the prices quoted is for (Is it per night per person? For the whole stay for all people? What are the inclusions?) Several exchanges of email would be required just to clarify these things.
  4. Some travel agencies push customers into choosing a particular resort. For example, I asked for room rates to two resorts and the agent said that the first one is good, then proceeded to give quotes. No mention of the second resort at all. Maybe because the first one is a bit more expensive, I don’t know.
  5. Some resorts quote their prices in US Dollars and nothing else. This one really irked me, why the hell would the prices be in US dollars when you’re in the Philippines operating a local business?!? This practice reeks of elitism and exclusivism. Owners are sending the message that your Philippine peso (or any other currency for that matter) is not as good as the US dollar. I glanced at their price list once and looked elsewhere.
  6. Other resorts have a different price list for Filipinos and another for foreigners (yes, in US dollars!). In most cases, the prices for Filipinos are a bit cheaper than the ones quoted for non-locals. Although I understand that this is to encourage Pinoys to visit local attractions than go abroad, it also made me uncomfortable. Why the discrimination? Filipinos are proud of being a hospitable people but asking a foreign guest to pay premium price suggests otherwise.
  7. I considered cutting costs by booking flights with smaller airline, Cebu Pacific, but changed my mind after reading MarketMan’s travel woes with them. With limited time to spend on holidays, I don’t think the cheaper price justifies shody service and lost time.

In the end, I booked our flight online with Philippine Airlines and if their online booking is to be believed, the booking is confirmed. As for accomodations, we went with Alona Palm through Accomline. It came out cheaper and hassle-free than if we went with any of the travel agencies who replied to my emails. Now the only thing to think about is organising the tour and finally getting there. Can’t wait!

Published in: on October 11, 2006 at 12:13 pm  Comments (7)