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)  

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. @Leah: Yeah, eat your fill of our native food when you get home! One friend asked me what is the one thing I would most like to do when I get back and I said, eat and stuff myself with all the food I’ve been missing! Haha, what more for someone expecting like you?

    We contemplated going to nearby Cebu from Bohol but figured it may be better to do it separately in the future. Have fun! πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Raquel!

    We’re also going home to the Philippines for the holidays. I can imagine your excitement! πŸ™‚ Kami naman sa Cebu ang punta because I am from Cebu and my husband has never been to the island.

    We’re taking CP though. hehe… πŸ˜›

  3. @Alma: Yeah, I\’m also thinking that PAL may also experience delays (lagi nga raw silang late d b?) but I think the horror stories from CP are much worse. D bale na, bayaran ko na lang ung difference sa price. πŸ˜›

    @Rick: I\’ve heard many great things about Bohol and hope our stay would prove to be as pleasant. Would love to see your photos!

    @Marketman: Thanks for visiting our site. I got the hotel names mixed up – we went with Alona Palm (not Kew, as originally posted) after all and from your comment, it seems like we made the right choice. πŸ™‚ I\’m actually wondering what native food I could try when we get there, thanks for the recommendations!

  4. My family used to own a hotel very close to Alona Kew until we sold it earlier this year. If you are looking for top end, Alona Palm Beach resort at the end of the same beach is the premium choice. It has the widest and cleanest stretch of beach and spacious grounds. I believe Alona Kew is sawali or native material walls which sounds environmentally correct until you hear the neighbors conversations et al next door. It is a bit tired but a popular choice. Also on the beach is Lost Horizon, but it is WAY cementy and lacks character but has solid walls and smaller than the other resorts. If you dive, Alona Beach is a good choice but it is 40-45 minutes from Tagbilaran and many of the sites in Bohol such as the chocolate hills, tarsiers etc. are in the other direction. We have also stayed at Panglao Island Nature which was okay but expensive. If you get a chance, visit the Bohol Bee farm for a meal or some native goods shopping… Also, broas from Osang’s near the Baclayon church are to die for. I hope that helps…

  5. Ooh .. I’m so jelous! We stayed at the Bohol Beach Club back in 2001 and absolutely LOVED it .. I’d recommend it like crazy πŸ™‚

    We’re flying on Dec 23rd and made our bookings yesterday .. were amazed when we were asked where we were from (Fatima made the call) to find that it would cost $USD10 more per night because we weren’t local! So we rang back and told someone else that we’d just been quoted the PHP price, was that correct, please book us in.

    I’ll upload some of our Bohol photos (though they were all on film .. maybe I don’t have them scanned ..)


  6. pahabol. I just hope the repair of the runway in the NAIA airport is finished by now. only one runway was usable then ad there was at l east an hour delay coming in and out of Manila on domestic flights before as internati onal flights are given priority.

  7. Good choice taking PAL. I have a bad experience with Cebu Pacific the last time I was in the Philippines. Thou gh PAL have their own share of flights delays too, I think they are not as bad as the cheaper airlines. And you ‘ll be checking in at the new terminal (NAIA II) which is a lot better than the old domestic terminal.

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