The few weeks we spent in the Philippines was beautiful, like a relaxing holiday from travelling that I didn’t want to end. It’s cheap and a bit rough around the edges in places. But beautiful in every single sense of the word. With over 7000 islands to explore, it’s not got a standard backpacker route like a lot of Southeast Asia does, so it’s easy to venture off the tourist trail if you want to.
Just as we were starting to tire from long-term travel, the Philippines stepped in and vanished our travel fatigue. We swam in turquoise rivers, waterfalls and in the clearest sea, with sea turtles, colourful little fish, millions of sardines and starfish. We were impressed by the perfect white beaches and the multi-coloured sunsets. The friendly people and the cheap beer and food.
In this post, I will tell you about the beautiful places we went to in Cebu and Bohol. How much it costs, where we slept and how to travel from place to place. We did travel quite slowly, as everywhere we went to we didn’t want to leave. Plus a lot of places can be visited on day trips so there’s no reason to constantly pack up and move around.
At the time of writing, £1 is equal to 70 Philippino Peso’s (PHP).
How much does it cost to travel in Cebu and Bohol?
Backpacking in these places in the Philippines is really cheap, especially the food. We spent a total of £18.50 / $24 USD a day per person including all our daily costs and activities. We were eating comfortably and staying in nice private rooms with AC. We were doing lots of fun activities plus drinking beer almost every night. So yes – your money definitely goes far here!
Cebu and Bohol 2 week itinerary:
1. Cebu City (1 Night)
Firstly fly into Cebu City, spend the evening here before getting the ferry over to Tagbilaran, Bohol the next morning.
2. Loboc, Bohol (5-6 Nights)
The ferry to Tagbilaran costs 525 PHP (including 25 tax) and it runs at regular times throughout the day. The journey takes around 2 hours. Once you arrive in Tagbilaran, most travellers head straight to the famous and touristic Alona Beach on the island of Panglao, but we decided that the small inland town of Loboc looked more our thing. So we got a tuk-tuk to the bus station (50 PHP) and then a local bus to Loboc (25 PHP per person). The bus should only take around 3 hours, however, our’s broke down so it took around 4 hours.
When you get off the bus, Loboc doesn’t look much from its main street. But its beauty is its beautiful turquoise river and behind Loboc’s main street lie quiet, palm tree-lined dusty streets where chickens, dogs and children run around and people say hello when you walk past, with just a couple of guesthouses of choice.
We stayed in Stefanie Grace Paradise Inn, which is a fairly big guesthouse with rooms to suit each budget, all rooms have AC, so we chose to stay in the cheapest room for about 400 PHP a night each. The guesthouse serves food and also has a pool and sun lounges and chairs that look straight out onto the amazingly beautiful river.
What to do in Bohol:
As well as enjoying Loboc itself, you can use Loboc as a base for exploring the rest of the island. Stefanie Grace, for example, can hire scooters or arrange tuk-tuk drivers for you. Alternatively, there are efficient and regular public buses that go past most of the main attractions.
There are loads of things to do in Bohol, so we decided to spend 6 nights/ 5 full days here, especially as we wanted to make use of the lovely pool at Stefanie Grace!
Things to do in Loboc itself:
- Stand-up paddleboarding down Loboc River – this was arranged through the Fox & the Firefly Guesthouse and it cost us 700 PHP per person.
- Watch fireflies make the trees shine like Christmas tree lights at night, whilst taking a boat along Loboc River – arranged through Stefanie Grace Guesthouse for 500 PHP per person.
- Go swimming in the turquoise Loboc River – Free!
- Go for a boozy lunch on floating resto-bar down Loboc River – we didn’t do this but it looked fun
Day trips in Bohol from Loboc:
- Visit the Chocolate Hills – we took a bus here from the main road for 35 PHP and the entrance to the Chocolate Hills costs 50 PHP each.
- Visit the Tarsier Sanctuary – we hired a tuk-tuk for 350 PHP return and the entrance to the sanctuary cost 60 PHP each.
- Visit Alona Beach – We didn’t do this as it would be too long a day trip on the bus, but it’s definitely doable if you can ride a scooter or fork out the money for a tuk-tuk.
3. Badian, Cebu (3 nights)
Today is a long travel day. So get an early bus back to Tagbilaran (25PHP), then a tuk-tuk to the ferry terminal (50 PHP), and then head back to Cebu City on the ferry (525 PHP). Once back in Cebu, get a taxi to the bus station (75 PHP) and then a 3-hour bus (120 PHP for non-AC) to the town of Badian.
Badian is a busy little town next to the main road, it felt very local and we didn’t see any other tourists when we were there. In Badian we stayed in a great guesthouse called ‘TGH’ The Guest House Badian, we had a double room with AC and a shared bathroom for £19 a night, they also serve great home cooked breakfasts and dinners which we recommend.
Things to do in and around Badian:
We based ourselves in Badian for 3 nights to visit the beautiful Lambug Beach. Take a tuk-tuk here for 100 PHP (but good luck getting one for this price on the way back, we paid 150 PHP going back). When on the beach, there are a few cafes serving food and drinks but it’s mainly very undeveloped. We went at high tide, which I had read is much more beautiful than low tide. We hired a beach hut for a few hours for 400 PHP ‘cause Shaun hates sand! Bring your snorkelling gear with you, or some swimming goggles, there are lots of little fish and hundreds of starfish.
We also used Badian as a base to visit the beautiful Kawasan Falls (just take the local bus from the main road, it only takes 10 mins and costs 10 PHP each way for non-AC). Most people visit the Kawasan Falls on an organised canyoneering tour from the more popular town of Moalboal, but by staying in Badian you can get to the falls really early, miss the huge crowds and enjoy the waterfalls at your leisure. The entrance only costs 45 PHP per person.
4. Moalboal, Cebu – (3 nights)
Take a bus from the main road in Badian (100 PHP) for about 30 mins until it reaches the town of Moalboal, then get in a tuk-tuk towards Panagsama beach (100 PHP).
In Moalboal we stayed in a guesthouse called ‘Roos Guesthouse‘ which cost £20 a night for a private room with AC and a private bathroom, you can also hire snorkelling gear from them for free!
Things to do in Moalboal:
Moalboal is famous for diving and snorkelling and is a popular spot for doing ‘the sardine run’ which was amazing. Just head out with your snorkelling gear in front of the Veranda Kitchen & Bar. We went in the morning when it was high tide, then swim out about 20 meters until the reef backdrop, then be prepared to be surrounded by millions of sardines darting around you! It’s an amazing sight and experience. And it costs absolutely nothing.
On our second day of snorkelling in Moalboal, we headed out in search of sea turtles. Again we went at high tide, but this time we walked further down the road to Chili bar and restaurant, just in front of here I spent hours swimming with sea turtles. It took me a while to spot them, but don’t give up! I spent ages gliding through the crystal clear water with a huge sea turtle that day and it was another amazing experience. And again, it was totally free.
Another place you can visit from Moalboal is the White Beach which is meant to be really beautiful, but we doubted it would be as good (or empty) as Lambug Beach near Badian so we decided to carry on snorkelling where we were instead.
5. Cebu City – 1 Night
Get a tuk-tuk to the bus station in Moalboal (100 PHP) then a bus back to Cebu city (140 PHP for AC, 2.5 hours) and have another night in Cebu City before your flight.
And that’s it! Our 2 weeks in Cebu and Bohol were some of the most beautiful and relaxing of our whole trip. It’s hard to believe but somehow The Philippines is nowhere near as touristy as the rest of Southeast Asia despite being so beautiful. I hate to choose favourite’s but the Philippines is definitely in my top 3. We will definitely be returning to The Philippines one day to explore more.