Tagbilaran Travel Guide
In a nutshell
The City of Peace and Friendship, Tagbilaran is the capital of Bohol. It is the centre of trade and commerce and the gateway to many of the tourist attractions in the province and the surrounding Visayas cities.
Why go to Tagbilaran
Without a doubt, Tagbilaran holds the access key to the province's booming tourism industry. It's the primary starting point to Bohol's plethora of world famous attractions such as the Chocolate Hills, Loboc River Cruise, and the Sandugo Festival.
Long stretches of white sand beaches isn't too far from the city along with gorgeous diving spots and nostalgic heritage sites and turn of the century churches. Besides the obvious, Tagbilaran also boasts of under-the-radar-but-not-for-long tourist spots such as the Hinagdanan Cave with its mystical blue lagoon and innumerable bats.
There's also Mag-aso Falls that beckon with its majestic cascade and refreshing plunge pool. Home to the world's smallest primates, the province further impresses with man-made attractions like the 2-kilometer mahogany forest in Bilar and the Bamboo Hanging Bridge.
Ready to break out some sweat? You can drive over to Chocolate Hills Adventure Park in Carmen for some of their adrenaline inducing ropes and ladders courses, zip line, and biking on air. Because of its beautiful beaches, rolling hills, dense forests, and an amazing underwater life, Tagbilaran has also become a popular destination for gatherings and national conventions for those who wants to mix business with pleasure.
When to go to Tagbilaran
As always for a tropical destination, the summer months are the best time to go in terms of weather. March to May would be ideal. However, the island in itself is away from most typhoons' direct path so anytime is a good time to go. However, if you want to join in on the revelry during Sandugo Festival, then time your visit during the month of July.
Where to stay in Tagbilaran
As an economic hub and a premier tourist destination, Tagbilaran sees all types of visitors each year. There are men and women in business casuals trying to put in some work and a bit of entertainment on the side. There are families on holiday bonding together in some of the most luxurious resorts. And then there are the backpackers eager to see everything for as little dollar as possible.
Because of this, the city has seen an enormous growth in terms of the hotel industry. If you're planning to beach bum all day, you can find a variety of accommodation in Panglao and Dauis. If you are on a budget, there are many dormitory lodges that offer a bed for as low as PHP350. Take a note that these are mostly geared towards the backpacker crowd so do not expect any modern amenities or facilities. If this is a huge consideration for you, there are certainly nicer hotels to stay at. A more posh resort could cost you as much as PHP8000 per night.
Now, if you're not ready to leave the comforts of the city, you can find cheap hostels in Tagbilaran for as low as PHP595. A more luxurious abode typically ranges between PHP3000 to PHP8000. The good thing about this is that you're never too far from all the interesting locations.
Where to eat in Tagbilaran
As varied as the tourists who frequent the city, Tagbilaran offers a smorgasbord of culinary delights that is sure to please even the most fussy palate.
For cheap but savoury options, check out the locally famous Acacia de Bubu where you can sample various skewered and grilled meats for anywhere between PHP50 to PHP150. Don't be surprised if you spy pork and chicken cuts that's not too familiar like chicken innards, skin, head, and feet. Don't be put off by this and trust us when we say they're bursting with flavour.
For an experience that's out of this world, try the famous floating restaurant in Loboc River. As the boat crosses the river, you can dine on traditional dishes while being serenaded.
Now, if you haven't tried the military style of eating called boodle fight where food is served on a long table and eaten with bare hands, make your way to Habhaban sa Baluarte located in Baclayon. Lastly, vegans and the health conscious need not worry. There are several branches of The Buzzz Café that serves organic salads and desserts.
How to get around Tagbilaran
Like in other smaller cities in the country, you will find taxis only at the airport or the seaport. Your best bet in going around the city is tricycles and jeepneys as they are more frequent and inexpensive. They can take you to any point within the city for as low as PHP8 so its ideal for shorter trips. Understandably, it will cost more as you go further out.
You can also hire them for a day if you wish to venture out to Panglao, Baclayon, and Dauis. Rate would depend on your bargaining skill but getting around Bohol should cost about PHP1000. If you're exploring the southern part of the island such as Carmen, Baclayon, and Jagna, take a tricycle to Dao Terminal. Besides the terminal, one can also ride an Alona Beach bound jeepney near the National Museum. Fare should be about PHP20 to PHP30. Possibly the most convenient is to hire a scooter for about PHP300 to PHP1000 or a car for around PHP1500 to PHP2500 per day.
How to get to and from Tagbilaran
Because of its central location, getting to Tagbilaran is not too complicated. The quickest way to get there is by air. Philippine Airlines have daily flights departing Manila to Tagbilaran for approximately PHP2600 to PHP8400 one way. Travel time is around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Air Asia also offers the same route but only on Wednesdays with a flight time of 1 hour and a half. Fare typically ranges PHP1700 to PHP1900.
PAL also have direct services from Cebu daily for roughly PHP1125 to PHP10700. It's just an hour and 15 minutes flight.
It might be slower, but there are a myriad of options on how to get to Tagbilaran by boat. The Tagbilaran City Tourist Pier handles thousands of travellers daily with ships coming from Manila, Cebu, Dumaguete, and Cagayan de Oro. As of this writing, we can only confirm one shipping line doing the Manila–Tagbilaran route. However, taking into account that travel time lasts up to 18 hours, you'd be better off flying via Air Asia if price is your only concern of getting there by ship.
On the other hand, getting to Tagbilaran by ferry is an attractive option if you're coming from Cebu. There are two fast craft companies that currently service this route and can get you there in only 2 hours. Supercat have daily trips with fare ranging from PHP500 to PHP700 while Oceanjet, also with a daily schedule, costs PHP800 to PHP1000.
If you're coming from Cagayan de Oro, Trans Asia departs for Tagbilaran 3 times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Fare is between PHP660 to PHP1090 with travel time of approximately 9 hours.
If you are departing from Dumaguete meanwhile, Oceanjet have daily trips to Tagbilaran for about PHP700 to PHP1020. Tagbilaran is just 2 hours away.
Traveling by bus is only feasible if you're already within the island. Both Tubigon and Jagna ports are approximately an hour away from Tagbilaran. Bus fare should costs around PHP70 to PHP80.
Is Tagbilaran a safe place to visit?
Do the usual to avoid theft and robberies. Just carry a small amount of money, don't flash jewelleries, and keep your gadgets safely in your bag when not in use.
More than likely your major cause of annoyance here will be the mosquitoes so make sure to bring an insect repellent lotion. Snake encounters are also not unheard of so be careful when venturing into grassy areas.
Lastly, be wary of flash floods when swimming in falls or rivers. When the current starts to get stronger or the water starts rising, get out right away.