3 Days in Panglao, Bohol (Plus Pamilacan Island)

How I Spent 3 Days Relaxing in Panglao, Bohol
& the Pamilacan Island

(& went with the flow completely)

Don’t get me wrong, I do love to visit the main landmarks and the ‘must see’ locations.
However, this time round, I thought..

‘Forget it. I’m getting out of the city in order to chill.
So I will do some serious chilling.. and then see what happens.”

I only had just about 3 days (plus 1.5 for Cebu & travel) and I won’t even try to pretend that it’s anywhere near enough, timewise.

Bohol is an island located about a 2 hour ferry ride from Cebu.

Panglao is a little extra island attached to Bohol – it’s a little backpackers heaven famous for Alona beach, beach bars & seriously chilled out hostels.

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Tops Lookout, Cebu

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If you are flying to Cebu first, I’ve got two guides for you ready :

Read : 1 Day in Cebu (Plus Transport & Accommodation info)

Read : Getting from Cebu to Panglao, Bohol, Philippines 

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Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol

Panglao , Bohol

 

Accommodation

Book in advance. The hostels get booked up SUPER fast!
I had my eyes set on Alona Hammocks from the beginning but I was slightly too late, the earliest availability was the night after.

I was recommended another place close by called Lennon’s Place Backpacker Hostel. Turns out it was also booked up but the super nice owner let me sleep on a mattress (which apparently is a pretty busy bed as well!)

Both of the hostels I stayed at were absolutely AMAZING and I cannot recommend them enough..!

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Lennon’s Place Backpacker Hostel

1 night in a dorm – PHP400-450 (£7)
1 night in a private bungalow – PHP 1,080 (£17.50)

I loved, loved, loved this hostel!
The owners are the nicest couple and (Mama) Vicky took care of all of us, as we were her own children – no joke.

The place is very nice and cosy, super nice bungalow bathrooms with fairy lights right outside, and the outside common area is part of the reception which feels seriously homely.

In general, the atmosphere is great and super chilled.. which is why many people just stay here for much longer than intended.

Book here

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Alona Hammocks

1 night in a dorm – PHP300 (£5) including super nice breakfast.

Created by the beautiful owner Renee, this place boosts with love and amazing atmosphere.

It’s all open space, with (as the name suggests) hammocks as beds, but there are mattresses with mosquito nets and that’s mainly where people sleep. The bathroom is super simple, as in – a bucket, but just go with it and it’s not a big deal at all (trust me).

Renee is great. She even makes the breakfast herself – something different everyday.

I also love the fact that because she is so used to people wanting to extend – she doesn’t even ask you to check out unless you say otherwise.

Literally, nobody wants to leave. Because of that, you will often see her ‘creating’ beds for people all over the place as she cannot bare to have anyone being homeless for a night.

Book here

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Pamilacan Island
Alona Beach

Relaxing in Panglao, Bohol
(& Pamilacan Island)

 

Alona Beach

The main attraction of Panglao is the famous Alona beach.
A long stretch of white sand, turquoise water and super chilled beach bars and restaurants.

It does get quite busy but because it’s quite a long stretch, you will most likely be able to find a quiet spot on the beach to chill and enjoy the sun.

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Other Beaches :

Bagobo Beach, Danao Beach
Bolod Beach, Doljo Beach
Bikini Beach

On the way to the Pamilacan Island with the locals
Getting a dreadlock by my new friend

Get to know the locals

Mostly, people in the Philippines are extremely kind and super nice!
Therefore, it would really be a shame to visit the country and not get to know some locals.

I know that sometimes it can be slightly hard and it’s easy to stick with your new friends, but honestly – get out of your comfort zone a little and try to speak to them (keep reading for more on this).

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Bars / Nightlife

Many bars, restaurants & a great atmosphere.. what more could you wish for!

There are two reggae bars on the beach (at the time of my visit), which for me was just perfect.
Plus others that sell decent priced drinks, also some will happily play whatever music you ask them to play.

Tip 1 : Keep your eye out for deals! There is a place right next to the tattoo shop for example, they did super cheap mojitos. Everything else was much more expensive.

Tip 2 : You can get a whole bottle or rum for about PHP 150/200 & a bottle of coke and share. This way, your drinks will work out ridiculously cheap.

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All night long

Evening (& Night) on the Beach

Grab some drinks from a convenience store (super cheap rum & beer) and go chill at the beach.

Alona beach is perfect for that as you’ll have the music coming from every bar, allowing you to be picky with what you’d like to listen to, ha!

As I mentioned earlier – during the first night, I was worried about finding somewhere to sleep.. well it turns out I didn’t use my bed/mattress at all in fact.

After grabbing a few of those super cheap mojitos at the beach bar, we ended up chatting with the locals. One thing led to the next and we stayed at the beach till sunrise – chatting, drinking the cheap rum, playing on local instruments and laughing our hearts out.

Before we knew it, it was 8 in the morning and one of my favourite memories from this trip was created.

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Visit the Pamilacan Island (& many more)

Located 12.5 kilometres (7.8 mi) south of Bohol lies the beautiful little gem called the Pamilacan Island.
Perfect for snorkelling, diving and a quiet and chilled day at the beach.

It’s the perfect little getaway from the much busier Panglao / Bohol.We were the only ones at the beach, plus some seriously adorable local kids.

We were the only ones at the beach, plus some seriously adorable local kids.
There’s a super nice place to eat at one of the guesthouses.

Pamilacan island is the perfect place to chill for a day (or longer).

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This is the way we ended up on the Pamilican Island..

After our all night chill out time on the beach, the locals suggested we head to the neighbouring island for the day – considering it for a few seconds, we quickly agreed.

It was probably the most fun boat ride till date. I did at one point think about the situation – 5 girls with locals that kind of looked like pirates (no offence guys!).. heading to a different island – I see how it could be a little bit dangerous.

But, as we always say – go with your gut.. and all of our guts were saying it’s ok.
It’s not until you get out of your comfort zone that the truly fun experiences begin right?!

Note : watch out for the jellyfish when snorkelling! We were super close to the beach (still standing) and I got stung so bad that I had to take medicine and a month later I still have signs from the mean bastar*s.

PS. There are also a few other islands you can visit such as the Virgin or Gak-ang Island.

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Eat, eat & eat.

There are SO MANY restaurants and local places to choose from in Panglao.

Prices vary drastically – of course, it’s not all incredibly cheap at the Alona beach.. However, head down towards the main road and you’ll find some seriously decent food at an even more decent price.

Many places have fresh seafood to choose from, which is then carefully prepared and barbecued.. heaven. Some places include karaoke or other fun games.

PS. As the Phillippines are known for their delicious mangos – YOU SIMPLY MUST TRY THEM.

Angels Hamburgers – Head straight from the beach (approx 5 mins walk)

Click for maps here

ON THE CHEAP

Angel’s Burger
One night when we were at a bar, two of the barwoman were eating some seriously, delicious smelling burgers at about 3am.

Straight away I went up to them and asked where did they get them from – now, 2 things they said made us basically run to the place : It’s open now and the burgers are PHP 34 for 2.

YES – 34 PESOS for 2 cheeseburgers, that’s £0.56 / €0.64 / $0.68.

Even though it’s not exactly a local cuisine, we were there once a day/night. It’s actually a well-known franchise around the Philippines – simple but delicious burgers (plus lots of other options).

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Visiting Tarsiers (not a good idea)

We were told there are two tarsier sanctuaries – one is quite bad and the other one is very good. We went to the good one : Tarsier Conservation Area.

Turns out that both are actually pretty bad.

Tarsiers are considered endangered species that simply cannot deal with people looking at them and taking pictures all day long. They are very unsocial and need their space.

They are also nocturnal, which means they do all of their ‘activities’ at night.
Meaning, they shall sleep during the day.

Now go and have a look at pictures from these sanctuaries (google, anywhere) and see how often they are wide awake during daytime.

I understand that we all want to see them.. but to be honest – you literally look at them for a few seconds and move on to the next one. Plus, many of us just want to have a picture of the cute little creatures, so we can show it to our friends back home and make them slightly jealous.. it’s not worth it. Trust me.

I am Aileen wrote a great piece on this : Read here (please).

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Chill at the Hostel

Meaning that you are visiting a new place doesn’t mean you cannot chill at the hostel. I was actually guilty of thinking that for a long time – everytime I stayed in I would feel seriously unproductive. But sometimes it’s exactly what we need.

Make the use of your hostels common area and meet other travellers, then go with the flow.

Staying at hostels such as Lennon’s Backpackers Place or Alona Hammocks means the atmosphere will always be great, these are the kind of places that are ideal for chilling.

At Alona Hammocks for example, you could chill in one of the hammocks while listening to live music (guitar :D), chatting with some seriously interesting people and just taking the day as it goes.

Both of the hostels had the chilling area outside which made it even better.

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Tricycle ride
In the jeepney
Or on the jeepney

Transport in Panglao, Bohol

Jeepney

The same as in Cebu – You pay a set price for a ride.

I actually kind of loved these things, they are the main local ‘public’ transport and yes, it can get super (suuuuper) packed, uncomfortable and hot but it’s an experience for sure. This is by far the cheapest form of transport.

Tricycle

Another local experience, a memorable one too. You feel every single bump and it’s not the comfiest of them all, but it’s also on the cheaper side and you can haggle quite a bit.

As you might have read in my Cebu to Panglao, Bohol guide – a ride from the port to Alona Beach cost me PHP 250.

Scooter

Probably the most cost effective and let’s you do whatever you want, without waiting around.
Definitely how I would have done it if I had more time, especially for sightseeing around Bohol.

The price should be between PHP 400-550 per day. Try to research the companies beforehand or ask around, which ones are better or worse.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL when driving around – it seems that the people on the island have their own unspoken road rules, which of course we have no idea about and even our hostel owner together with a friend were in a huge accident, with scars still today.

 

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What else to do in Panglao, Bohol

As my trip was a super short and chilled one, I chose to not do one of the Island tours that include many different activities. But below is all of the info you need!

Organised Group Tour

Price – Around PHP 300/350 Plus the entrance fees.

Great option if you want to tick off all (or most) of the ‘to do’ activities on the island of Bohol without any organising.

If there are activities you don’t wish to do, you’ll have to wait for the groupmates that do (unless nobody chooses it).

 

Credit : danaoadventurepark.com

Ziplining / Danao Adventure Park

Not only Danao Adventure Park has a seriously good ziplining, there is also some rock climbing, ATV and there are some caves too. The ziplining in Bohol is one of the main things I actually wanted to do.

Oh yes.. there are also some water activities – river kayaking & river trekking.

Chocolate Hills

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Bohol are these strange looking hills that can also remind you of many other strange things.

Honestly.. I haven’t heard anyone saying “Wow, yh they were great!” it was more of a “Yh it was ok, but nothing special.” But it’s still something worth seeing.

Credit : bohollifetours.com

Hanging Bridge

This looks super cool and I definitely need to check it out, next time I visit.
I know it can get pretty busy so if you are driving your own scooter – get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds and get that perfect photo.

There are also a few other activities that you may consider – check out the above picture (with the listed activities) for more.

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So this is about it!

Hope you enjoyed this ‘guide’ to
3 Days Relaxing in Panglao, Bohol ( and 1 day in Cebu)

 

Check out my video from this trip :

(Note : Somehow, I completely missed the fact that one of the boys is not wearing underwear.. please ignore that)

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Cebu to Panglao, Bohol

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  • Thank you very much for your swift reply. Me and my 8 yr old daughter are going to Panglao on the 19th and the hotel that I booked with offer island tour for 1800. Yes, it’s a cheap one but we’re just 3 so I’m thinking if we could join other tourists so we could lessen the price. Are there many boatmen in the beach who offers group tour? How about you, did you just join others? Or simply ask directly for the boatmen? Sorry for the questions my dear, Hope you can answer me. Thank you.

    • There are quite a few people offering the boat tours, especially on the beach – so that won’t be a problem. I did it with a few people that I met in a hostel, then we were invited by the locals as they knew someone with a boat 🙂 I wouldn’t worry too much and just see what happens when you get there, especially that you have the option from your hotel just in case! I am sure you will meet others that would like to join you!
      Either way, you and your daughter will have lots of fun for sure! xx

  • Eli, I am heading to panglao next week, is the alona beach really as good as people make it out to be?
    I am trying to decide if i should go somewhere else as well or mainly just panglao. Kate

    • Hey Kate!
      It was really nice but quite busy compared to the other beaches, I would definitely recommend Pamilican island or the other ones close by if you have a chance! 🙂 xx

    • Hello Lorena 🙂
      Our one was PHP 2,000 (about £30 between all of us) for the whole day. but I have no idea whether that was cheap or not, definitely ask around! 🙂