CENTRAL VISAYAS CHRONICLES: DIY Trip to Cebu, Dumaguete & Bohol on a Budget

Back when I was studying, history was always been my favorite subject- especially Philippine History. I’m always fascinated by the story of Spanish occupation in the Philippines.  And where else did it all started but in central Visayas.

Central Visayas is a region located in the heart of the Philippines. It is made up of 4 provinces namely Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. It has rich history and culture that is significant to the identity of the Philippines. The region is also blessed with wonderful natural resources.

This is the story of our week-long adventure to Cebu and Bohol with side trip to Dumaguete with a budget of Php 8,500.

It all started when my friend booked a cheap round trip air ticket to Cebu thru Air Asia. She got it for only Php 650. The travel dates were also very timely for my vacation to the Philippines. It took us a year before the long wait is over. At first, I thought that a week is a bit long for Cebu only so we decided to add Bohol on our itinerary.

Day 1: Arrival to Cebu

The flight from Manila to Cebu is approximately an hour by plane. From Mactan Airport we took MyBus to go to SM City Cebu where we supposed to take jeepney to Cebu South Terminal. But since we couldn’t find the right jeep to our destination, we decided to grab a cab. From Cebu South Bus Terminal, we took the bus going to Oslob. I heard from some of the passengers that the bus will go straight to Dumaguete. The bus left the terminal at 5:30 pm and it’s almost 9pm when we reached Brgy.  Tanawan in Oslob. After we checked in at our guesthouse, we went out to search for a place to eat then head back to our room to rest and prepare for our second day itinerary.

Day 2: Oslob Whale Watching -Tumalog Falls – Dumaguete City

20170810_060505We’re lucky to find a guest house located in the beachfront. So while enjoying our breakfast, we can see other tourists having their moments with the whale shark.DSC_7065

At 7 am, our room caretaker assisted us to the whale shark watching hall where we had an orientation first. Fully equipped with life vest and snorkeling gear, we went to the beach to start our adventure. We got a small boat exclusively for the 3 of us plus the 2 boatmen. I admit that I was scared at first to take a dip in the water but with the help of our manong bangkeros, I was able to conquer my fear and enjoy this one of a kind whale watching experience. I also noticed that the water buoyancy is too high that you will float even without the vest. Our boatmen were also game in taking pictures of us with the whale shark. I was really amazed by the calmness of this huge sea creature. Now I know why it is called the ‘gentle giant’. There are small bancas that feed the whale sharks that’s why it is going on our side. Aside from the amazing whale shark, we also saw different kinds of fish underwater. It was indeed a sight to behold. It’s definitely the highlight of my trip and a tick on my bucket list.

After the encounter with whale shark, we hired a multicab to go to our next destination, Tumalog Falls, which was only a few minutes from our guesthouse. We had to hike down for few meters since the multicab couldn’t go down the steep pavement. We were captivated by the beauty of the waterfalls. After lingering with the relaxing cold water for almost an hour, we returned to our guesthouse for lunch.

I’ve been thinking of Dumaguete since last night. I’ve been researching and asking questions to people we met on the eatery on how to get there. I’ve learned that it’s just less than an hour boat trip from Liloan Port, Cebu to Sibolan Port, Negros. So I, together with my friend Joy, embarked on a journey to make a short visit to Dumaguete.

From our guesthouse, we hired a tricycle to Liloan Port located in Santander, the southernmost municipality of Cebu. From Liloan Port we rode a pump boat going to Sibulan Port in Negros Oriental then tricycle to Dumaguete City.

What we did in Dumaguete City?

We stroll around Dumaguete City starting with Silliman University. Did you know that it is the first American university in Asia established in 1901 and was named after Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, a businessman and philanthropist from New York? Now you know!

Another interesting place that we visited was the Belfry, also known as the ‘guardian of the city’ for it used to serve as watch tower and protect the city from pirates during the early times. Beside the belfry is St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral. The grotto of our Lady of Perpetual Help is also located at the base of the belfry.

Located just in front of the belfry and cathedral is the Quezon Park where families used to picnic. There was an ongoing zumba when we were at the park.DSC_7169Of course, we did not miss Dumaguete’s famous silvanas. This creamy and buttery dessert is so heavenly that it will surely make you crave for more.

DSC_7170We also stroll along Rizal Boulevard before heading to Handumanan Store to buy some souvenirs then went back to the port to catch the Fast Cat Ferry going back to Oslob on a drizzling night.

Day 3: Bohol Countryside Tour

After we checked-out of the guesthouse, we travelled to Argao port to take the ferry going to Tagbilaran port. At the port, we were greeted by our tour guide. We immediately started our countryside tour on his comfy van.

DSC_7201Our first stop was Baclayon Church. The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is the oldest coral church in the region and one of the oldest in the Philippines founded in 1596. The church is undergoing reconstruction after the 7.2 magnitide earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013.

Next stop, the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. Here, we had the chance to see tarsier, the world’s smallest primate, in their natural habitat. We were allowed to take photos of these cuties, but should not have flash as we might disturb its sleep. We were also not allowed to touch it for it may cause them stress.

We had a quick stop at Loboc river.

On our way to Carmen, we passed by a long stretch of mahogany trees forest known as the Bilar Man Made forest.

DSC_7251It was raining that day so I was a bit worried that we might not see a good view of Chocolate Hills but thankfully there was no rain when we reached the hills.

Did you know that there are at least 1,260 hills but the total count can even reach to more than 1,700? The Chocolate Hills is the most famous tourist spot in Bohol. Before, I can only see the Chocolate Hills in textbooks. I can’t believe that I can see it now up close and personal.

While we’re heading to Alona beach to look for a place to stay, we passed by Loboc church and saw the damage that it got from the earthquake.

Day 4: Isola di Francesco – Hinagdanan Cave- Blood Compact

As we explored Alona beach area, we also learned about the other nearby islands perfect for island hopping. Most of them offer at least Php 2,000 for the boat and tour. But there is this one island that made us interested. They call it ‘Virgin Island’ or Isola di Francesco. Aside from its pristine water and white sandbar, the island is also fit for meditation. There are also some fun activities like kayaking and many more. And what’s more interesting to know about this island is that everything is FREE. Yes, you read it right! From pump boats, to kayaking, to snacks. But they do accept donations. As a budget traveler, discovering this island is a big win-win. We spent half of our day at this wonderful island.

For the second part of our day, we rented a motorbike to explore more of Panglao and other neighboring towns.

First stop, Hinagdanan Cave.DSC_7385Hinagdanan Cave is another interesting place to visit when in Panglao. Aside from the awe-inspiring stalactites and stalagmites, it also has an underground lagoon where visitors can swim.

DSC_7430On our joyride, we also visited the Monument of Blood Compact where the sandugo between Datu Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565 took place. It is considered one of the most significant parts of history for it’s the first pact of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos.

We also came across some old churches and other interesting finds along the way.

Day 5: Old Churches – Magellan’s Cross

It’s time to bid Bohol goodbye.

We took the ferry from Tagbilaran to Cebu City with travel time of approximately 5 hours. We reached Cebu City at past 5 pm so after checking in at our hostel and some rest, it’s time to explore the ‘Queen City of the South’.

Starting off with Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino, the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country founded in 1565. It houses the statue of Sto. Nino which was given by Magellan as gift to Raja Humabon and his wife for accepting Christianity.DSC_7509

Beside the basilica is the famous Magellan’s Cross, the cross that was planted by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers headed by Ferdinand Magellan when they first arrived in the Philippines in March 16, 1521.

Only a few blocks away from Sto. Nino Basilica is another impressive old church, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral or Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of Saint Vitalis and of the Guardian Angels.


Day 6: Taboan Market – Sirao Garden – Temple of Leah

It’s our 6th day on this week-long central Visayas escapade. And since we had morning flight the next day and there would be not much time, we decided to buy pasalubong to save time. And where else should we go but to Taboan Market. It’s like a big pasalubong center complete with all delicacies of Cebu from otap to dried mangoes to dried fish. They have everything you need. But just be ready to smell like daing (dried fish) afterwards.😅

After shopping for pasalubong we went back to our guest house to freshen up.

The last leg of our tour includes Sirao Garden and Temple of Lea located in Busay.  Once you reached JY Square Mall, you will see lots of motorcycles offering tours. They can accommodate up to 2 passengers.

Sirao Garden is a flower farm located at the edge of the mountain. Its windmill and colorful celosia flowers make it perfect to be called ‘Little Amsterdam’. Make sure to visit it before sunset to witness the picturesque beauty of flowers in bloom.

After little Amsterdam, we proceeded to Rome. 😄 I’m referring to the Roman inspired architecture of Temple of Leah. Temple of Leah is a new attraction in Cebu. This temple was built as a symbol of a man’s love to his wife. As we entered, we were greeted by a 9 ft bronze statue of Leah sitting on her throne. It was such a great experience to visit this place knowing the story behind its construction.

Day 7: Goodbye Cebu

We came to our journey’s end. It was indeed a wonderful experience exploring Cebu, Bohol and Dumaguete.

We had to catch our 10am flight to Manila.

Unfortunately, we were not able to taste Cebu’s famous lechon for 2 reasons. It’s because 1.) one famous store is already closed due to some permit issues and 2.) we ran out of lechon when we visited one famous restaurant last night. We will definitely come back to fulfill this naudlot na craving.

Below is the summary of expenses.

Day 1
Roundtrip Airticket Manila-Cebu-Manila 650.00
Lunch at Mactan Airport 134.00
MyBus – Mactan Airport to SM Cebu 25.00
Taxi to Ceres Bus Station (PHP 117/3 pax) 39.00
Ceres Bus – Cebu City to Oslob 177.00
Dinner 62.00
Guesthouse (PHP 2,484/3 pax) 828.00
Day 2
Breakfast & Snacks 117.00
Whale Shark Watching 500.00
Multicab to Tumalog Falls (perperson) 150.00
Lunch 85.00
Tricycle from Tanawan to Sibulan Port 75.00
Boat ticket – Sibulan to Liloan 42.00
Snacks 78.00
Tricycle from Liloan Port to Silliman University 75.00
Silvanas 33.00
Dinner 109.00
Souvenirs 90.00
Tricycle to Jeep Station 8.00
Jeep going to Port 10.00
Fast Cat Ferry going back to Liloan 62.00
Bus toTanawan 30.00
Day 3
Breakfast 80.00
Oslob Souvenir 35.00
Bus from Oslob to Argao Port 95.00
Torta 50.00
Tricycle to Argao Port (php40/3pax) 13.00
RORO ticket to Tagbilaran Port w/ port fee 205.00
BOHOL Tour – Van @ php2,500/3pax 833.00
Hostel for 2 nights (php 1,960/3 pax) 653.00
Chocolate Hills Fee 50.00
Corella Tarsier Sanctuary Fee 60.00
Lunch & Dinner 99.00
Day 4
Breakfast 55.00
Tricycle to Virgin Island Port 50.00
Virgin Island Donation: boat, snack, kayak 60.00
Trike from Port to Alona (php100/3pax) 33.00
Lunch 45.00
Motorbike Rent (php400/2pax) 200.00
Gas refueling (php80/2pax) 40.00
Hinagdanan Cave Fee 50.00
Parking Fee 5.00
Souvenirs 150.00
Snacks & Dinner 85.00
Day 5
Breakfast 45.00
Car hire from Alona to Tagbilaran Port (php 370/3pax) 125.00
LITE Ferry from Tagbilaran to Cebu City 150.00
Port Fee 20.00
Taxi from Port to Michelle Guesthouse 65.00
Lunch 54.00
Dinner 35.00
Hostel for 2 nights (php 1,602/3 pax) 534.00
Day 6
Breakfast & Snacks 104.00
Jeep from Magellan’s Cross to Taboan Market 7.00
Souvenirs & pasalubong 565.00
Taxi from market to hostel (php 74/3) 24.00
Habalhabal- Sirao Garden & Temple of Leah 300.00
Sirao Garden Fee 50.00
Temple of Leah Fee 50.00
Dinner 90.00
Jeep (JY Square to Ayala to Sanciangko St.) 21.00
TOTAL   8,564.00

8 thoughts on “CENTRAL VISAYAS CHRONICLES: DIY Trip to Cebu, Dumaguete & Bohol on a Budget

Add yours

  1. The Philippines is the only part of SE Asia I’m yet to explore but It’s actually in my top 2 choices for my next destination although I would go for a longer time, your 2 day literary is a good point of reference to go from, I especially like how you’ve broken some prices down. Great post 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You seemed to have a fun and very eventful day in the Visayas. Too bad you didn’t get to visit Apo Island. Nevertheless, the Hinagdanan Cave in Panglao. I need to remind myself to check this out the next time I’m in Bohol. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh this makes me miss my life back in Cebu when I was a teenager. I was only 16 when I first visited Oslob. The road was a bit dangerous back then and there were yet no water activities like swimming with the sharks. Now I am a grandfather, I wish to bring my young ones there.

    Liked by 1 person

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