Oct 17, 2017
River Cruise on Loboc River
Fee: Php 550.00/head
Inclusion: river cruise, buffet lunch, live music entertainment, cultural performance by locals
Location: Floating Restaurant, Loboc (municipality), Bohol (province), Philippines
Loboc's primary tourism draw is the river cruise along the famed Loboc River. It's usually packed even on weekdays. First time I was in Loboc in 2015, it was a 2-hour wait, so we bailed. Now, I finally get the chance to experience what all the hype is all about.
Because of the downpour the night before, lunch crowd was still packed but the waiting time wasn't too long. Guests were mostly Asians - Chinese, Koreans, a few Japanese and some locals, arriving in white vans in a tour package. Every now and then, they get some Europeans - but not on this boat. It's mostly a mature crowd traveling in a group.
Lunch was buffet served on a long table. Selection was decent and the food was good and adequate. I particularly liked the small crispy dilis on lettuce. The table got busy with everybody crowding into the food. By the time the boat started moving, most were done and could focus on the scenery. Over food, I tried making polite talk to the Japanese men I shared the table with - either they're not social or they have difficulty with English. At any rate, Asians are never comfortable when a stranger talks to them...even while traveling - in sharp contrast to Europeans.
The boat had a smooth pace you wouldn't even feel it moving. I like the part that you couldn't hear the engine noise - usually, engine noise kills the ambience. Also, when there is an oncoming boat, you don't feel the wake. It was steady as she went. We passed by Loktob Spring but those who didn't know were oblivious to it. There were kids on the river bank resting on tree tops like they were hammocks. Otherwise, the scenery was the forest on both sides of the river.
I'm not sure if it would have been better to have a tour guide talk about the passing scene, "to your right is the Loktob Spring with its ice cold water....." or simply have the guy on the organ sing "Besame Mucho". Since some Chinese guests took the mic and turned the boat into a karaoke bar, I guess the latter is preferable - they probably understand little English anyway to make sense of what the tour guide would be saying.
On a separate floating barge were locals all decked in traditional clothes who make extra money doing a cultural presentation. Our boat docked beside the barge and the locals did their song and dance number. There was no extra payment but tips were appreciated. Some guests participated in the tinikling dance while most of them took to their phone cameras for the memento shots. The guests were geniunely having a great time.
Normally, when the boat reaches Busay Falls, it turns back already. But again, due to the downpour the night before, the water was high and the falls was kicking-up too much water. So, before we could see the falls, the boat had to turn back. Darn! This is my second chance to see Busay Falls and again, it didn't happen. The first time was on land when Jeffrey and I rode our mountain bikes. The trails stopped short of the falls with no land access. I was told the best way to see Busay Falls is through the river cruise. One day!
Before it got old and tiring, the cruise was over. The one hour was just right to have lunch and cruise the river. Initially, I thought the P550/head was steep. Yes, it's still a lot of money for lunch, but considering it's a buffet lunch (which you pay ~P350 in the city), plus you get a river cruise with live music entertainment and a cultural presentation, it's not that bad. Perhaps you won't do it everyday, but as a one-time indulgence, it's worth the experience.
Reader Comments:Michele Pullen
(Oct 9, 2017) Hey we did this trip back in April 2016... Couldn't see the falls... No water! It was too dry that year! We did enjoy the band who played... I remember the dancing of the locals on the barges which was too... And would have certainly appreciated some geographic or historical comments... Had a good time though so did the other members of Plongeurs du Monde who were with us ...
(Oct 20, 2017) You didn't see the falls too? Ha-ha, welcome to the club. When the rain lets up, I'll go to the other side of the river just to see it. Regards to all
Next stop: Bonbon-Alegria Downhill Ride
Loboc, Bohol, Philippines
Bohol FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
- the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
- Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed
Tagbilaran Port to PanglaoYou can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
- don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
- in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)
Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
- Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
- SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
+63 32 233 7000
Things to do, Places to go in Bohol
- Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
- Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
- Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
- Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
Carlos P. Garcia Island
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