To get to Baclayon, you need to fly first to Tagbilaran City, about 11 kilometers away. Local airlines such as PAL, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia fly daily from Manila to Tagbilaran. The flight lasts an hour and 25 minutes. Upon landing, you can travel by land from Tagbilaran to Baclayon, which is only 20 minutes away.
Sea travel is also another option, especially if you’re coming from Cebu. Ferries such as Ocean Jet, Supercat, Weesam Express, and Cokaliong Shipping Lines have trips from Cebu to Tagbilaran. Travel times takes one hour and 40 minutes. From Tagbilaran, Baclayon is only 20 minutes away by jeep.
How to Get Around
You can ride a jeep if you wish to get around Baclayon. Jeeps are also available to take from one town to the other.
By Tricycle or Habal-Habal
You can also take a tricycle or habal-habal when getting to the various places around Baclayon.
What to See
Catholicism took root in Baclayan when two Jesuit priests arrived in town in 1596. To further spread the Catholic faith, the Jesuits, together with the help of the locals, built a stone church which still stands today: Baclayon Church is one of the oldest places of worship in the Philippines.
The historic Baclayon Church was built from coral stones and follow a neoclassical type of architecture. Paintings on wooden panels adorn the interiors of the church, while murals are found on the church’s ceilings. There are also three retablos inside the church, where 18th and 19th century religious images have been enshrined.
The National Museum declared Baclayon Church as a Natural Cultural Treasure, while it was designated a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission. The church, however, suffered heavy damages when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the province in October 2013. Restorations are currently ongoing with the help of the local government and numerous agencies.
When you take a stroll along the streets of Baclayon, you’ll surely come across at least one of the 67 ancestral houses that are found all over town. Some of these ancestral houses were built as early as 1853. The Malon House, Villamor House, Luza House, and Sofia House are just some of the ancient structures that you shouldn’t miss when in town.
To learn more about these landmarks, you can sign up for the heritage walks organized by the local organization, Baclayon Ancestral Homes Association (BAHANDI).
Pamilacan Island is a small island located right in the heart of the Bohol Sea. From Baclayon, the island is accessible via a 40-minute boat ride. It is a natural wonderland filled with 11 species of dolphins and whales including bottle-nose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, pan-tropical spotted dolphins, melon-headed whales, short-finned pilot whales, and even sperm whales. Meanwhile, the shores of Pamilacan Island are covered with fine white sands and its surrounding waters are crystal clear. Beach connoisseurs would definitely be delighted with the lovely seascape and the tranquility that goes with it.
You will also find the ruins of an old Spanish fort on the island, which is believed to be more than 200 years old now. The fort was built to ward off Moro pirates during the colonial period.
For history buffs, a trip to the Baclayon Museum would be a rewarding experience. The museum is located in the old convent where you’ll find ecclesiastical vestments, an image of Jesus made from ivory, and other religious artifacts that are as old as Baclayon Church itself.
For a bit of a thrill, you can enjoy buggy rides through the rural barangays of Baclayon. You can also rent mountain bikes for those who want to get fit while exploring the town. There are also off road trails where you can take mountain biking to the next level.
Where to Eat
When in Baclayon, there are a number of barbecue vendors, or habhaban as they are locally called, that treat you to some delectable grilled fish, pork, and chicken dishes. They are found along the wharf so you can enjoy an al fresco dining experience.
The Baclayon Heritage Café is another favorite dining spot that you should try when in town. The café is not far away from the tourist center so it’s not that hard to miss. Their specialty is the sikwate, Baclayaon’s version of hot chocolate.
For a bit of fancy dining, head over to the Old Heidelberg Restaurant located at The Peacock Garden hotel. The restaurant showcases flavors where east meets west. Their house specialties are one-of-a-kind: Vienna schnitzel, veal sausage in onion sauce, grilled salmon and beef tenderloin, and many more. Their ice cream flavors are quirky as well like mango coriander chili and vanilla ginger.
Baclayon is known as the pastry capital of Bohol. Their “lady fingers,” peanut bars, baked polvoron, and cookies are favorite pasalubong items for tourists. Head over to either Israel Pastries or Tessie’s Sweets and Pastries for these delectable delicacies.
Fare: PHP 4,000.00++
The roundtrip airfare from Manila to Tagbilaran usually costs around PHP 4,000.00. Do watch out for seat sale announcements so you can get better deals.
If you’re taking the ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran, the boat fare normally costs about PHP 500.00 one way.
When in Baclayon, the base fare for a jeep ride is PHP 7.00. If you’re riding a tricycle, the cost may be around PHP 70.00 to PHP 90.00, while taking the habal-habal is around PHP 50.00 to PHP 60.00 per trip.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 500.00
On average, you can spend about PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00 for a satisfying meal in Baclayon. The more upscale restaurants like Old Heidelberg charge as much as PHP 500.00 per dish.
Shopping: PHP 20.00 to PHP 200.00
Key chains and ref magnets are usually priced from PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 apiece. Souvenir shirts, on average, are PHP 200.00, depending on the material and design.
The pasalubong items at Israel Pastries and Tessie’s Sweets & Pastries like lady fingers, peanut bars, and baked polvoron cost no more than PHP 100.00 per pack.
Accommodation: PHP 900.00 to PHP 3,000.00
For budget travelers, there are comfortable rooms for only PHP 900.00. For hotels, the rooms are available for as much as PHP 3,000.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 50.00 to PHP 2,000.00
The entrance fee to the Baclayon Museum costs about PHP 50.00 per head. A trip to Pamilacan Island, on the other hand, is around PHP 2,000.00 per head, inclusive of all entrance fees, tour guides, and lunch.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Restaurants already include a service charge in your final bill, so tipping is actually no longer necessary. But if you insist, a tip of PHP 20.00 or PHP 50.00 would be enough.