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I Went To Bohol For A Vacation During The Pandemic; Here's What It Was Like

Learn about travel requirements, flight guidelines, testing options, and more.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF DIANNE
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Do you still remember the plans you made before the pandemic? For me, I can remember talking about a beach trip with my barkada at the start of 2020. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing health crisis, that had to be put on hold. And for the longest time, I thought traveling for leisure won't be possible. But since the quarantine guidelines have been eased, people are now allowed to go on trips again—as long as they follow the proper safety protocols, of course. Cosmopolitan Philippines spoke to Dianne Sibayan who recently flew to Bohol for a vacation. From preparing travel documents, to checking flight guidelines, to getting COVID-19 tests, read on to know more about her experience.

What precautions or research did you do before going there?

"Upon booking my flight, the airline sent me a pre-flight reminder via email, which is also found on their website. It had everything I needed to know for my trip—from travel document requirements, contactless flight guidelines, testing options, and FAQs!"

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If you're traveling as a tourist (like me!), make sure you have the following Bohol travel requirements:

  1. Confirmed Hotel Booking - It should be accredited by the Department of Tourism and Bohol Tourism! (You can access the list of accredited accommodations in Bohol here.)

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  2. Negative RT-PCR test result conducted not earlier than 72 hours before your flight. I recommend that you avail of DOT's 50 percent test subsidy for tourists. It costs as low as P750 at Philippine Children's Medical Center.

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  3. Proof of successful registration via Bohol's tourism website where you’ll get your Certificate of Acceptance and QR code. Make sure to save a digital copy of these since you'll show them at the airport prior to departure. Your QR code will serve as your ID in Bohol, which will be scanned upon arrival at the airport and when you visit establishments and sites.

Travel in the new normal: Dianne at NAIA Airport
COURTESY OF DIANNE

What's it like traveling in the new normal?

"Before going to the airport, I made sure to bring my valid ID and a digital copy of my travel requirements. I also downloaded the Traze app, which is mandatory for contact tracing at the airport. For a convenient and contactless flight experience, I did the online check-in online and downloaded my digital boarding pass.

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At the airport, everyone is required to wear a face mask and face shield at all times. For our airline, self-check-in and self-bag tag kiosks were readily available. There were also floor markers at the check-in counter and boarding gate to observe proper physical distancing. When we entered the aircraft, the cabin crew sprayed alcohol on our hands before we headed to our seats. We were reminded to keep our face mask and face shield on during the entire flight.

At Bohol-Panglao International Airport, we were welcomed by airport staff wearing full PPEs to disinfect our bags, check our temperature, and scan our QR code. After that, we were asked to fill out a health declaration form. We were then directed to the baggage carousel for our luggage, and to the exit to meet up with our designated airport transfer driver who would bring us to our booked hotel."

Travel in the new normal: Dianne wearing a face shield inside the airplane
COURTESY OF DIANNE
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How different was traveling compared to pre-pandemic?

"I think traveling nowadays has forced establishments to increase their safety protocols, which include reduced capacity of operations, proper physical distancing, and contact tracing. As a tourist, my travel essentials were my face mask, face shield, and QR code.

We were advised that the local tour guide to tourist ratio went down from 1:3 to 1:1. Usually in a week, one group lang yung nagtu-tour sa island. For most of the places that we went to, we got the entire place to ourselves. In one restaurant, we were the only guests for that day. Buying food and pasalubong from the local stores can be super helpful to the community. The locals keep telling us that they hope there would be more tourists to visit Bohol soon since their main source of living is tourism.

As a tourist, my travel essentials were my face mask, face shield, and QR code.

After my trip, I realized that traveling for leisure in the new normal is possible as long as you do it safely and responsibly. I'm looking forward to visiting other local destinations such as Boracay, Cebu, and Siargao to help boost domestic travel and tourism in the country!"

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Travel in the new normal: Dianne at Alona Beach, Bohol, Philippines
COURTESY OF DIANNE

***Answers have been edited for clarity. 

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