IJsselstein, Wednesday, 1 February 2006 04:33:19
Although not as varied as in Manila or Cebu, shopping opportunities in Bohol have much improved in the last couple of years. Nowadays, Bohol has three major malls, all located in Tagbilaran City.
Straight in the middle of Carlos P. Garcia Avenue (commonly known as CPG Avenue) in the old town center is the Bohol Quality Mall. Completely re-structured during the last few years, this mall has changed its main entrance from CPG Avenue to Gallares Street, and added a number of floors with additional shops, including a small bookshop, some boutiques, hair dressers, and several small restaurants. If you're looking for a good source of cheap books: there is a dealer in used books, appearantly imported from the US. The basement contains a large supermarket. This place is easy to reach, close to the Cathedral, and usually the place taxis from Panglao will drop you off if you ask them to bring you to Tagbilaran. Along CPG Avenue are a number of other shops and various banks with ATMs. Probably the best ATM is the one of the BPI on CPG Avenue, where you can withdraw upto 20.000 pesos per day.
A bit to the to the north-west of the town center in Barangay Cogon is Plaza Marcela, a large pink building. Opened in 1997, this used to be the best in town, but is now surpassed by the competition. This also has a large supermarket and several restaurants.
|Food Plaza in Island City Mall.|
The newest and currently biggest mall on Bohol is Island City Mall, near the provincial bus terminal in Dao, in what is to be the future city center of Tagbilaran City. This mall was constructed in 2004, and contains everything you can expect in a large Mall in the Philippines: a large supermarket, well stocked department store, a National Book Store outlet, large supermarket, and a food-plaza in the basement. Since it is less crowded than the other two malls, shopping here is a bit more relaxed. Island City Mall is at a very practical location for people arriving from other towns in Bohol, but a bit away from the usual route for most tourists: If you're staying in Tagbilaran, you can hop on a tricycle and get there easily. With loads of stuff, or getting there from Panglao, a taxi may be advisable. Unfortunately, there is no international ATM at Island City Mall, so bring enough cash.
Besides these three malls, there are a number of smaller department stores, such as Alturas supermarket and Shoppers Mart.
|Island City Mall.|
For foreigners, it should be noted that you cannot take your bags into shops. You are expected to leave them at a "courtesy counter" near the entrance and will receive a token (normally a piece of plastic with a number on it). When leaving the mall, you can collect your bags with that token. Do not loose your token, as it may be very difficult to get your bags back without it, and less honest finders may actually use the token to get your bags. If you carry suitcases or backpacks, you may be asked to deposit them in a special counter. At Bohol Quality, you will have to pay 50 pesos for the save-keeping of such large bags, but luckily, these are consumable: you get a coupon you can spend in the shops or restaurants in BQ.
When you buy things in any shop in the Philippines, they will be packed for you in plastic bags (sometimes called "cellophane") which will be closed with cellotape or staples. A security card at the exit will typically verify the receipt--which often boils down to making a single scratch on it. In the supermarket, your goods will typically be packed in boxes, closed with plastic rope, and carried to the exit by an attendant. No tips are required here.
In the large department stores major credit cards are accepted, but they can cause some delay, and you may be asked for an additional ID, such as your passport. US dollars can be exchanged, but at an unfavourable rate.