Asia,  The Philippines,  Travels

Bohol – the Philippines in a nutshell

Our next stop from Palawan was Bohol, where we spent the rest of our journey. Bohol is considered the Philippines in a nutshell. You can find there not only beautiful paradisal beaches, outstanding underwater world or mesmerizing islets. In a Bohol, you can meet wild animals (tarsiers or monkeys from Loon), admire breathtaking views of the Chocolate Hills, find dense forests and rice fields or feel Philippino climate and atmosphere, observe Filipinos daily life, try local food.

During our stay, we rented a scooter, and we were traveling around the island and its surroundings, Panglao and Pamilacan.
Below you can find out more about the main attractions and places, and things to do in Bohol and its surroundings.

Bohol

Bohol is situated in the heart of the Philippines, in the Visayas region. Its localization allows simple and fast transfer to another island. Tagbilaran is the capital of the province of Bohol.

How to get there

There are a few options on how to get to Bohol Island. The way you choose depends on the place of your departure.

The fastest way but not the cheapest is a plane. In Tagbilaran, close to the city center, is located the only airport on Bohol Island. From Manila, Luzon, and Davao to Tagbilaran, you can get directly a few times a week.

The second option is by ferry if departure is from the closest island. This way may be time-consuming but cheap.

From Puerto Princesa, there is no direct connection to Tagbilaran. Firstly we flew to Cebu City. Secondly, from the airport, we took a taxi to Cebu Pier 1, from which departed a ferry to Tagbilaran. Take only a white taxis because they have a taxi meter. For a journey, you should pay no more than 250 PHP. Cebu City is famous for huge traffic jams, so plan a trip with slack time.

In Cebu Pier 1, you find a few companies which provide a ferry to Tagbilaran, eg. Ocean Jet, Weesam Express, and SuperCat. For your convenience, as I did, you can book ferry tickets online on the OcenJet website: http://www.oceanjet.net/.
The approximate time of the cruise is 2 hours. The ticket price depends on the accommodation that you choose: Open Air, Tourists, and Business. Open Air and Tourists accommodation costs 500 PHP, business accommodation costs 1000 PHP. You will pay also 25 PHP as an additional terminal fee.

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Bohol attractions

As I said, Bohol is the Philippines in a nutshell. Everything that other islands offer, you can find in one place – on Bohol.

A lot of tourists come here to admire the Chocolate Hills and observe little creatures called tarsiers, which are the showcase and a symbol of the island. Here you can also cruise on the Loboc river, and when getting dark, admire outstanding views of thousands of fireflies. Additionally, on Bohol, you can experience an adventure in Danao or Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park.

A huge advantage is a closeness to other islands and the possibility to explore them. You can easily organize a boat trip and spend there a little time. For me was unbelievable that in the Philippines exists almost desert island. I mean Pamilacan, a little island, with about 2 thousands of citizens. For me, Pamilacan is a heaven on the earth. Below, I can prove it.

The Chocolate Hills

I guess, it is one of the most visited places on Bohol. The Chocolate Hills are a geological group of unusually shaped hills. There is no exact information about how many hills there are, but at least 1 268. The name is thanks to green grass covering the hills, which turn brown (as chocolate) during the dry season. 

There are three legends explaining the formation of the Chocolate Hills. The first tells the story about two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fight exhausted them and they forgot about their feud and became friends. After all, they forgot to clean up the mess they had made.

The second legend is more romantic. It tells the story about a giant named Arogo who fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused that he could not stop crying. His dried tears were formed the Chocolate Hills.

The last legend is about a town being plagued by a giant carabao, who ate all of their crops. The townsfolk took all of their spoiled food and placed it in such a way that the carabao would not miss it. The carabao ate it, but his stomach couldn’t handle the spoiled food, so he defecated, leaving behind him a mound of feces, until he had emptied his stomach of the food. His dried feces were forming the Chocolate Hills.

How to get to the Chocolate Hills

How to get to the Chocolate Hills? It’s easy. There are a few options. Firstly, you can rent a scooter and organize a trip by yourself. You should get to Carmen town and then follow the sign, which leads you to the viewpoint. The second option is to rent a private taxi, which takes you to the famous places and attractions on Bohol. The last way is buying an organized group trip, one of many available. I don’t know the price of a private taxi and an organized trip, because the whole island of Bohol we discovered by scooter.

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol
The Chocolate Hills of Bohol
Tarsiers

Tarsier is a little animal resembling the monkey, but it is not. It is one of the smallest known primates, no larger than an adult man’s hand. Its favorite meal is insects. Tarsier is rather a night animal, so during your visit, it will be sleeping.

Tarsiers are a protected species. They are still threatened by the destruction of their natural forest habitat. In the process of time, the population of tarsiers reduced dramatically.

Find tarsiers

There are two places where you can observe these little creatures. You can get there by buying an organized group tour, renting a private taxi or scooter.

The first is a Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary located at Corella, on the way to the Chocolate Hills. It is open daily from 8.00 am to 4 pm. The entrance ticket costs 60 PHP. 

The second is a Tarsier Conservation Area, located at Loboc. It is open daily from 8.00 am to 5 pm. The entrance ticket costs 60 PHP. 

Both places are comparable, but I think a Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary is more popular, and in consequence, more crowded. In both places you can find of 6 to 10 of tarsiers. Remember to be quiet and do not come close to them. If they scared, they can die.

Tarsier from Bohol
Tarsier from Bohol
Philippine tarsier
Philippine tarsier
Tarsier - the world's smallest primate
Tarsier – the world’s smallest primate
Loboc River

The next popular attraction of Bohol is a Loboc River Cruise. It is a lunch buffet floating restaurant. During the cruise, you have a possibility to try local dishes and enjoy a short cultural show by the local community. Additionally, the ship crew tries to make your cruise unforgettable.

Loboc is located about 24 km away from Tagbilaran city. The approximate time of travel is 40 minutes by private transportation, and about 1 hour by public transport. The cruise starts by the Loay Bridge.

More information you can find here.

The price for lunch and cruise is 450 PHP per person.

Loboc River in Bohol
Loboc River in Bohol
During Loboc River Cruise in Bohol
During Loboc River Cruise in Bohol
A short cultural show by the local community
A short cultural show by the local community
Fireflies 

I heard that is an amazing experience taking a part in a boat cruise or canoeing at the Abatan River, and admiring thousand of fireflies in a light show. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there. 

If you are interested, you have to get to the Abatan Community Life Tour which organizes the tours. It is located close to the National Highway Junction in Salvador. 

Tour time: 6.30 pm, 7.30 pm (only non-exclusive tour), 8.30 pm every day

Price: kayak from 800 PHP, bandong boat from 500 PHP 

More information you can find here

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Hanging bridges

The bamboo hanging bridges crossing the Sipatan River in Sevilla span about 40 meters and provides great views of the emerald river below.

At the end of the bridge, there are small shops where you can buy some souvenirs, cold drinks, and snacks. 

Stepping onto the bridge at the beginning is a little daunting. The bamboo decks flexing a little under feet.

The ticket price is 10 PHP.

Hanging bridges in Bohol
Hanging bridges in Bohol
Loon Monkeys

I think the cutest attraction of Bohol is the macaque monkeys (or crab-eating monkeys) from Loon. 

Visiting them, you will have an opportunity to see their feeding. 

Because of the huge habitat of monkeys, they are not always available. If you want to experience or see monkeys, visit this place between 8.00 am to noon.

Monkey from Loon in Bohol
Monkey from Loon in Bohol
Loon Monkey
Loon Monkey

Pamilacan

This small island lies about 14 km away from Baclayon in Bohol. It is less than 1-hour pump-boat ride). Did I mention earlier how exhausted was the negotiation of the price of the boat trip to Pamilacan? It was 20 minutes to 6 am. Yesterday we were talking with local people and they told us to be very early in the morning because Wednesday is a Market Day and there will be many boats. The price would be lower, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. We were alone for 30 minutes when other tourists started coming. The first price of the boat trip was 2 500 PHP. Finally, we pay 1 000 PHP less, but later we found out that somebody paid 300 PHP per person. 

Before getting to Pamilacan, we had 10 minutes of pause to look for dolphins. It was an amazing experience. 

Looking for dolphins
Looking for dolphins

Pamilacan is a famous island thanks to its pristine beaches, paradisal views, and outstanding underwater world. On the island live about 2 thousand of citizens. Until recently, there weren’t electricity and running water. 

You can walk around Pamilacan within 30 minutes discovering beautiful sandy beaches. You can lie on the beach feeling like you are alone on the desert island. Only you and the sound of the sea. Amazing feeling. Pamilacan is considered a heaven on the earth. It’s true!

One of the Pamilacan beaches
One of the Pamilacan beaches
One of the Pamilacan beaches
One of the Pamilacan beaches
Pamilacan village
Pamilacan village

Panglao

A lot of tourists visiting Bohol stay in Panglao because of the nightlife of its city. It is a famous place thanks to Alona Beach, a paradisal beach with white sand. Close to it, there are a lot of restaurants, bar, and hotels. During a high season, it is a crowded and noisy place. Additionally, it is the best place for hopping island. We were there at night, and because of its commercial atmosphere, we decided to come back to Tagbilaran.

Panglao is connected with Bohol by a bridge. From Tagbilaran to Alona Beach you can take a tricycle or scooter. The approximate time is 25 minutes.

Alona Beach in Panglao
Alona Beach in Panglao
Sandy Alona Beach - a very popular tourists attraction in Panglao
Sandy Alona Beach – a very popular tourists attraction in Panglao
White Beach in Panglao
White Beach in Panglao

Have you ever been to Bohol? Which attractions were the best for you? Do you have more questions? Comment below!

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