Bohol Island it is the tenth biggest island in Philippines, located in a heart of Visayas Region. The most famous place in Bohol is Panglao Island where the majority of tourists stay. It’s connected with Bohol by bridge – read about Panglao Island in my previous post. Bohol is a travel destination with beautiful beaches, nature attractions, heritage sites and dozens of scuba diving locations. You can get to Tagbilaran, the capitol of Bohol by air or sea.
When you stay in Panglao or Bohol Island, there are few ways of transport that you can choose from. Bus is the cheapest type but you need to plan it in advance because public transport is the slowest one. You can also rent a motor bike if you feel comfortable to drive it but prepare yourself for quite a long journey.
We visited Bohol by car on a one day trip with a private driver – the same one who drove us from ferry port to Alona Beach. A day trip cost us PHP 2,000 (equivalent of approx. €40). Private car gives you freedom of time schedule but not necessarily freedom of excursion choice. Our driver insisted on stopping at almost every attraction available and seemed to ignore our requests. His English was very basic but considering his age, we decided to respect the travel arrangements and go with the flow.
The first stop proposed by the driver was the Blood Compact Monument – a statue in memory of historical friendship treaty between Filipinos and Spaniards. That place has a meaning for locals but it’s not really worth stopping by. We spent there less than 10 min and did not take any photos.
Bohol is filled with churches built by Spanish conquerors in the past. Many of them, including the oldest ones – Baclayon and Loboc churches – were still under construction after being heavily damaged during earthquake of 2013.
During our one day trip we also visited Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary, Man-Made Forest, Bohol Habitat Conservatory Centre, Loboc River and Python Sanctuary.
Chocolate Hills are probably Bohol’s most famous attraction. There are over 1200 con-shaped limestone hills, covered with grass which at the end of the dry season, turn into brown – from this color the hills derive their name. The best place to admire them in full is from a viewing deck at the top of a hill in Carmen town. After paying a small entry fee, you have to climb 214 steps to the top of the hill. During our visit viewing deck was still under construction after being heavily damage by earthquake in 2013. The remaining part of the platform was packed with people fighting for space to take the best photo of the hills. This is a nature wonder and no doubt the hills are worth seeing once in a lifetime – but once is enough. Hills definitely look better when viewed from a plane. We flew from Davao Island to Cebu Island right above them and I have to admit I was pretty impressed by this view. After visiting Chocolate Hills our driver recommended a lunch in a restaurant in the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park. This place was very disappointing, the food was mediocre and quite expensive for what was on offer.
The Tarsier is one of the smallest primates in the world measuring less than a human head. They are shy animals with nocturnal habitat who spend most of the day sleeping in hidden places. They look very cute with this enormous eyes but touching them is prohibited. Tarsiers are so easy to disturb that even a camera flash can stress them so badly that the creatures might commit suicide. After you pay an entry fee (just few euro), you follow a path around trees, looking for Tarsiers sitting on branches. They are so tiny that it is difficult to spot them but staff know where to find them. You have to be very quiet, can’t use a camera flash or any extendable pole for GoPro or mobile phones. It is a good idea to bring a DSLR camera with telephoto lens to take close-up photos. This place is very small and it doesn’t take long to get throughout it.
Bilar: Man-Made Forest
It is a mahogany forest which you will pass on the way to the Chocolate Hills. This is a thousand of trees planted by men as a government project of reforestation started around 1950’s. This is only a forest but our driver seemed to be very proud of this place. You can park on the side of the road for 5 minutes and take some photos.
Habitat Butterflies Conservation Centre
This place is like a fairy land with many types of butterflies. Entry fee is a PHP 50 and you get a guide who takes you around. We went there with no expectations but it turned out to be a very pleasant and educational visit thanks to a joyful guide who made sure we enjoyed the place. He also took a photo of me flying with a butterfly’s wings – hilarious.
The sanctuary itself is very small and filled with flowers and trees. The walk around it did not take much time and was enjoyable. Make sure you leave some donation at the end of your visit.
The stop at python sanctuary was our driver’s idea. This is not a kind of attraction I would pick. This place is just a few small cages with snakes and other reptiles which you can touch or take a photo with. I touched a snake for the first time in my life – every experience shapes us. It is not a kind of a place I would recommend to visit, so skip it.
Bohol Island has many other attractions on offer. There are beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls, rice terraces, nice landscapes, historical sites and also adventure parks for those who look for some fun.
For more descriptive overview of Philippines check out my GoPro video from Philippines (my previous post).