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Bohol

Posted by on Apr 2nd, 2009
Filed Under: Bohol, Featured

Philippine Tasier
Philippine Tasier

Welcome to Bohol, the Philippines’ most whimsical island – from its colourful fiestas, to the 1,268 Chocolate Hills, its top-notch white-sand beaches, dolphin watching, diving, river cruising, tarsiers, Filipino-Spanish heritage houses and churches, an interesting history and warm and welcoming people- it is safe to say that Bohol is quite the Philippines in a nutshell.

TThe Province of Bohol is best known for two things: The Philippine Tarsier which is the smallest primate in the world and the over a thousand intriguing perfectly cone-shaped hills of similar sizes spread out over 50 square kilometres in the island’s centre scattered over in the towns of Batuan, Carmen and Sagbayan. This hills are lovingly called Chocolate Hills (below)- since the grass and vegetation dries out and the hills looked a lot like huge chocolate mounds baking under the tropical sun. The hills are conical karst in nature, which is pretty similar to those seen in the limestone regions of Croatia and Slovenia sans the caves. It is so that the words Bohol, Tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills are so synonymous that one cannot mention Bohol in the same sentence without mentioning the other two. And if that is not enough, chances are you will be able to pick up a souvenir shirt on your way home with Bohol written along with the images of the Philippine Tarsier and the Chocolate Hills emblazoned in front. There are Philippine Tarsier conservation areas located along your way to the Chocolate Hills from Tagbilaran City, the provincial capital. This is where one can check out these nocturnal creatures hanging in the branches of trees along the winding Loboc River.

Bohol Chocolate Hills

Speaking of Loboc River, it has become a must for visitors to take the approximately PhP300 lunch cruise (Filipino cuisine) along the green waters of the river which terminates near a couple of small waterfalls. The cruise usually includes an in-house singer, usually a kid from the local school choir, the Loboc Children’s Choir. The choir gained national and international attention, when it bagged the First Prize and the Festival Cup at the 6th International Folksongs Festival held in Barcelona, Spain.

Bohol Baclayon Church

There isn’t a lack of historical places in Bohol for the history-buffs. One can drop by at the second-oldest stone church in the Philippines (oldest is San Agustin in Intramuros, Manila) – Baclayon Church (above), 6 kilometres away from Tagbilaran City. The church has beautiful antique crystal chandeliers, silver tabernacle, an ornately carved pulpit and an altar with gold inlays. Close to the church is the town of Loay, the original site of the blood compact between local Chief Sikatuna and Spanish Captain Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The blood compact, known as Pacto de Sangre in Spanish and Sandugo in Filipino is celebrated in a festival in July of every year.

Bohol Alona Beach

For the beach bums and sun-worshippers, Bohol boasts of world-class white sand beaches especially in the nearby corraline island of Panglao of which Alona Beach and Dumaluan Beach are the better known. For divers, Alona Beach (above) is definitely the best place to base oneself, where dive shops and resorts from budget to upper midrange hotels are located. The main drawback is that this tiny strip of beach is such a small community that touts would harass you at every opportunity. Expect to get asked for boat rides and island hopping over 20 times in 24 hours. If Boracay is bad, Alona Beach is the worst when it comes to touts. Food on this beach is overpriced and the taste is not exactly mind-blowing. A heap of boats are also anchored not far from the shore, thus, the ocean scenery is obstructed. In complete contrast, Dumaluan Beach on the same island, has fewer resorts (there are only two- the more expensive Bohol Beach Club and the super-cheap Dumaluan Beach Resort), and has a wider and cleaner beach.

Bohol Alona BeachThere are at least 13 dive sites around Bohol, with Pamilacan and Balicasag sites the most popular with dolphin-watching an added attraction. Pamilacan Island has an almost year-round convergence point of mackerel, tuna, dolphins, groupers, and hammerhead sharks as well as endemic species of dolphins, melon-headed whales, beaked whales, and the gasp (!), sperm whale. No wonder studies by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program in coordination with over 100 marine scientists placed the Philippines at the centre of the world’s marine biodiversity with 26,000 square kilometres of coral reef with the highest concentration of marine species per unit area. That’s nothing short like having the Amazon underwater. Up until now, new species are being discovered off the coast of Bohol as with many other research stations all over the Philippines.

Why Go Bohol?

Refer to this article: Why go Bohol?

Best Time to Visit Bohol

Refer to this article: Best time to go visit Bohol

Where & What to eat

Refer to this article: Where & What to at at Bohol


Bohol Nightlife


Nah! Bohol is not known for its nightlife, except for some of the resorts along the Alona White Beach strip which is really not exceptional.

Where to Stay

Philippines Hotels and Resorts

Save up to 75% on hotels in Philippines

Refer to this article: Where to stay at Bohol


My to do list


1. Hire a van and check out the Chocolate Hills (Never forget the local ice-cream with Pinipig- immature glutinous rice that is harvested, pounded and lightly toasted, similar to Rice Crispies only better, and more fragrant) being sold at the base of the viewing area*
2. Have picture taken with a Philippine Tarsier (Remember to turn off your flash- as the flash can hurt the animal’s eyes)*
3. Lunch at the Loboc River Cruise**
4. Chill out at the Dumaluan Beach*
5. Watch the dolphins at Pamilacan Island **
6. Dive! Dive! Dive!*
7. Check out ‘Prony’- the 14 year old Reticulated Python- the world’s largest python in captivity- in Upper Santa Fe, Alburquerque town (The singing tranny is an added attraction)*

*- Highly Recommended
**- Recommended by Locals


Stay Away From


1. Mosquitoes! These blood-sucking critters are present especially during dinners by the beach, have some ready insect repellent lotion handy. For other bugs, ask the hotel staff to do some spraying to contain problems
2. Stray animals: dogs – rabies is prevalent all over the Philippines.
Touts and vendors are a major headache on Alona Beach, but not so much at Dumaluan Beach. Prostitutes (usually Filipinos, and possibly Koreans from nearby Cebu) are usually found around the Alona Beach area but not a total bother.


Getting There


Ninoy Aquino AirportPhilippine Airlines flies to Tagbilaran from Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport- Centennial Terminal 2) to the old Tagbilaran Airport. Budget carrier Cebu Pacific also flies the same route, except major delays are frequent and refunding your ticket with Cebu Pacific will take months, if ever you will actually get refunded in the end. Cebu Pacific flies via the new Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (right). Zest Airways (formerly Asian Spirit) also fly to Tagbilaran. Please check their respective websites for more details like flight frequency, schedules, and fares.

For those coming by boat (usually via Cebu), there are heaps of daily trips.

Other ships coming in from Manila, Cagayan de Oro City, Dipolog, Larena, Plaridel, Iligan City, and Ozamis City also sail to Tagbilaran.

Tricycles are the primary means of transport around Tagbilaran City and environs, while vans and a trickle of taxis (sedans) are available for rent. Within Panglao Island, men with motorbikes are also available for hire to go around.

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14 Responses to “Bohol”

  1. Lang says:

    Awesome article!

  2. Ryan says:

    Thanks Lang! :)

    I hope you’d be able to find this article helpful in case you plan of traveling to Bohol. Really awesome place!

  3. R.W says:

    Some extra information –

    Panglao has 2 popular areas for accommodation purposes, the Alona Beach and the Dumaluan Beach (they are about 15 minutes away from each other by car)

    Other beaches resorts are quite a distance from other establishments … so it be hard to get your meals etc. If you don’t mind the distance, then Dauis / Anda / Doljo will do the job for you.
    ** If any other resort along the Alona Beach other than Alona Palm / Alona Tropical promised that they have a nice, wide beach …… don’t believe them!!

    ** Got this somewhere ** Public transport isn’t plentiful on Panglao Island which is why there are many cars for hire. You can also ask the resort security guard to call a tricycle for you, which is what we did when we wanted to go to BBC (the rate was P 400 for drop off and pick up, a car would charge P500-600).

    • pktan says:

      R.W – Thanks for the extra information : ))
      Just wondering – how are the prices of the resorts at Dauis, Anda & Doljo compare to the ones at Alona and Dumaluan.

  4. Ryan says:

    Thanks RW for that info, Alona Beach isn’t that spectacular though, and the hotels there have seen better days. My friend from Australia got into a really crazy spat with the people of Alona Kew Resort. The beach maybe wider to the left side of the beach but, the sand quality wasnt all that good.

    You can also rent a motorbike within the area to go around Panglao.When it comes to prices of the resorts, PK, usually bigger and more established resorts command higher prices but doesnt really translate to quality.

  5. Hi,

    Brilliant tips and explinations. I will visit the Phillipines again next week and again go through these guides. I must thank you for the help which will again make my trip to my second home very enjoyable!

  6. michael says:

    how long it will take from cebu to bohol by sea ?.and what kind of ship/ferries are available ?..it is normal for tourists who want to visit Bohol from Cebu to take a flight back to Manila and down south again ??

    cheers

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Michael,

      Ferry from Cebu to Bohol is about 1 hour and 40 minutes. I’ve taken that route in the past so no worries there. Basically if you really don’t need to go to Cebu – you can fly direct from Manila to Tagbilaran. But you can also do the Manila-Cebu -Bohol-Manila. It’s a pretty common route. Some actually do this route – Manila-Cebu-Bohol-Camiguin-Cagayan de Oro-Manila route. Cebu-Bohol-Camiguin-Cagayan de Oro routes are covered by ferries (although the Jagna (Bohol)- Mambajao/Benoni (Camiguin) is a little bit unreliable unfortunately). But yeah, actually if you are just backpacking – that’s actually a good swing from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao!

      Cheers!

      Ryan

  7. wayne UK says:

    Hi is there anywhere on this island like a camp site and any cheap hotels hostels? but mainly want to camp out on some beach some where or even the chocolate hills be cool.

    • Scott says:

      Hi Wayne,

      You can check this place out.

      Details: Cogon, Bil-Isan, Panglao, BOHOL ISLAND, Panglao, Philippines, Tel. 00639152873326, Mobile 09152873326, http://www.philaccomadation.bravehost.com
      As for camping around the Chocolate Hills, I’m sure you could find a spot to put your tent, but I don’t know if you’ll annoy some local official by doing that.

  8. Steven says:

    Hi Ryan,

    We intent to visit Bohol from 12-17 December.
    What is the weather like in December over there?
    We going to view Chocolate Hills.
    I understand that March to May is the best time to visit Bohol but we can’t go this period.
    I also like to visit Panglao island. Is December the best time for snorkeling?
    Please advice.

    Thanks.
    Steven

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Steven, normally typhoons enter the northern half of the Philippines until around November, so December should be pretty okay time to go to Bohol. However with climate change, of course no one can guarantee the weather. Panglao faces the open sea so make sure that you have your proper life vests or have somebody assist you with snorkeling.

  9. Trishia says:

    Hi!

    I’m from Bohol and I have to say you captured almost everything about our island (including the not-so-good ones, which I also have to agree with). I’m glad you liked the place! :)

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