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Traveling to Bohol, Philippines
When in Bohol!
Bohol is one of the Provinces of the Philippines located in the Central Visayan Region. Its capital is Tagbilaran City. The province is well known for its Chocolate Hills and the smallest primate in the world known as tarsiers. Little did everyone know that aside from the Chocolate Hills and tarsiers, Bohol has plenty of attractions to offer such as white sand beaches, old churches, museums and many more.
We stayed in Bohol for 4 days and 3 nights. In a bird’s eye view while still boarding the plane, you can already see how rich the province is with forests and trees. The green hills are like the chocolate hills already. They are range of small hills lined up and proudly showing the beauty of the province.
Day 0: Manila to Tagbilaran via airplane
Upon arrival from Tagbilaran International Airport we were greeted by our guide and driver Sir Ronilo Soy who brought us to the resort located in Panglao which he also recommended. There are plenty of hotels and resorts in Bohol however I don’t recommend advance reservations because your hotel might be too far from the places you’re going to visit. For tourists like us who are not much familiar with the place I would highly recommend that you consider the suggestions and recommendations of your tour guides since they know the place more than the tourists do. The reason why Sir Ronilo brought us in Panglao is because it is near the places we are about to visit.
During our first day, we just spent our time roaming around our resort and tasting the different delicacies of the place.
Day 1: Panglao island tour
While we were on our way to the resort, Sir Ronilo gave a short introduction about the place, according to legends, the municipality was given the name Panglao because it was once a very sad place. The word “panglao” means sad in English, long time ago there were no tourists that visits the place not even local tourists, hence the name. Majority of the tourists only visits the Chocolate hills and the tarsiers, other tourist attractions were not showcased like the white sand beaches of Panglao only now when Boracay was closed that the tourists started to visit the municipality. Sir Ronilo stated that before, no one dared to buy a property in Panglao because the municipality is poor and putting up a good business seems to be impossible but as tourism started to boom in the municipality, you could hardly buy any property to put up your house. Almost all agricultural lots were sold where building were put up and turned to other business establishments.
The fare from the airport to the resort where we spent the night is Php600 it was already included in our package. We spent Php2,500 for the sea tour in Panglao that is for the rent of the boat which we used from Panglao port to Panglao Island and the Virgin Island. Another Php200 per head for the small boat and tour guide who lead us to the turtles and fishes. If you have no snorkeling gears you have to rent it for Php200-250 each gear, hence I would recommend that you bring your own snorkeling gear if you have one.
From Panglao Island we went to the Virgin Island. It is actually a sand bar whose sand can be compared to that in Boracay because it is very fine and white. According to the Bankeros, it is called Virgin Island because it is hard to enter during low tide, only small boats can enter the small Island. When it’s high tide, the island is completely submerged to the water, one could not fully appreciate the place during high tide since the sand bar is not really visible, though you can still walk through it but you miss the point of going there to witness the white sand beach. Unfortunately, during our visit we missed the dolphins and it was high tide that’s why the Virgin Island is totally submerged to water. I would suggest that if you really intend to watch the dolphins it would be better to travel to the island around 5:30-6:00am, but chances of seeing the dolphins is still not an assurance since according to the bangkeros “kung maalon ang dagat, maliit and chansa na magpapakita ang mga dolphins” (if the waves are strong, the chances to see the dolphins is very low).
After which, we went to explore one of the barangays of Panglao, named Alona. It is not the main town of the municipality but most of its economic operations are being held there. Food there is quite pricy but it is all worth it. If you are fun of bars and drinks, you will definitely enjoy the small night clubs of Alona.
Day 2: Panglao Tour and Tagbilaran Tour
In the morning of our 3rd day in Bohol we went to visit all of the tourists attractions in Panglao. First we went to visit the amazing Nova Shell Museum of Panglao which offers exotic shells, clams and mollusk collected by the owner Mr. Quirino Hora. It is our first time to see so many varieties of shells in our life that’s why we were totally amazed by the museum and we actually spent 2 hours wondering around the place. For those visiting the museum, be mindful of your time or else you might be too engrossed and end up spending all your time in there. Also, they sell plenty of pearls in the museum so for the pearl lovers I suggest that you buy your pearls in there because it’s far cheaper than buying it along Panglao beach.
One of the many things I often check whenever I visit new places is the old Catholic Churches. I’m a devote Catholic and thankfully our guide Sir Ronilo is also a Catholic. We drop by Baclayon Church, Loon Church, Panglao Church and the well-known Dauis Church. We took some time to pray at the Dauis Church and I really took note of its features. Aside from its beautiful interior designs, the Church is a well-known pilgrimage because of its water’s healing powers. Local history tells that this well originated during the Spanish era. Pirates often attacked Christian settlements and it was during one such attack that the people took refuge behind locked doors of the church. Besieged by the enemy for days, the people run out of food and water. The well miraculously sprang up and since then has become the source of drinking water for the populace nearby, especially during droughts. From that time on, the church was often visited by Catholics and non-Catholics who believed in the healing power of the water. For me there is no harm in believing and trying, there were plenty of true stories from the locals about the healing power of the Church’s water, besides, how would a fresh water tastes truly fresh despite its closeness to the seashore, amazing right?
Next stop is the Hinagdanan Cave, I’ve seen a lot of caves and I can say that the cave is quite small in its size but it was well preserved even if there were some renovations made inside. The stalactites and stalagmites are still alive and there were still bats inside. The pond is really blue and icy cold but it’s very clean, I hope the locals can still preserve the place, it’s really beautiful. There were plenty of souvenir shops in the outskirts of the Cave, based on our price comparison, the place has the cheapest souvenirs, hence we recommend that you buy yours here except for the food products which we recommend that you buy it at the Blood Compact Site.
After the cave, we went to see the Bee farm of Bohol. Attractions include organic farming tour, honeybee farming, gift shops, workshops of local craftsman, scuba shop and restaurant. Yes, the food is organic but it’s quite pricey though I can really say they tastes good.
Since it’s already 12:00nn Sir Ronillo brought us to the Loboc Riverwatch floating restaurant. There are 2 sides of the river, make sure to choose the one where there are still plenty of Mangroves. You just have to pay Php500 and you get to eat all you can while cruising and listening to folk singers. Also, they offer a visit to a set-up tribe by the river, though it does not look authentic but still it is a lot of fun since the tribe entertains the tourists with demonstrations of their skills in bow and arrow, music and fire swallowing.
After lunch, we went to the Blood Compact Site in Bool, Tagbilaran City where you can see the life size monument of Raja Sikatuna of Bohol and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi of Spain. The One Town One Product food in the Blood Compact is the cheapest so far, thus, buy your pasalubong there already.
While on our way to the Tarsier Conservation area we drop by at the man-made forest. The place is really astonishing, whoever designed it is a real genius. The mahogany trees are uniform in height, thickness and even the design of the leaves and trees. The mahogany trees are like soldiers who are guarding the boarders of the Kingdom, the rays of the sun could hardly enter the insides of the mahogany tree. After taking some pictures, we were so excited to see the tarsiers, luckily when we went to the Tarsier Conservation park, one tarsier showed up. According to the zookeepers we are in luck because it’s not everyday that a tarsier is available since they are released in the wild. Luckily, the tarsier was well behaved, it did not move hence, we’re able to go near it and take some pictures.
After the Tarsier Conservation we went to the well-known Chocolate Hills in the town of Carmela. Our tour guide suggested to go there in the afternoon and it was a good decision that we made it our last stop because it was almost dawn and the sun is almost out hence, it is not very hot. Also, almost all tourists were leaving and done with their tour, thus, the place is all ours, there were no photobomers and there’s a lot of space to take photos from. Believe me when I say this, it is an understatement to say that the Chocolate Hills is beautiful because it’s far far beautiful. It was an amazing beauty and one will be very interested to know how on earth was it created because the hills are equal in size and height, it was as if someone made it that way. When you imagine it, they are like giant boobs, ha-ha, so cute in size. Lastly, we had a short ATV ride in the outskirt of the Chocolate Hills for about an hour. The price of the ATV ride is around Php500 only.
The Chocolate hills was our final stop and it was almost 7 in the evening. If only we had more time we could have had visited the firefly sanctuary. For those visiting Bohol I would highly recommend you to visit all the places we went and include in your itinerary the firefly sanctuary. Everything is definitely worth it, Bohol is one of those places that I would like to go back to again and again if given the chance.
Driver and a guide!
For those looking for a tour guide and at the same time a ride, you may contact Sir Ronilo Soy our guide during our stay in Bohol. His name on facebook is Ronilo Soy with Lolo Nilo in it and his contact number is +63915-642-5310, I am writing this in 2018, hence his contact number might have changed. I highly recommend him because he was very honest and helpful during our visit, he did not take advantage of us when we had a problem withdrawing money, he is definitely a trustworthy person.