2013 • 4 • 24
Whenever a foreigner asks me for recommendations, Bohol is always in my top three. The reason is simple: a wide array of extraordinary attractions.
Sure, other islands in the Philippines are worth recommending, too, but most boast one or two of the following — white beaches, incredible sites, diverse wildlife, interesting history. Bohol has them all. From wild encounters with dolphins to the incomparable views of the Chocolate Hills, Bohol is a province that is easy to promote. It doesn’t need much sales talk. And given that I’ve only explored the southern edge of the province and a few of its islands, I wonder just how much harder I would love Bohol when I point my compass northward.
Here’s some information I have gathered in the three times that I visited Bohol. Hope it could help you plan your trip to this one-of-a-kind tropical paradise!
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
How to Get to Bohol
The fastest and easiest way is by plane. Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines (PAL), and AirAsia Zest operate multiple flights from Manila to Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol. Travel time is around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
You may also opt to travel by boat. Tagbilaran City Pier is the destination of a number of ships coming from Manila. There are also vessels from other parts of the Visayas including Dumaguete and Cebu. If you’re coming from Mindanao, you may hop on a boat to Bohol in Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog. There are also boats from Camiguin but the destination is Jagna in the southeastern corner of Bohol.
Places to Visit in Bohol
Again, I have only set foot on the southern coast of the main island up to the Chocolate Hills and some outlying islands. Here are some attractions that you might not want to miss. The photos are linked to specific posts narrating in detail my experience at the place.
Here are other destinations you should also check out:
- Pamilacan Island. A small island that has become a favorite among divers and snorkelers. It is famous for dolphin-watching and whale-watching.
- Danao Adventure Park. A destination for the more adventurous! Located in the municipality of Danao, it offers a wide array of extreme yet educational activities including suislide, river trekking, kayaking, root climbing, and rappelling.
- Hinagdanan Cave. A naturally lit limestone cavern in Panglao Island.
- Anda, Bohol. Tucked in the extreme eastern edge of the province, the municipality of Anda boasts a number of white beaches and other natural attractions.
- Mag-aso Falls in Antiquera
- Punta Cruz Watch Tower at Maribojoc Bay
- Sagbayan Peak
The north remains waiting for me and I hope I could go back soon.
The two most popular tours in Bohol are the Island-Hopping Tour and the so-called Countryside Tour. But here’s a list of the other tours with the destinations that are usually covered.
- Countryside Tour. Usually stops at Chocolate Hills, Sandugo Site, Baclayon Church, Loboc River Cruise, Manmade Forest, and other smaller attractions (some of which are just tourist traps, to be quite honest.)
- Island-Hopping Tour. Usually involves dolphin-watching and snorkeling in Balicasag Island and Virgin Island. Rates vary from P1500-P2500 per head.
- Danao Extreme Adventure. A whole-day stay at Danao Adventure Park.
- Sagbayan Peak Tour. Usually stops at Sagbayan Peak, Mag-aso Falls, Punta Cruz Watchtower, Hinagdanan Cave.
- Firefly Tour. Commonly starts with dinner at a restaurant and then moves on to Loboc River for the tour.
Getting Around Bohol
Getting around the island can be a little tricky for tourists who wish to make the most of their stay. For short distances, the humble tricycle is a good choice. It’s cheap and can be easily found in the streets of Tagbilaran. These trikes can take you to any point of the city and other neighboring towns like Panglao, Dauis, and Baclayon.
For inter-town travels, public transportation such as buses and jeepneys, while safe can be unreliable due to inconsistent schedules. If you want to see so many places within a short period of time, these modes of transportation might prove inefficient. For this, I recommend chartering a private vehicle or joining a tour.
If you know how to drive a motorcycle, you can rent one for P300 to P1000 depending on the model. Car rentals are also available, P1500 to P2500. The best thing about renting a car is that you get to divide the cost with your companions.
For island-hopping, boat rental cost varies depending on the season, boat size, and which islands you want to visit. The most common is Virgin Island + Balicasag Island, which is usually at P1500-P2500. It can ferry up to 10 passengers.
Another good option is to just join a pre-arranged group tour. You will join other groups and the cost will be divided among the group. Most resorts and hotels offer tours but the rates, as always, vary according to the number of persons joining the tour. For example, on my most recent visit to Bohol, Bagobo Beach Resort in Panglao Island charged us only P4200, which is inclusive of the following:
- 4 days/3 nights accommodations (basic airconditioned room)
- countryside tour (Loboc, Baclayon, Chocolate Hills)
- sea tour (Virgin Island, Balicasag Island)
- breakfasts and dinners
- land and boat transfers
We were a group of six. It could still go lower if the group was bigger. In comparison, in my previous trip, we were charged P3800 per head. We were a party of eight that time.
Sample 3D/2N Bohol Itinerary
If it’s your first time in Bohol, you might want to try the more popular tours — Countryside Tour and Island-hopping Tour. They are popular for a reason — they highlight some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the province. If your resort or hotel is in Panglao, you might also want to explore the island, too. Here’s a sample 3D2N itinerary. Note that this itinerary is based on the assumption that you’re taking a packaged tour from your hotel or resort.
Day 1 – Arrival, Countryside Tour
07:00 am – Arrival at Tagbilaran Airport
07:30 am – Check in at resort
09:00 am – Start of Countryside Tour: Tagbilaran, Baclayon, Albur
11:30 am – Loboc River Cruise
01:30 pm – Loboc Tour, Chocolate Hills
06:00 pm – Back to resort/hotel and dinner
Day 2 – Island-Hopping Tour
05:30 am – Depart for the islands
06:00 am – Island-hopping tour
04:00 pm – Back at the resort
Day 3 – Panglao Island, Departure
07:00 am – Tour Panglao Island: Hinagdanan Cave, etc.
11:30 am – Lunch at Bohol Bee Farm
02:00 pm – Check out
04:00 pm – Flight back to Manila
If you’re a group bigger than six, prepare at least P4500 for this trip, excluding the airfare. The bigger your group, the lower the cost because that means more people sharing the expenses. Here’s the usual cost of things you might consider taking for this trip:
Car rental – P1500 to P2500 per car (usually with driver)
Motorcycle rental – P300 to P1000 depending on the unit
Boat rental – P1500 to P2500 depending on the boat size
Baclayon Museum – P25 per head
Chocolate Hills – P50 per head
Loboc River Cruise – from P450 per head
Tigbao Hanging Bridge – P15 per head
Balicasag Island – P150 per head
Note that if you’re taking a travel package, these entrance fees may have already been included. Ask the tour organizer to confirm. These rates may have also been outdated since my last visit.