The provincial government of Bohol highlights six major tourist attractions in the province. These include the Chocolate Hills, the Philippine tarsier, historical sites, world class dive sites, famous white sand beaches and resorts, and its arts and culture. Aside from these top destinations, Bohol tourism is also flourishing through newer additions to the list.
Chocolate Hills: the Number One Bohol Tourist Destination
Chocolate Hills is the number one tourist destination in Bohol. Even former Philippine Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo admits to being a fan and regular tourist of these hills. The Philippine Tourism Authority also includes these hills in their list of recommended tour locations all over the Philippines.
Other Local and Global Citations
Aside from being listed in the local tourism agency, Chocolate Hills is also cited as the third National Geological Monument in the Philippines. In Asia, it is listed among the choices for the Seven Natural Wonders of Asia. Worldwide, it had also been proposed and is currently pending to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is also featured in the Philippinesâs Seven Wonders according to Trifler.com.
The Chocolate Background
The name was derived from a rich chocolate colored look of the 1,776 hills (as per Wikipedia) during summer. On rainy months, however, the brown color turns vibrant green when lush grasses covering the hills awaken when watered.
These hills cover a land area of 20 square miles or (50 square kilometers). All of them depict a cone like shape and ranges from 30 to 50 meters in height. The highest peak was recorded at 120 meters.
Viewing the Hills
There are two options available to view the hills. Both of which are actual hills which had been turned into resorts. The first is located in the town of Carmen and was the first to be utilized for viewing the hills. The second is a recent addition and is found in the town of Sagbayan.
In the Carmen station, one needs to climb 214 steps atop the viewing desk in order to see the breathtaking scene. On the Sagbayan peak, viewing is done through an elevated deck.
How to Get There from Manila
From Manila (the Philippine capital), you can board a plane flight which lasts only an hour and 15 minutes long. You may also enjoy a lengthy voyage by the sea for 25 hours, still from Manila.
What Else to Expect
Aside from the confectionary like hills, the Philippine tarsier can also be expected when visiting Bohol and viewing Chocolate Hills. These native monkeys are considered as one of the smallest primate in the world and are protected by both local and world organizations.
The Philippine tarsier measures only around 5 inches in length and 85 to 160 millimeters in height which is about the size of a fist. The tail is longer than its body. Despite its little features, it can actually leap like a frog in a distance which is ten times greater than its body length. Incredibly, it can also rotate its head on a 360 degrees turn.
Found in various locations in the Visayas and Mindanao area of the Philippines, the local tarsier also resides among the famous hills in Bohol. But since they are not easy to spot, a closer look of these primates is possible through a sanctuary found in the town of Corella, Bohol. Here, the Philippine Tarsier Foundation currently holds office.
The Chocolate Hills, a certified number one Bohol tourist destination and the tarsier are just two of the many wonders found in Bohol. There are various other locations you can visit and enjoy in this side of the country.Â
Bohol: Where the Old Times Meet the Present
Bohol also features some of the most timeless places in the Philippines. Here is where the old times meet the present. Boholâs relevance in Philippine history had been carved since the Spanish era. The most prominent of which is Francisco Dagohoyâs longest recorded Philippine revolt during the period. It lasted from 1744 until 1829.
Historical places and ancient structures also mark Boholâs spot in history and in todayâs list of most visited places. Some of these locations are the famous Blood Compact site, the ancient Baclayon Church, the Clarin Ancestral House, and the Punta Cruz Watchtower (Maribojoc) to name just a few.
The Blood Compact Monument
One the most prominent historical locations in Bohol, the Blood Compact Monument sculpted by National Artist Napoleon Abueva is reminiscent of the âsandugoâ or blood compact between Spanish Miguel LÃ³pez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna of the town of Bool. The date has actually been confused between March 16 and 25 of the year 1565 due to the calendar changes when the Gregorian method was introduced. The date does not matter much as the meaning of the event itself. That fateful day introduced Christianity to the Philippines.
The monument is located just along the national highway in the barrio of Bool at Tagbilaran city.
The Old Baclayon Church
Baclayon Church is considered as one of the oldest churches in the entire Philippines. The structure was completed in 1727 and is located just about 6 kilometers from the city of Tagbilaran. A bus or jeepney ride from Tagbilaran will bring you to the town of Baclayon where the famous Baclayon Church is found. Unfortunately, this was destroyed last year by a 7.2 earthquake which shaked Bohol, Cebu, and other places within the Visayas and Mindanao region in the Philippines.
The Clarin Ancestral House
There are actually a number of ancient houses in Bohol but the Clarin Ancestral House may be the most visited among all old homes. The structure itself was built in 1840. The old house is now a museum filled with relics which dates back to the American era.
This ancient house had witnessed Boholâs past in three periods past: from the Spanish, to the American, and the Japanese. This explains why the National Historical Institute had listed the house as a heritage site.
The Clarin Ancestral House can be found in the town of Loay which is about 18 kilometers away from the city of Tagbilaran. It can be easily spotted as the house itself lies at the foot of the stairs leading to Loay Church.
The Punta Cruz Watchtower (Maribojoc)
A remarkable view of Cebu, Siquijor, and even Mindanao is offered by the windows at Punta Cruz Watchtower (Maribojoc). Aside from a breathtaking view, its presence in history while Bohol was shaped into what it is now is also significant.
The building was built in 1796 and although it was intended for Muslim threat, the tower had witnessed how locals and foreigners flock the waters of Bohol. These include Spanish, American, and Japanese.
To reach the Punta Cruz Watchtower (Maribojoc), a bus ride from Tagbilaran city is needed. Look for buses going to Tubigon for these will pass by Punta Cruz. One can simply walk towards the tower afterwards since it is only about 500 meters away from the unloading area.
These are only some of the historical locations found in Bohol. Those who are to visit will surely see a taste of more attractions where the old times meet the present.
Caves and Falls
There are many attractions which are often included with Bohol tour packages offered.Â The locations may include historical places, beaches, adventure parks, wild life reserves, local communities, and nature trip areas. The latter will have tourists visit forests, mountains or hills, caves, and other water forms such as rivers and falls. Among caves and falls, the Hinagdanan cave and the Mag Aso falls may be the most popular.
The Hinagdanan Cave of Panglao Island
Bohol is really a historical province. Even natural formations have a history to tell such as the Dagohoy cave and the rest of the now developed Danao Adventure Park which was actually Francisco Dagohoyâs camp when he led the long standing Philippine revolt against the Spaniards from 1744 up until 1829.
Aside from Dagohoyâs cave, the Hinagdanan cave in the island of Panglao is also a site to see when in Bohol. Aside from the Chocolate Hills, Panglaoâs white sand beaches have been responsible for the provinceâs presence in local and international tourist destinations list.
Going back to the Hinagdanan cave, it is famous for stalactites and stalagmites as well as a natural lagoon of about 10 feet deep. Its name was derived from the local word âhagdanâ which means ladder. This was due to a man made ladder which was built in order for visitors to reach a pond situated right in the middle of the cave. This pond had been welcoming everyone for a swim despite the stingy smell from bats which inhabit the place.
The Hinagdanan cave is exactly located at the barrio of Bingag in Dauis which constitutes the second half of Panglao Island. It is about 15 kilometers away from Tagbilaran city and about 2.5 kilometers from the town proper of Dauis itself.
Mag Aso Falls â Free Fall at 25 Feet
The free fall scenario only happens in the movies of course but the breathtaking view from either the top or the bottom of Mag Aso falls is real.
The Mag Aso twin falls measures 25 feet in height and is always included in itineraries of Bohol tour packages. Behind the falls are trees, plants, and ravines. Below the falls on the other hand is a pool. It is deep but shallow at the end. One side is also deep with a ravine while the other offers man made steps which visitors for a closer look at the falls.
The concrete steps provide one of the two options available to reach the falls. Here, one must descend through 197 steps guarded by hand railings. Stone seats and wider steps at some points can be utilized by those who need to have a moment of rest.
For a more daring descent, trails which are slippery may be followed instead. In this option, only vines and shrubs to hold on to and stone steps to support oneâs feet are available. The same option is used to ascend and see the view from the top of the falls.
Mag Aso falls is located at the barrio with the same name in the town of Antequera. It is about 20 kilometers away from Tagbilaran city and can be reached with a 30 minutes ride.
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Bohol Beaches, Mountain Peaks, Islands, and Rivers
Of the many reasons why Bohol is famous, two tops the list: hills and beaches. The world wonder Chocolate Hills no doubt is the number one in the list. Aside from these hills, inviting waters such as the Panglao Beaches are also major tourist attractions in the province. These are also where quite a number of Bohol resorts can be found.
Panglao and other Bohol Beaches
Panglao boasts of nine inviting white sand beaches. These are distributed in two areas of Panglao which are the municipality of Panglao and that of Dauis. In the Panglao town itself are beaches (in alphabetical order) of Alona, Bagobo, Bolod, Danao, Doljo, and Momo. The beaches of Dauis on the other hand include Bingag, Bikini, and Dao.
- Alona beach is the most progressive and no doubt the loveliest among all Panglao beaches. It is located in the southern area of the island of Panglao. A great spot for scuba diving is about a hundred meters away from the beach. Be careful with sea urchins though as they flock the area. Diving is also popular in this side of Panglao. Diving sites include the islands of Balicasag and Pamilacan.
- Bagobo beach is right where the barrio of Libaong in Panglao is located. Just like Alona, Bagobo also boasts of beautiful underwater locations where diving and snorkeling can be enjoyed.
- Bolod is another Panglao beach also found on the southern side of the island. It is located just about a kilometer and a half from Alona.
- Danao beach is located in the barrio of Danao. Alona beach is also its neighboring beach.
- Momo is on the opposite side of most Panglao beaches. Unlike most which are found on the south, Momo is located on the northern part of the island. This is the only area with no Bohol resorts built yet.
As for Dauis, which is still technically a part of the island of Panglaoâs beaches, it offers Bingag, Bikini, and Dao.
- Bingag is rich with activities. In this beach, visitors can sail, row, ski, and kayak, among many other water adventures.
- Bikini beach on the other hand is found on the barrio called Biking. The area is just about eight kilometers away from Tagbilaran city. This place had become popular for tourists in need of a pick nick location.
- The Dao beach is where popular resorts in Bohol can be found.
Mountain Peak Resort
Among various resorts found all over the Philippines, only Bohol features a mountain peak resort called Sagbayan Peak. Atop the viewing deck constructed specifically for Chocolate Hills, tourists are able to see a clear view of the famous hills.
The Sagbayan Peak is the second hill to be developed in relation to the popular hills. The first is called the âChocolate Hills Complexâ and is located just outside of the town of Carmen. It is found in the Bohol town which bears the same name. It is about 45 miles away from the city of Tagbilaran.
The area actually measures 25 hectares in total of which 1.5 were developed as a tourist attraction by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). The resort has been fully operational since 1989 and has been protected with joint efforts of the PTA, the Philippine Navy, local government units (LGU), and other organizations.
Balicasag Island offers underwater sports such as diving and snorkeling. In fact, it is considered as one of the best dive sites in the world. It also serves as a marine sanctuary where diverse ecological life forms found on both shallow and deep areas. The island itself is close to Panglao reef and enclosed with its own reef ridge that stretches up to 49.5 meters.
How to Get There
To reach Balicasag Island from Tagbilaran, a 30 minutes ride towards Alona beach is needed through hired vehicles. From the beach, the island of Balicasag can be reached with a rented boat that can accommodate up to ten people.
A Cruise at the Loboc River â A New Tour Destination
Aside from islands and beaches, water forms such as rivers are also popular tour destinations in Bohol. In fact, the Loboc River Cruise is a new addition to the many wonders of Bohol.Â The river is located in the town of Loboc which is about 24 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City.
Experiencing the Loboc River Cruise can begin from either the Loay Bridge or the townâs proper. From the city of Tagbilaran, Loay Bridge is 20 kilometers away while the town proper is 25 kilometers away.
Free Bohol Arts and Crafts Tour
There are also places which can be visited for free in Bohol. Here include places which were developed for the conservation and preservation of the natural wonders of the province.
Since Bohol is naturally rich in plants and animals, particularly those which are rare and expensive, some locals have abused the privilege and made a living even out of endangered species. During the past few years, however, a reformation had changed everyoneâs mindset. Illegal activities have been replaced with businesses, arts, and crafts that the whole community can be able to engage with. Of these positive changes, the Loay local industry can be listed as a perfect example.
Loay Local Industry
The Loay local industry is sometimes referred to as the Loay backyard industry since most of the activities are practiced by locals just at their backyards. Since the local government had banned fishing of endangered species, they have educated those who were affected by it about the importance of nature and the environment and had trained all with alternative means of livelihood.
Of these backyard industries, raising goats constitutes the majority. This may be because goats are easier to take care of compared with other farm animals. Weeds will do for food and shelter can be of a simple goat pen.
Other livelihood in the Loay local industry includes the making of native hatchets and roofing made of ânipaâ or palm tree material. Native hatchets or âboloâ are hand crafted by local smiths or âpandays.â Loay itself is known for skilled smiths. Nipa roof making on the other hand is more popular among women. This is because the task itself of manually converting nipa leaves into roof materials and other items is easy.
The popularity of the Loay local industry for nipa hut roof making explains why an area of the Loay and Loboc River had been specifically allotted for nipa palm plantations.
The Butterfly Garden at Bilar
Aside from visiting communities, other free options are conservatories and sanctuaries. One of which include the island of Panglao where an area dedicated for marine preservation can be found. Another is in the town of Corella where a sanctuary for tarsiers or âbootâ as they are known locally can be found.
Another addition to the list is the Butterfly Garden at Bilar. The place is home to various types of butterflies that are bred and preserved within the garden. Also called theÂ Simply Butterflies Conservation Center, the Butterfly Garden at Bilar is dedicated for studies, and researches related to butterflies. It is located about 41 kilometers away from the city of Tagbilaran and is a kilometer away from Bilarâs town market. It can be reached about five minutes after you drive past the man made Mahogany forest of the same town.
The Man Made Mahogany Forest at Bilar
The man made mahogany forest at Bilar stretches 2 kilometers from the towns of Bilar and Loboc. The mahogany trees in the area offer a refreshing air for those who drive past the highway greeted by this rain forest at both sides. The overgrown roots of this place stretch forth towards the highwayâs sides as if to touch everyone passing by. The trunks on the other hand extend upwards with leaves forming into a canopy to shed passersby from the scorching heat of the sun.
The Hanging Bridge at Sevilla
Another fascinating man made structure is the hanging bridge at Sevilla which is also called bamboo hanging bridge. It was originally constructed out of bamboo and rope only. But to preserve the structure and make it safe for passage, some parts were replaced into cables made of steel. The bamboo composition was retained for the deck though.
The hanging bridge at Sevilla is about 30 kilometers from Tagbilaran city. Transportation is via bus from the city to the town Sevilla.
E.A.T. Danao and the Towns Tourist Spots
Bohol is abundant with tourist spots in almost every town. This prompted the local government unit of Danao, Bohol to promote its Danao Adventure Park. Dubbed as E.A.T. Danao or Extreme, Eco, Educational Adventure Tour, the project transforms a large nature camp area into an exciting adventure location.
The area where Danaoâs eco park is currently situated is incidentally where Philippine hero Franscisco Dagohoy had held his camp during the Spanish revolution era. Dagohoy, a famous Boholano is known for leading the longest revolt against the Spaniards. It lasted from 1744 to 1829.
Whatâs In the Tour?
Those who are to engage in adventures will expect activities which includes sky rides, river related adventures, climbing activities, and tours to farms and villages.
- Sky Rides. The sky rides list includes activities dubbed as sky ride, ziplet, plunge, and suislide. The sky ride is actually a cable ride. The Suislide activity is composed of a zip line and is the townâs local version of a combined sky and slide rides where âsuisâ is not actually from the word suicide, as some thought but from the sound which the cables produce when sliding. The Plunge is the most daring adventure offered in the list of activities. Here, a participant can free fall for 45 meters in a plunge before swinging like a pendulum for a hundred meters in length.
- River Adventures. The E.A.T. Danao activities also include river adventures such as river trekking, river kayaking, and river tubbing.
- Climbing Activities on the other hand include wall climbing in an artificial rock wall and root climbing in root formations of some cliffs. Rappelling is also included.
- Tours. Additional tours include visiting a village in Danao as well as an organic farm. These may not be famous tourist spots but are sure to have everyone enjoy and relax.
- Other Activities included are caving and camping.
Packages offered by E.A.T. Danao include activities for a day, a day and a half, and two days.
How to Get There from Manila
The fastest flight can bring you from Manila to Tagbilaran City in just an hour and a half. Next, a bus ride from the city to Danao is needed. Lastly, habal-habal which are large motorcycles built for mountainous trips will bring you from Danaoâs town proper to the Danao adventure park.
Souvenirs and Other Memorabilia
E.A.T. Danao also offers souvenirs and other memorabilia for those who would like to bring home something from the area. These include hand woven bags, mats, and other items.
If you need more, a great one stop shop for all Bohol products and crafts can be found in famous stores such as the Aproniana Souvenir Shop. This shop offers t-shirts and other types of clothing, bags and other personal items, postcards and all printed souvenirs, handicrafts, and local delicacies such as penyato, native cookies, the calamay, ube jam, among many others. Those who purchase items may be given discount cards which can be used for the next visit.
Aproniana Souvenir Shop also offers tours of the Bohol in minivan and small buses. The shop is located in Baclayon, Bohol at the populated barrio of Taguihon just along the national highway.
Bohol Hotels, Resorts, and Accommodations
For those who are visiting or touring Bohol and are in need of a place to stay, there are hotels, resorts, and other forms of accommodations to choose from. In fact there are over 150 of these all over the province. About a half of it is found in the island of Panglao and in Tagbilaran city where almost all tourist trips begin their quest. The rest of Bohol hotels are distributed in other towns, cities, and nearby areas. These include (in alphabetical order) Anda, Baclayon, Calape, Carmen, Dauis, Dimiao, Duero, Garcia Hernandez, Guindulman, Jagna, Loboc, Loon, Pres. Carlos P. Garcia, Sagbayan, Sierra Bullones, Talibon, Tangnan, Tubigon, Ubay, and Valencia. Cebu City may also be an option as flights from here to Tagbilaran and vice versa abound every day.
Choosing a Hotel
In choosing from a number of Bohol hotels, it is recommended to compare services, amenities, room rates, features, promos,Â and other relevant information first so it will be easier to choose a hotel based on your budget and needs.