Things To Do In Bohol
Just a one-hour flight from Manila or a short catamaran ride from Cebu, the rich island territory of Bohol offers travelers an abundance of amusing attractions on both land and water. Bohol is famous for its wide-eyed and cute tarsiers, the beautiful Chocolate Hills, and the majestic Panglao Island. All all of these attractions do their part in making Bohol an enticing city to explore in the Central Vizayas region of the Philippine Archipelago. Imagine an untouched wilderness, a watersports haven and endless views of rice porches. Picture exciting river cruise adventures, the chance to meet a group of talented and young chorale singers, century-old churches, and the unblemished white sandy shorelines of Anda. Do this and you will have an image of what to see and expect from the majestic islands of Bohol Province.
When To Go:
Bohol is an impressive travel destination, and summer is the perfect time to explore and discover its beauty. Running from March until May, this is when the weather is nicest. You can also visit amid the months of July, October, and December and the shores and climate will still be ideal for a great holiday vacation. Another plus factor; the island is not located in the immediate path of most storms, surges, and hurricanes that regularly rock the Philippines. You can travel here and feel safe to enjoy the island year-round, even during the rainy season from June to November. If you prefer a more festive atmosphere or wish to join in typical Filipino or traditional fiesta celebration, the ideal month is May. Prepare to get tons of invites from the hospitable and friendly locals and have an endless serving of Lechon (whole roasted pig) and other excellent Filipino homemade dishes.
These are the top attractions and remarkable things to do while visiting the enchanting island of Bohol Province…
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An excursion to Chocolate Hills is well worth the trip from the island of Panglao. It is accessible by a rented cab or car from the city and you’ll only need to climb a few steps to reach the observation point. The views are fantastic and you can see continuous vistas and rolling greens all around. A gorgeous landscape that is sometimes compared to the Grand Canyon in America; prepare to take lots of pictures of the naturally cone-shaped hills as your perfect background.
This geological phenomenon is truly picturesque; during the tour you’ll admire its thick mahogany forest. The observation point is located on a high terrace overlooking dozens of rounded hills, which become chocolate brown at the onset of the dry season in March. It’s the kind of attraction that you must see at least once in your life. If you rent a bike, the trip to Bohol Island and these magical hills will be even more beautiful. It is the third most important geological monument of the Philippines and one of the most significant tourist destinations in the country. It is also recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. If you are a photo hobbyist, it is highly recommended to bring a camera with a large zoom lens for photographing the distant hills.
Tarsier Conservation Area
The Tarsier Conservation Area offers visitors a rare opportunity to admire these unique creatures up close. The experience is short because the park is very small, but it is definitely worth it. These little creatures are so small and uniquely cute that your heart will melt just to see them. They can’t be touched (they are enclosed in a fenced perimeter), and this is for their own good. You should not miss this delightful experience and unique encounters with the tarsiers while in Bohol. If you’re traveling with children, this is a must see because they look like cute little monkeys (with enormous eyes). They do not live in cages and jump freely from one tree to another in their forest habitat.
Currently, there are only 6 tarsiers in the conservation area and guests can see them only from afar. This is why all of the people are advised to congregate in front of the fenced side of this “Nature Reserve”. Because of their small bones and susceptibility to become stressed out by the presence of humans, the extra protection is necessary for tarsiers. Taking pictures is allowed but the no flash rule is enforced to avoid startling the animals, especially while they are asleep. Be discreet and silent because these small animals like a calm and serene atmosphere all the time.
Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park
Because of the autumn earthquake in 2013, the bridge, church and the embarkation for shipping were destroyed on the Loboc River. Today the ride is offered at the lower end of the river. The scenic Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park provides a tour of the upper part of the river more than the lower; the food offered is high quality and authentic Filipino cuisine. In the Adventure Park in Loboc, you can cross the zip line or a cable car to reach the Loboc River. Cross over a small hill to enter the Zip Line area. Here friendly staff will provide you with all the necessary equipment. You will be outfitted with tarp belts, grappling hooks, safety gear, and hanging ropes. The only other needed equipment is gravity, which is provided once you are attached to the hanging steel cable. Although such heights (120 meters high and 520 meters long) are designed for the fearless, the ride offers a lot of fun and will definitely stimulate endorphins until you reach the other side safely. The view of the Loboc River with waterfalls and lots of greenery is incomparable. You can choose to have your ride recorded or you may bring your own camera to document your flight over the tropical forest of Bohol.
The Zip Line adventure is a bit scary, but it offers a tremendous adrenaline rush of for any thrill seekers! The cost of the round trip is 350 pesos. For a less scary ride, ride in the booth and have the employees’ shoot your photo from the bushes below. You’ll be able to buy a printed photo or CD after the exhilarating ride.
The Adventure Park provides an incredible amount of fun for a small amount of money.
Loboc River Cruise
The Loboc River Cruise is an absolute must for any traveler in Bohol. The Filipino food here is exquisite and the ride on the floating restaurant itself is the main highlight of the river adventure.
The cruise sails through mangrove forests full of coconut trees and is highlighted by an old Filipino tradition of being serenaded by a musical ensemble. The musicians give brilliant performances while the boat calmly treads along the river. The experience lasts for an hour, including the time to cross two intermediate stops. On the boat, you will dine in peace, enjoying the views of the river and tropical greenery while listening to live music. The cost of such pleasure is 450 pesos per person, which includes the price of the dinner, the boat ride, and the provided live music. If you love nature and entertainment, you should definitely book a trip and experience this unique cruise on the waters of Bohol.
Dimiao Twin Falls
The beautiful Dimiao Twin Falls is a must-see attraction in Bohol, but not many people are aware of it. It actually can be hard to find a driver or tour operator that will bring you to these scenic falls. The effort is worth it because on your way to Twin Falls, you might see some tarsiers, and possibly the Chocolate Hills. From Panglao, you must ask around to find local bungalow operators who know the region well; it’s actually easy to find once you know the right trail.
Most of them know the way and can be relied on to guide you to the path that accesses this secluded waterfalls. Just be sure to give your local guide a few pesos for the trouble. Ignore the pushy vendors you will meet along the trail because the prices of their wares or souvenir items are typically priced higher than the souvenir shops in front of the beach area.
Despite the destruction of the bell tower and facade of the church that was hit by an earthquake in October 2013, the Baclayon Church is still visited by locals and tourists. Even though it is currently cordoned and now appears much smaller than any other old churches in Bohol it is worth a visit. Restoration work is underway, and Filipinos are doing their best to recover and bring back the church to its former glory. The interior is closed for public viewing and everything can be seen only from the sidelines or the safe portion of the church. This church is one of the oldest in the Philippines and was considered the pearl of Bohol. However, the earthquake in October 2013 brought about drastic changes, leaving the bell tower almost entirely destroyed. It is a sad sight to see. Although restoration work has recently begun, it seems (judging by the pace and effort of the government), that the road to a full recovery will be a long one.
Interestingly enough, it is still included by tour operators in their general tours of Bohol. It looks unusually old and contains a lovely courtyard house with pleasant gardens and a beautiful altar if you enter the church side for a short visit. Parted from the windows is the streaming light of unearthly beauty along with the presence of the iconostasis that looks iridescent despite its antiquity. Even when damaged, the church is striking, and you can sit quietly and just enjoy the beauty. For women, if you are wearing pants you must wear the provided skirt to enter the church. Be sure to spend enough time to understand and see all of its vivid details.
Cathedral of San Jose
The well preserved Cathedral of San Jose was not affected by the 2013 earthquake. This is likely because it is well structured and reinforced with high-quality steel. Despite this measure, the Cathedral is still impressive as it is almost 200 years old! The historic church can be easily accessed from the city center and stands very close to the harbor of Bohol Island. The Roman Catholic church was built in Baroque style and architecture and has an adjacent museum that you can visit to understand the history and significant role of this church during the Spanish occupation.
Philippine Tarsier Recreation Inc.
Seeing these little primates inside the Philippine Tarsier Recreation Inc. is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, considering that they can only be found in the island of Bohol. These small monkeys have a look that seems to beg you to hold them, but keep in mind that you cannot pick them up. You can, however, take some beautiful photos and spend quiet moments with them. Seeing those big eyed wonders is what makes Bohol a fascinating island to explore. It's a quick experience that will touch your soul in under a half hour. The animals are walking free and the money from your access will be used to continue to take good care of the needs of the cute tarsiers.
You cannot see a tarsier without stirring any emotion and sympathy for them. They are nocturnal animals that prefer to sit in a nest hidden in the shade during the day. It can be difficult to photograph them, especially since you cannot use flash. They mainly relax and sleep during the day until the afternoon. It is much quieter here than the Tarsier Conservation Area and there are more tarsiers under their care. The park staff are friendly and will answer all your questions as well.
Bohol Habitat Conservation Center
The territory of the Bohol Habitat Conservation Center is small but well decorated. Here you can see the development of local butterflies from cocoons to adults. If you have already toured the sights of Bohol and are not in a hurry, you can spend some quiet time here. The flying butterflies are fun to see and the tour is very informative, inexpensive, and long. At the entrance, immediately after buying the ticket, you will be welcomed by the resident guide of the center.
He will teach you how to touch the butterflies and caterpillars while they are planted in his arms. This tour is probably best if you are more interested in the beauty and basic facts of butterflies, rather than encyclopedic and taxonomic details. This place is a good deviation from the other prominent attractions you can find in Bohol.
Blood Compact Monument
The Blood Compact Monument is a symbolic sculpture showing one of the greatest achievements in Philippine history. It is close to the city and located in a natural environment with background of the sea. The statues represent the blood pact made between the Spanish and Filipino with the magnificent view of Panglao Bay as its setting. It is a small monument that is located on a beautiful viewing platform. It is necessary to visit and spend at least 10 minutes taking pictures beside the members of the historic blood compact. It is an attractive monument for photo shoots.
Tourists like to be photographed in an embrace or “raising glasses pose” with these famous figures. This monument to the signing of the agreement between the natives and Spain symbolizes the height of the Spanish rule. In reality, it was a documented blooded contract during which the Spanish Grand Miguel de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna tribal leader joined their blood in a cup of wine which was started in the circle. This event is commemorated every March 16 and declared by the president as a national holiday in Bohol City.
Bohol offers surprises in every nook and cranny. The famous hills, hidden waterfalls, and the charming tarsiers are just a few of the enticing reasons to visit. The real gems of this island are its rich nature, impressive landmarks, and the friendly Filipinos who are always ready with a smile and endearing ways for tourists who visit their city. Make sure to plan a tour of Bohol City when you’re in the Philippines- it is worth discovering.
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