I am currently in the Philippines for some business. Manila is a buzzling place. It is a mix of old buildings and modern structures but the influences of Spanish and American colonizations are very evident. After some meetings and client calls , I scheduled a flight for Bohol island which is among the best destinations in the Philippines. It is one of the 7,107 islands of this archipelago in Southeast Asia and boasts of the Chocolate Hills, the smallest known primate, and a lot more.

Sharing with you my Bohol experience yesterday:

Going to Bohol is very easy. There are several flights you can choose from. I took a flight to Cebu, another historical island in the Visayan region of the Philippines, and from there took a ferry going to the island of Bohol. Summer is almost over but the airport and the port are still pretty crowded. Get to the airport and port a few hours before your ride so you will not have any problem with the long lines for the security checks.

Another option is to fly directly from Manila to Tagbilaran Airport. Tagbilaran is the capital of the province of Bohol.

Bohol Countryside Day Tour

Whether you are traveling solo or traveling with your friends or family, there are several options you can take if you want to see the best destinations in Bohol. At the airport you can talk to local tour guides and hire a car with driver for the day. For me, this was the most practical choice rather than rent and drive a car or rent a motorcycle.

The tour guide will give you several Bohol tour options. I took the Countryside Day Tour so my wife and I can see all the wonders of this island. This will cost you around $60.

Baclayon Church

Our first stop was the Baclayon Church. This is a very old church built during the rule of the Spaniards in the Philippines.

Next to the church is a museum which features old vestments used by priests, old musical scores, images of saints, and a very old bell.

Lunch at a floating restaurant in Loboc River

Loboc River has gained popularity when its children’s choir won an international grand prix besting the best (and older) choirs from around the world. The river is the main water channel of this island.

We stopped here to enjoy the best local delicacies on a floating restaurant while being serenaded by a folk singer. The floating restaurant by the way cruised while we enjoyed our lunch of crabs, shrimps, clams, pork barbecue, mixed vegetables, grilled fish, and fresh fruits. This was an eat all you can for just about $12.
The cruise will take you 3 kilometers into the heart of the river. You will take a pit stop at a local tribe village. The people of the Ati Tribe are all smiles and are used to tourits already. They are more than willing if you want to have your picture taken with them. You can even hold spears, wear their head dress, or a bow and arrow as props. Do not forget to give them some tip since this is their primary source of income since they were displaced by developers in a nearby island.

Tarsier

Get up close and personal with the smallest primate in the world. Bohol is home of the tarsier. The smallest monkey in the wold is a protected specie but the local government has allowed several families in Bohol to breed and take care of some tarsiers so they can use them for tourism and promote awareness about this animal.

Your Bohol tour guide will be able to hook you up with these families so you can take pictures of the tarsier. The animals are tame enough that you can place your face next to theirs. They are very small monkeys and you can literally cup one on your hand if just allowed. They have very big eyes, lives in a social group just like other monkeys, and are nocturnal according to the care takers.

Man-made forest

On our way to the world renowned Chocolate Hills we passed by a man-made forest. Our tour guide told us that the mahoganies lining the forest was planted by Boy Scouts back in the 1950s. This is a protected area and no one can cut any of the trees. A regular survey is being conducted every five years to monitor the area.

Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills is another contender to become one of the natural wonders of the world. There are over a thousand brown, greenish mounds that you can see from the viewing deck up to as far as your eyes can see.

Basing on the choral rocks you can see near the viewing deck, it seems this area was underwater during the early years of earth. You can reach the viewing deck, which provides a 360 degree view of the Chooclate Hills, through a 214 step stairs.

If you want a fancy picture with the Chocolate Hills as backdrop, your tour guide can take you to professional photographer studios who can do this for around $2 per photo.

Hanging Bridge

We featured this Bohol Hanging Bridge as among the most dangerous bridges in the world. And it is hell scary while crossing it. The hanging bridge connect the two sides in this portion of the Loboc River. Today, it is quite touristy and you have to give a $2 donation to enjoy and be scared while crossing it. The base of the bridge is made of interwoven bamboos and it is not very comforting when you see broken pieces of bamboos along the way. Just don’t look down and you will be okay.

Butterfly Garden

Another side trip after the Bohol Chocolate Hills was the Butterfly Farm where you can learn about the life cycle of this beautiful creature. You will also be able to visit their garden with hundreds of colorful butterflies.

Python

On our way down, our driver cum tour guide took a turn to a small zoo that boasts of the biggest phyton in the Philippines. The snake weighs around 260 kilos and can eat a 60 kilo live pig. It is really quite intimidating to get near this creature.

Blood Compact site

This is a historical landmark which features the blood compact scene that sealed the allegiance of the local royalty or datu to the Spanish Conquerors during the 1500s. Nothing much to see here but the view of the sea is amazing.

Buying souvenirs

Unlike in other countries, Bohol tour guides can bring you to souvenir shops which really bargain their goods at factory prices. No need to worry about tourist traps here since the people are very warm, helpful, and honest.

Writing this entry from Panglao Island. This is still part of Bohol. And look what’s in front of me?

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