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Bohol is just one of the many places worth visiting in the Philippines. While it has gained global attention for being home to the famous Chocolate Hills, it’s beginning to attract beach lovers for water adventures such as snorkeling, diving, and dolphin watching.
Jumpstart your first day in Bohol by heading over to the island’s famed tourist attraction, the Chocolate Hills. From Tagbilaran City, the island’s capital, you can hop on public transportation or rent a motorbike to reach this destination. And, although it would take you one-and-a-half hour’s travel, it’s definitely worth it. You’ll be fascinated by the thousands of hills that seem like they’re symmetrical in size when viewed from afar. You may opt to see them from the viewing deck of the Chocolate Hills Complex in Carmen, or at the Sagbayan Peak. At the latter, you’ll have the chance to get a good 360° view of the Chocolate Hills and the sea separating Bohol from the neighboring province of Cebu. Before you head back to Tagbilaran, take a quick stop in Loboc and enjoy the meals onboard their river cruise.
Pro tip: It’s best to see the Chocolate Hills during summer because that’s when the hills turn chocolate-brown in color.
After getting on board a floating restaurant and being entertained by singers while enjoying your meals, it’s time to for the second item on your agenda—which is to visit the Philippine tarsiers. The world’s smallest primate, known for their large, brown eyes can be found in Bohol’s conservation sanctuary. Here, you’ll see the Tarsius syrichta species clinging to branches, so take a photo with them (just make sure the flash is turned off). Pay an entrance fee of less than a hundred pesos and you’re already supporting their efforts to keep these creatures safe and protected.
Pro tip: Be extra careful as some parts of the trail are slippery and it can get muddy when the rain starts to pour.
For a different kind of experience on the island, visit one of Bohol’s last pristine mangrove rivers in Maribojoc, Bohol. Only a 30-minute travel from Tagbilaran City, you can explore the river at night and get ready for amazing sights that will be coming your way. Start your kayak trip right before the sun sets and witness the river change its colors. Plus, you’ll also have the chance to spot the magical clusters of fireflies that will definitely be the highlight of your night! Don’t worry if it’s your first time to try kayaking as the locals (who are certified kayakers by the Singapore Canoe Federation) living nearby will be your guide and will make sure you’re safe to go on a canoeing adventure.
If you’d like to treat yourself to some Filipino food with a twist, head over to one of the most visited restaurants in Tagbilaran called Gerarda’s. This restaurant has many dishes that have both Asian and Spanish influences. Their seafood noodles in black squid ink and fried ice cream are definitely worth trying! You’ll also enjoy taking photos (for your Instagram feed) of this ancestral house turned restaurant. Meanwhile, nightlife in Bohol’s capital city is often compared to Boracay—vibrant and fun but fewer restaurants, nightclubs, and bars to be found. You can party until dawn, go for some karaoke, or mingle with friendly locals.
No trip to Bohol is ever complete without taking a trip to Panglao Island which has stunning beaches, perfect dive spots, and a manifold of islets—perfect for beach bums, sun worshippers, and adventure seekers. No boat trip is required for you to reach this summer destination. You can hire a tricycle or cab and head over to the bridge to cross to Panglao. Spend the morning on the beautiful white sand beach, go for a swim, hire a tour boat for some snorkeling or island hopping, try scuba diving, or get into some watersports.
If you find yourself staying near Alona Beach in Panglao Island, a visit to the Bohol Bee Farm is a must-include in your itinerary. Owned by a US-based nurse who went back home to discover a new life in Bohol, Vicky Wallace’s then simple garden turned into the sprawling Bohol Bee Farm which is also a dive spot, restaurant, and resort. You’ll love the food as much as you’ll love the view, which can give you a glimpse of neighboring islands Siquijor and Camiguin. They have a walking tour in the farm and discover how they make bee products.
Before calling it a day, treat yourself with a different kind of dining experience on the island. And, when in Panglao Island, you have a variety of choices—go for a themed restaurant, have a healthy feast, or enjoy a meal in a restaurant with a panoramic view. The Wine Cellar is highly-recommended to those seeking fine dining and a relaxing atmosphere in Panglao’s first and only underground restaurant. Meanwhile, the island’s first of its kind called Luna Rossa Vegetarian Italian Restaurant is a cozy refuge for vegetarians! To capture the best panoramic views on the island head over to Tarsier Paprika and have a taste of European dishes in their open-air veranda or sea view rooms.
If an unforgettable night is something you’d want to have on the island, look no further and head to the area near Alona Beach. Here, you’ll find clubs and bars with a variety of music genres, good food at reasonable prices, and a great atmosphere! Ladies would enjoy cocktails during Thursdays at Lone Bar & Grill. And for those looking to have fun all night, happy customers hang out at Helmut’s Place. Of course, for those seeking solace and some quiet nights, it’s also a good idea to relax on the beachfront or near the pool and just enjoy the night away with a drink.