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Whew, travelling is exhausting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been four months since we left our home in South Africa and I’m writing this from a place that has been on my travel bucket list forever – the Philippines. Dreaming about visiting this tropical paradise for years, it feels almost surreal to be here now. We currently in Bohol, the first stop of our philippines adventure. If you’re wondering how to explore Bohol, where to go, how to get around, and which Bohol tour will be best for you, I’ve got you covered.
Let me just say that if you are planning a trip to the Philippines, Bohol is a must. There are so many different islands to choose from and trying to decide which ones to visit can be overwhelming – trust me, I know. But, Bohol is a winner. It’s best known for Tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills, but there are tons of other things to do here. Bohol is all about jungle life. If waterfall climbing, river cruising, and cave exploring get your heart pounding, then you will love Bohol! And for all my fellow beach babes – it’s also home to some stunning beaches.
Bohol is the tenth largest island in the Philippines, so there is a lot to explore. This is why many people consider booking a Bohol tour. As like just about anywhere that you travel to, there are some activities that you can easily do alone, and others that might be best to explore as part of a Bohol tour.
P.s If you’re looking to add another island to your itinerary, check out Camiguin Island.
Top Things To Do In Bohol
If you’re wondering which is the best Bohol tour to take, it’s good to know what there is to do in Bohol and decide what’s important to you. Depending on how much time you spend here, you can get quite a bit done in a few days. Three to four days is a good amount of time to spend in Bohol.
We loved the time we spent here, and these are my recommendations on the must-do activities in Bohol.
Visit the chocolate hills
The chocolate hills are by far the most popular tourist attraction in Bohol. It’s a popular tour package option and if you’re staying in Tagbilaran or on Panglao island, it may certainly be worth it. The chocolate hills are about 70 km away – 1.5 hour drive from this side of the island. There are a few different ways to get there – hiring a moped, taking a bus or jeepney or hiring a van.
The chocolate hills are an amazing landscape. I had only seen a few photos online of the distinct brown hills. In reality, they’re a lot smaller than they look on photos so it may be a bit underwhelming. But it’s still an incredible view. We did an ATV trip around here before we headed up to the viewpoint. It was a really cool experience.
Swim in Hinagdanan Caves
There’s quite a few caves to explore in Bohol, but Hinagdanan cave is the most popular. Swimming in this mystical cave was one of my favourite things to do in Bohol – we actually did it twice. The water is a bit cold but it’s so refreshing. It’s super clear and you can see all the way to the bottom. It costs 50 PHP to enter the cave and 75 PHP to swim. So if you want to swim it will cost a total of 125 PHP.
Loboc River Cruise
Our Loboc river experience was so magical! If you want to explore a different part of the Philippines and be close to nature, then you will love the Loboc river cruise. From zip-lining to paddleboarding, firefly watching, going on a tranquil boat cruise and indulging in a local lunch, it’s a truly wonderful adventure. You can book a Bohol tour that will take you to the river or you can visit it independently.
Not too far away from Loboc river, you can experience the beauty of the man-made forest. It’s not as magnificent as I was expecting, but it’s still worth a quick stop. The forest is only a short stretch of road so it’s something that’s worth doing on your way to another destination.
Alona beach is “THE” beach to visit in Bohol. This means that it is quite busy and “touristy.” We arrived at 09:30 am and it was already a lot busier than I was expecting. You should also expect to be hounded by hawkers trying to sell all the “typical” types of goodies and tours. But, it’s still a beautiful beach and definitely worth a visit.
San Pedro beach
We stayed about 2 minutes away from San Pedro beach. It’s the beach right beside the famous Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa and it’s a lot quieter than Alona beach – we found mostly locals here. Some mornings there was no one else in sight. There’s not much of a sandbank here so it’s not great for sitting around but it’s so relaxing and nice for swimming.
What to know about doing a Bohol tour
Many of the above activities are easy to do on your own. For instance, you wouldn’t take a tour to visit any of the beaches, but if you like the idea of an island hopping tour to explore the surrounding islands, you will need to book a tour. Also, for most people, the best way to explore chocolate hills will be via a Bohol tour.
It really just depends on what you want to see and do, and how much time you spend on the island. It also depends on where you stay. Most people arrive at Tagbilaran airport or the Bohol boat port and then make their way to Panglao. This is the most popular spot to stay in Bohol.
If you do stay in Panglao, it’s easy to get around to the surrounding beaches. But other attractions, like Loboc river and Chocolate hills are quite far. If you want to see attractions that are located a fair distance from where you are staying, and your time in Bohol is limited, then a Bohol tour may certainly be worth it.
Here are the top 3 Bohol tour packages
1. Bohol Countryside Tour
This is possibly the most popular Bohol tour. It’s great if your time in Bohol is limited because you get to see and do so much in one day. We didn’t do the Bohol countryside tour because we spent quite a lot of time on the island, and these types of tours often feel very rushed. But if it’s something that interests you, here’s the places that you will get to explore:
- Blood Compact Monument; Learn about the story behind the name and what it’s all about
- Check out the beautiful Baclayon church which was completed in 1727
- Explore the world-famous Chocolate Hills with their 1,268 cone-shaped hills that turn brown in the summer
- Experience the stunning Mahogany forest that stretches out for 2 km
- Cruise along the Loboc River and enjoy a delicious local buffet lunch
- Visit the cute little tarsiers at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary – built to protect the smallest primates.
- It only costs around $30 per person which really isn’t bad considering how much you get to see and do.
- You will explore places that you might not necessarily venture to by yourself, like the Blood Compact Shrine
- Transport is included. Chocolate Hills is about a 1.5 hour drive from Panglao. So being apart of a tour that takes you there could be very beneficial.
- You will visit just about all of the main attractions in one day. So it’s perfect if you only have a short time in Bohol
- You will have a guide to explain everything along the way
- It may feel very rushed. Although seeing all of these places in one day is absolutely possible, I never like the feeling of having to rush from one place to the next. I prefer moving at my own pace.
- Rather than getting the “local” experience, you will have a much more “touristy” experience.
There are a number of Bohol tour companies that offer the countryside tour. These include Wow Bohol Tours, Bohol Best Tours, and Bohol Rent a Car. The specific tour that I have referenced above is through Klook. It costs approximately 1,400 PHP and has an approximate duration of 9 hours.
Private Panglao Island Tour
If you like the idea of escaping into a tropical paradise, then exploring Panglao island is a great Bohol package tour for those staying in other parts of Bohol. Panglao island is the largest of 73 islands that make up the province of Bohol. If you’re staying on the island I wouldn’t recommend this tour because you can easily explore it on your own. But for those who are staying on another part of Bohol, Panglao island is a must visit. Here’s what this Bohol tour comprises of:
- Start the tour by driving along the scenic Bohol coastline and visit the Church of Our Lady of Assumption – located near the sea. Here you can marvel at the grand architecture of this 17th century sanctuary
- The next stop is Hinagdanan Cave, where you can take in the unique stalagmites, stalactites, and the underground spring pool inside this natural wonder
- Experience the pristine white sands of Alona beach and take the opportunity to have a swim and laze around on this beautiful beach
- Enjoy a quick lunch at either the Bohol bee farm or a restaurant of your choice in Panglao
- Head back to Alona beach to end off the day
- Great way to explore a beautiful part of Bohol if you’re not staying in the area
- The tour will take you to the best sights of the island
- Although it’s always nice to have lunch included as part of a tour, it’s also great to have the choice of where to eat – rather than being taken to a place determined by the tour company.
- Having a personal guide to drive you around
- The tour leaves from Tagbilaran city, so you will need to get there first if you are not staying in the area.
- Lunch isn’t included in the tour price, so will be at your own expense.
This Bohol tour is also offered by various tour companies. The Klook tour will cost you 650 pesos (+/- $10) and has a duration of 4 hours.
Bohol Island Hopping Tour
The other popular Bohol tour is an island hopping trip that will take you to the well-known Balicasag Island and Virgin Island. The tour begins early in the morning as you set out looking for dolphins. It’s not guaranteed, but you may be lucky enough to see these amazing creatures. Balicasag island is an amazing snorkelling spot. The Virgin Island is a giant sandbar that emerges during low tide. Here’s what you can expect from this tour:
- You will hopefully get to start your day off with some dolphin watching. Balicasag island is home to 11 species of dolphins.
- Discover Bohol’s most beautiful islands
- Snorkel in the pristine waters of Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary, and have the chance to swim with beautiful fish and corals
- Get up close and personal with the beautiful marine species of Bohol
- Cruise to Virgin island – a tropical paradise that is only exposed during low tide
- There are no entrance fees. The cost of this tour covers all expenses.
- This is the best way to really explore the beautiful waters of the Philippines
- It’s not just anywhere that you get to spend a bit of time on a sandbar that is only exposed in low tide
- Swimming with the beautiful sea creatures of the Philippines
- This Bohol tour is very much weather dependant. If it’s raining or very overcast, you probably won’t have the best time.
- There is no guarantee that you will see dolphins
Klook also offers this tour and it sells for 2,000 PHP (+/- $40) and the total duration is about 6 hours. But just like all the other tours, there are many other companies that offer a similar tour. You could even just purchase a ticket from a local on Alona beach.
Other Things to do in Bohol
If you’re spending quite a bit of time in Bohol and have some extra time, there are lots more things to do on the island. Here’s a few of the other things to do in Bohol:
- Get your adrenaline pumping at Danao Adventure Park. It’s an Extreme/Eco/Educational Adventure park that has a variety of fun activities on offer. Some of these include; kayaking, Glass Cliffwalk, Sky Ride, and the Plunge. You can even stay at the adventure park – just book a room.
- Sevilla hanging bridge – The Bamboo Hanging Bridge crosses the Sipatan River in the Sevilla and is a fun tourist attraction.
- Camugao Waterfall – Located in Balilihan, this is an off-the-beaten track attraction that is not easy to get to. But, if you’re feeling brave, it is worth it!
- Cadapdapan Rice Terraces – Found close to Anda, these rice fields are on the other side of Bohol (far from Panglao). Covering most of the Candijay region, these rice terraces are an incredible sight.
If you’re wondering how to get to Bohol from Cebu, check out this post which explains the ferry trip in details.
Philippines Visa Requirements
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and need help with visa information, I would suggest checking out iVisa.com. The visa process can be very time-consuming, not to mention confusing, and iVisa strive to make the whole process simpler for travellers by taking care of all the nitty gritty details.
Just follow my iVisa application link here and you can do a quick check to see what is required and proceed with an application if necessary.
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