Bohol was our first island we explored in the Philippines and we enjoyed it a lot. Bohol as the 10th largest island of the Philippines is a very diverse island. It is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Philippines. Why diverse? There is so much to do there. From visiting the famous Chocolate Hills, unique Tarsier sanctuaries, exploring Bohol on a scooter or chilling on amazing beaches on Panglao Island. I can guarantee that Bohol will keep you busy for many days.
HOW TO GET TO BOHOL
The capital city of Bohol is called Tagbilaran. Tagbilaran’s airport is easy to reach by airplane or boat. We came from Manila via plane and paid around 45€ per person.
To start our trip in Bohol, we decided to see the Chocolate Hills first. That is why we booked 2 nights in the village called Carmen which is located in the middle of Bohol (and very close to the Chocolate Hills).
Tagbilaran City doesn’t have GRAB so we had to find some taxi to get us to the bus terminal from the airport. A taxi costs around 250 PHP so we took a tricycle which is cheaper (150 PHP) ;). It was a lot of fun especially with our two big suitcases and two backpacks 🙂 From there we took a local bus (no air-con) which took 2 hours to Carmen. Carmen is a very small village and there is really nothing to do 😀 There are not even proper restaurants. However, we were lucky and could have dinner at our guesthouse.
VISIT THE CHOCOLATE HILLS
At first you want to visit the Chocolate Hills. Also called Jewels of the Philippines, the Chocolate hills are considered as one of Philippines’ natural wonders. There are in total 1776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 km. The hills are made of limestone and were created during Ice Age when the island was fully submerged. The reason why they are called chocolate hills is that in dry season they turn from green to brown. And that is why remind people of chocolate bonbons. My advice, rent a scooter to explore the area first. If you want to see the Chocolate hills, there is a small entrance fee of 100 pesos, You can use it for the whole day, which is perfect for you to come back for sunset. As you can see, the view is really incredible and you can already see one brown hill in the back.
VISIT A TARSIER SANCTUARY
Have you ever heard of an animal called tarsier? They can only be found on Southeast Asian islands, such as the Philippines, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Sumatra. The Philippine tarsier is locally known as “mamag” in Boholano (the local dialect). Unfortunately, they are considered as an endangered species and face extension.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TARSIERS
Tarsiers are the world’s smallest primates and they are indeed unique animals. They spend their entire lives eating, sleeping and reproducing in the trees. Haha what a life. Tarsiers are nocturnal animals, it is very hard to spot them during the day as they sleep. The tarsier has the largest eyes of all mammals, bigger than their brain. What is very unique is that their eyeballs cannot rotate. Tarsiers are, however, one of the few animals that can rotate their heads 360 degrees. They are also incredible jumpers and can jump 40 times their own body length. When tarsiers are disturbed from touching and loud noise, they might commit suicide. They can bang their heads on something hard or they just hold they breath until they pass out. That is why it is very important that you stay silent and do not touch them during your visit. They have elongated fingers and very long tail which helps them to be very comfortable on the tree and to keep their balance.
TARSIER CONSERVATION AREA
We visited a park called Tarsier Conservation Area. The entry is60 pesos. It is a relatively small area and it takes around 40 minutes to see all the little tarsiers. There are guards everywhere making sure that the people obey the rules which are: being silent, not taking close photos of the tarsiers and of course not touching them. Remember, any disturbance and stress can cause their death. While many people are critical of this particular conservation center and recommend to visit the other one (called “Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary”) in Bohol we didn’t see any indication that the animals were maltreated.
IMPORTANT INFO: If you don’t have enough time you can definitely combine visiting the Chocolate hills and the Tarsier Sanctuary in 1 day. It is perfectly doable and there are many operators which organize day tours.
BEAUTIFUL PANGLAO ISLAND
Panglao Island is located just southwest of Tagbilaran City. It is a popular tourist destination in the Philippines with many beautiful beaches. Panglao is also rated as one of the top ten diving locations in the world. You can see other small islands near Panglao, such as Gak-ang, Pontod, and Balicasag. We didn’t have much time but I am more than confident that they must be super beautiful. Alona Beach which is the main beach on Panglao Island is quiet a touristy place and was nothing for us. However, it has many restaurants and shops so you can definitely find something you like. We decided to stay at first 1 night at the beach called Dumaluan Beach.
After we saw this view, we decided to prolong our stay immediately. Who wouldn’t, right? This was definitely one of the most beautiful beaches we have visited in the Philippines.
RENT A SCOOTER AND EXPLORE BOHOL
Would you like to explore Bohol? Then, you should rent a scooter. Renting a scooter in Southeast Asia is the best way to explore places in general 🙂 From endless rice fields, beautiful forests, tiny villages to small hidden waterfalls. Bohol has so much to offer. We really enjoyed driving through Bilal Man-made forest. A 2 km stretch of beautiful mahogany trees. Driving on this road surrounded by those tall and big trees raising their branches straight up towards the sky was breathtaking.
DONATELA HOTEL – A FEW DAYS IN LUXURY
We were so excited to be invited by Donatela Hotel to stay a couple of nights at their beautiful resort. The resort is located on wonderful Panglao and you can easily get here from Tagbilaran City.
Donatela Hotel has 12 luxury villas: 6 Garden villas, 3 Pool villas, 2 Family villas and 1 Honeymoon villa. What is really special about this hotel is that all villas are nestled in a beautiful natural botanical garden. And each villa has its own private garden. Thus, it is a perfect place to relax and enjoy your time surrounded by exotic plantation, fruit trees which provide shelter to many birds. This gives a lot of privacy and space to you. You will feel like you are completely alone. The resort is so spacious that you won’t see many people around. I can guarantee you will feel so relaxed and never want to leave.
We stayed in a Garden Villa called Passion Flora. I really loved the design of the villas. Their design is inspired by the traditional Philippine houses of the Ifugao which can be still found in the northern parts of the Philippines. We were really impressed by this place. We also enjoyed our time at the pool, surrounded by native orchards and set at the heart of a botanical garden. The pool is very large, you can swim freely and play in the water.
The hotel has a restaurant called Tarsier Paprika with a panoramic view on the Bohol Sea. We really enjoyed our tasty breakfast and dinner at Tarsier Paprika. The view is amazing, not to mention the great service and quality food. Fine dining with pleasant music was an unforgettable experience.
The hotel has a gym, a spa, an animal sanctuary and of course you can go for a swim and snorkeling. Moreover, the hotel can organize for you other activities, like day trips to different islands or diving.
Thank you Donatela Hotel for hosting us. We loved our time at your resort and I would highly recommend this place to anyone, especially to everyone who needs a proper rest. Which is everyone in this busy world, right?
If you are also interested staying at Donatela Hotel, have a look at the their official website:
Enjoy your stay and travels in Bohol, Philippines.