Bohol is just the place to go to escape the bustling metropolitan city of Manila and explore the incredible scenery that the Philippines has to offer. If you are looking for places to visit in the Philippines, you can be sure to find something unique and off-the-beaten-track in Bohol. This destination has become famous for the spectacular Chocolate Hills in Carmen, but that is just the start of the natural wonders this region holds for travellers!
Bohol is one of the islands located in the Central Visayas and is one of the main tourist destinations in the Philippines. Much loved for its pristine diving spots, lush jungle, and friendly people, Bohol is easily accessed from Cebu by plane or boat.
The capital city of Bohol is Tagbilaran. It is home to the Boholanos people who speak their native Boholana dialect, which is close to that spoken on Cebu Island. Locals also speak Tagalog and English, if you’re not up on your Boholana just yet.
The climate here is tropical, though you’ll find it leans cooler than nearby islands as it is sheltered by the surrounding island provinces.
Best Places to Stay in Bohol
In Bohol, you will have a wide variety of options when it comes to affordable and comfortable accommodation. Tagbilaran is the main city on the island, with Panglao Beach being a very popular tourist spot to relax and meet other travelers. Here are three great hostels to visit in Bohol, plus an excellent hostel in Panglao Beach:
A quirky and unique hostel that is designed for comfort and relaxation. Guests can enjoy this newly renovated home, which has been converted into a backpacker’s hostel. It has a cool biker’s theme and boasts a complimentary breakfast, air-conditioning, and WiFi. This is commonly reviewed as one of the best hotels in the area. Offering dorm rooms, it is in a less busy area of the city.View on Booking.com
This home was originally constructed in the 1920s and has a rich history. Now, guests can stay here and be accommodated in either a dorm or a private room – all of which have fantastic ratings for comfort and leisure.View on Booking.com
If you are searching for a place far away from the city and way up in the mountains, Fairytale Hostel might be just the spot! Staying in the area of Danao, you will have mountain views, misty mornings, and a sense of serenity. There is a selection of standard double rooms, a family room, and dorm rooms, and the hostel also has two swimming pools.View on Booking.com
Travelers to Bohol might also wish to check out Panglao Island for a more ‘touristy vibe.’ You can stay at a hostel in this area, such as – Bohol Coco Farm Hostel Panglao. A beautiful property covering 2.5 hectares of land, this hostel also harvests their own produce from their organic farm for the on-site restaurant. You can choose from basic dorm rooms and basic double rooms, and enjoy the common rooms and complimentary coffee in one of the outdoor hammocks.
Why it’s awesome: Bohol offers travellers a little bit of everything: you can visit Bohol for the beach, the mountains, or both! Are you interested in some of the traditional must-try food? Bohol is known for a selection of local sweet treats that I’m sure you won’t be able to refuse.
Be sure to try Calamay – a dish made from glutinous rice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and peanuts served in a coconut shell. Then seek out some Bibingka: a snack wrapped in traditional banana leaves made from rice flour, sugar, butter, and coconut milk; they are perfect with coffee for breakfast. Maruya is a traditional banana fritter made from local saba bananas that are fried in batter and rolled in sugar. Finally, ask around for Biko; commonly found across the region, Biko is a glutinous rice snack combined with coconut milk and, of course – sugar! Bohol has some great on-the-go options for travellers that will be sure to help refuel your energy for your adventures across the Philippines!
What to do there: In Bohol, you will have endless activities to keep you busy, and plenty that will leave you feeling thankful that you came to see the Philippines for yourself. Ready? Let’s check out some of the best places to see!
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Bohol!
#1 – Chocolate Hills
Why it’s awesome: Possibly the most famous tourist destination, and the key reason travellers come to Bohol, are the fascinating sights of the Chocolate Hills. There are over 1000 hills that can be seen across the town of Carmen that are spread throughout 50 square kilometres of land! It has become a popular landmark for travel bloggers and nature photographers who wish to capture the beauty of this all-natural landscape. The origin of the hills is still a mystery, though the local people believe a myth that tells of two giants fighting for four days, throwing rocks at each other. The other legend has it that a giant fell in love with a woman who sadly died, which made him cry tears that formed the shape of the hills.
What to do there: The Chocolate Hills can be seen from one of two viewing platforms – one at the Chocolate Hills Complex and the other at Sagbayan Peak. The Complex is the main place for tourists to visit as it has a 360-degree viewing platform. You’ll have to climb a set of 200 stairs, though there are rest stops on the way. Sagbayan is a recreational area also providing a 360-degree view of the hills and the surrounding area. As Sagbayan is around 1.5 hours’ drive out of the city, it is less crowded in comparison to the main complex in Carmen.
Whichever legend you believe, the Chocolate Hills are a must-see destination in Bohol!
#2 – Hinagdanan Caves
Why it’s awesome: Exploration of the Hinagdanan Caves leads you to the pure freshwater that awaits you hidden in the cave, surrounded by stalactite and stalagmite formations. Located in Dauis on Panglao Island, the caves are known for the sheer size and natural beauty. As for how this impressive cave came into creation? Legend has it that a farmer located this cave when he was clearing his land and discovered a hole that went down into the ground. The farmer built a ladder to discover what was below, and that’s how he found the freshwater! It is also how the cave got its name – Hinagdanan means laddered!
What to do there: The cave is filled with its own natural light and has to be accessed via a set of stairs that lead you down. The Hinagdanan Caves are seriously magical and a must-do attraction for anyone who wants to seek out a little adventure away from the popular main beach. It’s one of the best spots to go for a swim in natural water!
You can find the caves on the northern coastline of Panglao, which is just a quick drive from Alona Beach. A popular way to get there is by hiring a scooter.
#3 – Alona Beach
Alona Beach is located on Panglao Island and is the perfect escape to make you feel like you’ve landed in an island paradise. The beach is just 20 kilometers out of the city of Tagbilaran, and the island itself is in two main sections – Dauis and Panglao.
Why it’s awesome: The beach area at sunset is perfect for a drink. Here, you’ll find plenty of grills set up along the beach, where you can choose what you want to eat, and the owner will BBQ it for you! A great way to see this destination is by hiring a scooter and taking a ride around to explore, eat some local food, and meet the friendly people.
What to do there: Alona Beach is a hot-spot for Scuba Diving as it offers a number of dive centers and dive sites for anyone wishing to explore the marine life in the Philippines. The ocean on the way to Balicasag Island and Pamilacan Island offers divers a chance to see whale sharks, dolphins, turtles, corals, humpback whales, scorpionfish, large schools of unique fish, sea fans, and so much more!
There are diving training centres in Alona Beach, where you can also learn to dive if you are not yet certified. The beach is just as popular for swimming and snorkelling – watch out for sea urchins in the shallows of the reef!
#4 – Binabaje Hills
Why it’s awesome: The rolling hills and sweeping landscape offer you a wonderful view and a new experience. If you are looking to hike somewhere different during your trip to Bohol, then take an amazing sunrise hike or day trek to Binabaje Hills!
What to do there: If you’re interested in hiking or trekking, the Binabaje Hills summit can be achieved with the help of a local guide. This destination is not as well known yet by tourists, so it does take a little more work, but you’ll have a wonderful reward and travel memory to take from Bohol! The Binabaje Hills are also known as the Alicia Panoramic Park on the east side of Bohol. It is said to take 1-2 hours of trekking the trail to reach the peak from the foot of the mountains, depending on skill level and the weather.
To travel from Tagbilaran City, you can take a bus or mini-van to Alicia. The trip has a travel time of around 2-3 hours to reach the Alicia Municipal Hall. This Hall is where you need to go in order to arrange a hike to the Binabaje Hills and secure your guide and transport.
#5 – Mag Aso Falls
Why it’s awesome: How does a stunning eight-meter waterfall in natural surroundings mostly untouched by tourists sound? That’s what the destination of the Mag Aso Falls in Bohol has to offer! Mag Aso Falls are located in a town called Antequera, which is around a 30-minute drive from Tagbilaran City.
What to do there: To reach the waterfall, you’ll need to walk for about ten minutes down a set of almost 200 stairs. Once you reach the base of the waterfall, you can relax by the rocks, take a swim in the clear turquoise waters, and enjoy the peace and quiet of being surrounded by some of the best nature in Bohol. This is why so many people want to visit Bohol; it is now a popular place for travellers who want to experience the beauty of being immersed in nature.
It is advisable to ask the locals during the rainy season about the strength of the waterfall and approach with caution. Take a look from the viewpoint, which is located about halfway down the stairs, to see how strongly the water is flowing and make an informed choice before swimming. Mag Aso is still a hidden gem hidden in the jungle from tourists; however, locals appear to enjoy swimming here on the weekends. Try and visit during the week and arrive early if you want the place to yourself.
#6 – Loboc River Cruise
Why it’s awesome: A main point of interest for travelers visiting Bohol is the Loboc River Cruise. It is considered one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines. One of the most popular ways to see the river is to take a river cruise on a local boat that serves buffet lunch and explains the local culture and history of the Loboc River.
What to do there: The river cruise will include a buffet lunch and entertainment in the form of traditional dancing and singing onboard. The waters are calm and relaxing. This activity is a great choice for all travellers, including couples and families who wish to be taken care of throughout the journey and learn something new about the culture of Bohol!
From Tagbilaran, a bus or car ride will take around 40 minutes to Loboc River.
#7 – Danao Adventure Park
Why it’s awesome: The Danao Adventure Park offers guests a variety of different experiences. The team running the park believes that ‘You are not paying for the ride, you are paying for the experience’ that gives back to the local community. The park has set the activities into three sections for tourists to choose from – Extreme, Economic, and Educational! The park has a strong focus on the Eco-tourism aspect and aims to educate visitors about Danao and the local forests, Eco-systems, and traditional farming methods.
What to do there: Here is a list of totally awesome activities that you can select when visiting the Danao Adventure Park in Bohol. 1) The Plunge 2) Suislide 3) Sky Ride 4) Climbing 15 m with Rappelling 5) Ziplet 6) River Kayak. If you’re looking for something a little less extreme, the park can organize walks through the forest, caving, bird watching, and tours of the organic farm and rice fields. This is one of the best places to explore in Bohol.
If you are traveling to the park from the city of Tagbilaran, it will take you around two hours’ drive to reach the town of Barangay Magtangtang.
Quick Note – Staying Safe: A Word About Safety in Bohol
Theft Although Bohol does not have a densely populated major city, it is still important to be careful of your personal belongings when you’re travelling.
A few tips for avoiding theft are to limit your time spent wandering around alone or at night, carry less cash on you at any one time, lock your valuable items in your backpack or your locker in your accommodation, and keep flashy items such as expensive jewellery to a minimum. If you are a backpacker, you’re probably aware of how blending in can help you draw less attention to yourself. It’s a good idea to carry a copy of your passport just in case!
Wildlife As in many tropical islands, mosquitoes are a problem here, though this is easy to avoid by limiting your time outside or by the water at dusk and dawn each day. Apply a protective spray and avoid being bitten as much as possible due to the risk of contracting illnesses such as dengue fever. Malaria is not as common in Bohol as dengue.
Snakes and Sea Urchins – these are the two other things to watch out for in Bohol. Wear a good pair of hiking shoes or trekking shoes when you’re exploring the land, and be careful that the rocks and shorelines don’t have sea urchins before you jump in!
Natural Disasters Tropical Storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis are some of the risk factors involved in visiting much of the Philippines. While there is commonly a distinct tropical storm season designated for most islands, it is still possible to experience changes in climate or unexpected rain on your trip.
It’s best to stay informed of the current weather or any warnings through an app on your smartphone or by checking in with your local guides or accommodation hosts!
Food Trying some of the traditional food is one of the best parts of travel. A few tips on food safety include: avoid drinking tap water, purchase from stalls that make the food fresh to order, eat well-cooked food – especially meat and seafood, and aim to eat at a place that is bustling with customers.
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#8 – Simply Butterflies Conservation Center
Why it’s awesome: The Simply Butterflies Conservation Center has been set up to benefit both the nature and people of Bohol through education and butterfly breeding programs. The breeding programs are a way to bring money into the local economy, and for others to study the insects and plants that are at-risk in the area.
What to do there: There’s a large open garden called the Butterfly Garden that houses over 60 different species of butterflies and plenty of beautiful flowers. The Butterfly Enclosure contains around 20 species of butterflies and caterpillars and is a way for you to walk through and see where the species feed. You can also wander around the Nature Trail, which provides you with plenty of places to relax, have lunch, and take photographs. On-site at the center, there is a restaurant, gift shop, pagoda, and BBQ stall selling plenty of lunch options to enjoy.
To reach the center, you will need to travel out to the town of Bilar, which is around 45 minutes’ drive from Tagbilaran. It is located on the way to the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, so this can be done on the same day if you wish to save on travel time.
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Summarising the Best Places to See in Bohol
Bohol offers nature-lovers and adventure seekers some of the best destinations to explore in the Philippines! There’s no shortage of things to keep you busy and amazed, just as you can see in this list, but it can also be the perfect destination to unwind in the scenic atmosphere and relax your days away at the beach.
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