Beautiful Bohol, Visayas, Philippines – Much More than Just Diving!

Two years ago this Christmas I was in Cebu, Philippines, with friends, and we took a day trip to Bohol.

Bohol is an island in the Visayas region – here’s where it sits in the Philippines:

Bohol's location within the Philippines

And here is Bohol in relation to Cebu:

Bohol and Cebu

I had always wanted to see Bohol because, in my many trips back and forth between the Philippines and Hong Kong, Bohol had always figured in the in-flight magazines – and always looked spectacular, usually as a diving destination.

However, there are lots of other attractions in Bohol and on our day-trip we didn’t go anywhere near a diving spot. The picture at the top of this page is of the Chocolate Hills – submitted, but not yet approved, as a World Heritage site.

Getting to Bohol from Cebu is a two-hour ferry ride to Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol – and the ferries can best be described as having character:

Early morning ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran

As you can see, we left pretty early in order to give ourselves as much time on Bohol as possible, but the weather did not look at all promising as daylight came:

Luckily, it was clearing up as we got to Bohol and, by the time we had met our guide and were on our way out of Tagbilaran, there were still a few clouds around, but the blue sky was spreading.

Chocolate Hills

Our first destination was the Chocolate Hills and on the way there we passed through the Bilar Man-Made Forest.

This is a man-made forest of Mahogany and was planted in the 1950’s as part of a re-forestation project. The road to Chocolate Hills passes through the forest for 2 Kilometres and while you’re in this stretch the temperature is noticeably cooler.

The trees are almost all the same height and the branches and leaves pretty much block out the sun, which is why it’s so much cooler than the surrounding areas.

We stopped for some photos in the forest and then moved on.

Chocolate Hills has been submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage site, but a decision has not yet been made.

Although there is no definite number, it’s estimated that there are anywhere between 1,200 and 1,700 of these small hills all grouped within an area of about 50 square kilometres.

Here’s yours truly with the Chocolate Hills behind:

The highest hill is only 120 metres and most of them are between 30 and 50 metres.

Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary

From Chocolate Hills we headed to the Bohol Tarsier sanctuary.

The Tarsier is the smallest primate in the world with the remarkable ability to rotate its head through 180 degrees.

There is a signposted trail through the sanctuary and you have to stay absolutely silent – if not the Tarsiers will hide. Guides walk with you, and point out the Tarsiers when you come across them – they are so small they are difficult to see..!

They are about the size of a grown man’s fist – this picture has zoomed in on the little fella:

A Tarsier primate asleep in a tree

Sipatan Hanging Bridges

From the Tarsier sanctuary we headed for the Loboc river and our buffet lunch, but stopped off at the Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridges on the way.

To many, walking across this type of bridge is reasonably scary – especially if you have a fear of heights and don’t like the idea of falling into the water below (which probably contains all sorts of things you don’t want to meet).

But they are actually completely safe!

There’s not very much to see here, other than the bridges – there’s a souvenir shop on the far side and you can buy drinks and snacks, but that’s about it. A 15-minute stop here pretty much covers it unless you want to rest up with some snacks and drinks.

Loboc River Cruise

So, from there, we headed on towards the Loboc River and our river cruise buffet lunch.

Climbing aboard our boat, we were met by a band singing local folk songs and shown to our table where we settled down for a leisurely cruise up the river:

The food was typical local Filipino food – and those who know Filipino cuisine will know that some of it is excellent and some is less so, at least to a Western palate..!

None-the-less, the cruise was very relaxing – at least I found it so.

Loay Exotic Animal Park

Our last stop on the way back to Tagbilaran and the ferry back to Cebu was to the exotic animal park at Loay.

I’m not a fan of seeing animals kept in zoos, but this was a popular stop with others in our party. So I was happy to see that this Burmese Yellow Python managed to escape its cage for a while:

With that, we headed back to Tagbilaran and our ferry back to Cebu.

I loved Bohol. It is cleaner than almost anywhere else I have been in the Philippines – no rubbish on the road-sides and everywhere we went was clean and well-kept.

If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, I do recommend you include Bohol in your itinerary – and don’t forget: we didn’t go to any of the diving locations, so there’s a lot more to see than what I’ve covered here.

Getting there

You have a few options:

  1. Ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran (about 2 hours)
  2. Ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran (about 2 hours)
  3. Air to Tagbilaran Airport
  4. Air from Manila to Panglao
  5. Ferry from Manila to Tagbilaran (but this is a 24 hour trip!)

Test your knowledge! Have fun with one of our travel quizzes – click here!

Have you visited Bohol? What was your experience?


Martin Malden

Martin Malden
The Expat Traveller

What do you think?

2 comments… add one
  • Matt Mar 26, 2020 @ 10:13

    Hi Martin,

    I love Bohol island because of the weather, the ocean, and many activities you could do there. I’ve stayed in Bohol for three days, two nights there and stay in a lovely resort, which is like paradise.

    I’ve been to some of your sightseeing spots in this article, and it makes me go through again my old days in Bohol, like the humidity in Chocolate hills.

    You have to come back again to try diving in Bohol, and it’s a MUST. The ocean is so clean that you can see color tropical fishes like Nemo and Dory. I still want to go back again to Bohol for diving. 🙂


    • Martin Malden Mar 26, 2020 @ 21:31

      Hi Matt,

      I’m glad you enjoyed Bohol – for me it’s the best of the Philippines, a country I know quite well!

      I’m not actually a diver, but I will definitely visit the diving locations on a future visit. Just being able to swim in crystal clear water is a pleasure in itself, especially as it’s pretty much body-temperature in the summer months 🙂



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