Last updated on August 29th, 2018 at 05:01 am
Bohol is located in the Central Visayas Region in the Philippines. If you want to visit Bohol, you should know that is a popular destination with lots of natural beauty, beautiful beaches and resorts. One of the most popular Bohol tourist spots is The Chocolate Hills, which you can see from different points either by land or by flying. Bohol is also popular for the breathtaking Panglao Island and the one-of-a-kind Philippine tarsier, the world’s smallest primate. As you can see there are many things to do in Bohol and we will tell you about this in our full travel guide to Bohol: Bohol tourist spots, best things to do in Bohol, best time to visit Bohol, what to eat in Bohol and where to stay in Bohol.
How to get to Bohol
There are daily ferries going to Bohol from Dumaguete and weekly ones coming from Siquijor. Cebu has a fast ferry to Bohol that lasts 2 hours and costs 400 PHP per ride. If you’re coming from Cagayan de Oro, you can come aboard the night ferry for 570 PHP and with a travel time of 8-9 hours. There are direct flights from Manila and Cebu to Bohol, as well. The arrival point in Bohol is the capital, Tagbilaran City. If you get to Tagbilaran by ferry, you can walk a bit for 15-20 minutes or you can take a tricycle from the port to reach the city’s downtown area.
How To Get To Panglao
Panglao Island is around 45 minutes jeepney ride from Tagbilaran. How to get to Panglao? From the port, you can walk for about 15 minutes to the downtown area where jeepneys leave for Panglao. The ride costs 25 PHP. It’s a great experience to travel by jeepney. During the 20-kilometer ride from Tagbilaran to Panglao, you will see children going to school and locals leaving for work. Everyone just goes on with their lives in their daily commute on the jeepney. Panglao is filled with cheerful people and it is such a beautiful island where there are many plans to do!
Best time to visit Bohol
A destination like Bohol is very easy to predict. By that, we mean you can easily plan your trip based on the weather as there are certain months that are the best choice for traveling the province. For the coolest weather, the best time to visit Bohol is from November to April. You may experience some short and scattered rains during the months of November to February but the other months are sure to be sunny and bright.
On the other hand, May to July are the hottest months and is perfect for those who love the dry season and don’t mind being exposed to the sun’s heat. Finally, for those who came to Bohol to see the dolphins, its best to visit the province from March to June.
Transportation around Bohol
Bohol has one public bus terminal that will take you from Tagbilaran City to the other towns in the province. The terminal is located in Dao and has rides to most towns and operates daily on a schedule. You can reach the famous Chocolate Hills by bus through the Carmen-Sierra Bullones inter-route.
If you wish to ride a taxi, you will have to negotiate the price ahead of the ride. This pre-negotiated taxi fare is called a pakyaw. It is a bit of a risk to use a taxi especially if you don’t know how far a destination is and how much it should cost to get there.
Renting a car is also possible in Bohol. There are several companies in Tagbilaran City that offer this service. The roads in Bohol are in good condition and are safe to drive around in on your own even if you’re a tourist.
Ideal for solo backpackers and people who travel light, motorbikes are also available in the province. You can rent one for around 200-400 PHP a day, or even lower if you’re renting the bike longer. There are many scenic interior roads in Bohol that are best explored with a motorbike than a car. Some roads may be a bit rocky or muddy, especially during the rainy season so it’s best to rent one during the summer months.
ATMs and Currency in Bohol
The country uses the Philippine Peso as its currency, where $1 USD = 53.55 PHP. Your dollars and euros will go along way in the Philippines and the island of Bohol. For those wondering about ATMs in the area, worry not. There are plenty of banks in the capital and there are even a few in Panglao Island. You can also get your foreign money exchanged from these banks.
Daily Budget for Bohol
The cost of living in Bohol, much like any other province in the Philippines, costs way lower than Western countries and even some Asian nations. You can get a decent, hearty meal in Bohol for as low as 60-120 PHP, which is less than $1-3 USD! Beer also comes cheap at 60-70 PHP. You can have eat and drink as much as you want in this island paradise!
You can set up a camp, sleep in a hammock or get rooms in hostels, homestays and inns around Bohol for only 200-400 PHP. That’s just around $4-8 USD a night! Pension houses are also available all over Bohol, with rooms that go for as low as 300-1000 PHP. Beach homes, farm houses and budget resorts can be found at 500-1000 PHP while mid-range accommodations come at 1200-3000 PHP ($22-56 USD). Finally, luxury stays can be afforded at $75-355 USD, depending on the place’s location, size and privacy.
Best Bohol Tourist Spots
Visit Balicasag Island
One of the most popular Bohol tourist spots is Balicasag Island. Panglao is full of daily boats going to Balicasag from Alona Beach. People go to Balicasag to visit the popular fish sanctuary and turtle areas, either for snorkeling or diving. Rates start from 700-1000 PHP, depending on the activities you want to do and how well you negotiate with the tourist companies since prices aren’t fixed. Boats leave for Balicasag in Panglao at around 6 AM and they go back to Alona Beach at around 1 PM. The first part of the tour involves dolphin watching while on the way to Balicasag. Upon reaching the island, you are free to go swimming, snorkeling and watching fishes and turtles. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t able to go snorkeling due to the warning issued by the coast guard. I’m sure you guys will get the chance, though, since this rarely happens. We are still hopeful for the experience in the future!
Visit The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills is one of the most popular Bohol tourist spots and in the Philippines. It’s certainly a must-see if you visit Bohol. How to get to The Chocolate Hills? At the beginning we planned to go from Tagbilaran by jeepney to reach Chocolate Hills. But when we found out that there were tours in Panglao for 300 PHP per person, we decided to join the tour for the whole day instead. The experience was really nice since we got to see different places. The fee covers the transportation and it’s up to you to pay for the entrance fees in every destination you visit. You can skip any place you don’t feel is worth the $$$. The tour starts at around 9 AM from Panglao and finishes back to the island at 5 PM.. Your transport is taken care of by the tour companies with vehicles picking you up early in the morning and dropping you off your hotel in the afternoon. Going to The Chocolate Hills only costs 50 PHP per person, so you should definitely stop by.
See The Philippine Tarsier in the Tarsier Sanctuary
Apart from The Chocolate Hills, seeing the tarsiers is another activity you shouldn’t miss when you visit Bohol. There are around 100 tarsiers in the sanctuary and it will be easy to see some of them and take a picture. Tarsiers are very quiet mammals, and they are also greatly endangered. They quietly stay in trees, are the size of the palm of your hand, and have big ball-like eyes. If you see them hanging on the tree, they don´t usually move and just creepily stare at you. Haha! The entrance fee for the Tarsier Sanctuary is only 50 PHP per person. Tarsiers are actually super cute, you would love to take pictures of them, for sure! Just don’t get over-enthusiastic as they are known to be sensitive creatures and you might scare them away!
More Bohol Tourist Spots
Zip Lining over the Loboc River
For 350 PHP, you can enjoy an amazing bird’s eye view of the Loboc River and the surrounding palm trees and greenery. If you love adventure, are not afraid of heights, and are looking to discover Bohol in another way, you definitely have to try this!
The Baclayon Church is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was founded in 1296 by the Jesuit priests Juand de Torres and Gabriel Sánchez. It suffered some damages during the earthquake in 2013 but still remains a beautiful site to visit in Bohol. There is an entrance fee 50 PHP for your visit. If you love heritage sites and buildings from ancient times, you will enjoy seeing this church.
There are boats sailing around the river for those who’re not up for ziplining above it. Loboc River offers a great scenery for all boat passengers who go through it. It is beautiful to watch and take pictures of this river. For 450 PHP, you can try the most popular activity promoted in the area: Having lunch while cruising the river. As seen in the photo above, we actually passed up on the chance to join the river cruise since we wanted to just go around and eat in other local places. We just took a photo of the cruise from the bridge. From where we were standing, it sure looked like they were having a wonderful time, though. Maybe we’ll try it next time!
Things to do in Bohol
If the water is quiet and calm, paddling is a perfect plan. You can practice this quiet sport while enjoying the nice view. And if you love chasing sunsets like us, you can do it while paddling and we guarantee you not only beautiful photos, but also simple and unforgettable moments.
You can kayak to explore the beaches, and look for areas you can snorkel. The sea is beautiful, and a good afternoon kayaking can lead you to areas of where you can watch starfishes, beautiful corals, and yes, meet locals who are doing their daily toil like catching fish and all sorts of seafood to earn a living. Love seeing how these men work and enjoy their fishing! If you are more experienced with the kayak, you can even explore other islands. Just make sure you always check the weather, and any updates from the coast guard, as they are prepared to guide you and make sure you are safe while traveling and navigating in Bohol’s waters.
Cycling to visit Bohol
Panglao is very small. If you rent a bicycle, you can visit local places to see how people live. This is a must for us when we are visiting every place and city. Always be reminded that beyond all the touristic spots, there are people who live in that area, and visiting these places always give you new perspectives on how different people’s lives are. If you love cycling, this is definitely a great thing to do in Panglao as there is a lot less traffic in the island.
Swimming and Relaxing
You can have an easy day swimming, reading and sunbathing while in Bohol. We really loved this infinity pool in Bluewater Panglao with direct views to the sea! The water is very beautiful, and the place is very relaxing. Whether you are enjoying a swim in the infinity pool, or in the privacy of your own villas, you will definitely be full of natural good vibes!
We had the chance to do snorkeling in Panglao! We saw small fishes and a few star fishes here. It’s even better if you’ve kayaked the area and found more spots to snorkel.
Having a coconut
If you think drinking coconut juice is just so pedestrian, think again. Drinking coconut, in a place easily considered paradise, is actually so underrated. Everyone should do it every chance they get, I believe. The country’s weather is warm, and Panglao is quiet and beautiful, so we did have these perfect moments to relax. And yes, it’s the island life. Ha!
We had our first Filipino massage called hilot, and it was super relaxing. We REALLY loved the place where we had our Amuma Massage inside the garden with a really beautiful set up, just right in the middle of nature. It was actually very surprising, as we didn’t think that Filipino massage was that popular, compared to Thai, Swedish and Balinese massage. However, we are so glad that we were able to try it. It’s even one of the best massages we’ve ever had to date.
Try something traditional
For the first time in the Philippines, we were able to experience a traditional dance together. In the Aplaya Restaurant, they served themed dinners, and Friday is the Barrio Fiesta, where you get to experience the traditional food in a Filipino Fiesta setup. Fiestas are festivals often celebrated in the name of the patron saint of a particular city. Much of these fiestas are from the influence of the Spanish regime. During our stay, we were able to enjoy watching the folk dances like Tinikling. Great thing to do in Bohol, for sure!
If you don’t like going to bed early, then why not experience the night life in Bohol? In Panglao, this is highly possible. You can go around Alona Beach and you will enjoy various night life activities. You can see both locals and foreigners having a good time together. You can have dinner, down a couple of drinks, and party all you want! Prefer a more intimate scene? Rachel and I chose a romantic dinner together by the beach. Definitely one of the most unforgettable moments of our trip!
Visit Alona Beach
Alona Beach is very busy during the day with people sunbathing, swimming, and boats conducting tours and activities. It’s not really a bad thing, because it makes the place come alive especially with various restaurants catering every tourist’s needs by serving all kinds of cuisine. The beach is big enough to find a quiet place for you, in case that’s the vibe that you are looking for. There are cliffs you can climb, which we did a lot, to see the complete sea view in a different light. We climb the cliffs to start and end our day in Panglao.
Meeting local fishermen
Local fisherman catch fish very close to the seashore. It’s an awesome experience to go where they fish and watch how do they do their work. We had a great time watching these hardworking men extend their net to the sea and catch fish. You can even buy fresh fishes from them and have them for lunch!
If you are an early bird, you will have the opportunity to catch the sunrise from Alona Beach. After that, you can enjoy the day in the beach, have a daytrip to Balicasag and other neighboring islands, spend the day in Panglao or visit The Chocolate Hills.
It’s not much of a secret anymore that we are so addicted to watching sunsets. In Panglao, we watched sunsets while kayaking and paddling. The colors were absolutely breathtaking, and it’s just the perfect time to enjoy the water. A must-do, definitely. These small moments can easily make your stay in Bohol (or really, any other beach for that matter) extra memorable.
Where to stay in Bohol?
Where to stay in Bohol on a budget? Twin Tides Panglao was a great option when traveling on a budget. Twin Tides Panglao is a quaint yet stylish hotel with a great location – just a few minutes walk from Alona Beach. We enjoyed their breakfast choices, and the time flexibility was actually really good. You can either choose to have them prepare you a very early breakfast or have a late breakfast at around 12 noon, after your day trip to the islands. The hotel has a quiet and calm atmosphere, the decor was very simple but it’s a really good place for a cheap price. It’s pretty much incomparable to hostels since it’s really just a small hotel with all the amenities you will need. We enjoyed the great breakfasts in Twin Tides Panglao. Western choices and even Asian soups like ramen are available here.
Where to stay for a full luxury experience in Panglao? We spent a few days in Bluewater Panglao where you will enjoy the best luxury in Bohol, for a reasonable price. You can enjoy your own villa with a private pool, perfect for intimate moments, or just enjoying a private and exclusive time with friends or family. You can also have your own private beach where you can enjoy your day, whether its activities on the island itself, or getting your own boat and touring the neighboring islands, like Balicasag. The staff is very friendly and will treat you like family, and don’t even get us started with the food. Filipino food at its best! Check the next section for more of their amazing food choices.
What to eat in Bohol
It’s hard not to think about eating while watching the sea view, that’s why breakfast with a view were non-negotiable! Starting the day with a wide selection of fruits, juice drinks, good bread, hot coffee (and even hot chocolate) made our days very positive. They say start your mornings right and you’ll have a great day ahead of you. We find that it’s definitely true! Want the authentic Filipino experience? They usually start their day with full breakfasts which includes rice, egg, tomatoes, and a choice between dried fish, beef tapa and sausages.
We tried local dishes in Panglao like adobo with fried rice and lechon (one of the most famous dishes in the Philippines), and the most popular dish in Panglao and Bohol: Ube. If you love sweet things, you definitely shouldn’t miss the Philippines’ ube halaya!
Festivals in Bohol
Bolibong Kingking Festival
As most festivals do, one of the famous celebrations in Bohol honor the province’s history, traditions, folklore and culture. Bolibong Kingking is dedicated to the Loboc people of Bohol and is filled with dances and music events. The festival also celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe. In fact, one of the festivity’s highlights is the dance ritual in front of the Lady’s statue. Bolibong Kingking is celebrated in May.
Another important festival in Bohol is Ubi Festival, an event that celebrates the Ubi (or Ube) plant. It is one of Bohol’s many natural treasures, with its distinct purple color and delicious taste. This crop is often used in native Filipino delicacies like halo-halo and can also be created into candy and jam. Ubi Festival is celebrated in January and is a time for contests, exhibits and educational talks about the wonder of the Ubi plant.
As you can see, there are many things to do in Bohol and Panglao. That’s why it is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. And if you want to know more places to visit in the Philippines, read here to know more about our experience hiking Taal Volcano. And click here to read our experience in Boracay Island.
Planning to visit Bohol in your next trip to the Philippines ? Tell us what you are most excited about! Or if you’ve been here and you feel we missed anything, let us know.
Happy travels everyone!