Bohol travel guide

The Chocolate Hills

The island of Bohol is nestled in the central Visayas region of the Philippines. Bohol’s people are believed to be descendants of the Pintados (tattooed ones), the last inhabitants to settle in the country. Artefacts from Tagbilaran, Mansasa, Panglao and Dauis show evidence that the locals had already developed their own distinctive culture centuries ago.

The island also served as the venue for the first international treaty of peace and seat of unity between conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and native monarch Datu Sikatuna during a Sandugo blood compact ceremony on March 16, 1565. But Bohol boasts a proud history that begun long before Spanish colonisation, Americanisation and Japanese occupation. Nowadays, it is a known tourist destination in the Philippines because of its attractions and unspoilt wilderness areas.

Visiting Bohol from Boracay

Tourism plays a very important role in Bohol’s economy, but the province has not yet reached the status of a true international tourist destination. Foreign visitors typically come here for scuba diving and the unusual Chocolate Hills, a group of limestone mound formations serving as the main attraction of the island.

Another popular attraction is the Philippine Tarsier, a small primate indigenous only to Bohol. Cebuanos and other Filipinos who speak the Visayan dialect refer to the Philippine Tarsier as the Maumag, while those from Luzon in general refers to it as the Mamag. It measures only 85-160mm tall, making it extremely hard to spot in the wild. Apart from its size, it is also distinctive for its disproportionately large eyes, which allows it to see well at night (it is a nocturnal animal).

The Philippine Tarsier is considered an endangered species so trade and sale is prohibited. The animal is also shy, sleeping during daytime and very active at night, and it is important to not use flash when taking pictures to avoid surprising or scaring them. Corella is said to be the best place in Bohol to find Tarsiers in their natural wild habitat. More on Bohol attractions.

Native products and souvenirs are among the main goods you can buy from Bohol. Apart from souvenirs relating to the island’s main attractions, Bohol is also notable for the bee farm, which is popular for its honey. People also believe that the honey produced from that bee farm has medicinal uses and that they make particular recipes and delicacies taste even better. The months of July to October are often the best times of the year to visit, but a lot of tourists also arrive on the island during the summer season, particularly during the Easter Weekend.

Sightseeing is the main activity for visitors to Bohol but the island is also notable for its beaches and seaside attractions where diving and island hopping can be enjoyed. To truly enjoy your visit, you need to choose the right time to go to the island. The northeast monsoon, or amihan, is most prominent from November until April, making that season the year’s mildest except for a few showers.

The average daytime temperatures stay at 28°C but it cools down every night to approximately 25°C. High temperatures are experienced during May until July with really humid days, while the southwest monsoon or habagat season starts in August and ends in October. Habagat season is when the weather becomes unpredictable in Bohol, but more showers generally occur from November until January.

Most tour companies in Bohol organise single day tours and other packages for longer stays, which take as much as two or three days to visit several of the island’s main attractions. Some tour companies also offer trekking packages where you can enjoy cross-country treks but which do not require participants to climb high mountains. The highest point in Bohol is only a kilometre above sea level.

Trekking in Bohol allows visitors to access rolling hills and patches of greenery with farmlands and small villages linked to cross-country routes. The terrain is also easy and safe to explore particularly around Corella’s forest where you may get to see the Philippine Tarsier. Trekking trips to the Can-umantad Falls or on the 15-kilometer Cambia Route can also be arranged. Some destinations like the Bohol Forest and the Rajah Sikatuna National Park also offer hiking and trekking opportunities. More on Bohol activities.

Tagbilaran City is the place to go if you want to do some shopping. Head to Carlos P. Garcia Avenue to find Bohol Quality Mall at the heart of the old town. There, you can find a range of shops ranging from bookstores, salons, boutiques and small restaurants. Plaza Marcela is another shopping stop which is home to several restaurants and a supermarket. The latest addition to Tagbilaran’s selection of shopping venues is Island City Mall, which houses facilities and shops similar to a large mall in Manila. Apart from these big shopping venues, there are also smaller shops like Shoppers Mart and Alturas supermarket.