Travel Guide: Bohol for First-Timers

The island province of Bohol is one of the most popular and tourist-friendly destinations in the Philippines. This small island is packed with beautiful white beaches, stunning landscape filled with exotic animals and different fun adventures and activities. I’ve been to Bohol several times for family vacations, work and personal trips. As a solo traveler, I enjoyed motorcycling around Bohol to visit the various sites last year.

While going DIY is great if you’re on a budget and for repeat visitors, but if it’s your first time or you’re traveling with a large group, it’s more convenient to avail of package tours to maximize your trip. Just scout around for the best Bohol tour packages for you to choose from to customize your experience. Some agencies even offer packages that include airfare, luxurious resorts and guided tours to make your trip more unique.

WHERE EXACTLY IS BOHOL:

Bohol is located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of the island itself and 75 minor surrounding islands. To the west of Bohol is Cebu, to the northeast is the island of Leyte and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao.

HOW TO GET THERE & GETTING AROUND:

  • Flights : 1.5 hours from Manila, between 4 and 5 flights each day
  • Ferry: From Cebu to Tagbilaran – takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  • Getting around : Locals usually make use of public transportation like jeeps, buses and tricycles.
  • Bohol is a relatively small island so renting a motorbike is the best choice for solo travelers. Motorcycle rental is widely available on the island. It’s also possible to rent a car in Tagbilaran or Panglao.

WHAT TO DO IN BOHOL (usually recommended for first-timers):

Visit the Chocolate Hills 

Bohol’s primary attraction is the Chocolate Hills, a geological formation of grass-covered hills, that is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, which is featured in local currency.

See Tarsiers up close

For first-timers in Bohol, another main attraction in Bohol is seeing the Philippine tarsier, which is considered to be among the world’s smallest primates. The Tarsier Conservation Area is a six-hectare woodland area located in barangay Upper Bonbon, Loboc town.

Cruise down the Loboc River

The Loboc River Cruise is another mainstay attraction in Bohol that’s often recommended for first-time visitors. Visitors can enjoy an hour-long cruise aboard floating huts with buffet meals while being serenaded by local folk singers. Stand-Up Paddleboarding is a new attraction being offered in the area.

Go island hopping to Pamilacan or Balicasag

For those who have more time, island-hopping tours to go dolphin watching are highly recommended. The islands of Pamilacan and Balicasag are ideal day trip getaways. You can also relax or just chill out on Alona Beach.

Have a meal at the Bohol Bee Farm

Bohol has a lot of good restaurants, concentrated along Alona Beach, but if there’s one place you can’t miss eating in while you’re there it’s Bohol Bee Farm, a homegrown restaurant that serves healthy and organic food and sells interesting food products.

Beyond these typical “must-try activities in Bohol”, there are a lot of other things you can do in this beautiful province. Check out my series on Bohol by Motorcycle for more ideas.

TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:

  • Best time to visit: Summer between late March to May, but weather is good all year round. Bohol suffers much less typhoons than any other Visayas provinces, so visiting during the low season (July-October) is actually best if you wish to avoid the crowds.
  • Nightlife: Only the most touristic areas in Panglao have a few bars and nightclubs so that will be your best bet. Shops and restaurants generally close early in the smaller towns.
  • Local festivals and holidays : Bohol is famous for its religious and cultural festivals, attracting both international and local tourists. This is a great and fun way of getting a taste of the local lifestyle and culture.
  • Most notable events include The Tagbilaran city fiesta (May 1st), SidlaKasilak or Festival of Lights ( August 30 – September 8) and the Sandugo Festival (whole month of July).

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