Bohol, located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, is a wonderful destination that you must visit!
After a little more than 2 years, I was able to finally travel again. I’ve almost forgotten the excitement of getting on a plane! And where else would the destination be? Of course, home – The Philippines! I spent the first few days in Manila to be with my family, and subsequently made a side trip down to Visayas region to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Getting to Bohol from Manila
From Manila, there are daily non-stop flights to Bohol–Panglao International Airport. Depending on your budget, you can fly with the flag carrier Philippine Airlines or go with the budget airlines Cebu Pacific Air and AirAsia. The length of the flight is about one hour and a half.
Arriving in Panglao, Bohol
Dubbed as the first eco-airport in the Philippines, the Panglao airport is pretty new, having opened only in November 2018 replacing the old Tagbilaran Airport. It is small, but pretty well maintained. We booked Hennan Resort Alona Beach, which is approximately 15 minutes away from the airport, for our accommodation so we were picked up by their staff shortly after our arrival.
Hennan Resort Alona Beach is the biggest beach resort in Panglao Island. This 6.5 hectare property sits on the pristine shores of Alona beach. To complement your tranquil stay, the amenities are aplenty such as cafés, a Western cuisine restaurant, spa, gym and three swimming pools with one of them facing the beach. I stayed in a cosy and comfortable Deluxe Room that has a cute outdoor balcony, and I really loved the luxurious marble-clad bathroom with a marble top lavatory. I would say the price is pretty decent, you get the value out of your money, so I highly recommend this place.
A sweet visit to the Chocolate Hills
On our first day, we went to the famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol right away. The are more or less 1,500 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers. They are green in colour but turn brown during hot/dry season, hence its name. It was a pretty long drive from our hotel so we left quite early.
When we got to our destination, we rented ATVs to drive up to the Chocolate Hills. It was very easy to learn how to operate it, and you get to drive it for 2 hours. Needless to say, it was so much fun! Then to wrap things up, we also went up the top of one of the hills where the views make for a stunning backdrop.
The cutest tiny Philippine tarsiers
Another thing that Bohol is famous for is the Philippine Tarsiers, one of the smallest primates in the world. Although historically they could be found in Europe and North America too, nowadays they only live in various islands of South East Asia including the Philippines. Tarsiers are nocturnal and sensitive, so it’s advised that you keep the volume of your voice relatively low in order to not disturb or scare them.
Go through a 2-kilometer Mahogany Forest
Just before we headed for lunch, we stopped at the Bohol Man-made Forest. This 2-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees is located in between the towns of Bilar and Loboc. The temperature here is much cooler due to the looming trees so it’s a good spot for a quick break from the sun, especially during summer.
Lunch while cruising the Loboc River
Now, this has got to be the best part of the day for me. After our morning tour, we were feeling quite famished so I was really looking forward to having lunch. But little did I know that I was up for a treat.
We boarded the Loboc Riverwatch Floating Restaurant near the Loay bridge, and shortly after, the buffet was opened and the cruise started. I kid you not when I say that the food was superb, from the mains down to the desserts. Having missed Filipino food so much, I think that also made everything even more delicious for me.
As we enjoyed the breeze and ate our lunch while cruising one of the cleanest rivers in the Philippines, we were treated to a vista of greeneries. And not just that, there was also a band on board who played some really familiar local and international songs to entertain us.
Drop by a centuries-old church in the Philippines
Before completely heading back to our hotel, we made one last stop at the Baclayon Church. Built by the Jesuits in 1596, this church is the second oldest Catholic church in the whole of the Philippines. Located to the right side of the church, you may also want to visit Baclayon Museum which carries a handful of religious artifacts.
That’s all for our Day 1! Check out next our sea adventures in Bohol.