Bohol Field Trip: 7 Must-See Places
My family and I went to Bohol last month to attend my husband’s family reunion. Actually, both our fathers are from Bohol. While in the province, I made sure that we got to visit the must-see places in Bohol to make the most of our trip. These served as our kids’ field trips this summer.
We went to Bohol via a plane ride to Cebu. Then, we rode a boat from Cebu to Tubigon port in Bohol. My husband planned it this way so that our kids could experience how it is to ride a boat from one island to another. It was our kids’ first time to ride a boat. It was also our youngest child’s first time to ride an airplane. Everything went well. The boys enjoyed both the plane ride and the boat ride.
Although it was not my first time in Bohol, it was my first time to ride the boat via Tubigon. I went to Bohol many years ago via Tagbilaran from Cebu with my friend, Febbie. The boat ride from Cebu to Tubigon is shorter than the boat ride from Cebu to Tagbilaran.
Our first agenda was to attend the family reunion. After that, we went around to visit the attractions Bohol is famous for. My husband and I had been to Bohol already in the past during our single days. This was our first time to visit the province together and this was also the first time for our kids to visit their grandfathers’ province.
If you are pressed for time, here are my recommended seven (7) must-see places in Bohol. I’d say that your Bohol visit would not be complete if you miss going to any of these attractions.
#1 Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills is the number one tourist attraction in Bohol. When you mention the province of Bohol, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is the Chocolate Hills. In fact, the Chocolate Hills are featured in Bohol’s provincial flag and seal. They are also included in the Philippine Tourism Authority’s list of tourist destinations in the Philippines and declared as the country’s third National Geological Monument. It was also proposed that it should be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Chocolate Hills are a fascinating sight! These are natural formations made of limestone. The hills are of relatively uniform shape and sizes ranging from 30-50 meters in height. It is estimated that there are 1,268 to 1,776 hills which can be found in the towns of Carmen, Sagbayan and Batuan. During the rainy season, they are covered with green grass. But during the dry season or summer months, they really look like chocolate hills. So, it is recommended that you visit the province of Bohol during the summer months.
There are two places where you can have a good view of the hills. These are at the Chocolate Hills Complex in the town of Carmen or at the Sagbayan Peak in the town of Sagbayan. I’ve been to these two places in both of my visits. When I first visited the Sagbayan Peak many years ago, there weren’t many attractions yet. But last month, I was happy to discover that there were already a lot of additional attractions that can be found there.
I still believe that the best place to view the Chocolate Hills and have the nicest photos would be at the Chocolate Hills Complex. But you have to endure the 214 steps going up to enjoy the view. I guarantee that it’s worth the effort! If you get tired climbing the steps (which is most likely to happen), you can take some rest at the restaurant in the complex. That’s what my friends and I did when we first went there.
Also, I would caution you about buying souvenir shirts at the complex. They are quite pricey at P199 each. You can buy souvenir shirts at P99 each only near the Sandugo Shrine or Blood Compact Shrine or along the road on your way to the Loboc River.
If your stay in Bohol is short like day tour or overnight only, I suggest that you skip Sagbayan Peak and just proceed to the Chocolate Hills Complex.
Next to the Chocolate Hills, the tarsiers are one of the most sought-after attractions in Bohol. The Bohol Tarsier is considered the smallest primate in the world. Tarsiers are believed to have existed as far back as millions of years ago. Its size is between 4-5 inches and usually not bigger than an adult’s hand. It is also famous for its big eyes. Did you know that each eye is as big as its brain? Did you also know that it can turn its head up to 180 degrees?
Tarsiers are nocturnal just like owls. That’s why, when you visit the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Bohol during the daytime, you will be advised to be quiet and not to use the flash on your cameras.
When I first toured Bohol, I was brought to the Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc, Bohol. I got to have photos with tarsiers really up close and they were wide awake. But after our family’s recent visit to Bohol, I realized that this place in Loboc is not a real conservation area for these endangered species. The place is very near the road. It’s not as quiet as the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Bohol. The tarsiers do not have ample space between them. Tarsiers are highly territorial. They prefer to be far from each other. Tarsiers that are placed too close to each other may end up fighting each other and this could lead to the death of one of them. They also move from tree to tree so they need to be in an environment where there are lots of trees. One of the reasons that these species are endangered is because of fewer trees and forests. Moreover, since they are night creatures, they should not be kept in places where there is too much noise during daytime.
So, if you are planning to see tarsiers during your trip in Bohol, I strongly recommend that you visit the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella instead of the one in Loboc. That way, you are supporting their efforts in preventing these species from becoming extinct. Anyway, the entrance fee is very cheap. It’s only P50 for adults. Young children enter for free. A guide will go with you to show you in which trees the tarsiers are. Since the tarsiers are in a natural habitat, it can be muddy sometimes.
If you want to read more reasons why you shouldn’t go to Loboc to see tarsiers, check out this blog post from another blogger.
#3 Baclayon Church
The Baclayon Church is the second oldest Catholic stone church in the Philippines. It has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Like the Chocolate Hills, it was included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage List. You can read more about the history of Baclayon Church here.
I was able to go inside this church when I first went to Bohol. But, my family and I didn’t get to go inside last month. There’s still construction ongoing in the church. This church, together with the other old churches in Bohol, was badly damaged by an earthquake in 2013. You can read more about this heartbreaking new here. Also, since we were in a hurry this time and it was already late in the afternoon, we didn’t get to go inside the museum anymore. We just had our photo taken at the side of the church. I plan to bring my kids again to Bohol in the future. I hope that next time, the reconstruction of the churches that were damaged is already finished.
#4 Loboc River
When I first went to Bohol, I didn’t ride the Loboc River Cruise with my friends. We simply had photos and ate at a nearby restaurant in Loboc.
Late lunch at the Loboc River Cruise on our second day in Bohol.But last month, having lunch in the river cruise was part of my father-in-laws itinerary for his family members. We all enjoyed the buffet lunch and the cruise. Aside from the performers aboard the boat where we had lunch, we also stopped to watch more performers (kids and adults alike) along the river.
Just a word of caution. The lines long so make sure that you plan your schedule so you can have lunch here. If you are a big group, it might take a while before you get your seats. The cruise with buffet lunch is quite pricey but it’s worth it. very young kids are free of charge.
There were singers serenading us during our lunch and cruise.
#5 Sandugo or Blood Compact Shrine
The shrine is just a small monument where you can take photos. This was a masterpiece by our National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva. The view of the sea behind it is awesome. But other than that, there isn’t much that you can do. It would help if you and your kids would review the historical details behind this shrine so you could better appreciate it.
This shrine depicts the blood compact between Datu Sikatuna of Bohol and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi of Spain considered as the first treaty of friendship between the Filipinos and the Spaniards by some. But according to the book Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People (The Spanish Conquest volume), Ferdinand Magellan performed the traditional “kasi kasi” or blood compact with Rajah Kolambu of Sugbu (now Cebu) in 1521. It’s also possible that Magellan had blood compact also with Rajah Humabon of Homonhon, Rajah Kolambu’s brother whom Magellan first met before going to Cebu.
Each party made a small cut on their left arm and mixed a few drops of their blood with the wine. After mixing the blood and the wine in the cup, the mixture is divided equally in two glasses that each one drank completely to seal their friendship. The blood compact took place on March 16, 1565. Sandugo is a Visayan word which means one blood. This is also part of Bohol’s provincial flag and seal. You may read more about this here.
#6 Man-made Forest
I’ve passed by this man-made forest on both trips to Bohol. Sadly, I didn’t have the time to stop and take photos while in the man-made forest. We were in a hurry to go to other destinations. You’ll surely pass by the Mahogany man-made forest on your way to the Simply Butterflies Conservation Center (I wrote a review also about this place. You may read it here.) or if you are coming from Tagbilaran going to the other tourist attractions in Bohol.
I hope that next time I go back to Bohol, my kids and I would have plenty of time to walk on foot and go around this man-made forest.
#7 Panglao Beaches
One’s visit to Bohol is incomplete without going to any of its beaches. Bohol is also known for its white sand beaches and dive spots. When I first went to Bohol, my friend Febbie and I walked along the stretch of Panglao to check out the resorts there. But most beaches were crowded. So, after taking some pictures, we eventually decided to go to Panglao Island Nature Resort to swim and have lunch there.
Last month, when I visited Panglao again with my family, we decided to do the Panglao Tour which included dolphin watching and island hopping. It was my first time to do it in Bohol and I was glad I did it with my family. I have written a more detailed post and review about this tour. You can read it here.
There you have it! I hope this blog post helps you plan your visit to this wonderful island of Bohol!
I loved that I was able to visit these beautiful and historical places with my kids. I also loved that while I was in Bohol, I also earned through my consulting business. What a big blessing it is to earn while bonding with the family!