Bohol Island, Philippines – Comprehensive Travel Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive Bohol travel guide, a part of our larger guide to the Philippines. Bohol, located in Central Visayas region and almost at the heart of the Philippines, is one of our favorite travel destinations for its unique combination of natural beauty and man-made attractions, including the serene Bohol countryside and exciting Bohol countryside tours. Although it’s not as popular as other tourist spots in the Philippines, our numerous trips here have shown us that each trip to Bohol reveals more of its beauty. This guide aims to provide comprehensive information for travelers to Bohol, especially if it’s your first time in Bohol.

How to Get to Bohol Island

flight information display board showing a flight to bohol tagbilaran

Embarking on your trip to Bohol starts with choosing your mode of transportation to this enchanting destination in Bohol. Accessible by both air and sea, the journey itself is part of the Bohol experience. Flights, especially those by Cebu Pacific, offer a quick and convenient way to get to Bohol. This section of your travel guide to Bohol details all you need to know about reaching this beautiful island, whether it’s your first-time in Bohol or a return visit.

By Plane

Regular flights from Manila make it convenient to fly to Bohol, arriving at Panglao Airport. The flight duration, usually around an hour, makes a quick trip to Bohol quite feasible. Notably, in our last visit in June 2023, we were pleasantly surprised when our journey to Bohol from Manila landed us directly in Panglao, a popular starting point for many Bohol itineraries.

There are direct international flights going to Bohol, but they’re mostly from Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea. It changes from time to time though. And in our last visit, the only international flight schedule I saw was from South Korea. So if you’re coming from another country, the best option you have is to get a connecting flight from your country to Manila International Airport, then get on a plane to Bohol from there.

Click here to know more details about how to get to Bohol.

By Ferry

If you’re adventurous, I know there’s an option to go to Bohol by Ferry. You can go to Cebu City first and hop on a Ferry from there. Travel time to the island of Bohol from Cebu is 1 to 2 hours. Choose fast craft vessels for a faster and more comfortable travel. Click here for more information on how to go to Bohol from Manila.

Hotels and Accommodations

hotel with 2 floors with a swimming pool in front of it under the blue sky
Conradas Hotel in Panglao Bohol

Bohol offers a wide range of accommodations, from budget-friendly options to luxurious hotels and resorts in Bohol. Whether you’re planning your stay around the island or seeking a beachfront property, you’ll find suitable options for every travel lifestyle. Below are some tips to help you choose the best place for your Bohol trip.

Budget Hotels

There are numerous budget hotels in Bohol. On our last visit we stayed at a budget hotel for $100/night, breakfast included. The room easily fits 5 people.  And the room right beside even had a family of 8 inside.

Boutique Hotels

If you want a more personalized experience and service, go with boutique hotels. They typically have 10 to 20 rooms. This means less noise and foot traffic and more attentive service.

Vacation Rentals

This could be private villas, apartments, or houses available for rent for a period of time. This is great for travelers who want more space, privacy , and just be able to move the way you want to. that home-away-from-home experience. Kind of like having a home away from home. If you’re traveling in a big group, I think this is a great choice.

Inns

I’ve seen some recently near Alona beach. They provide room accommodation only with basic amenities like bathroom and air conditioning. If I remember correctly I saw the ad saying $20 a night. Could be worth looking into for backpackers. After all, backpacking in Bohol is very economical.

Resorts

resort hotel with 3 floors, a swimming pool in front and some benches
Bohol Beach Club Resort

I love resorts because they combine comfort, luxury, and stunning views. Bohol offers a number of notable resorts, including luxury resorts, with a loyal following. And most of them have their own beachfront. It could be a bit pricey but it’s worth it especially if you want to combine adventure and relaxation.

Some of the more popular resorts in Bohol are the Bohol Beach Club, South Palms Resort, and Henann Resort in Alona.

With this many options, choosing your accommodation in Bohol should not be a problem, just make sure to consider the hotel’s price and location to get the best hotel in Bohol for your stay. And if you’re still wondering what area to stay in Bohol, click here to read the article.

Bohol Tourist Spots

If it’s your first time to visit Bohol, I highly recommend that you stay in Panglao first. It’s “beginner friendly” as it’s the most visited place in Bohol. And there’s a lot of tourist spots in Panglao and nearby places. If you want to learn where to go in Bohol Panglao, read this article.

Chocolate Hills

These hills are actually grass-covered hills shaped like chocolate kisses. Chocolate hills got it’s name from the fact that they turn to chocolate brown in the summer or dry season. So, if you want to catch the chocolatey color, you better visit during summer time in the Philippines(March to May).

Fun fact, we were told initially that the chocolate hills count to around 1200. But it increases every time we visit. In our last visit, our local guide said its number sits at 2000 plus, I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I don’t even know who’s counting! Just to add, I read that these hills are made with marine limestone or something.

Take note that if you want to get a vantage point, you will have to visit the town of Carmen where the Chocolate Hills Complex is located. Then you have to get to the summit of the viewing area. It’s around 200 steps to the top. It’s worth it though, you can take great pictures there for your instagram. This is one of the best places to visit here so make sure to include this in your itinerary.

When you’re in Bohol, definitely come and see these hills. This could be the single top reason why you should visit Bohol in the first place.

Tarsiers

Tarsiers are endemic to the Philippines. One of the smallest primates in the world, measuring only about 3 to 6 inches. They have big brown eyes. And looking into those eyes you’ll read “please let me sleep” because they are nocturnal animals. So I don’t look them in the eye. Luckily every time we visit they are mostly asleep. It seems they’re not disturbed much by the noise.

You can visit these little creatures at the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in the municipality of Corella. Although tarsiers are considered a tourist attraction, please be considerate and don’t make any loud noises. Make sure to turn off your camera flash too.

Beaches

a beach with turquoise green water
Beach in Bohol

I can say that the beaches in Bohol rival the more popular ones in the Philippines. The white beaches have powdery sand too and the water is just beautiful, oh my goodness most waters in the beach are turquoise green! It’s very pleasant to the eyes and very serene.

Alona beach is actually one of the most popular beaches here, I think it’s because it’s one of the first commercial beaches in the area. There’s tons of businesses and establishments on the sandbar. And just nearby the beach, there’s Alona Square where firedance happens every night, and most tourists gather there too.

Historic Sites and Landmarks

If you’re a history buff or you’re just someone who likes to know stories about the places you visit, you’d be pleased to know that Bohol has some places with historic significance. Churches that are hundreds of years old. Sites where this and that happened, I think the most famous one is the blood compact. I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember all those events from our history class.

Loboc River

Yes, Loboc River is a famous tourist spot, but I think it’s more the Loboc River Cruise than the actual river itself. It’s a river cruise where you get to eat on the boat while it’s cruising. And at the end of the trip you’ll see some natives or locals doing their dance and you can take a picture with them.

Oh, it’s a buffet so you can eat as much as you want. And they are serving Filipino dishes of course. There’s also a small band playing “oldies but goodies” songs if you’re into that.

Bohol Bee Farm

Bohol bee farm is an organic farm showcasing their sustainable practices. At the heart of the farm if of course their bee colonies where they get their honey from. They have this farm-to-table model where all their ingredients are freshly picked from their farm. If you only eat organic foods, this is one of the best places you could. If you’re in to sustainable tourism, this is a must visit.

We tried their organic ice cream, which was surprisingly good. I thought it was going to taste like something else but it was really good. I think they also sell their ice cream in the nearby areas because I saw a stall selling it in Alona Square.

If you’re wondering where else you can find a place to eat, read this article.

Virgin Island

One of the top tourist spots in Bohol, I think it’s because of the name, it’s very intriguing right? This is actually a very small island with a white sand beach. The thing is, during high tide, you can’t see the beach, and the whole island, because it’s covered in water. I would rename it to “Hiding Island” because of this, but that’s just unappealing I guess and the water only goes up to your shin at max.

Fun fact, there used to be some restaurants on the island a few years back where you can enjoy fresh seafood, But because there were reports of overpricing from tourists, the local government removed them altogether to protect the visitors and preserve the integrity of the place. I think this is a great testament showing the government’s concern for the place and the tourists.

Something to take note of, before going to Virgin Island, you will have a stop-over at Balicasag Island. This is a good site for snorkeling.

There’s a ton of popular destinations here in Bohol. I can’t cover them in one go, but I am going to release more articles to cover more places and detail each one according to our experience. To give you more ideas, you can visit the official Bohol page of the Philippines Tourism Department.

Activities in Bohol

island activities like banana boat, ATV riding, zip line, snorkeling, scuba diving, and dolphin watching. with the chocolate hills on the background

Aside from visiting famous places in Bohol, there’s a lot of other activities you can do. Here’s a list but this is not exhaustive, there may be some activities that we haven’t tried yet.

  • Snorkeling
  • Island hopping
  • Dolphin watching
  • Cave exploration
  • Ride an ATV
  • Diving
  • Swim in waterfall basin

There’s a lot of things to do in Bohol but for now I’ll leave the list at that. There’s also a tourist package that includes multiple activities from the list above. You can talk to your hotel staff or even your driver, if you hired one, about these packages.

Sample Travel Guide and Itinerary

So, this is this is what we did on our 2nd day in Bohol, just to give you an idea of how your day may be like when you go on a tour. We got the Panglao Island tour.

  • 0600H – Our driver picked us up from our Hotel. Take. note that we were all ready at this time, we just needed to get in the van.
  • 0800H – We arrived at our first destination, Bohol’s famous chocolate hills. We stayed here for about an hour.
  • 0930H – We were already at the tarsier sanctuary to see the Philippine tarsier. I think it took only about 30 minutes to get from the entrance to the exit.
  • 1015H – We arrived at the Bohol Butterly and Lemur Sanctuary. This is where python was placed around shoulder so I can take a picture of it while feeling somewhat…horrified.
  • 1100H – We were at the man-made forest, our driver advised us to get off the van and take pictures, made me think it was necessary. It was a nice place though.
  • 1220H – We arrived at the Loboc River Cruise. This is where we ate lunch.
  • 1345H – By this time we were on our way back to the hotel and we stopped at the Baclayon church to take some pictures.
  • 1415H – We stopped by at the Sandugo Blood Compact shrine for some last stop picture taking.
  • 1445H – We were back at the hotel.

All the traveling combined with the heat was a little exhausting so we decided to take a nap. We were traveling with a toddler so we can’t really travel all day. But that’s how a typical travel day in Bohol would look like.

How to Get Around Bohol

There are various ways to get around Bohol, the following are the ones that I know of and the most common. This is how we get around when we explore Bohol. Take note that these are not the only mode of transportation though. Knowing how to get around is important because this will affect your decision on how long to spend in Bohol.

green tricycle on the upper left, yellow buses on the upper right, chrome mitsubishi suv on the lower left, motorcycles on the lower right

Van or Car

You can hire or rent this. There’s not shortage of people offering different packages. They even have tour packages too. If you don’t want the tour package you can just rent a car and hire a driver. The driver can of course serve as your guide too.

If you don’t know the place well, hiring a driver can save you a lot of time in finding a place you want to go to. Most drivers here have at least a decade of experience so they know the shortest route to every place.

Tip: If you plan to rent a van or get a tour, make a deal outside of the airport, it’s much cheaper. There’s not shortage of people offering different packages in Bohol.

Bicycle

If you want to get around on your own terms and break a little sweat while traveling, maybe renting a bicycle is for you. Expect that you could be sweating a lot though. Those rent-a-bike businesses do not have a website for now, I’ll post it here when I find one. In the meantime, you can ask the locals where you can rent one, they would be very glad to help you out.

Tricycle

You could also get around just by riding a tricycle. This is way cheaper than renting a car, but less comfortable. However they are always available almost anywhere, especially around beaches and restaurants. In our case we usually make a deal with a tricycle driver, we get their contact number, and send them a message if we want to get picked up. We pay extra but it’s still much cheaper. And we only do this when going to nearby places from/to the hotel.

Weather in Bohol

Because Bohol is in a tropical country, it’s mostly sunny throughout the year. Weather becomes erratic during the rainy season due to thunderstorms. June and October receives the most volume of rainfall, in fact we were just there in June and there were 2 consecutive afternoon that it rained. Summer is in March to May, so during this time you’ll get pretty stable sunny days.

The average temperature can range from 71 to 89, the highest temperature recorded 91 in the summer. You can refer here for more weather details in Bohol.

Best Time To Visit Bohol

When planning a trip to Bohol, one of the key considerations is identifying the best time to visit. Typically, the dry season in Bohol, which runs from March to May, is ideal for tourists looking to enjoy the island’s best beaches and engage in various Bohol tours. During this period, the Bohol sea remains calm, perfect for those planning to explore Bohol and Panglao or embark on a Bohol adventure.

father in a blue shirt carrying his daughter, with the wife beside them and the chocolate hllls in the background under the blue sky

For first-timers in Bohol, this season offers comfortable weather to experience the vibrant towns in Bohol, located southwest of mainland Bohol, and to visit the capital of Bohol. The climate in Bohol during these months is typically hot, ideal for outdoor activities and making the most of your tour in Bohol. Additionally, this is a great time for food enthusiasts wanting to eat in Bohol and try specialties at various restaurants in Bohol, including the famous Shaka Bohol.

What to Wear

Now, with the information about the weather and the activities you can do, you should now have an idea of what to wear in Bohol. Light clothing for your everyday use, at least a pair of swimwear, and some shirt for outdoor activities. Try to bring extra because there are many outdoor activities that are famous in Bohol.

Travel Tips for Bohol

  • Getting to Bohol: The travel time to reach Bohol is typically around an hour by flight from Manila. For a scenic approach, Bohol is also accessible via ferry. This is crucial in your trip plan and sample itinerary.
  • Climate Considerations: Bohol is hot most of the year. Light, breathable clothing is recommended, especially when exploring Bohol’s best tourist spots.
  • Accommodations: A wide range of options available in Bohol includes hotels, resorts, and local inns. Booking in advance is advisable, particularly during peak seasons.
  • Local Transportation: Travel via tricycle, motorcycle, or car. Each mode offers a unique perspective of Bohol in the Philippines and is adaptable to your schedule, especially useful if it’s your last day in Bohol.
  • Food and Dining: Bohol offers a diverse culinary scene. From local eateries to upscale restaurants, there’s something for every taste. Click here to go for a food tour in Bohol.
  • Health and Safety: Prioritize hydration, sun protection, and be mindful of local health advisories for a safe trip.
  • Exploring Bohol: While this Bohol travel guide provides essential information, don’t miss out on spontaneous adventures. Every hour in Bohol can lead to new discoveries and memories.
  • Understanding Visa Requirements for Foreign Tourists: International tourists should check their visa requirements based on their country of origin.
    • Visa Duration and Extension: If considering an extended stay in Bohol, be aware of the visa extension procedures to avoid overstaying. Always ensure your visa is valid until your departure date.
    • Consult Official Sources: For the most accurate visa information, consult the official Philippine immigration website or your local embassy. This ensures a smooth experience, especially for those visiting Bohol’s best tourist spots.
      Check out our guide here if you plan to apply for a visa soon.

For more Bohol travel tips, go to our page here.

Tourism in Bohol Philippines

Although not as great as before the pandemic, tourism in Bohol is still going great. Although not as many tourists come here compared to the more popular islands in the Philippines, I can say that Bohol is just starting to get discovered around the world. More and more people will come this island province as it gains popularity.

As a last note, there’s no more travel requirement in Bohol, even the VAX card is no longer required. You can read this news article about it. 

Come See the Magic of Bohol

Bohol is a really special place in the Philippines with beautiful beaches, fun adventures, and friendly people. It’s perfect for everyone – whether it’s your first trip or if you’ve been here before, there’s always something cool to see and do. We invite you to come and explore all the fun and exciting things in Bohol. You’ll make lots of great memories and have stories to tell about the awesome time you had here. We can’t wait for you to see how amazing Bohol is!

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