You are traveling through the Philippines, chances are that you’re planning to visit Bohol. You heard of Bohol, right? Bohol is an island in the central Visayas and famous for the Chocolate Hills, a group of more than 1’000 cone-like hills. A natural wonder and you have to see the chocolate hills in Bohol with our own eyes.
We have seen pictures of these grass-covered hills long before we thought about visiting the Philippines. Once we booked the flights we knew, we want to see the Chocolate Hills in Bohol. But that’s not the only reason why you should visit Bohol.
What makes Bohol a fun island to visit?
The variety of things you can do. You can go scuba diving or explore the island on a motorbike. You can relax at one of the amazing beaches, swim in the crystal clear sea or you can start kite surfing.
The Chocolate Hills in Bohol is definitely one of the main attractions of this island. But there is much more to see and do on Bohol. There are many different water activities you can choose from, relax on one of the beautiful beaches, visit the man-made forest or the tarsier sanctuary.
Join us for a day trip through Bohol on a scooter
The majority of tourists stay in Panglao where most of the accommodation, restaurants and bars conglomerate at the famous Alona Beach. Our guesthouse is a bit away from Alona Beach and we need to rent a motorbike to be mobile. We love the freedom and we love road trips.
Can you ride a scooter? It’s the perfect way to explore Bohol independently without a fixed plan. And it is a cheap option too. The average price for a rental scooter is PHP 400 / USD 8 per day (24 hours) which is about the average price on Panglao.
We have a small list of things we want to see and depending on how far we get, we will decide on the way where to go next. For sure we want to see the famous Chocolate Hills. From other travellers, we heard about the hanging bridge. We love hanging bridges; we need to see that too. We also heard about the amazing rice terraces in the interior of Bohol and if we still got time we may check out the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella.
We got a map from the Guesthouse but for navigating we use our Android App Maps.me which is very reliable.
33 km from Alona Beach to Loay
We start our tour in Alona Beach. It’s about 18 km to the bridge where we cross over to Bohol and turn right. To the left is Tagbilaran. We take the coastal road to Loay which is about 15 km away from Tagbilaran. The ride along the coast offers amazing sea views. There are many photo opportunities along the way and we recommend taking your time and stop a few times.
13 km from Loay to the Hanging Bridge
In Loay, we make a left turn and follow the road, away from the coast, to Loboc where we get a glimpse of the Loboc River. The interior is lush green, especially along the river. The Loboc River is popular for tourists who want to do a river cruise with lunch.
The hanging bridge is another 7.5 kilometers from Loboc. Look out for the sign leading to Sevilla and Hanging Bridge. The sign is in a turn and we almost missed it.
To walk over the bridge, you have to pay a fee of PHP 20 / USD 0.40. The bridge is made of bamboo and crossing over to the other side of the river is pretty cool. There are actually two hanging bridges right next to each other.
26 km from the Hanging Bridge to the Chocolate Hills in Bohol
We love the next bit of road section. First it is a windy street through the forest and later it’s going along rice fields. Some of the rice paddies are lush green, others are getting prepared for the next season. We watch a farmer who is ploughing his land with an ox.
Finally, we reach the entrance to the Chocolate Hills. The sign is so big, you definitely can’t miss it. We pay the entrance fee of PHP 50 / USD 1 and drive up the hill to the parking lot.
There is a stair leading up to the platform. What a view! For us, it’s hard to believe that these hills are not manmade. They look perfectly shaped. The Chocolate Hills remind us a little bit of the striped beehive rock formations called Bungle Bungles in the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia.
If you want to avoid hordes of tourist, avoid going there midday. Coming from Panglao, it’s almost impossible getting there early but if you stay in Carmen or Loboc, we highly recommend visiting the Chocolate Hills in the morning or late afternoon. Even if it’s touristy, we like the view of the perfectly shaped hills. Personally, we got the best views without the crowds just a few meters before we approach the parking area. Stop on the way down and enjoy.
54 km from Chocolate Hills (Carmen) to Jagna
Turn right in the Old Town Sierra Bullones. The road is leading back to the coast. With 54 km it’s quite a long ride but you get rewarded with fantastic scenery. The interior of Bohol is lush green. You ride along rice paddies and small villages. We have not seen a single tourist along the way to Jagna.
When we arrive in Jagna our butts are hurting a bit. We travelled quite far. Time for a coffee break.
77 km from Jagna to Alona Beach
From Jagna back to the bridge to Panglao, the road follows the coastline. We enjoy the view and the smell of the sea. We finally get back to the resort late in the afternoon.
We did 203 kilometers on the scooter in one day. It was quite a trip but totally cool and worth doing it. We highly recommend hopping on a motorbike to explore the interior of Bohol. It’s such a contrast to the coast. You leave the busy and touristy Alona Beach behind and dive into the quiet and authentic interior of Bohol. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.
What if you can’t or don’t want to drive a motorbike? Alternatively, book a tour with one of the agents at Alona Beach. You can also get around by bus. It’s easy and the cheapest option, but time-consuming.
Tours often include a visit to the Chocolate Hills, a tour on the Loboc River with lunch, visiting the Tarsier Sanctuary and the man-made Forest.
Sagbayan Peak Lookout for more Chocolate Hills views
The Chocolate Hills Lookout described above is the official government complex. There is a second lookout to see the chocoalte hils in Bohol. It’s about 18 km from Carmen to the west and it’s called the Sagbayan Peak. We have not been there but we heard it’s worth visiting too.
What else to do and see?
Beaches on Panglao
If you are staying at Alona Beach you can’t miss the beaches. Alona Beach is all about beach life, scuba diving, other water sports and partying.
The beaches are indeed spectacular. The white sandy beaches lined with palm trees and the crystal clear water are breathtaking.
Do you want to get off the beaten tracks? There are more than 50 islands around Bohol. Why not visiting one of them?
Go scuba diving or snorkelling
There are many dive centers at Alona Beach. We did a trip to Balicasag Island and the diving was fantastic. Even if we’ve been there during high season, every dive operator had special deals. Shop around but be careful choosing a dive center. The cheapest offer is often not the best. Very often they put divers and snorkelers on the same boat.
Alona Divers and Sea Explorers are two reliable dive centers with a good reputation.
Balicasag is very busy but the number of scuba divers is regulated. Dive centers have to register the number of divers and pay marine park fees. We were positively surprised about the colourful and healthy reefs. We have seen turtles, frogfish and a big school of jackfish.
Where to stay
The majority of visitors stay at Alona Beach. If you travel in high season, pre-booking is recommended. There are plenty of options in all different price ranges.
We booked a guesthouse about 5 km away from Alona Beach because we wanted to have a quiet place to sleep. It was quiet but also far away from everything. We had no choice but rent a motorbike. Every day we drove to Alona Beach for lunch, dinner or diving.
How to get to Bohol
If you come from outside of the Philippines, you can either fly to Manila or Cebu. Bohol has no international flights. From Manila book a domestic flight to Tagbilaran on Bohol. Cebu Pacific or Philippines Airlines are the best options.
Air Asia has cheap direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Cebu. From Cebu, you can take the ferry to Tagbilaran.
How to get to Panglao / Alona Beach
Take a taxi or tricycle at the airport or the harbour. A taxi to Alona Beach costs around PHP 500-600 / USD 10-12 and a tricycle is about PHP 250-300 / USD 5-6.
What does it cost?
- Accommodation in Alona Beach: PHP 300-10’000 / USD 6-200 (all types of accommodation available, from dorms to bungalows on the beach)
- Local meal: PHP 150-300 / USD 3-6
- San Miguel Beer: 33 cl PHP 40 / USD 0.80 (during happy hour PHP 20 / USD 0.40)
- Ferry between Cebu and Tagbilaran with SuperCat: PHP 500 / USD 10
- Ferry between Cebu and Tagbilaran with Ocean Jet: PHP 800 / USD 17
- Motorbike rental: PHP 400-500 / USD 8-10
- One dive incl. equipment (Alona Beach): PHP 1000-1500 / USD 20-30
- Marine Park Fee for Balicasag Island: PHP 250 / USD 5 (ask if the fee is included in the dive price)
We will always remember our bike tour to the interior of Bohol. Standing there and seeing the Chocolate Hills in real was one of the highlights of our trip to the Philippines.
Do you want to visit the Chocolate Hills in Bohol? Or have you been to Bohol already? Drop us a comment below.