After an awesome 3-day stay in Leyte, my family and I headed to the land of Tarsier and Chocolate Hills. Bohol is my dream destination in the Philippines, second to Palawan. I have always wanted to visit, but it was only this year that my dream vacation was realized. For our 3-day family flashpack trip to Bohol, we initially planned to get a group tour package. I have read that van rental is a must as most of the tourist spots are far from the town center. I'm not really fond of tour packages since I hate tight schedules. Luckily, a friend invited us to her home and even offered her family's vehicle for our tours!
On our first day in Bohol, we had our own version of the countryside tour that most travel agents offer, the only difference is we had all the time in our hands! No annoying "you only have 30 minutes" and "we have to go" dialogues!
From Baclayon, we traveled for almost 2 hours to the municipality of Sagbayan. Our first stop was at Sagbayan Peak wherein we got to see a breathtaking view of the famous Chocolate Hills.
Chocolate Hills are domes of limestone covered with grass. During summer, the hills turn chocolate brown as the grass dry up. There are over hundreds of Chocolate Hills of various sizes in Bohol. The hills are located in the towns of Sagbayan, Carmen and Batuan.
Aside from the Chocolate Hills observation deck, Sagbayan Peak also has a park for the kids, a butterfly dome and a Tarsier Sanctuary. There, I have learned some amazing facts: Tarsier is the world's smallest primate. It can rotate its head up to 180 degrees and its eye is 150 times bigger than a human being's, relative to body size!
Our second stop was another Chocolate Hills observation deck in Carmen. This time on a higher ground with a great view of more chocolate domes! If you want a unique photo souvenir, there is a team of photographers in the area. They will make you do crazy stuff like jump shot in the edge of a cemented platform with a broom! Scary, but you'll get an awesome photo if you dare. Each photo print-out is Php 100.
On the way to Loboc River, we passed by Bohol Man-Made Forest. The 2 km Mahogany Forest is along the border of Bilar and Loboc. The view is very enchanting; long stretch of tall mahogany trees and a bed of brown dry leaves along the road!
After a short stop at the Man-Made forest, we continued our journey to the town of Loboc where I fulfilled a wish on my Bucket List. We arrived just in time for a lunch cruise at Loboc River. I'll be blogging about our sumptuous lunch and amazing cruise soon.
My husband was so delighted with our next stop. After lunch, we went to Loboc Eco Adventure Zone. Ed immediately signed up for a zip line adventure while the rest of the family relaxed at the lobby. Zipline costs Php 350. There's also a cable car ride for Php 250.
Next stop was the most dreadful part of our Countryside tour. I hate snakes, but they said a trip to Bohol would be incomplete without visiting "Prony", one of the world's largest python in captivity. Prony is a female anaconda with a length of 26 feet long and weigh 250 kg as of 2008.
After seeing Prony in the town of Albur, we continued our journey to Baclayon. We visited Baclayon Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Due the church's dress code rule, I grabbed 2 linens upon entry to cover my shoulders and legs. We also went to the museum beside the church. There are antique religious items, mostly saved from World War II. Cameras are not allowed in the museum, so I have no photos to share (sorry).
Next stop was the Blood Compact Site, a historical monument where Miguel Lopez de Legaspi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna, Bohol's Chieftain, made a treaty of friendship. Blood Compact or Sandugo is an old tradition wherein tribe leaders add drops of their own blood in a goblet of wine. The mixture is divided into two equal parts and must be consumed until the last drop.
After the Blood Compact Site, we went to Hinagdanan Cave, a tourist destination in Panglao. Hinagdanan Cave was supposed to be a part of our Panglao tour the next day, but since we finished our Countryside Tour early, we visited the cave before sundown. Details will be on my Panglao Tour post.
Before we called it a day, we had dinner at Genaro's Grill, a simple restaurant by the sea in Baclayon. The restaurant specializes in grilled items. There's a counter of fresh seafood and marinated meat. We had sticks of barbecue and chorizo, huge fish, and native specialties like chicharon bulaklak and a dried fish called Sanga (devil ray).
Bohol Countryside tour is a must-do! Most agencies offer this tour package at Php 1,000 per person, lesser if you are with a big group. Since a friend served as our tour guide, we only paid the entrance fees and saved almost 50% off the package cost.
Countryside Tour Expenses
(entrance fees per person)
as of March 2013
Sagbayan Peak: Php30
Tarsier Sanctuary in Sagbayan Peak: FREE
Chocolate Hills in Carmen: Php50
Man-Made Forest: FREE
Loboc River Cruise: Php400
Loboc Eco Adventure Zone: FREE
Prony the Python: Php10
Baclayon Church: FREE
Baclayon Museum: Php50
Blood Compact Site: FREE
Shout-out to Tita Malou and family, thank you so much for making our Bohol vacation better, happier and cheaper!