Exploring Bohol – Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers and the Loboc River

Exploring Bohol Loboc River

Bohol is an island located in the Central Visayas in the Philippines. Being pretty well-known for its chocolate hills, it is certainly not an off-the-beaten path destination. Google “Places to go in the Philippines” and Bohol will for sure pop up somewhere in the suggestions!

I had just arrived in the Philippines from Japan and having spent the last couple of days in concrete-jungle Tokyo, I was craving to spend some time in nature! As I hadn’t made any travel plans as usual, I spent one day in Cebu to come with a rough itinerary, but soon left to take the ferry to Bohol. I ended up not spending a lot of time on the island, but the day we spent exploring Bohol really got stuck in my memory – not only because of the terrible sunburn that I got, but because it was the beginning of my love for the Philippines. Sounds cheesy, but just go & you’ll understand what I mean!

 

Note: Most people actually don’t stay in Bohol island, but in Panglao island. This small island is connected with Bohol by two bridges and is easy to reach (read below). When traveling alone, Panglao is a great place to meet other travelers! The busiest area on Panglao is Alona Beach, where most beach front accommodation is located. If you’re looking for a quieter location, I can recommend Bohol Coco Farm which is in more of a rural area.

 

Chocolate Hills

The chocolate hills are a group of cone-shaped hills located in the middle of the island. The exact number of hills is unknown, but there are over 1200 of them within a 50 km2 area! They got their name from the fact that they resemble a row of Hershey’s chocolate kisses when the grass on the hills turns brown.

 

Chocolate Hills Bohol

 

It is kind of strange but super interesting to see this area – I had never seen anything alike before! Next to the various geological explanantions about how the hills were formed, there are several legends that surround their origin.

One of the legends tells the story of two giants who, in a feud, threw rocks, boulders and sand at each other. As the fight lasted two days, the giants became exhausted, forgot about their feud and eventually became friends. When they left, they forgot to clean up the remnants of their fight, leaving the chocolate hills.

The second legend involves another giant who fell in love with a human, mortal woman. When she died, the giant cried in misery, with his teardrops eventually forming  the chocolate hills.

 

Chocolate Hills Bohol

 

You can visit the chocolate hills during both the dry and rainy season. However, if you want to see them in their “chocolaty” state, make sure to come at the end of the dry season as this is the time when the grass on the hills turns brown.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to climb the hills, you can only admire them from a viewing platform in the distance. I was kind of disappointed about that, but I guess this helps to preserve the environment which is of course more important!

 

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsiers are the world’s smallest primate and can predominantly be found in certain parts of Southeast Asia – the Philippines being one of those places. As far as I know, there are two places on Bohol where you can see the Philippine Tarsiers, the Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area and the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Correla.

From what I have heard, the former one is not a certified Tarsier Center. I have not visited the place, but I would advise anyone against going there Tarsiers are an endangered species. Did you know that Tarsier are prone to commit suicide if they get too stressed? As I was told in Correla’s Tarsier Sanctuary, this can happen very quickly when the Tarsiers are for instance surrounded by too much noise. This being said, it is extremly important to only support those institutions that provide adequate care for the animals.

In the sanctuary in Correla, we were guided through a small areas of forest, where a guide pointed to the trees a Tarsier clung to. Obviously nobody was allowed to touch them and we were asked to be very quiet. I didn’t even take pictures with my DSLR as I was too afraid of the “clicking” noise of my camera disturbing the Tarsiers.

 

Loboc River

On our way to the chocolate hills, we stopped along Loboc river several times because the scenery was absolutely beautiful!

 

Loboc River Bohol

 

It is possible to go on a river cruise on Loboc river, something we did not do – I imagine this to be pretty chill activity though. We stopped at a little market along the road and bought some mangos & a watermelon which we enjoyed in the shade of a tree next to the river. The perfect place to take a break!

Note: There are also several guest houses in the area.

 

Loboc River Bohol

 

 

Manmade Forest

On our way to the chocolate hills, we passed the “Manmade” Mahogany forest. It is hard to miss, as most people take the same route to the hills. We had just left the area around Loboc River behind, when the forest suddenly popped up.

It is a beautiful drive under the shade of the trees, winding along 2 kilometers of the road. Sunrays were beaming through the trees and the air was really cool and fresh. A nice change after driving in the burning hot sun!

There are no parking spaces, but you can stop by the side of the road to take some pictures. Just remember to exercise caution when doing so!

 

 

Practical Information

How to get to Bohol:

Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol, is the main entry point to the island. Being a touristy place in the Philippines it is pretty easy to reach. Bohol is connected by flights from Manila (Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Air Asia) and ferries from Cebu (Oceanjet, Weesam Express). Flights arrive in Tagbilaran, while ferries connect Cebu to both Tagbilaran and Tubigon.

 

How to get to Panglao:

If you intend to stay on Panglao Island, you can either charter a tricycle (250P), van or taxi. In case you are traveling alone, try to find other travelers to share the expenses.

The fourth & most budget-friendly option is to go by Jeepney. Take a tricycle to get to the Central Bus Terminal located at A. Hontanosas corner E. Rocha Street (close to Tagbilaran Old Museum). Look out for Jeepneys bound for Tawala Danao. You might need to wait a little while as the Jeepneys don’t depart that often.

The fare for the Jeepney is 25P.

 

Suggested Route:

If you would like to see all the places mentioned above, you can drive the following route, starting in Panglao:

Panglao – Loboc River – Manmade Forest – Chocolate Hills – Corella Tarsier Sanctuary – Panglao.

 

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Bohol is an island located in the Central Visayas in the Philippines. Being pretty well-known for its chocolate hills, it is certainly not an off-the-beaten path destination. Read more about the chocolate hills, Tarsiers and exploring the Loboc River area here.

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28 Comment

  1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

    It really was the perfect place to be after spending a few days in Tokyo 🙂

  2. Oh wow, it looks like such a beautiful area! (And after Tokyo’s business, I can imagine how refreshing it was!) I love the look of those mountains and, like you, I’ve never seen anything like this before. The river is gorgeous too!

  3. Sudipto De says: Reply

    Bohol seems like a really chill place to be. Your large sized photographs are giving us some serious travel goals. Do tell us the food hat you tried out there

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I’m a vegetarian, so I’ve had a bit of a hard time with the food in the Philippines…tried some really tasty vegetarian burgers in Bohol though, they were made with banana flower I believe and super delicious! 🙂

  4. Anita says: Reply

    I would love to visit Chocolate hills some day. Your guide is very detailed and might be helpful when I would visit. It’s pity that tarsiers don’t like cameras. It would be nice to see pictures of them.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I’m happy to hear that the post is helpful! 🙂

  5. Lena says: Reply

    Thats a great post with super nice pictures! I never heard of those Chocoloate Hills and I only briefly read the headline and was wondering: where is that damn chocolate??? 😀 But seriously, it seems to be a beautiful place! And funny actually, that men are inventing giants for so many things they can’t explain and that it’s a totally cross-cultural-hemisphere-everything thing.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Thanks Lena!
      Haha it’s a funny name for a place isn’t it? I think part of me wanted to see the chocolate hills just because of that! 😀 The island is indeed very beautiful 🙂

  6. Chocolate Hills… i just try to imagine this. Haha now I am hungry 🙂
    Really lovely to read and interesting how often it is about some giants throwing things on each other to create landscapes. This kind of myth you find obviously in nearly every culture worldwide.
    Thanks for sharing this and also these really amazing pictures, make me wanna travel again immediately…

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      It’s a funny name isn’t it? 😀 I know, it’s super interesting to hear about the legends surrounding different places…in the end there are often a lot of similarities! In the end, there often exist more similarities between cultures than one would think at first 🙂

  7. I love the two stories behind the Chocolate Hills! This guide is super practical, and I’m glad that you didn’t take photos of the tarsiers – definitely wouldn’t want them to be stressed! Thanks for all these tips 🙂

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Thanks Flo, happy to hear that the post is helpful 🙂
      It’s intersting to hear what kind of legends surround certain places, isn’t it?

  8. Aisha says: Reply

    Interesting place and beautiful photos! I’ve heard of the Chocolate Hills before but never really did any research into them. I’m sure the geological reason for their existence makes a lot more sense than legends but I’m a romantic at heart so I’ll believe the broken hearted giant’s tears created them 🙂

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Haha that’s for sure, but the legends were a lot more interesting to hear 🙂

  9. Julian says: Reply

    Nice post! Havent been there yet but it does look like its worth the trip!You should check out other areas of the Philippines, especially Palawan. Thanks for this inspiration!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Thanks Julian 🙂 Already visited Palawan – I spent two months traveling the Philippines this year, just writing all of this at a later date. Really liked Palawan, especially Port Barton as El Nido was a little too crowded & touristy for my liking 🙂

  10. I was only aware about Boracay, Manila and Cebu but Bohol also looks worth visiting. I really like the chocolate hills and loboc river, looks beautiful…

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      It definitely is worth a visit, and it’s only a short ferry ride from Cebu! There are also a lot more places to explore on the island than the few ones I mentioned here 🙂

  11. chen says: Reply

    great post with awesome images 🙂

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Thanks Chen 🙂

  12. John says: Reply

    Chocolate hills look awesome and this entire trip sounds like an great time! Definitely going to read more about the Philippines after checking out your post.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Happy to hear this, the Philippines is one of my favorite countries I traveled so far! 🙂

  13. Ticker Eats The World says: Reply

    So beautiful and I’m sure after the bright neon lights of Tokyo this would have been a stark change but welcomed. The chocolate hills looks great and I always find local legends to be of more interest than scientific explanations. A cruise down the river would be pretty cool too I would imagine as it looks really calm and serene.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      It was sort of a culture shock – but in a good way! The geological explanations make a lot more sense, but it was just fun to hear about the legends of their origin 🙂

  14. Bex says: Reply

    Gosh – they really do look like chocolate hills! And what a wonderful place to unwind after spending some time in the crazy metropolis of Tokyo. I’ve never been to the Philippines, but this looks tempting. Thanks for sharing.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      It really was the perfect place to be after spending a few days in Tokyo 🙂

  15. Chocolate hills sound delicious. Have you also heard of the chocolate hills of Ooty in South India?

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I haven’t – will google this straightaway! 🙂

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