Bohol is a small island in the Philippines, just south of Cebu, that is well-known for diving, its Chocolate Hills, and Tarsiers. One of the most popular tours offered is the Bohol Countryside Tour; a day-long tour consisting of seven different sightseeing spots throughout the island. We had wanted to do this tour to get a glimpse of Bohol, but didn’t want to go to a few of the sightseeing stops, so we ended up hiring a private car for roughly the same price as a group tour and had a much better experience.
What to expect on the Bohol Countryside Tour
If you go on the Bohol Countryside Tour as a group with 8 or so other tourists it cost around around 500 PHP, however, we weren’t interested in seeing the Blood Compact monument, butterfly conservatory, and the floating restaurant for lunch, as it was an additional 400 PHP per person. Because of this, we decided to book a private tour, which only worked out to being a hundred or so more pesos per person than the group tour. I highly recommend doing the Countryside Tour via private car, as it’ll save you a lot of time and frustration, unless of course you’re actually interesting in seeing the other stops. Note that entrance fees into most of the sights were not included in the tour price.
Our first stop was the Baclayon Church, which was founded in 1596 and was later declared a National Cultural Treasure. Unfortunately, the church was under construction because of the extensive damage done during the 2013 earthquake. This also meant that much of the church was inaccessible. We just couldn’t be bothered to go inside as our tour guide said there wasn’t much to see because a lot had been damaged and/or sectioned off.
Entrance fee: 50 PHP
We had heard lots about the cute little Tarsiers in Bohol and were excited to get the chance to see them up close. We had read a bit online about the sanctuaries in Bohol (they are becoming endangered so a few sanctuaries have been set up to protect them) and knew there was one sanctuary that kept the Tarsiers in their natural habitat, while the other sanctuary kept them in cages. We had expressed our concern to our tour guide and he ensured us that we would be going to the “good” sanctuary.
Inside the sanctuary, there were guides positioned at a few spots where a Tarsier was hanging out on a branch. The big issue I had was that the majority of the other tourists (who all seemed to be Filipino) were crowding around them and pushing others out of the way, putting their phones so close to them to get a photo, speaking too loudly, and trying to get selfies with them. If you read about Tarsiers online, you’ll find that they are very sensitive and become suicidal when scared. Though this did detract from the overall experience, I am glad I was able to see these Tarsiers in a more natural setting.
Entrance fee: 50 PHP
The Man-Made Forest is literally just a few kilometers of constructed forest along a road – you do not stop to get out and take photos on the tour, you just drive through it. While the tall trees were impressive, it seemed like a bit of an odd thing to be listed specifically on a tour itinerary.
The highlight of the tour (aside from the cute Tarsiers) were the Chocolate Hills. After a short climb up some stairs, you found yourself on a relatively large viewing deck with quite a few other tourists. Although they weren’t the color of chocolate, as they only look brown in the summer, they were quite impressive.
Entrance fee: 100 PHP
Bamboo Hanging Bridge
At the end of our tour, our guide asked us if we would like to make a quick stop at the Hanging Bridge. Since it was only early in the afternoon, we figured why not. Originally, this bridge was made of only rope and bamboo, but now metal cables support the bridge, though it still doesn’t feel 100% secure and in some areas the bamboo is broken. After you cross one of the bridges, there are a few stalls selling souvenirs, and a lady selling fried bananas (which were so good!) and fresh coconut milk. When we made our way back to the other side, there was a large group of Korean tourists in front of us who were messing around and running and jumping all down the bridge, making the walk back a bit more of a struggle than it should have been.
Entrance fee: 20 PHP