The Countryside Tour:  Your Ticket to Bohol’s Top Tourist Attractions

The Countryside Tour: Your Ticket to Bohol’s Top Tourist Attractions

There are many interesting tourist attractions in Bohol. The iconic Chocolate Hills in Carmen are one. The tarsier sanctuary in Corella is another. The Loboc River, long known for its riverboat cruise and now stand up paddleboarding, is one of its most popular. And the list goes on. Bohol’s variety of attractions is part of what makes it so attractive to both local and foreign tourists alike.

The problem is, they’re scattered throughout the island so getting to them on public transportation takes time and planning. On your own, it would be a challenge to visit all these places in one day, which is why the Countryside Tour has become an essential activity for any first-time visit to Bohol. Simply put, it makes it easy. And when you’re on holiday, easy is golden.

Many tour operators offer different versions of this tour. Some will have guides, others won’t. Some include lunch, others don’t. But one thing’s for sure, you’ll be taken to Bohol’s top tourist sights in a chauffeured car or van, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is keeping enough battery life for that Chocolate Hills selfie.

As described above, different operators will have slight variations to this tour. All will take you to the top sights like the Chocolate Hills, the tarsiers, the Loboc River, the man-made forest, and more. Where they’ll differ is in the other less popular stops. Paying a total of PHP 2,000 for two people, these are all the places we went to on our tour. Please note that this was just for the driver and car and doesn’t include lunch nor entrance fees. Reservation details at the bottom of this post.

Blood Compact Shrine

Our first stop was this shrine in Tagbilaran commemorating the Sandugo, or “blood compact”, between Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol. Performed as part of the tribal tradition in 1565, it’s considered the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. There isn’t much here aside from this monument so no need to stay more than a few minutes to take pictures.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Baclayon Church

Founded in 1596, this church in Baclayon is the oldest Christian settlement in Bohol. It’s a National Cultural Treasure as well as a National Historical Landmark. All but destroyed during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013, it’s nice to see that much of it has been restored. Entrance to the church and museum with religious artifacts is PHP 50.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Stunning altar. There’s a Catholic tradition that urges you to make three wishes when entering a church for the very first time. Save one for the Philippines if you’re feeling generous. 😉
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Restoration in progress. We had heard how badly damaged it was by the earthquake so it was nice to see how far the restoration had come along in just three years.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Man-made Forest

En route to the Chocolate Hills in Carmen is this two-kilometer stretch of densely planted mahogany trees. It’s a beautiful and refreshing sight that’s starkly different from what you’d normally find in the Philippines. So enchanting is this stretch of forest in fact, that selfies in the middle of the road have become par for the course here. Just don’t die if you do it.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

You’d never know it by looking at the place, but this forest was planted by university students over 50 years ago to replace trees lost from widespread slash and burn farming (kaingin). What pride those former students must feel whenever they pass through here. ♥
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Chocolate Hills

Together with the tarsiers, these Chocolate Hills are Bohol’s most famous attraction. Comprised of over 1,260 hills covering an area greater than 50 sq km, the hills are covered in green grass that turn chocolate brown during the dry season, hence the name. Entrance to the area is PHP 100 per person.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

For the best view of the hills, you’ll need to climb these million steps to the top of the viewing platform. Oh joy.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

The view’s a little better from up here. A rolling terrain of haycock hills, these cone- or dome-shaped formations are actually made of grass-covered limestone. This would have been the perfect place to fly my drone. If I had a drone. 🙁
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Simply Butterflies Conservation Center

This butterfly conservation center in Bilar makes for a pleasant stop en route to the Loboc River. Entrance to the sanctuary is PHP 45 for adults, PHP 10 for children aged 4-10. All visitors are assigned a tour guide.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Lovely place for a stroll
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Idea leuconoe or Large Tree Nymph Butterfly pupae in the foreground
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Danaus chrysippus or Plain Tiger Butterfly
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Reneelicious ravishingis aka my lovely wife. ♥
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Loboc River Lunch Cruise

This Loboc River cruise is another of Bohol’s top tourist attractions. Lasting about an hour, you ride upstream and back in one of these riverboats whilst enjoying a buffet lunch with live (karaoke) music. Prices for the lunch cruise are PHP 450 for adults, PHP 360 for seniors (Filipinos aged 60+), PHP 300 for children aged 9-11, and PHP 175 for kids 4-8.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Each riverboat can seat around 50 people. Iced tea is included in the price but you can order other drinks like beer as well.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

After a long hot day of sightseeing, it’s time to eat! I have a feeling that most everyone here is on their own Countryside Tour.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Though plentiful, the food isn’t great so temper your expectations.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Nice huh? The river and surrounding forest has an untamed, almost Jurrasic feel to it. There’s a small waterfall at the end of the river upstream. Once you reach it, the riverboat will turn around and head back to the dock. Ren and I went stand up paddleboaridng here with SUP Tours on a different day. I’ll publish our video soon.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

The riverboat will stop at this floating stage midstream so you can catch a quick tinikling performance. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine dance that involves two people beating bamboo poles against each other while dancers hop in and out trying not to get their ankles crushed.

Corella Tarsier Sanctuary

Saving the best for last. The Tarsier Research and Development Center in Corella is the ONLY place to visit if you want to observe these adorable but endangered creatures. Avoid those bullshit “sanctuaries” around the Loboc River because they all suck. I’ll explain why below. Entrance to the sanctuary in Corella is PHP 60 per person.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Unlike those pseudo-sanctuaries by the Loboc River that keep the animals in confined artificial habitats, the tarsiers in Corella are kept in a stress-free natural environment. Called the Tarsier Trail, they’re kept in this 134-hectare area of wilderness that’s sealed off to predators like domesticated house cats. Tarsiers are highly-sensitive and territorial animals so keeping them in a large stress-free environment is key to maintaining good health.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Well hello little one. (*in hushed tones*) If you aren’t familiar with this tiny animal with the big beady eyes, the Philippine Tarsier is the world’s smallest primate measuring just three to six inches tall. It’s nocturnal and sleeps during the day so it’s paramount that you keep your voices down, maintain a comfortable viewing distance, and never use a flash when taking pictures. When confined or exposed to prolonged stress, tarsiers have a tendency to commit “suicide” — meaning they’ll jump against the cage and crack their thin craniums in an effort to escape. 🙁
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

This one’s way out in dreamland. All visitors to the Corella sanctuary are accompanied by guides. Since the animals aren’t confined, I asked our guide how they know exactly where they are. She explained that they look for them early in the morning every day so they can quickly point them out to tourists. Because of habitat destruction, there’s only an estimated 5,000-10,000 tarsiers left in the wild. 🙁
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is for you not to go to those tarsier side shows around Loboc River. Only visit this one, the one in CORELLA. Be sure to tell your driver that. This is the one true conservation center and the only one backed by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the DOT (Department of Tourism). At this facility, you can be guaranteed that the health and preservation of this rapidly dwindling primate comes first.

Aproniana Souvenir Shop

Before being dropped off at our hotel, we asked our driver to stop at a souvenir center so we could buy pasalubong or gifts. He took us to this big two-story shop called Aproniana near Baclayon Church.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

They sell all kinds of souvenirs here like shirts, dresses, bags, hats, tarsier toys, and wood carvings.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

But all the good stuff, the stuff we fly for, was upstairs. 😉
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

There are many goodies you can buy here but these Peanut Kisses are among the most popular. Inspired by Hershey’s Kisses and shaped like the Chocolate Hills, they’re a snack made from peanuts and egg whites that Filipino tourists often bring back from Bohol. Each 20-gram pack contains 7 pieces. We bought these plastic bundles containing 16 packs for PHP 150. Not sure how much each pack is individually but I’m guessing around PHP 10 or more.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

They had some unusual stuff too like sisi, which are fermented rock oysters…
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

…and fried superworms for the daring. Ren and I have deep fried superworms before and they taste good. They’re crunchy like crickets. 😉
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

Our Awesome Driver Resi

Saying goodbye to Resi at the airport. He’s a kind man who’ll give you tidbits of information without talking your ear off. My sister and her husband vacation in Bohol from time to time and she recommended him to me. I highly recommend him as well.

Apart from the Countryside Tour, we also arranged for airport transfers with Resi along with round trip transportation to the Loboc River on another day to go mountain biking and stand up paddleboarding. We paid PHP 500 each way for the transfers and PHP 1,500 round trip to Loboc River from our hotel in Panglao. You can arrange for transportation with your hotel as well but they’ll probably charge you more.

If interested, you can contact Resi at +63 910 821 4546. He’s easy to deal with and usually texts back right away. Please be advised that prices may vary depending on where you’re staying and how many people there are in your group. Be sure to clarify everything with him when you book.
The Countryside Tour:  An Express Ticket to All of Bohol's Major Tourist Attractions

For more Bohol travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Bohol, the Philippines

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Bohol, the Philippines

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Titus at 8:04 am

    Hey there – had the honor to get Resi’s service during my stay in Bohol just few days ago – he has since upgraded to a Toyota Van! 😉

    Good for him.

  2. JB Macatulad at 8:08 am

    Oh wow! That’s great to hear Titus. Thanks for letting me know. Resi is a great guy so I’m really happy to hear that. I hope you had a wonderful time in Bohol. 🙂

  3. Elora at 1:58 pm

    Hi

    While Resi is easy to deal with, he can be dishonest at times.

    Furthermore he asked if he could bring us to a place to hold tarsiers and that is illegal. I believe there are better guides who abide to the law.

  4. JB Macatulad at 2:26 pm

    Hi Elora, I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with Resi. Could you please elaborate on what you meant about him being dishonest?

    I’m really disappointed to hear that he tried to take you to a place where you could hold tarsiers as well. I didn’t even know those kind of places existed. Was it one of those places along the Loboc River? I had read their facilities were poor but I didn’t know they went to the extent of actually letting tourists hold the tarsiers. That’s really upsetting.

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