The amazing chocolates hills, one of its kind in the world, are located on the Bohol Island which is the tenth biggest island of Philippines. The sight of amazing chocolate hills for sure makes you believe in the beauty of the island, something which you have never seen before.
Since most islands of Philippines are not so well connected by air travel, it cannot be reached as conveniently like places like Bali and Phuket. However if you love travelling then it is worth the effort. We started our trip from Chennai and landed in Kuala Lumpur, from there we took another flight to Manila, Philippines. There is no way you can directly fly to Bohol from anywhere else apart from Manila and Cebu. Hence Manila was a forced halt for us, and since this was our first time to Philippines we wanted to experience its capita, Manila as well. Manila is unique with friendly English speaking people, good night life with many big casinos coming up, beer cheaper than any other south East Asian country. Only thing you may not like about Manila is taxi drivers trying to cheat you if they find this is your first time to this city. However it’s worth to spend one or two nights in Manila.
Next day early morning we took flight to Taglibilaran airport (only airport on the Bohol island), only other option is to fly to Cebu and then take a ferry to Bohol, but this will further add up to the travel time. It’s better to fly to Tagbilaran airport directly unless you want see Cebu as well. Also in Philippines, always keep some buffer as most of the smaller airports have sunset restrictions, and can make your plan go haywire.
Once you get out of airport, you will love everything on this island, you will see the real untouched culture of Philippines, and something entirely different from what you see in Manila or party island Boracay. From airport although hiring a taxi is not much a problem, but since there is zero pollution on the island, we decide to take the local tuktuk which is very unique to Philippines and gives you enough legroom for 2 and your baggage. However I have seen tuktuks with 6-7 locals seated, but no so comfortably.
Tuktuk from Tagbilaran airport to my hotel Alona beach will take 45 mins and is a comfortable ride amidst greenery and beaches of Bohol Island and costs 300 PHP. Apart from the happening Alona beach lined up with shops, restaurants and resorts, the island has many deserted and amazing beaches which are really beautiful with a rich sea life. I have never seen before, star fishes and sea urchins while walking on the beach. This was just awesome.
Although we had rented a bike, we decided not to go to chocolate hills on bike as it was 80 kms one way, and with no GPS to support, it doesn’t seem like a very adventurous plan, as sunset time on the island much early around 5 15 PM. Hence if you plan to go on bike you need to start early say at 8 AM, so that you are back to Alona by 4 PM and enjoy the dinner along the beach.
Next day we took the group tour to Chocolate hills, since it was cheaper to go for a group tour, and you tend to meet interesting people, we decided to go for it. Since most of the places to see on the island, is located on the way to Chocolate hills. The only thing I did not like about the group tour is stopping for lunch for river cruise, which I don’t think is much fun.
Once you reach the chocolate hills, you will not believe what you see. You will be mesmerized to see how something like this can exist and unknown to so many travelers of the world. It’s so beautiful that your even sophisticated SLR camera will fail to capture its awesomeness. Since it was raining we did not do the ATV ride among the chocolate hills, but I could feel the thrill of driving ATV among the chocolate hills, I was also worried about the impact of ATV tours on the chocolate hills. Most of the year chocolate hills are green because of the grasses, but turns brown during March, when it looks like real chocolate hills.
So if you love islands and hills, and if you believe in exploring new places unlike Bali, Phuket and Langkawi where most of the Indians go, this is must see for you. This island of Bohol is most suitable for solo travelers, back packers, adventure seekers and those traveling as couples of any age, will not be much fun to travel with smaller children as the infrastructure is not developed and you will find it difficult to indulge in luxury and comfort.
Apart from Chocolate hills, must see Tarsier, the smallest monkey in world is also found on this island. Do drop in to see this animal in its natural habitat and make sure, you do not use flash while taking its picture. It’s always fun in Philippines.