What I love going back and forth to Bohol is the organized tourism industry. That if you are to visit the province entering through Tagbilaran City, without pre-arranged tour package, you won't get lost. Simply check in a hotel and have them arrange your tour around the province. Or simply pick from barkers outside the airport, trust that they won't cheat you, and choose from the tour menu they flash at your face. Trust more that the rates are regulated and most cab drivers are tour guides themselves.
I have been to Bohol many times since my first step in year 2001. More than a decade ago, the only attractions known to tourists were the Blood Compact Monument, Python in Alburquerque, Baclayon Church, Loboc River Cruise, Caged Tarsiers in Loboc, and the Chocolate Hills in Carmen. It was a sidetrip during a convention of Government Accountants in Tagbilaran City. I was with some Local Government Accountants from Surigao province. But nowadays, the tourist destinations in the province is limitless.
The projects I happened to work with, after my 2-year stint with local government, concentrated their efforts to develop Bohol. I reached Calape, Getafe, Buenavista, Talibon and Tubigon in Bohol in year 2003. I visited Antequera, Alburquerque and Jagna, Bohol in years 2009 to 2011. One time, our project held a conference in Tagbilaran City and the staff scheduled a tour in the afternoon of April 28 and the whole day of April 29. The group tour started a visit at Dauis Church. When my sister En and I scheduled a visit to the city, I also brought her to the same church.
When my senior consultant, Madam Stella, travelled with me in Bohol, we used to spend our dinnertime at the Manga Market every time. It's a sort of Dampa around Metro Manila, wherein you buy fishes or any seafoods you liked in the market and have it cooked at the nearby carenderia. This time that our whole company staff were in, we ushered them to the same venue for one big night meal. The other favorite venue to dine at nighttime for Ma'am Stella and I was the barbecue station along Burgos Street near the Cathedral. My sister is fond of pork or chicken barbecues, so I treated her for a meal at the same place, and as expected we did feast a bountiful dinner. These dining venues offer budget meals and won't hurt your purse.
The usual chocolate hills tour covers all tourists spots en route to Carmen, Bohol where the National Park is located. The whole day tour starts at the Blood compact monument, the church and museum visit at Baclayon, if you are not scared of snakes then the Alburquerque python is worth a visit, the Butterfly Farm, the Tarsier Conservatory, the man-made forest in Bilar, and then the ultimate destination, the Chocolate Hills.
If Loboc River Cruise is part of the tour, the best time to reach the spot should be between 10 to 11 in the morning in order to beat the traffic at lunchtime for the floating restaurant experience. If Loboc seems crowded and the line is thick and long, then Loay River Cruise and Floating Restaurant is worth a try and one good option. Some drivers or tour guides would adjust the itinerary in such a way that the tourists arrived at the floating restaurant at lunchtime. The experience on the floating resto is not solely gorging but includes serenade on board. More entertainments await tourists while floating along the river, chorale singing can be witnessed at different points in the Loboc area while tribal dances coupled with fire spitting exhibitions can be seen in Loay area.
Long before, there were lots of venues to see or view caged tarsiers from private individuals. Now, thanks to conservation efforts, the tarsiers are concentrated at a Conservatory Center. I also tried the Corella Tarsiers Sanctuary once.
There are other tour packages that include reaching the Mag-aso falls in Antequera, Bohol. Located on the other side of Bohol Island, you need to pay it separately or have it along with other tours such as Chocolate Hills viewing via Sablayan peak. Danao Eco-Adventure is worth another rate and would require a whole day to accomplish.
Another tour can be availed of at the Panglao area, other than the Dauis Church. Me and my sister went down the Hinagdanan Cave, hit the Alona White Beach and taste-tested the products of the infamous Bee Farm Resort. One more must-see in Panglao is the dophin watching, and if you got lucky, whale watching. My colleagues and I were so fortunate to have personally witnessed a school of dolphins. It was such a God's grace! Seeing them swimming along and over the waves is superbly wonderful. Of course I did not bother asking my sister to experience that because she has this undefinable fear of swinging over the waves.
There are more to see, reach, experience in the island. What amazes me is the fact that Bohol has lots to offer. I have been to this island many times as I have said, but it never fails to surprise me; it never runs out of tricks and treats. The well-rounded knowledge of our driver-tour guide, Kevin, added to the money value. He is able to convey stuffs, from myths and legends, to politics and showbusinesses.
There is one more, the shiphaus. This house was once featured in the TV program, Rated K, being owned by one ship Captain who resided in Bohol. The house is craftly constructed and in fact resembled a ship, the rooms as cabins, the storeys as decks, there is even the captain's deck, and the view deck.
I will definitely go back to Bohol many more times. Maybe with families, maybe with friends, maybe just myself. Bohol tour is indeed a palatable dessert beyond Chocolate Kisses!