My resolution this year is to see more of my own country. In the past, traveling abroad was the thing to do, with domestic travel reserved for those doing business or visiting their provincial hometowns.
Plus, even just a decade ago, rural roads were not very tourist-friendly, or even nonexistent. More and more, though, Filipinos have become more open to local travel, and also eager to show off their homeland to the international traveler.
In the race to become the go-to vacation spot in Asia, the Philippines has a few no-longer-secret destinations. Bohol is definitely one of them, with its mix of provincial charm, history and high-end resorts.
I had always wanted to go to Bohol, mostly for the Chocolate Hills, which was one of my favorite places on earth as a child, even if I had never been there. On this trip, I finally got to see them, plus much more!
Beaches and resorts
Bohol has something for everyone. If you like socializing and meeting people, find accommodations along Alona Beach, where you will meet people of all nationalities.
Don’t expect the Boracay nightlife, but there are a few bars sprinkled around the beach and nearby places if you want a night-out.
For a newer, more lavish stay, check out Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort, a place that seems right for both couples and families alike. There you will enjoy all the comforts of a hotel, but with native details, and also a very good international menu.
For those who want a more rustic setting, the Bohol Bee Farm might be your best bet. From fresh food to a shop where edible take-home items are available, and of course, the bee farm, it’s a charming place and perfect for a trip with girlfriends. Don’t forget to try their homemade ice cream and bring back their fresh spreads and honey!
History and tourist attractions
If you want to see more than just the beaches, there are many historical places you can check out. Dauis Church is one of the oldest churches in the region, impressive even on the outside, and more so when you step in, look up, and see the artwork that dates back to 1916.
Baclayon Church is another must-see. One of the oldest churches in the country, it was built by Spanish settlers in the 1600s and still stands today. If you go to the side of the church, you will see a watermark from years of rainfall. Locals say it is the image of Padre Pio.
Of course, a Bohol trip is not complete without seeing the Chocolate Hills. Whatever you have seen in books or television will never compare to the view when you get there. It is absolutely majestic and I found myself open-mouthed, in awe of the place. It was my childhood dream to see it, after all!
Another attraction on the must-see list is the tarsiers, the image-models of Bohol tourism. They recently built a more tarsier-friendly sanctuary for these endangered animals, and tourists can walk in a “forest” and see them in their natural habitat. Photographs holding or touching the tarsiers are no longer allowed.
Lastly, if you want to take a leisurely lunch, try the Loboc River Cruise, a one-hour ride down the river, with a buffet lunch and on-board live entertainment.
If you’d like to experience all of these things, now is the best time. Philippine Airlines has partnered with Allied Bank and created the Mabuhay Miles Mastercard. Get the “Lipat na, Lipad pa” promo and get 5,000 miles for a minimum P10,000 transfer and up to 30,000 instant bonus miles that will allow you to book international flights.
The Mabuhay Miles Mastercard also offers travel insurance coverage as well as a low mile conversion at only P33 per mile. For details, visit your nearest Allied Bank or Philippine National Bank branch and fill up the “Lipat na, Lipad pa” application form. Promo will last until April 15 so get your summer vacations sorted out now!