Bohol: Overhyped, Underwhelming

Bohol: Overhyped, Underwhelming

The Philippines’ tourism board wants you to know Bohol.  I want you to know that you should not go to Bohol.  That’s the issue with tourism boards, fulfilling their duty to increase awareness and tourism in a country they have to pick and choose destinations.  In a country like the Philippines, with thousands of beautiful beaches, unparalleled natural scenery and age-old culture it has to be hard to choose what to promote.

These are the Chocolate Hills, there you’ve seen them, cross that off your list…

I think the leaders of the Philippines tourism board got together and realized their country would be overrun with tourists if they showed the magnificence which is the Philippines, then it hit them: let’s promote Bohol, it’s good enough to get people to come, but so mediocre that we won’t have to worry about tourism ruining our truly great places…

Never underestimate the power of prayer.  By dedicating every taxi to Catholicism, Bohol has ascended in the Philippines’ tourist brochures.

That must be it; the tourism board actually wants to send you to the least interesting place in their country.  It would be like the starting an USA tourism campaign featuring Des Moines.  “Come to Des Moines, it’s so ordinary there’s nothing not to like.”  That’s the only possible reason Bohol is promoted so much, “Bohol, it doesn’t quite suck.”  Sure there are some interesting things, geologists will be fascinated by the Chocolate Hills, Steven Spielberg fans can see the real life inspiration for E.T., and beach goers can get nice-but-not-great beaches on Panglao Island.   With assets like these it’s clear the board realized Bohol had just enough to promote, but needed all the marketing help it could get.

OK, these little guys are pretty cool.  The Tarsier was the inspiration for E.T. and clearly looks like other fictional characters such as the Gremlins.

Bohol does have decent tourist infrastructure unlike much of the Philippines, but also brings the annoyances of tourist destinations: touts and tourist pricing.  Getting around Bohol is more expensive than the distances justify, but renting a motorcycle is reasonably priced within the main city of Tagbilaran.  Meals, hotels and other services can be unreasonably priced (by Philippines standards) on Panglao island, as is getting to Panglao itself.  The bright spot was the incredible, affordable, roast chicken and pork (learn more here).  After spending five days touring much of Bohol and Panglao we were consistently underwhelmed.

The reality is that the Philippines are filled with incredible places.  From the Cordillera of Luzon, to the reefs of Coron, the wilderness of Palawan, the culture of Negros, and the world’s #1 beach in Boracay, there are dozens of places of which are better than Bohol.  In the brevity of human life there is no reason to ever set foot on Bohol.  The tourist board may be spending it’s money to push Bohol, but don’t become a victim of marketing: visit the Philippines yes, visit Bohol, no.

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» Kim :
Jan 31, 2012

Great article you guys. Note to self- go to the Philippines but not to Bohol.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kim, thanks for the kudos. We are trying to share the places that weren’t amazing too; in order to give people an idea of where to skip (at least in our opinion). If you do make it to the Philippines we can’t recommend Palawan highly enough and El Nido is gorgeous!

» Kitsie :
Feb 1, 2012

Hi there!

I grew up in the Philippines and I’ve only been to Bohol once. I haven’t even seen the Chocolate Hills, and I’ll live if I don’t hehe. The beauty of Bohol is all underwater. It’s has a lot of amazing diving spots. It’s also the only place in the country where you can see the Blue Whale. :)

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kitsie, We aren’t divers so unfortunately, we missed the best part. I still recommend everyone to go to the Philippines and explore the other amazing islands. We especially liked El Nido on Palawan and Sagada and Banaue in northern Luzon. We will definitely be headed back to the Philippines, just not to Bohol.

» Jacob Hughes :
Nov 15, 2012

Wow…I have to disagree. I spent a week in Bohol recently and found it most enchanting. Chocolate Hills is really worth the trip. The people in Bohol are really awesome…a must see Island of the Philippines!

» kuya ming king :
Apr 8, 2013

I’ve been to many places and islands in Thailand, some countries in
Southeast Asia, East Asia and it makes me proud that we have Bohol. This
article is disappointing. Let me tour you to Bohol again.

LOCAVORista @ LivingIF Reply:

Kuya ming king,

We are always willing to give a place a second chance. We absolutely loved the Philippines and would highly recommend everyone to visit, we just felt that with so many other beautiful islands Bohol wasn’t at the top of our list. If we head back there we’ll have to get the insider view from a local like you. Thanks for weighing in.

» durwood kizer :
Jul 11, 2014

iv been there several times, because i married one. but its not a great tourest spot, but they do have some great beaches, that locals will not tell you about. people are friendly, but still be safe, do not go out after dark. i like it because you can go to the beach and just truly get away from it all, its not over crowded with tourest, and thats the beauty of it

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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