Chocolate Hills? - Is there really chocolate there?!
Hah! I'm afraid no.
It should have been named chocolate-colored hills…
First time I saw these hills in Bohol Philippines, I thought I was looking at giant anthills.
Before visiting the hills, I tried to read up on how they turned symmetrical in shape. The theories are many, and no one really knows. To geologists, the 30-50 meters high hills are a geological miracle (and no, they're not man-made).
Where are the Hills located?
To get there, you have to find your way to Bohol Island, in the Visayas region of Southern Philippines.
The attraction is located 30 miles from Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol.
The Philippines is a country of storytelling and superstition. Now, here's what the locals will you about the hills:
There were two giants fighting and throwing sand and stones at each other. They got tired of fighting, and became friends. They left the island and the mess behind them. The brown "mess" is supposed to be Chocolate Hills. A "mess" consisting of 1286 brown hills.
From Manila, you can take a direct flight (for instance; Philippines Airlines) to Tagbilaran.
There are two viewpoints: one from Carmen (admission: 50 pesos) and one from Sagbayan (admission: 20 pesos). I was told that the best way to see the the Hills is from Chocolate Hills Complex, in Carmen.
So catch a bus to Carmen (55 pesos), from Dao bus terminal located in Tagbilaran. Dao Terminal is just in front of the Island City Mall, so you can't miss it. And remember to tell the bus driver to drop you off at Chocolate Hills.
When do the buses leave for Carmen?
The earliest route I've found is 5 am, and buses leaves hourly. The bus ride takes about 2 hours from Tagbilaran to Carmen.
From Carmen, you can take ride a motorcycle to the site.
This is where you get the best view of the Hills!
The complex is built on two hills. You'll notice that it's quite developed - the complex itself is a resort with a restaurant, accommodations, swimming pool, and a conference room.
The hills aren't chocolate-colored when it rains - they're just green. So to actually see chocolate-colored hills, you should visit during the dry and hot season (January to April) when the grass turns brown.
When is the best time to see the the Hills?
That would be around sunrise and sunset - it's just spectacular!
The Observation Deck inside the complex is where all visitors go, to watch the excellent view!
To get to the Observation Deck, you must climb 214 steps.
The view is just stunning, and stretches as far as the eye can see. It feels liberating to stand high above the ground, feel the breeze and witness such beauty!
Were the hills worth the trip?
The view itself was gorgeous, and watching rare geographical miracles gave me a feeling of "Wow, this is so cool." But the big downside was sharing it with loads of other tourists!!! Aaaah! Too many people, man.
When we arrived at the site, there were tourists stepping out of large VIP-buses and minivans. Wherever we went, there were people standing in our way! I tried not to think about it and just enjoy it...
Not only did the view of the Hills impress me, but also the fauna.
Bugs in any shape and size caught our attention, and the colorful flower beds. So I would say that the trip was worth it, but at the same time it wasn't. A one-in-a-lifetime experience, that's it!
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