The Chocolate Hills

THE CHOCOLATE HILLS: Tales of the Giants of Bohol, Philippines

Once upon a time, when giants roamed the earth, two giants had a great fight for reasons that remain obscure. The two hurled rocks and dirt at each other for days that the battle exhausted them so terribly that they just agreed to become friends. This is how the Chocolate Hills was formed.

According to legend, that is.

The Chocolate Hills

It was one of the stories that fascinated me when I was a child. In grade school, our books and teachers fed our young minds with legends explaining how things and places came to be. The Chocolate Hills was one of them. In Bohol, however, there are a few more legends that attempt to explore the origins of the hills. Some are more romantic, others are humorous. All of them involve giants, even giant carabaos in one. The version that I was told explained the formation not just of these kisses-shaped hills but also the other great attractions in the Philippines like Mt. Apo in Mindanao and the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan. Not that I believe any of them, I’m too old for giants and legends.

The inner child in me, however, was drowning in glee as we drove to the Chocolate Hills from Bilar. Along with the Mayon Volcano and the Banaue Rice Terraces, it is one of the first tourist spots in the Philippines that I became familiar with. Suffice to say that being in the middle of the site, surrounded by thousands of these giant mounds, was a dream come true.

Although these are not fudge-like at all, these hills are still jaw-dropping! It is an unusual, natural structure in the heart of the Bohol island. There are 1,268 karst hills throughout the 20-square mile area, covering the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan. The hills are both symmetrical and conical and may be 100 to 400 feet tall. Although these grass-covered hills are usually green, they turn brown during summer (dry season)  making it earn its name “Chocolate Hills.”

The entire site used to be underwater. In fact, there are many fossils of different shallow marine lifeforms such as corals, mollusks and algae that can be found in the hills. Over time, hills were exposed. I’m not sure whether it was because the land rose or the water receded or both.

There’s a viewing area on one of the hills where you can park your vehicle. There are also souvenir shops in the area. But you will still have to climb an almost never-ending staircase to get to the top of the hill, which will give you an awesome view.

The covered staircase leading to the viewdeck, sitting on top of one of the hills
The covered staircase leading to the viewdeck, sitting on top of one of the hills
Chocolate Hills as seen from the viewdeck
Chocolate Hills as seen from the viewdeck

I had been to this spectacular site three times and each time, the weather condition was different. My first time, the middle of June — it was raining. I wasn’t able to stay longer at the viewdeck to admire the scenery. The second time was early July and it was almost sunset, which gave the place a more surreal, fantastic feel. The grass on both occasions were bright and green. The last time was in the middle of summer and the hills were the most chocolatey that I had seen. It was hot and sunny and the king sun was trying to fry everyone under it. Of the three, the sunset visit was the most unforgettable.

The Chocolate Hills is on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Hetitage Sites. It was officially submitted in 2006 as the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument and is being considered for nomination. In the Philippines, it has already been declared a National Geological Monument in 1988 for its “scientific value and geomorphic uniqueness.”

How to get to Chocolate Hills: From Tagbilaran airport, you can catch a trike to the Tagbilaran Bus Terminal located in Dao District. Board a bus going to Carmen (fare is around P100) and ask the driver to drop you off at the Chocolate Hills complex. It’s a 10-minute walk up to the complex from here. Chocolate Hills is also included in many countryside tours that are offered by various hotels and travel agencies. The countryside tour also stops at other major attractions in Bohol such as Loboc Cruise, Man-made Forest, and Baclayon Church.

BOHOL TRAVEL GUIDE

Updated: April 25, 2013


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Yoshke Dimen

Captain Dreamer at PhilippineBeaches.org
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 Philippine Blog Awards and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.

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  • joize

    i have to say that i like travelling and budget is always and most prolly the only problem. i would like to try this trip you have i just get to know the details.

  • madelyn

    its better to not to get a package.

    its much cheaper if you get a private tour, ms. mely gve me Php 1,500.00 for one whole day tour..you will shoulder the entrance fees( chocolate hills- Php 50.00 and loboc river lunch-Php 400.00/person)..thats the only place n may entrance fee lng nman..ostrich for only Php 20.00/pax..yun lng..were family of 3..2 adults and 1 kid..we get a room for Php 2100.00 at Dumaluan Resort at panglao…Transfer from airport to panglao is Php 500.00(ate mely)and vise versa…its only Php 2,073.33/person/for 3 days and 2 nights..

    • http://www.thepoortraveler.net/2011/01/chocolate-hills-bohol-getaway-day-1/ Jean

      Hi Do you have the contact details of ms.mely for the private tour? thanks

  • joey

    we are a group of 6 friends (with possibility of having more friends to join) who are scheduled to go to bohol on april 13 to 15. is there a package tour in the offing after we get off the tagbilaran airport? we prefer a complete package. bohol tour, island hopping and room accommodation in panglao island. our budget is just in the middle. hope to hear from you soon. thanks a lot

  • annie

    Bohol is an amazing place to visit, we stayed in Alona beach, tho during that time which is october 22 to 28, 2010, the beach is so dirty,daming seaweeds, we cant swim, unless nag nag island hopping kami sa balicasag at pamilacan, mabato nga lang balicasag,pero ang ganda ganda ng resto dun tho mahal nga lang talaga, we paid a separate tour in balicasag, and we paid 1,500, kasama ang virgin island sa pupuntahan, we stayed in panglao island, at lost horizon for one week, and we almost paid 30k including country side tour, loboc cruise,ang mahal nga lang ng binayaran namin sa tour thru agency almost 5,100 per person city tour lng, tinaga talaga kami ng agency. so nxt time di na ako dadaan sa agent. hindi ko malilimutan ang stay ko sa bohol ganda talaga, at pagbalik ko dun bka summer na para maganda ang beach. hinagdanan cave tour is 500 per trycicle. ang layo nga lang. pero enjoy kami.

  • Pingback: BOHOL Getaway | Summary and Expenses (Part 14/14) | The Poor Traveler

  • http://boholproducts.com/ Dal

    Hi ! Great post! I am from Bohol, thanks for visiting our wonderful province! :) Guys, just want to inform you also that if you want some delicacies and products from Bohol, esp Christmas, please visit the official website of Bohol Online Store, http://boholproducts.com/ then your order is a great help for the manufacturers and producers.! Thanks a lot!

  • Trent Omand

    My first trip to the philippines I fell here and dislocated my shoulder for over 12 hours- the worst pain in my life – but still the philippines was the best adventure of my life, love the country and the people, my wife is a filipina :)

  • http://mikepua.blogspot.com Mike Pua

    Nice pics. You’re lucky it’s a good day when you went there :)

    It was rainy when I visited the place…

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruth.m.arcadio Ruth M. Arcadio

    I brought my husband, my son & his gf, & my husbands friends from Australia. With the help from Philippines Tourism. Its amazing place. Then we went to Balicasag island for diving & snorkling.

  • Pingback: The Chocolate Hills and the Giants – Bohol, Philippines | Destination FEED