With more than 7600 islands to explore, the Philippines is a country full of beautiful and scenic places. Its rich biodiversity features forests, lakes, mountains, beaches, and historic sites. Albay, found in the Bicol Region, is one province that boasts of tourist spots, interesting local dishes, and exciting activities. The province was declared as a Biosphere Reserve due to abundance of endemic flora and fauna. To enjoy the most out of Albay, tourists are encouraged to proceed to Legazpi City first. There are local tours around the capital city, which would be a great start of your Albay adventure. After the city tour, you can now explore scenic spots outside the city.
This is one of the most beautiful trips I have ever done! A week before my scheduled trip back to Indonesia, I booked 2 seats on a “lazyboy” bus trip in Alabang going to Legazpi City in Albay. No itinerary, just a childhood dream to see “Daragang Magayon”- and it’s my first travel with my daughter! BTW, she convinced me to push for this trip “nabasa daw niya sa textbook nila ang Mayon Volcano.”
The pick-up time of DLTB’s lazyboy bus was originally scheduled at 9:00PM in Alabang (in front of the iconic Starmall) but there was quite a delay because of the usual traffic. It was around 10:00PM when the bus arrived. The long trip, literally a long journey starting from Alabang passing through Laguna, Quezon and Camarines Sur, took us more or less than 10 hours.
It was around 8:00AM when we arrived in Legaspi Bus Terminal. A kind tricycle driver named kuya Randy approached us and brought us to Embarcadero Hotel, our home for this 2-day Albay trip. On our way to the hotel, he offered us a good set of day tour for Php1200. No itinerary and no plan yet, without any doubt, I agreed. My introvert daughter just smiled and nod – that’s the best approval I got during that day!
Just walking distance from Legaspi Port, Embarcadero Hotel is located inside Embarcadero Complex where all the other commercial establishments are perfectly situated too. There are restaurants, beauty shops, salons, bars, even a grocery store and a kids place, but the best of them all is the perfect view you get of “Daragang Magayon”.
I realized it’s too early to check-in, we just ask the receptionist of the hotel to allow us to leave our things. Yes, they allowed us to do so!
So that’s it! We had a sumptuous breakfast to start our day tour of on the right foot.
We’re sharing to you the best places/spots to see and explore here; and things to do when you visit Albay. Oh, please take note that these recommendations were based only from our own tour experiences and the places we have visited. Enjoy!
Albay is also home to the world-famous Mayon Volcano. Many tourists visit Albay to see the perfect cone-shaped volcano, which was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The famous Mayon Volcano is not only for sight-seeing, as various adventures around the volcano are offered for the brave people. Tourists may try the rough rides along various trials of rugged terrain, rivers, and rock formations.
When Mayon Volcano erupted in 1814, a nearby town got buried in lava and volcanic ash. The only remaining sign of the town is the ruins of a church’s bell tower. You can also get a good view of the Mayon Volcano from the Cagsawa Ruins.
Another place to visit near Mayon Volcano is Sumlang Lake. You can enjoy an exquisite ride on top of a bamboo raft drifting through the crystal clear waters of the lake. While having a boat ride, you can relax and savor the luscious green surroundings and perfect view of Mayon Volcano.
The Daraga Church, also known as Nuestra Senora de la Porteria is a symbol of rising though the ashes. It is a stone church made out of volcanic rocks, out of which sculptures and religious images are etched. The Daraga Church was built after the church in Cagsawa was destroyed.
A depositary of historical items, the St. John the Baptist Church or simply called as Camalig Church is made from volcanic rocks. It features a meaningful mural, similar to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican. There are also relics such as burial jars, ceramics, and other tools used during the early times displayed in the Camalig Church.
Visiting the Quitinday Hills will require effort, but the view will be worth it. It resembles the Chocolate Hills in Bohol since it is composed of several green hills. To get to the top of Quitinday Hills, one must hike through the grassy slopes. Upon reaching the top, you can get a good view of the other hills - and the Mayon Volcano!
Not really on top of the world, but the feeling while being on top of Lignon Hills is similar. From Lignon Hills, you can get a view of Albay and other famous landmarks. The PHIVOLCS observatory is also established in the Lignon Hill. If you dare, there is also a tunnel inside the hill which was used by Japanese forces during the World War II. Sunset and sunrise views are also spectacular to view from Lignon Hill.
Legazpi Boulevard, Coconut Juice, and Barbecue
After enjoying the sunset from Lignon Hill, you can go back to Legazpi City to enjoy the night life. The Legazpi Boulevard is a seaside road featuring various views around Albay and also robust shops including eateries and other shops. The Legazpi Boulevard is three kilometers long and perfect for sight-seeing or jogging in the morning. Lined along the road are eateries where one can buy barbecue and later grab a drink of refreshing coconut juice. It is a perfect opportunity for relaxing or taking Instagram-worthy photos.
Eat Pinangat and Kinalas
Traveling will not be complete if you will not taste the local dishes of the place. Pinangat is a famous dish composed of coconut meat, shrimps, and spices perfectly cooked in gata, or coconut milk. It might look like suman at first, but the mixture of blended flavors makes this delicacy unique. Together with Pinangat, another interesting dish is Kinalas. Kinalas is another version of mami, but the Kinalas has a distinct flavor that showcases the spices of Albay. It has the usual noodles, beef broth, and onion leeks, but with the addition of a thick sauce and beef strips (from cow’s face).
|Must try when in Albay: Kinalas, noodle soup made from pansit bato, special sauce, meat from cow’s face and other spices.|
Pinangat - originally from Camalig is a local dish made from steamed leaves of a root crop called “gabi” (in coconut milk) flavored with fish or shrimp or meat
Eat Tinapa Rice and Sili Ice Cream at 1st Colonial Grill and Restaurant
Located in Albay Pacific Mall, 1st Colonial Grill stands apart from other restaurants due to its Tinapa Rice and Sili Ice Cream. The Tinapa Rice is a bit pricey, but it combines smoked tinapa, salted eggs, green mangoes, and tomatoes in one plate. Like most Filipino dishes, the Tinapa Rice features a lot of different flavors in one dish, but these flavors are made to complement each other. After eating Tinapa Rice, you can also try the Sili Ice Cream. This ice cream entails three levels of heat or spiciness. It’s interesting how the owners were able to mix hot and cold at the same time. Both the Tinapa Rice and Sili Ice Cream are available in 1st Colonial Grill.
|Creamy Pili Ice Cream also available in 1st Colonial Grill|
No Filipino would have a complete trip if they don’t buy pasalubong. You can always go to pasalubong shops around Albay. Pili nuts are the common delicacies available. Pili nuts have a distinct flavor and chewiness to it. Even other countries have a high demand for Pili nuts, not only due to its flavor, but also because of its health benefits. There are variants of Pili nuts such as roasted Pili nuts, honey-glazed, and Pili nut candy, and Pastillas de Pili.
WHERE TO STAY
Embarcadero Hotel - good location, overlooking Mayon Volcano, very close to the bus terminal, port area and food stalls. BOOK HERE
10:00PM: Depart Alabang
08:00AM: Arrive in Legazpi/Early hotel check-in
09:00AM: Breakfast in a Pinangat Food Stop in Camalig
10:00AM: Camalig Church
10:30AM: Proceed to Cagsawa Ruins
11:00AM: Cagsawa Ruins
12:00NN: Lunch then travel to Sumlang Lake
01:00PM: Sumlang Lake – bamboo raft ride
02:30PM: Travel to Quitinday Hills jump-off point
03:00PM: Trek to Quitinday Hills
04:00PM: Quitinday Hills - going back to the jump-off point
04:30PM: Travel to Lignon Hills
05:00PM: Lignon Hills, sight seeing
06:30PM: Travel to Legazpi Boulevard
07:00PM: Legazpi Boulevard
08:00PM: Dinner at Colonial Grill and Restaurant
09:00PM: Travel back to the hotel
7:00AM: Breakfast at the hotel
7:30AM: Travel to Daraga Church
8:00AM: Daraga Church
9:00AM: Travel back to the hotel, refresh then proceed to Pacific Mall area to buy pasalubongs; lunch
12:30PM: Travel back to Metro Manila
From Metro Manila, you can travel to Albay by air or by land. There are daily flights from Manila to Legazpi City through Philippine Airlines. If by bus, one can ride from the terminals in Pasay or Cubao or Alabang.
From Visayas, you can ride by air or by sea. Daily flights from Cebu to Legazpi City through Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines are available. If by sea, the RORO trips from Visayas to Pilar, Matnog, and Bulan ports are available. From the port, a bus is available going to Legazpi City.
From Mindanao, you can ride by air or by sea. There are flights from Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, General Santos City, Butuan City, Siargao, Surigao City, Zamboanga City to Cebu City (then follow instructions from Visayas). If by sea, you can take a bus ride to Cagayan De Oro, then ferry to Cebu (and then follow the instructions from Visayas).