Until now I always labored under the impression that the only thing of note in the Bicol Region was the ever-majestic and infamous Mayon Volcano, at least my childhood memories led me to believe that. How wrong can a person be? In my case, big time! There’s so so much more to Bicolandia!
So let’s start with the basics. Where is Bicol?
Bicol is also known as Region V in the Philippines and comprises of the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Masbate, and Catanduanes. Geographically speaking, Bicolandia is the largest island in the Philippine’s archipelago!
How to get there?
Option 1: By Plane- there are 3 airports in Bicol, one in Naga, in Legaspi City and another one in Virac, Catanduanes, so pick the one that best suits your final intended destination. Book ahead as much as you can before your trip so you can take advantage of discounted fares and keep an eye out for flash seat sales as most local carriers go to Bicol.
Option 2: By Bus- In an ideal world book a ticket with the bus company of your choice going to Bicol Region two weeks before your trip. There are many buses in Cubao or Pasay that have trips going directly to different parts of Bicol region. You can opt to ride Penafrancia, Isarog, Philtranco, Raymond Bus or others. The fare is around 700-1300 one-way, travel time is 12-14hrs depending on the bus line you’ll choose and your destination.
It was one hell of a roller-coaster ride! From the butt-numbing bus and boat rides with a great sizzling bonus of super hot weather (expect this during summer). The prospect of a ride like this might make you think twice before going to this place! But believe me when I say that Bicol is a place that must be included in your bucket list. whats the expression? difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations right? and in this case its so true!
So for five days and four nights, I sojourned in the provinces of Sorsogon and Albay.
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Places to visit in Sorsogon
Matnog is the municipality in Bicolandia, located in the Southernmost part of the region and is a good jump off point for the Southern Philippines and places like Samar. Matnog is considered to be as one of the busiest seaports in the country and aside from being a seaport, Matnog is famous with beach goers and is particularity well known for the amazing Subic Pink beach, Tikling Island, Calintaan Cave and the Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary.
Trivia Alert!! The name “Matnog” sounds like the Tagalog word “Matunog/Matonog” which means audible and, according to the locals, the place is named as such because of the cacophonous sound created by the waves.
DETAILED POST: DIY Travel Guide: Matnog, Sorsogon
Beach Hopping at Sta. Magdalena
Sta. Magdalena, also known as “The Land of Kasanggayahan”, is the smallest municipality in Sorsogon. In this area, you can find beautiful resorts at very affordable prices, such as Balading Beach Resort, Suki Beach, and Olango Beach Resort.
Tropical Hot and Cold Springs in Irosin
Irosin is another municipality in Sorsogon and is well-known for its hot and cold springs. There is no beach to be found within Irosin because the area is landlocked. What’s best about going there are there are lots of hot and cold spring options to choose from and in our case, we have chosen the newly opened Tropical for only Php 30 entrance fee.
Bulusan is another must visit place in Sorsogon. Why? Firstly, because it is the home of the beautiful southernmost Volcano found in Luzon, Mount Bulusan, and secondly, it offers some great attractions that allows you feel more at one with nature without having to spend a fortune, for instance, One to sawa Kayaking is only Php 100. Fatty enjoyed a little paddling in the water and lucky the boat took his weight and did not sink!
Locally known as Danlog, this place’s name was changed to Barcelona during the Spanish occupation, because of its similarities to the Spanish Barcelona. Economically, the livelihood mainly revolves around coconuts, copra, and root crops such as sweet potatoes. Some attractions of note are the well-known Coral Church and the Barcelona sign and ruins.
Lola Sayong’s Surf Camp at Gubat
Fronting the Pacific Ocean this place is known as a surfing spot for the municipality of Gubat, Sorsogon. It is a giddy and atmosphericmix off creamy sand, blue water and perfect waves for surfers. So dude, if you want to be a surfer boy at a low cost, try it here when you visit Sorsogon! For just 350 pesos you will get to enjoy a 1 hour session of surfing inclusive of surf board and competent instructor.
Prieto Diaz is a place that abounds with mangroves, sea grasses and corals in equal abundance. Through the help of Seamancor Eco-developers Inc., the municipality has been able to sustain a system for coastal resource management linked to DENR that has helped in the development of a sustainable livelihood for the locals. Here you can really get to grips with the importance understanding the delicate relationship between nature and the human population.
The area is known for its rich natural resources, an island called as Halabang Lapis, which can be reached from Prieto Diaz Sabang Beach for just Php 500 (up to five persons per trip). It is an island where you can only see its white and fine sand during low-tide, around 1-5 in the afternoon.
Getting around in Sorsogon
The cheapest means of transportation from municipality to another is via Jeepneys. However, trips are for a limited time only that’s why it is advisable to ask the locals about it.
For our case, we opted to hire a tricycle for our whole day trip around Sorsogon (Sta Magdalena > Irosin > Bulusan > Barcelona > Gubat). For a less hassle and more convenient trip you can contact Kuya Bener thru 09287938676.
DETAILED POST: 1,000 pesos Challenge in Sorsogon
Places to visit in Albay
The ever-majestic and still active Mayon Volcano is the most visited tourist attraction in Bicol. It is well-known for its almost perfect cone shape crater. Mayon Volcano was named after the princess heroine of an old folklore story from the region, Daragang Magayon (Beautiful Lady). Another amazing fact about the Mayon is that is was the first National Park in the country. Most of the time, Mayon shows its beauty around 5-8 in the morning and 5-7 in the evening as otherwise there can be a lot of cloud cover.
Cagsawa Ruins + ATV
Mayon Volcano may be strikingly beautiful but obviously dangerous when it erupts. There are plenty of reminders of the power of nature and one of particular note are the remains of the Cagsawa church dating back to when the Mayon erupted in 1814, an eruption that sadly killed around 2,000 people. It must have been an horrendous experience for those poor people, but serves to remind us of how minuscule we are in the face of nature at its most powerful. At present, the ruins have became one of the most recognizable landmarks in the province of Albay and have stood as a reminder for all for over 200 years. If you have time try the ATV experience (All Terrain Vehicle) its a fantastic, fun and exhilarating experience!
Vanishing Island is located in the municipality of Malilipot Albay and can be accessed thru Bacacay, Albay. As the name hints at, the island only reveals its true beauty during low-tide hours around 12NN-6PM. From Bacacay port or Tabaco port, it takes around an hours boat ride to reach the island. It is actually situated in the middle of the ocean but appears like a Far Eastern Brigadoon when low water permits, so be sure to check this place out. A boat ride can be had for just 1,000 pesos and is good for up to 10 persons.
Detailed Post: Vanishing Island, Malilipot, Albay
An Eco concentrated tourism park is what Camalig, Albay offers to its visitors. Sumlang Lake has become a major tourist attraction in the province of Albay mainly because it is one of the great spots to take a photo of Mayon and for just 10 pesos entrance fee, you can roam around the area and get your perfect Mayon Volcano shots!
Getting around in Albay
The cheapest means of transportation from municipality to another is via Jeepneys. Trips here are continuous until late night. Another means of transportation are thru buses, tricycles of Habal-habal.
Itinerary and Expenses