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 2 airports in Bicol, one in Naga or Virac 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. Fare is around 700-1300 one-way, travel time is 12-18hrs depending on the bus line you’ll choose and your destination.
It was a 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.
Places to visit in Sorsogon
Matnog is a municipality in Bicolandia that is located in the Southernmost part of the region. This place is most well-known as a jump-off point of ferries bound to Southern Philippines like Samar. But there is so much more about this place than being just a seaport!
So what can Matnog, Sorsogon offer to travelers? Click here and be amazed!
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 chose 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.
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. Fatty enjoyed a little paddling in the water and lucky the boat took his weight and did not sink!
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 atmospheric mix of 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.
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.
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!
Itinerary and Expenses
|5PM||Departure from Pasay directly to Matnog, Sorsogon via PhilTranco Bus||1,876.00||938.00|
|8PM||Dinner at Bus stop along Quezon Province||195.00||97.50|
|7AM||Arrival at Matnog Tourism Office|
|7AM-10AM||Breakfast, bought food and supplies and waiting time for other travelers where we can join to lessen our boat expense||230.00||115.00|
|For Boat rental:||700.00||350.00|
|Day tour- 1600 good for 10 pax|
|Overnight 2000 good for 10 pax|
|10:15-11:15AM||Port to Tikling Island (First stop for the island hopping)|
|11:45-12:10PM||Tikling Island to Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary (2nd stop for the island hopping)|
|**Unfortunately we were not able to explore the area because the owner of it prohibited us to go under the ocean because the husband is not in the area to assist us. So we decided to visit this place the next day.|
|12:10-12:20PM||Juag Lagoon to Calintaan Cave (3rd stop for the island hopping)|
|1:00PM-1:15PM||Calintaan Cave to Subic Pink Beach (Last stop for the island hopping)|
|1:15-3:00PM||Rest/Pitch Tent/Bought Fish for Lunch||50.00||25.00|
|Pitching Fee is for 50 pesos per tent.|
For our lunch we bought a fish and rice from the locals and requested them to cook it for our lunch. For our request, we gave them 50 per dish cooked and 20 for the rice. You will need to buy everything before you request them to cook it for you.
|3:00-6:00PM||Free Time (Swimming/Photo Ops)|
|6:00-7:00PM||Dinner (Rice left during our lunch plus canned goods)|
|7:00-9:00PM||Socialize/Stargazing/Enjoy the serenity of the place|
|9:00PM onwards||Lights Off||1,300.00||650.00|
|5:30 AM||Wake up and wait for the sunrise|
|6:00-6:30AM||Light Breakfast (Bread and Coffee)||30.00||15.00|
|6:30-7:30AM||Free Time for Swimming and Photo Ops at Subic Pink Beach|
|7:30-8:00AM||Pack up things|
|8:00-8:15AM||Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary|
|8:15-9:00AM||Free time at the Fish Sanctuary|
|9:00-10:00AM||Juag Lagoon to Matnog Port|
|10:00-10:15AM||Looked for a trike that we can hire that will tour us from Sta Magdalena to Gubat|
|We rented Kuya Bener’s trike for 1,100 to tour around Sta. Magdalena to Gubat Sorsogon. If you want you can contact him thru: 09287938676.||1,100.00||550.00|
|10:15-11:45AM||Beach Hopping at Sta Magdalena|
|11:45-12:15PM||Sta Magdalena to Irosin Tropical Hotspring|
|1:00-2:30PM||Irosin to Bulusan|
|**Trike Stopped for lunch||370.00||185.00|
|2:30-3:30PM||Explore area/ Kayak All You want at Bulusan Nature Park||250.00||125.00|
|Entrance Fee: 20 each, Parking Fee: 10|
|3:30-4:00PM||Bulusan to Barcelona|
|4:00-4:30PM||Explore the area (Coral Church and I|
|4:30-5:00PM||Barcelona to Gubat (Lola Sayong’s Place)|
|Entrance Fee: 25 each; Tent Pitching: 150/Tent|
|5:30-7:00PM||Free Time/Photo Ops|
|9:00PM onwards||Lights Off||2,250.00||1,125.00|
|7:00AM||Wake Up call|
|Surfing fee: 350 good for two, 1 hr duration with instructor||350.00||175.00|
|8:00-10:00AM||Breakfast at Lola Sayong’s Canteen/Take a bath/Pack up things||130.00||65.00|
|10:00-10:15AM||Lola Sayong to Jeeney Terminal Going to Pietro Diaz||20.00||10.00|
|10:15-10:45AM||Jeep from Gubat Town to Prieto Diaz (jump off at last stop)||50.00||25.00|
|10:45-10:55AM||Trike to Sabang Beach where you will rent boat going to Halabang Lapis||30.00||15.00|
We didn’t make it to Halabang Lapis because we were tooearly when we arrived at Prieto Diaz. Best time to go is around 2PM onwards.
|10:55-11:05AM||Trike from Sabang to Jeepney Terminal bound to Gubat||30.00||15.00|
|11:05-11:35AM||Prieto Diaz to Gubat||50.00||25.00|
|11:35-12:10PM||Gubat to Sorsogon City (Van Terminal bound to Daraga, Albay)||58.00||29.00|
|12:10-1:30PM||Sorsogon City to Daraga Albay||190.00||95.00|
|1:30-2:30PM||Lunch at Jollibee Daraga and a little rest||200.00||100.00|
|2:30-3:00PM||Ride a jeep bound to Cagsawa||16.00||8.00|
|3:00-3:10PM||Arrival at Cagsawa Ruins|
|3:10-6:00PM||Stayed at Cagsawa Ruins and waited for the Mayon to show its beauty||40.00||20.00|
|Entrance Fee: 20 each|
|6:00-6:30PM||Cagsawa to Legaspi||28.00||14.00|
|6:30-6:45PM||Legaspi City to Barangay Rawis where our Hosts are located||50.00||25.00|
|6:45PM-9:00PM||Dinner, Personal Hygiene, Sharing stories with our Hosts||200.00||100.00|
|9PM onwards||Lights Off||1,442.00||721.00|
|7:00-8:30AM||Breakfast/Prepare for the trip to Vanishing Island|
|8:30-9:30AM||Legaspi to Tabaco Port||50.00||25.00|
|9:30-10:15AM||Waiting for other groups to arrive at the port, buy things needed in the Island||200.00||100.00|
|10:15-11:15AM||Port to Vanishing Island||500.00||250.00|
|11:15-12:00PM||Lunch/Chat with new friends (Bought lunch befor going to island)||300.00||150.00|
|12:00-5:00PM||Free Time/Photo Ops|
|5:00-6:00PM||Vanishing Island to Tabaco Port|
|6:00-6:15PM||Port to Tabaco Plaza where Jeepneys bound to Legazpi are parked|
|6:15-7:15PM||Tabaco to Legaspi (Brgy Rawis)||50.00||25.00|
|7:15-9:00PM||Bath time/Cook Dinner/Chat with Couchsurfing Hosts|
|7:00-8:00AM||Breakfast/Prepare for the day’s activities||242.00||121.00|
|8:00-8:30AM||Legaspi to Daraga Sentro||30.00||15.00|
|8:30-9:00AM||Daraga to Sumlang Lake||30.00||15.00|
|9:00-10:30AM||Free time/Photo Ops at Sumlang Lake||20.00||10.00|
|Entrance Fee: 10 each|
|10:30-10:45AM||Sumlang Lake to Cagsawa for ATV experiece||16.00||8.00|
|12:00-1:00PM||Back to Legaspi City (Our host’s Home)||30.00||15.00|
|1:00-3:00PM||Lunch/Pack up things|
|3:00-3:30PM||Legaspi to Bus terminal bound to Cubao||50.00||25.00|
|4:30-5:00PM||Merienda time while waiting for the bus||200.00||100.00|
|5:00-5:AM||Back to Manila||1,810.00||905.00|
|Per Day Total Expenses||3,826.00||1,913.00|
|Total Expenses for 5 Days||11,989.00||5,994.50|
|Other Expenses (Uber/ Other Food and water we bought from time to time)||1,500.00||750.00|