Albay Travel Guide

By Anne Elizabeth Apolona Gumiran - 9:10 AM



Flip a hundred peso bill and you'll find one of the must-see wonders in the Philippines - the majestic Mayon Volcano, well-known for its perfect shape of a cone. It is one of the Philippines' active volcanoes located in Southern Luzon of the archipelago - Albay, Bicol, which is an eleven to twelve-hour drive from Manila.





This summer, I had a chance to see its beauty with my own eyes. We went there in a way that's most convenient to us; we rented a van that will take us to our destinations, yes, destinations. When we got there, we found out that it is not just the sight of the volcano itself that we can go there for. There's quite more! Anyway, as for this blog, though, I did my best to ask the locals how to get to these places for the DIY-ers. Any corrections as regards the information I have put in here are very much welcome, too. Just leave a message or a comment 😉

We left Tagaytay City at four in the afternoon of May 4, 2017. We took the route passing through Talisay to Sto. Tomas, Batangas. We stopped at Lucena, Quezon for dinner at around 7 or 8pm I think, then continued with the long drive. We arrived in Legazpi City at around three in the morning. We stayed at Magayon Hotel. We were supposed to check in at 10am but we arrived earlier and we were exhausted from the trip so we topped up the rate of the room that we have availed to have us accommodated.

TRANSPORTATION

For the DIYers, there are several ways that you can do to get there in Legazpi City, Albay. First is by plane. You may book a flight straight to Legazpi City which will only take you 45 minutes. Another is by bus. You may find these buses along Cubao or at Araneta Grand Terminal, Pasay, Alabang South Station and Turbina in Laguna. Fare ranges from 550 - 950php depending on the type of bus (ordinary or airconditioned) that you will take and where will you be coming from. The travel time depends as well to the type of bus. Third is just like what we did. We rented a van which cost us 20,000php (maximum of 14 pax per van but we were only 9 during the tour, soooooo) for three days and two nights including the tours around Albay, Jovellar and  a little of Naga City. 20,000php includes gas, toll and driver fees. So we think it's fine. Lol.If you want to visit Cagsawa (where the ruins, souvenir shops and ATV are found) right away or if you wanna stay somewhere near to it, I suggest that you get dropped off at Legazpi Grand Terminal. There are buses, jeepneys, taxis and tricycles that will bring you to your hotel and destinations.


ACCOMMODATION

There are numbers of inns and hotels around Legazpi City. In our case, we chose Magayon Hotel because they can be reached easily; by that I mean they are responsive to queries and waze/google map could lead us there. The good thing about this hotel is that, you can get a very good view of Mayon volcano by the window and balcony. We stayed at room 417 and Mayon was the best view, greeting us a good morning, that we had for three days. This is only possible though if you are going to stay at 3nd to 4th floor of the building's East wing. Further, this hotel is near Ayala malls. Some 500 meters, I think. Below's a list of their room rates.



View at 7am in room 417!








Magayon Hotel's service is good though but if you want a cheaper one, Rebecca's inn offer extremely affordable cozy rooms for rent. However, Rebecca's inn cannot be found in google map nor waze can lead you there and some of the local's aren't familiar with it. Contact details are posted below though so you can call them and they can provide you with the directions. This inn offers both fan and airconditioned rooms for 3 to 5 persons. Fan rooms cost 350php overnight for three persons. Airconditioned rooms' rate starts at 850php to 1000php for 4 to 5 persons. Breakfasts are not included but Tita Rebecca can cook for you.

If you're gonna drive around Legazpi going to Rebecca's inn, you'll see more hotels and inns in which you could either walk in or reserve rooms prior to your trip. The latter is advisable most especially if you're going to visit Albay during peak season.

TOUR


As aforementioned Mayon volcano isn't just the only thing tourists should see for themselves when visiting Albay. This was what has transpired in our visit in there. Primarily, our target is just to go Cagsawa Ruins itself and try the ATV adventure. But then, when I met the manager of Bicol ATV Adventure, sir Allan Asuncion, he suggested a tour itinerary for us. We had a private van which made it easy for us to go to these places. But for those who would DIY it, it will be a little pricey because the places are a little far from each other. The itinerary provided to us would take us 3 days to visit all of the places listed. Below are the places in the suggested itinerary:


DAY 1:
✔Cagsawa ATV Adventure
✔Cagsawa Ruins
✔Mayon Skyline and Planetarium (Tabaco, Albay)
✔Busay Falls
✔Embarcadero/ Legazpi Boulevard

DAY 2:
✔Quitinday Underground River
✔Sigpit Falls
✔Quitinday Hills
✔Hoyop-hoyopan Cave

DAY 3:
✔Sumlang Lake


These actually aren't just the places that you can go to. There's more. But due to time constraints, these are the only ones that we were able to visit.

I don't know from where have I heard or read it but this tour is called Mayon 360 because these places would really take you around Mayon getting an awesome view of it. The good thing about this tour is that, one destination will give you a travel experience that is completely different from the others. However, some of the destinations are remote and at the outskirts which would really require you to rent a private ride or habal habal if there's any. One thing's for sure, the farther you get, the more awesome your travel experience is.

Cagsawa Ruins




That photo with a sunken church and Mayon behind it that you usually see is the Cagsawa Ruins. Looking at its picture won't give you much fright as seeing it in person. Being there would give you the chills out of your imagination. I mean look at how tall and grand old churches are, and here it is, in front of you - nothing but the remnants of an old structure, just a bell tower with enormous boulders all over the place. And then when we went there we stood at something like top of a maze which is three feet tall. According to the locals, those were walls built to protect the church from lava flow of the volcanic erruption. But the purpose was deafeated by the natural disaster.

How to get there:
If you will be coming from Legazpi City (Magayon Hotel), ride a jeep going to Cagsawa. This will cost you 15php. However, you still have to ride a tricycle going to Cagsawa ruins or ATV adventure since the jeepneys only go along the national road. Another option would be riding a tricycle so that you can go straight to your destination. It's on the right side if you'll be coming from Magayon.

Activities:
✔Photo ops at Cagsawa Ruins
You have to pay an amount of 20php for the entrance fee. Take this one seriously, the best time to visit the place with a perfect view of Mayon volcano with clearing is at 6am to 7am and at 4pm-6pm. According to the staff in there, the gates open at 6am so it is possible to go there that early.

ATV adventure










This is one of the most exciting activities I've had in Albay! We chose Bicol Adventure ATV among others who offer ATV services because theirs are almost at 50% off. They offer the same trail as others and the staff are very approachable and accommodating. Plus, their guides take the best photos!

Here are the rates of their ATV ride:



The black lava trail will take you 3 to 3 1/2 hours to finish. This trail is the closest to Mayon volcano and it will give you a good view of Albay. Fun ride, originally, was offered to students who just want to experience ATV.

You don't have to worry if you don't know how to drive one. One of the staff will assist you with it personally.

Mayon Skyline and Planetarium

Mayon Skyline is located at Tabaco, Albay; on the other side of Mayon Volcano. This is something like People's Park and Palace in the Sky in Tagaytay City. From here, you can get a view of Tabaco, Vanishing island and the sea. According to the locals, you really have to rent a ride going there. You can get tricycle/ taxi from Legazpi city. What can you do in there? You can visit the Planetarium which is free of charge, buy ornamental plants like bonsai if you are a fan of it lol and sight seeing. Mountaineers would be happy to be in this place because they'll get a good view of the mountains of Albay that they could possibly hike during their stay in the town.

Busay Falls


Busay Falls is located at Malilipot. If you're gonna rent a ride, you can go straight to it from Mayon Skyline. But if you will be coming from the town proper which of Legazpi (i.e. Magayon Hotel), ride a jeep with Busay Falls signboard. The fare is at 20php. Again, these public rides only go along the national road and you have to ride a tricycle that will bring you to the falls per se which will cost you 50php. Entrance fee is at 10php. There are stores as well around so it would be fine if you choose not to bring food. There are also cottages in there.
Fun fact: according to my friend, Busay means falls, too. Lol.

Embarcadero/ Legazpi Boulevard




After a fun yet exhausting, long and tiring day, Sir Allan suggested that we rather chill in the evening at Embarcadero. There may be restaurants and malls around Legazpi City and near our hotel but nothing beats the local food. After our trip to Busay, we decided to have our dinner at Embarcadero. If you're familiar with Manila's Roxas Boulevard and MoA's seaside less the mall itself? It's something like that. It is beside the pier and Legazpi port with a sick-awesome view of the sunset, the sea, Quitinday Hills and the Mayon Volcano with clearing. SICK-AWESOME INDEED! The beauty of the view will make you loose in the reverie (surrealist me talking right here). What can you find in here? First, the word Legazpi with the Mayon Volcano behind it is perfect enough for picture taking.Next, the food. Yes, the food. The good thing about the small local restaurants in here is that you can tell them how you want your food to be cooked. For instance, you choose fish. You can ask them to cook sinigang or ginataan. They can also give you options.These are fresh food! The ambiance adds up to the delicious food plus the fresh air making your dinner night perfect!



Quitinday Underground river and falls













We went through the cave by raft. It took us 7-10 minutes I think. After that span of time, the view on the other side of the cave struck us.








Two words, JUST WOW.  I googled the place prior to our visit and this made me extremely excited. What you see in the pictures is indeed what you get.


I specifically put the Quitinday (Jovellar) tour on day 2 because it's an hour or two drive from Legazpi City and half a day would not suffice for the experience that you will be getting from it. Additionally, private rides are needed because the place is indeed remote. Habal habal is advisable because the roads are narrow and some aren't paved. If you are adventurous enough, you can try this. From Legazpi city, ride a jeep to Guinobatan town proper which will take you 35-45 minutes depending on the traffic. It is where you can find habal habal for rent. Tell the habal driver to take you to Jovellar underground river. This will cost you 120php back and forth and will take you 35-45 minutes. Rates may vary if you would also like to take the habal habal to other destinations such as Hoyop Hoyopan cave and Quitinday hills.

Entrance fee at Quitinday Underground Falls, cave and river is at 20php for adults and 10php for kids. If you have private service, drivers are free ofcharge.

Tour guides will assist you from the barangay hall to the cave, river and falls. You may also want to try rafting to go through the cave to the falls and lagoon. The raft costs 200 php for five persons. You can entrust your gadgets to them and ask the guides to take pictures of you since they know too well the instagrammable spots. Bring drybags or secure your gadgets which are not water resistant/ proof because the chances of them getting soaked wet are high. Here's the thing, if you want to have the place to yourselves or to avoid the crowd, it's either you go there on a weekday or drive as early as 5am to get there at 6am just like what we did.

NOTE: we had a little problem going there through waze and google map because these apps only pointed us at Quitinday greenhills in Camalig. It is still several-minute drive (35-45min) from the greenhill's jump off. We searched for Jovellar instead. The locals are very helpful though because we asked for directions once we reached Jovellar.

Sigpit Falls
You may also go from the underground river to Sigpit falls by foot. This one is only by the bridge.The entrance fee that you have paid for your visit in the underground river also includes this. Sigpit falls is quite higher than those in the Jovellar underground river and falls.

Quitinday Greenhills



Located at Camalig, Albay, this is known to be the Chocolate Hills of the Bicol region in Southern Luzon. Waze and google map would point you exactly to this place easily and habal habal drivers know it too so there won't be much trouble looking for it. Entrance fee is at 20php and additional fees may be incurred if you want to get a guide.


HoyopHoyopan Cave




We thought at first that this is the cave that we're looking for but the travel guides that I have previously read said no. The road to Hoyophoyopan is rocky and narrow so it would really be hard for 4wd to go in there. Again, habal habal wins.  Entrance fee and caving is at 200php for 2-3 persons and this include the guide fee already.


Sumlang Lake













We were told that it is possible for us to drop by Sumlang Lake on our way home so we did it on our third day. Located at Camalig, Albay, Sumlang Lake features rafts on the open lake with a picturesque view of plains and the Mayon volcano itself. Entrance fee is at 10php if I'm not mistaken and rafting is at 25php per head. It can carry up to 5 persons plus the guide. The guide will bring you to the middle of the lake which is a perfect spot for you to take a picture at that "Sumlang Lake" and with Mayon as the background. Should there be a queue, you can wait and walk around and take some pictures because the place itself has several places and corners where you can take your instagrammable shots.


How to get there:
According to the locals, you may ride a jeepney with Camalig or Sumlang Lake sign and this will cost you 8php only. It isn't along the highway just like Cagsawa ruins so it's you either take a tricycle or walk your way to the lake.

These were the only places that we were able to go to during our trip to Albay.It was a little bit tiring but nothing beats the feels of retiring to bed at night checking on the photos of the day and crossing stuff out of your bucketlist. Actually there are several places that we were not able to pay a visit to. Here are they for you might want to include these in your itinerary:

✔Kawa-Kawa
✔Vanishing Island
✔Vera Falls
✔Daraga Church
✔Lignon Hill
✔Kapuntukan Hill
✔Sleeping Lion

I would like to thank Sir Allan Asuncion for helping me out on this blog. He is quite approachable, accommodating and a gentleman! Should you decide to visit Albay and try ATV adventure, you can contact him through Facebook. Just search Lhanz Asuncion. He is very responsive to queries.

If you also want to check in to Magayon Hotel or Rebecca's inn here are their contact details:

Magayon Hotel - (052) 742 1345
Rebecca's Inn - 09993739825

You may check my Facebook account and instagram account (@annegumiran) for more photos and stories. Special thanks to my colleague, Ms. KC Agustin for capturing some of my Albay moments and for letting me use some of her photos in her camera roll 💕


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1 comments

  1. Land tour! <3 Here's another tip. From Cagsawa Ruins you can go directly to Daraga Church and Lignon Hills. Those places are just within the vicinity of Daraga Albay. Kapuntukan Hill or Sleeping Lion Hill is just a walk away from Embracadero. After visiting Busay Falls, you should've visit Vera Falls, 30-min or an hour away from Busay.
    In vain, you can also visit Kawa Kawa Hill right after you visit Sumla Lake on your 3rd day :)

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