For years, Albay has been known for being home to the majestic Mayon Volcano.
More than its postcard-perfect backdrop, this peaceful province offers pristine eco-destinations, colorful street festivals, historical landmarks, a relaxed vibe, and the warm welcome of its resilient people.
A 1-hour flight is all you need to get to Albay from Manila. Two airlines, Philippine Airline and Cebu Pacific, offer 6 daily flights to and from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay and Legazpi Airport in Legazpi City, the provincial capital.
Alternatively, you can also choose to take a bus from Cubao or Pasay. While relatively cheaper than buying a plane ticket, the bus ride can take anywhere from 9 to 13 hours.
The most convenient way to get around the province is by renting a private vehicle. But if you really want to immerse yourself in the local scene, you can commute via buses, jeeps, and tricycles. Don’t worry too much about the directions; just ask the locals and they’ll tell you the fastest way to get to where you want to go.
Albay has four tourism circuits that will help you plan a themed vacation featuring nothing but the attractions that will satisfy your interests. The first, Green Lane, highlights eco-destinations, waterfalls, caves, and other natural resources. Blue Lane caters to sea-lovers and watersports enthusiasts. Brown Lane, on the other hand, offers a wealth of cultural attractions such as artworks, handcrafted products, and precious and semi-precious stones. Last but not the least is Gold Lane and its collection of heritage sites and properties.
But if you’re pressed for time and would like to see the best that the province has to offer, then stay in Legazpi City to get an eyeful of the Mayon’s perfect cone. Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church, a top destination that has been declared a National Cultural Treasure, is also a great place for selfies with the lovely volcano. But if you want to recreate the iconic Albay postcard, then head straight for the Cagsawa Ruins.
In addition to taking visual mementos of your trip, you should also use the opportunity to enjoy Albay’s natural attractions. Begin by exploring the province’s black sand beaches, particularly Sogod Beach and the ones in Joroan. The volcanic origin of the sand gives these shores their unusual appearance.
If you wish to add a bit more color to your trip, then try diving or snorkeling. A diving spot just 3 kilometers off Buhatan Beach features sunken Spanish galleons, colorful coral gardens, and curious sea creatures. Albay also has waterfalls where you and your companions can enjoy a refreshing swim. Among those you may want to see are Vera Falls, Busay Falls, and Bugsucan Falls.
Fret not if you wish for a land-based adventure. There are plenty of places where you can trek, hike, ride ATVs, and go spelunking. Visit Hoyop-Hoyopan and Calabidongan caves in Camalig, Mataas Cave in Cagraray Island, and Cagraray Eco Park in Misibis to see incredible rock formations and thriving flora and fauna. Get a rush of adrenaline by driving an ATV, which you can rent for 45 minutes at 700 PHP. If you want more heart-pounding activities, you can also head to Embarcadero de Legazpi to try out their skywalk, zipline, and wall climbing facilities.
Albay is famous for its fiery cuisine. Among the must-try desserts is the sili (chili pepper) ice cream in 1st Colonial Grill. In addition to sili flavor, the restaurant also carries pili nuts, gabi (taro), malunggay (moringa), and a number of other flavors that will please your discriminating palate. If you have a sweet tooth and a sensitive tongue, then chocolate-coated pili nuts should do the trick.
But before you spoil your appetite by starting on the sweet (and spicy) stuff, make sure you try Albay’s signature dishes. These include fried fish cakes made of sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis), longganisa (pork sausage) from Guinobatan, and pinangat, which is a combination of fresh taro leaves and pork/shrimp/crab meat cooked in coconut milk.
Legazpi City offers a long list of bars and restaurants that cater to every budget and all walks of life. You can choose to linger by Embarcadero de Legazpi after sunset to get a glimpse of the city’s best bars. If you want to add a bit of variety to your evening, then head to Quezon Avenue where you have the option of enjoying live music, superb food choices, and cold beer. The cafes and restaurants near Airport Road, on the other hand, offer a quiet, relaxing ambiance.
A holiday to remember is best spent at the picturesque Misibis Bay, which is probably one of the most popular accommodations in the province. For those who are looking for holiday homes that will fit the budget, there are plenty of midrange and inexpensive hotels in Albay’s capital city.
Remember that the province of Albay covers about 2,500 sq km of land, and it would be a good idea to find an accommodation that’s close to your itinerary or must-see destinations.
Next to walking, the cheapest and most convenient way of seeing the most popular tourist attractions in the province is by renting a motorbike or a tricycle.
Stay safe when exploring the province’s eco-destinations. Remember to put on sunblock when trekking and to wear a life vest when visiting bodies of water.