Bicol Travel Guide – Charming Albay Legazpi City

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Just had my short holiday weeks ago and I had the chance to write about Albay- this beautiful place of Oragon, my hometown. Albay has a lot to offer…from adventures , relaxation, palatable cuisine, gracious people and many more….
There are still some destinations in the province that have never been featured in travel literature and still waiting to be discovered.
A place where you can see this world famous active volcano renowned as the “perfect cone” and for their “Black sand beaches” located in Albay- a province composed of 15 municipalities ( Bacacay, Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Jovellar, Libon, Malilipot, Malinao, Manito, Oas, Pioduran, Polangui, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo and Tiwi. And 3 cities (Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco) located in the Bicol Region in Southeastern Luzon of the Philippines. Legazpi is the capital city. The people of the region are called Bikolanos also known as “ORAGON” which means strong and brave! Bicol is the primary language spoken in Albay. It has many dialects, specially in inner towns. The majority of the Albayanos also understand and could speak English and Filipino.

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Black sand Beach Rawis Legazpi City

HOW TO GET TO LEGAZPI CITY

If you are planning to visit Albay province there are three ways to get there, by air, land, and sea. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific operates daily. Book your ticket in advance to get a cheaper price. Travel time is 45 to 55 minutes either from Manila (NAIA) or Cebu (MIA) to The Legazpi Airport. Another Airport located in Daraga- The Bicol International Airport but construction is underway. Traveling from Manila to Albay (Legazpi) is easy and convenient via bus liners that operate several daily trips. Like Cagsawa Travel and Tours Inc., ALPS The Bus Inc., Philtranco, Penafrancia Bus, Isarog Bus, RSL Bus, Amihan Bus Lines, DLTB Bus Company, Superlines, and Raymond Transportation. Buses vary from ordinary to deluxe coaches with modern amenities. Travel time ranges from 10 to 12 hours. Travelers can proceed to any point of the Bicol Region from the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal. And buses from the South carried by Ferries. The province has also two international Sea Ports located in Tabaco and Legazpi City.

THINGS TO DO IN ALBAY and PLACES TO VISIT

CAGSAWA RUINS (Daraga, Albay)

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The remnants of a 16th century Franciscan church, the Cagsawa church. It was originally built in the town of Cagsawa in 1587 but was burned down by Dutch pirates in 1636. It was rebuilt in 1724 by Fr. Francisco Blanco, but was destroyed again during the eruption of the Mayon Volcano. The ruins are located in Barangay Busay Daraga Albay. One of the most tourist destinations in Albay. Entrance fee is 25 pesos per head.

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Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers… you can pick some here….. lol! This lovely garden- a truly sight to behold.

Another feature in Cagsawa Park – these colourful flowers added to the beauty of the surroundings. So if you are planning to visit this place, be ready for your different poses- perfect for photo shoot. Entrance fee is only 10 pesos per head.

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ALBAY PARK and WILDLIFE

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This place is good to bring your kids, family or friends. There are different animals in the zoo and could do some outdoor activities like biking, paddle boat, or just sit, eat and relax or do picnic. The park is relatively spacious.

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KAWA KAWA HILL and NATURE PARK (Tuburan, Ligao City)

The hill is known as Kawa Kawa Hill and has become a popular religious site in Albay because of the unique, life size statues which depict the 14 Stations of the Cross. … Kawa Kawa Hill takes its name from the local word “Kawa” meaning a cauldron, because its shape resembles a cauldron.

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BAMBUSETUM or KAWAYAN-TINIK PLANTATION

Another newest attraction in Kawa kawa natural park is the “Bambusetum or Kawayan Tinik Plantation” – a two hectare bamboo forest, and a nursery garden that has 15 species of bamboo seedlings. This beauty of nature would definitely give you a calm and relaxing experience.

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SUMLANG LAKE

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One of the attractions in the province located in Camalig Albay. Another perspective to view the majestic Mayon Volcano. Enjoy the scenic view of the mountain and green lushes that would give you a peaceful and relaxing day. Though swimming in the lake is not allowed but you could still enjoy other activities. Experience the bamboo raft or balsa cruising the lake while you can sit in a stylish chairs and gazebos made of local materials. Entrance fee is 20 pesos per head and 50 pesos for balsa cruising.

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I really enjoyed watching the duck swimming on the lake where you can see plenty of lotus plant growing. This aquatic herbaceous plant and floats on top of the water that has a large round leaves smooth and shiny. Awesome!

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MAYON VOLCANO or Bulkang Mayon

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One of the major tourist destinations in the country and famous landform in Albay and in the whole Bicol Region. This majestic Volcano delights scads locals and travelers from around the globe. The most active volcano in the Philippines, renowned as the “perfect cone” because of its symmetric conical shape. The stratovolcano of Mayon standing at around 2,462 metres (8,077 ft), is the highest point of the province.The most destructive eruption of Mayon occurred on February 1, 1814. The volcano belched dark ash and eventually bombarded the town of Cagsawa with tephra that buried it.

RANAO LAKE

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Although this place is a private property but we had the opportunity to get in and see this panoramic view of Ranao Lake and rice paddies located in the boundary of barangay Bonga and Pandan in the town of Ligao City. Watching this spectacular beauty of nature makes you want to stay here forever. hehe!

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QUITINDAY HILLS AND NATURE PARK

One of the hidden gems of the province located in the town of Camalig Albay. Named it as “Pili nut Hills”. A version of Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
From the town center of Camalig rent a trike which cost 500 pesos v. v. maximum of 4 persons in one tricycle for an hour trip. It was not easy to reach the place because of the rough road and up hill. Needed to get out from the trike few times when we get there. But worth seeing this numerous mounds when your on top , will take your breath away.

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FOODS

Bicol Express

Was named after the passenger train from Manila to Bicol region. Bicol express is a popular dish for all Filipinos (especially in Bicol) for its spicy taste, made of pork, chillies, coconut milk, shrimp paste, onion and garlic…. siram sana! (so delicious). Bicolanos often using gata (coconut milk) for their dishes, also a famous product in the region.

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Chili Ice cream

This sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. This unique new taste that would give you the scrumptious fiery flavor. Try this Sili ice cream of Bicol at 1st Colonial Grill. Indulge this one of a kind hot yet cold sorbetes when you visit Albay. Gives you a delightful senses, eye popping- this kind of taste you don’t want to miss when you visit the province. It has 3 levels of spicy-ness. Another luscious flavours of ice cream you would enjoy- “tinutong na bigas (roasted rice flavor), malunggay (moringa leaves), ginger, taro, and many more….

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Let’s do some sili – ness lol!

Pili Nuts (Canarium Ovatum)- a fruit bearing tree endemic to the Philippines especially found in the Bicol region, yields a kernel precious to the country’s food sector. It is green when when young and turns to deep purple or black when ready to harvest. The Pili Nut has the flavor of pumpkin seed when raw, and takes on an entirely different identity when roasted. It is soft yet crisp, with an easy crunch that surprisingly melts in your mouth, making it a favorite snack food among Filipinos. The same delighted acceptance is true even in other countries that have already obtained the nut as an imported staple.

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Pinangat – a Filipino native dish especially in Bicol region popularly known in Manila as laing- a delicious dish which combines taro leaves, chili, coconut meat or seafoods, and coconut milk. Favourite among locals and becoming known for tourists. Once you smell the aroma will gives you a mouth-watering.

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credit from the respective owner

Puto sa Abab (rice cake) – a rice cake steamed in coconut shells and filled with some type of coconut jam. A variation of the puto sa abab uses purple yam added to the ground rice.

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credit from the respective owner

Sinapot (battered fried bananas) – Bicolanos favorite snacks, a nice crisp ripe peeled- cutted saba banana dipped into the batter (rice flour, water and pinch of salt and sugar ) deep fry and placed on top of cacao leaf.

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credit from the respective owner

Balisungsong & Suman – a native delicacy or kakanin- steamed rice in banana leaves, this is always on the table for special occasions like fiesta, birthday, or anniversaries. It is made of sticky or glutinous rice, coconut milk and sugar, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed or boiled. There are varieties of suman prepared in the Philippines, different regions has its own version of cooking.

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credit from the respective owner
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