HERE’S A LIST OF THINGS TO SEE AND DO in Legazpi City, Albay. This blog also contains an infographic for the breakdown of costs and a short travel video.
Legazpi City, Albay has never been on my radar if not for my best friend Jonathan. He was born and raised there most of his childhood. I’ve read some travel blogs about it and tried to go on a trip a few years ago, but the weather conditions and volcano activity were always tricky. This year was perfect because Cebu Pacific opened new flights from Cebu straight to Legazpi City, a much better option than taking a 12-hour bus ride from Manila.
Everybody knows that the Mayon, the world’s most perfectly symmetrical cone-shaped volcano, is located in Albay. I remember seeing pictures and reading the legend of Daragang Mayon in elementary books. But what I did not know is how near and tall Bulkang Mayon is in person.
The woman sitting across me on the plane dropped her jaw as she looked out the window. A few minutes later, my jaw dropped too when I finally caught a glimpse of Mayon Volcano so near and so real in front of me.
Here are 2 things about travel in Legazpi City, Albay you have to experience yourself:
1. To see Mayon Volcano’s beauty and recognize its danger
In the United States, National Parks are protected by hundred, if not thousands of miles, of land around them. But when you go to Legazpi City, Mayon is so near that you can see every crevice and pathway of lava.
Sadly, its beauty is just as heartbreaking as how much the people around it suffer.
According to Wikipedia, Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines, erupting 49 times in the last 400 years. It can just turn on you; some days it spits lava, steam or rock.
Jonathan’s cousin, Kuya Bong, told us how his family survived the 2006 eruption: “My family and I were standing on top of chairs, neck deep in flood water. We were swimming for 5 hours.” The residents are used to earthquakes like it’s an everyday thing. Some 50 families even camped out inside Hoyop-hoyopan cave during a typhoon.
When we were doing the ATV tour of Mayon Volcano, which is inside the Danger Zone, we passed by a local cemetery of all the victims of the 1993’s pyroclastic flow. Thousands of people perished including entire neighborhoods buried in lahar, a destructive mudflow on the slopes of a volcano. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in such beauty but also the danger. But when the Mayon Volcano is as calm as it was when I visited in early September 2016, it made me proud me to have such landmark in my country.
2. To eat Bicolano food such as Bicol Express, Pinangat and Sili Ice Cream
Eating Bicolano Express in Bicol is a whole new experience in itself! Bicolano dishes tend to be very spicy and traditionally cooked with coconut milk, ‘gata.’ If you eat in the locally known restaurant, 1st Colonial diner, they ask you to rate from 1 to 3, how hot you want your Bicol Express. I stuck with a Level 1 to save my sanity. And it was a delightful dish, tender, fresh, and it tasted healthy.
For dessert, we ordered the Sili Ice Cream. When the waitress served it, I thought how funny that it had a light cherry color. I took one bite and had to take a few moments to process the flavor. It was nothing like any ice cream I tasted before but it did taste like sili! The spiciness very mildly burns the back of your tongue.
Along the Pan-Philippine Highway/AH26 in Camalig, you’ll find the unmistakable line of restaurants serving their specialty pinangat, a dish which combines taro leaves, chili, meat and coconut milk. We ordered the mild version with rice and the green leaves are so soft it just melts in your mouth. I’m now thinking it might be easier to be vegetarian as a Bicolano if their side dishes are this delightful. I very much enjoyed the Bicolano dishes in Legazpi, even though admittedly I never travel for food.
What to do and how much does it cost to travel to Legazpi City, Albay, Philippines
- The entire cost here is for 1 person only, except the ATV Mayon Volcano tour. For their price list, click here.
- Most of my transportation cost was paid for by my travel companion.
- I did like the service and location of FJ Manila Hotel, except the room itself disappointed me. The bathroom was flooding and there were constant electrical blackouts.
- I got the Cebu Pacific flight on sale because I bought it 6 months early.
My accommodation in FJ Manila Hotel was on sale too
Now for the best part, here is the complete travel vlog of my trip to Legazpi City. It took me many hours to edit this, so I hope you guys enjoy.
About the Author
Crystal Neri is a freelance writer who has worked across media platforms in places as diverse as US, Singapore, and Australia. She lives in Cebu City where she covers travel and entrepreneurship at crystalneri.com. Say Hi to her (@nericrystal) on Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to her newsletter: