Albay district is famous for being the home of the Mayon volcano, easily recognizable thanks to its almost conical shape. Legaspi is the gateway to the province and a good base-camp to explore the surroundings. The 2460 meters high Mayon volcano is Philippines most active volcano, it often erupts and is always very active. At the time of writing, it wasn't possible to climb the volcano, but there are plenty of other things to do around Legazpi.
Best tourist spots in Legazpi:
Climbing Mount Mayon
Credit: Jakub Michankow
If possible, climbing Mount Mayon is a challenge. The best season is from February to April, but even then, expect cold temperatures at night and frequent showers. You might have to wait at the base for a couple of days, waiting for the weather to improve. It takes minimum 2 days to reach the highest point, which is 2000 meters, climbing higher is forbidden. You can arrange for a guide a the tourist office in Legaspi.
Cagsawa Ruins Park
Destroyed by a volcanic eruption centuries ago, you can still see some of Cagsawa structures. Now, the structures are left in ruins and you can walk among what used to be a peaceful village. The church bell tower is pretty well preserved as well as the school. The park offers also one of the best views on the Mayon Volcano. If you're lucky (or not if the volcano is really active), you might see some hot lava running along the volcano.
To get to the park, take a jeepney from Legazpi bound for Guinobatan. Get out at the crossroad to the park. You can either walk or take a tricycle. One the way you'll notice a lot of operators renting ATV and offering to ride them towards the volcano.
Source: Tryfon Topalidis
This 2 kilometers trek is popular with locals as it offers plenty of activities. There you can zip line, go through hanging bridges, visit Japanese war tunnels and also rent ATV to see the Mayon volcano from up close. It's also a great viewpoint to see the volcano on clear days.
Entrance fee: 25 pesos
Entirely made of volcanic rocks, Daraga church was built in the 18th century in a baroque style by Franciscan missionaries. The exterior is nicely decorated with many carvings and sculptures.
More traditional, you can also visit Albay Cathedral in Legaspi.
Saint Dominic of Guzman Church
Entirely made of volcanic rocks, this black church, built in 1820 in Santo Domingo, is impressive. You won't see many churches this color.
Near Santo Domingo, there are a couple of amazing black sand beaches, literally covered with ashes. It mixes with the sand and gives it this amazing black/dark grey color. Nearby Calayucay Beach and Saogod beach are also worth the trip,
Hoyop Hoyopan Cave
Located 17 km west of Legaspi, the Hoyop Hoyopan Cave is one of the easiest cave to visit in the area. Its name means blowing wind. There you will see pieces of 2000 years old burial jars. You'll also notice a concrete dance floor in the middle of the cave. People used to come here in the 70's during martial laws to have some fun.
To get there from Legaspi you'll have to take a jeepney to Camalig then another bound for Cotmon.
Price: 300 pesos for a group of up to 6 people.
If you like spelunking you can visit nearby Calabidongan cave also known as the bats' cave. You'll have to check first the water level, sometimes it's too high to explore the cave. At any time of the year, you'll have to get in the water so wear rubber shoes and bring a dry bag if you want to take your camera with you. The best time to visit is between April and May. Guides are mandatory and can be arranged at Hoyop Hoyopan cave.
Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center
This nature center offers a couple of accommodations, a restaurant, and a beautiful garden. The place is really quiet and peaceful, surrounded by nature. The garden is a pretty successful attempt to rebuild the rain forest. It's pretty big and offers a couple of easy treks. At the end of one, you'll end up at a small rocky private beach. There's a really nice snorkeling spot right in front of it and a lot of lava transformed in rocks by times.
The owner uses the profits to give scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. He also really try to increase the community awareness toward the environment.
Try the Bicolano food
Bicol cuisine is known to be slightly different from the rest of Philippines' traditional dishes. Here, they often cook with coconut milk and chilies. One of Bicol's most famous dishes is Bicol Express, made of pork, coconut milk, and chilies. The savory dish is a must try if you're in Bicol Province. You can also try Laing, made with taro leaves, shrimps, minced pork and of course coconut cream and chilies.
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