Albay is a mountainous province located on the southeastern area of Luzon. Crowned by one of the most stunning volcanoes in the world, Albay is also a top performer in the agricultural industry. Countless volcanic eruptions and quakes may have shaken its lands in the past but it remains one of the most-visited and most progressive provinces in the Bicol Region.
Anyone will be mesmerized by the beautiful Mayon Volcano, the biggest tourist draw of Albay. It towers at 2,462 meters above sea level and possesses a nearly perfect cone shape. It is also the most active volcano in the Philippines; its explosion in 2014 was reported to be the biggest tourist event of Albay that year. But for safety reasons, it is still best to see Mayon Volcano when there is no reported volcanic activity.
A trip to the Mayon Volcano won't be complete without visiting the Cagsawa Ruins, another tourist attraction in Albay. When the volcano erupted in 1814, lahar destroyed and buried everything in its path, including the Cagsawa church (though new evidence suggests that the church may have been destroyed through weathering and neglect). Built in 1724, only the bell tower of the baroque church remains. The ruins are now within the premises of a park built by the government.
Another attraction in Albay is The Ligñon Hill Nature Park, built on the Ligñon Hill. It stands at 156 meters and overlooks the Mayon Volcano and the city of Legazpi. Sightseers can enjoy viewing the cityscape, the volcano, and the Albay Gulf from the park's viewdeck.
Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines fly daily from Metro Manila to Legazpi Airport. Air travel takes about an hour.
Bus lines like DLTB, Philtranco, ALPS, Raymond Bus, Isarog, and RLS often ply the Manila-Albay route. Travel time ranges from eight to 12 hours, depending on your destination in Albay and the traffic situation. You can find their terminals in Cubao and Pasay.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys are found all over Albay. You can see these vehicles plying the thoroughfares of the province daily.
A taxi is recommended for those who can afford a more comfortable means of getting around.
Tricycles are another efficient mode of public transport. Aside from getting you from one point to another, tricycles can also be hired for tours.
What to See
Perhaps the most defining landmark of Albay is the Mayon Volcano. An active stratovolcano, its most prominent feature is the almost perfect symmetrical shape of its cone. It rises 2,400 meters and is the highest peak in the province.
Mayon’s most destructive eruption in the year 1814 buried nearby towns in volcanic ash and claimed more than a thousand lives. The most iconic yet grim reminder of that tragedy are the ruins of the Cagsawa church in the town of Daraga. All that remains of the 18th century Caraga Church is its belfry. The image of this structure laid out against the backdrop of the Mayon Volcano is popularly used in Philippine postcards. You can visit this amazing landmark, which is just near the Our Lady of the Gate Church, also known as Daraga Church.
Another impressive Catholic church, Daraga Church has a facade made of stone and was built in the 18th century in the Spanish baroque architectural style. Meanwhile, the facade of the St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Tabaco City is made from volcanic soil. Built in the 1600s, the church is hailed as a National Historical Treasure.
Incidentally, the church of the town of Camalig is also known as St. John the Baptist Parish Church and another National Historical Treasure. This religious structure, on the other hand, was constructed in the 1800s.
The Joroan Church is another important church to visit. It is a popular pilgrimage site as it enshrines the image of the Nuestra Señora de Salvacion, which is believed to be miraculous.
Aside from the majestic Mayon Volcano, Albay is blessed with other natural wonders that will truly captivate nature lovers.
Tiwi Hot Springs and National Park is one of the most popular natural attractions in the province. The warm temperatures of the springs are sought after by those who want to relax in the soothing waters. A lot of people believe that soaking in the springs is very therapeutic.
Several waterfalls are also scattered in some of the towns in Albay. Go on a trek to these hidden wonders and you will be rewarded with a refreshing sight of cascading waters. Some of these include Vera Falls and Palale Falls in Malinao, Bugsucan Falls in Tiwi, Busay Falls in Malilipot, and Mataginting Falls in Jovellar.
Beach bums can also explore Albay's many islands and beaches. Get a dose of vitamin sea in Rapu Rapu Island and Cagraray Island and be mesmerized by the black sands of Sogod Beach in Bacacay and Joroan Beach in Tiwi.
Discover the untouched beauty of Jovellar's Quitinday Cave and its underground river. Still virtually unknown to most travelers, the river's emerald waters are perfect for a splash, and the limestone formations of the cave are truly a sight to behold.
The following caves are also worth a trip: Hoyop Hoyopan and Calabidongan Caves in Camalig, Del Rosario Cave in Jovellar, and Minaroso Cave in Rapu-Rapu.
Albay is packed with many places for recreation: Ligñon Hill Nature Park is a popular place for sightseeing as this hill overlooks a view of the magnificent Mayon. It is also frequented for its many exciting attractions such as its zipline, hanging bridge, and the World War II Japanese tunnel.
Albay Park and Wildlife, on the other hand, is the perfect picnic spot. It is also a child-friendly destination with its playground and zoo.
Kawa-kawa Hill and Nature Park is a must-visit place for pilgrims. It boasts larger-than-life dioramas of the Stations of the Cross.
Events and Festivals
Albay celebrates the Magayon Festival every May. This festival puts the spotlight on Mayon Volcano and the legend behind its formation. The highlights of this event include a stage play of the legend of Mayon Volcano and a bounty of cultural events, trade expos, and contests.
The fiestas of the cities and towns are also a must-see. Some of the popular ones include Tabaco City's Tabak Festival in March, Tiwi's Coron Festival in August, and Legazpi City's Ibalong Festival in October.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
Bigg's Diner is a popular fast food chain throughout the province. This American-themed diner serves hearty American meals such as burgers and pasta, but Bicolano dishes are also included in its menu.
Graceland is another prominent restaurant in the region. This establishment is famous for serving pocket-friendly local and Bicolano dishes such as bicol express and laing. Another place where you can get your fill of native cuisine is the 1st Colonial Grill. This restaurant's claim to fame is its savory tinapa rice and its unique dessert offerings, particularly the sili ice cream.
Waway's Restaurant is the place to go if you've got a huge appetite. With its buffet of local and Bicolano dishes, you'll enjoy a wide array of tasty options. Meanwhile, Let's Talk Cafe has an extensive menu of delicious local and Bicolano dishes alongside international favorites like pizza and pasta. End your sumptuous meal with a slice of their heavenly pili pie.
Where to Shop
Most of the malls in Albay are found in Legazpi. Have your shopping spree at Pacific Mall Legazpi, Ayala Malls Legazpi, Gregorian Mall, LCC Mall, and Yashano Mall.
Embarcadero de Legazpi is a popular lifestyle center. Not only does it have a mall with countless shopping finds, it also boasts many recreational facilities such as a zip-line and a skywalk.
The Ibalong Pasalubong Center at Legazpi City Grand Terminal is a one-stop shop for souvenirs and pasalubong. Its strip of stalls sell anything from sweets made with pili nuts such as candied pili to souvenir shirts, keychains, and woven handicrafts like baskets and bags.
ATMs and Money Changers
You'll find many banks and ATMs in Albay should you need to withdraw some cash. Some establishments also accept credit cards.
Fare: PHP 800.00 to PHP 1,000.00 (Bus fare); PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 3,000.00 (Airfare)
Bus fares cost around PHP 800.00 to PHP 1,000.00, depending on your drop-off point in Albay. Fares for buses with high-class amenities like full-reclining chairs are higher.
Airfare ranges from PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 3,000.00, depending on the airline and the season. Take advantage of promo sales to score cheaper deals.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
Eating at a carinderia will set you back PHP 50.00 to PHP 100.00. On the other hand, restaurant meals is about PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00 on average.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
Trinkets like keychains and fridge magnets usually cost less than PHP 50.00. Meanwhile, souvenir shirts range from PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00, depending on the design.
As for food products, the prices of one jar of candied pili nuts and ready-to-eat Bicol express and laing start at PHP 150.00.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 4,000.00
There is a wide variety of accommodations in Albay that caters to all kinds of travelers. Guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts offer overnight stays in a fan room for two people for as low as PHP 500.00. For hotels, on the other hand, prices range from PHP 1,000.00 to PHP 4,000.00 for an air conditioned room good for two people.
Activities: PHP 20.00++
Both Albay Park and Wildlife and Ligñon Hill Nature Park charge a PHP 20.00 entrance fee. Tiwi Hot Springs has a PHP 50.00 entrance fee, while Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave's is PHP 100.00.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 150.00
You'll be required to pay a PHP 150.00 terminal fee at Legazpi Airport.
Have breakfast at Bigg's Diner.
See the Busay Falls in Malilipot.
Visit the St. John the Baptist Parish Church in Tabaco City.
Explore Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave.
Have lunch at a carinderia.
See the famous Cagsawa Ruins.
Visit Daraga Church, also known as Our Lady of the Gate Parish.
Enjoy a stunning view of Mayon Volcano in Ligñon Hill Nature Park. Try out its many
activities like rappelling and the zip-line ride. Explore the Japanese tunnel.
See the animals at Albay Park and Wildlife.
Head to Embarcadero de Legazpi. Try the many activities here as well such as the
skywalk and the zip-line.
After trying out the activities, head to Embarcadero's mall and have dinner at any of
the restaurants or fast food chains in the area.
The Philippines only has two seasons: the dry season which runs from December until May, and the wet season which runs from November until June. Schedule your trip during the dry season since you’ll be outdoors a lot when exploring Albay.
Make sure to bring some medicine, first aid supplies, and insect repellent whenever you travel. Should you be in need of any medical assistance during your vacation, there are many hospitals and clinics throughout Albay that you can visit.
There is no customary tipping practice observed in the country. Some prefer to leave small bills like PHP 20.00 and PHP 50.00, while others just leave loose change. Take note that some restaurants may already include a 10% service charge in your bill. In that case, tipping is not anymore required.
Mount Mayon is an active volcano so any reported volcanic activity must be taken seriously. Always heed the warnings from the local government and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). In case of an evacuation, remain calm and follow the directions of emergency authorities.