Sorsogon is a coastal province with great hot springs, calm beaches, and a magnificent marine life. The southernmost province in the island of Luzon, Sorsogon is blessed with an array of beautiful natural landscapes as well, giving tourists a lot of sites to visit like rice fields and volcanoes. Life is simple and calm in Sorsogon but tourists tend to miss the province after visiting it.
The whale sharks of Donsol known as the "butanding" are the region's main attraction with tourists gathering to interact with the animals every day. Donsol was just a quiet fishing village until the discovery of the butanding in 1998. The whale sharks migrate to Donsol from November to June, with the summer months of March and April being the most popular among visitors. Whale-watching is a famous activity but snorkeling next to these gentle sea giants is quite an experience to have.
Bulusan Volcano National Park is home to the Mount Bulusan, an active volcano in the province. Standing at 5,135 feet, the volcano provides a good challenge to hikers. Mount Bulusan has had mild eruptions lately, but on calm days, it is a lovely sight to behold. At the foot of the volcano is Bulusan Lake, a scenic body of water, which reflects the towering mountain. It is popular for boating while the lakeside is visited by tourists for picnics.
Kasanggayan Festival is held every October to commemorate the founding of Sorsogon as a province. The annual feast is celebrated with exciting activities like parades, various competitions, and concerts.
The nearest airport to Sorsogon is Legazpi Airport in Albay. Major airlines like Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines fly daily from Metro Manila, with air travel only taking about an hour.
There are shuttle vans at Legazpi's transport terminals to take passengers to Sorsogon. The ride takes about two hours.
Land travel to Sorsogon is also possible with several bus lines like Philtranco, RSL, and DLTB offering direct trips from Metro Manila. Travel time ranges from 11 to 13 hours.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys can take passengers to the different towns of Sorsogon. The minimum fare is only PHP 7.00.
Tricycles can take you to some destinations that are off the beaten path.
What to See
Sorsogon is equal parts history, culture, nature, and adventure. There are lots to see in Luzon's southernmost province that will captivate all travelers of varied interests.
One of the most unique historical sites in Sorsogon is the St. Joseph Parish Church in the town of Barcelona. Built in 1874, the old stone church is made from corals put together with egg whites and coconut wine. Near the church are the ruins of a Spanish-era watchtower and the remains of what used to be a government building which served as the Spanish governadorcillo’s office.
The ancestral houses in the town of Juban also serve as reminders of the Spanish occupation. These majestic houses are just along the main road and are best appreciated when seen up close with a walking tour. Be sure to hunt for all of these well-preserved ancestral homes when you visit.
Meanwhile, in the town of Bulan is a series of Japanese tunnels that were used by Japanese soldiers during World War II as hideout.
The rustic town of Donsol offers what is arguably the best and most popular attraction in the province—whale shark watching.
There are plenty of whale sharks or butanding off the coast of Donsol Bay. Tourists are allowed to go snorkeling alongside these gentle giants, provided that they register at the town's visitor center and arrange a tour with an agency officially recognized by the tourism office. Since the bay is a protected area, diving is prohibited. The months of November to June are said to be the best time to go whale shark watching. While in Donsol, make sure to also sign up for a nighttime Donsol River cruise to see some fireflies.
Another activity that tourists simply should not miss is kayaking on Bulusan Lake at The Bulusan Volcano National Park. Travelers will love the refreshing nature view of the lush forests and the majestic Mt. Bulusan as they paddle along open waters. For those who seek a more challenging activity, hiking up Mt. Bulusan, an active volcano, is recommended. Afterwards, hikers can freshen up with a soak at Palogtoc Falls.
Sorsogon also has many islands and beaches where tourists can bask in the sun, sand, and sea for their vacation. The beaches of Subic and Tikling in the town of Matnog each boast extraordinary pinkish white sand shores and turquoise waters. The nearby Calintaan Island is just a few minutes' boat ride away and has a beautiful cave with clear waters for snorkeling.
Meanwhile, in Sorsogon City's Bacon district lies Paguriran Island. It stretches with beautiful white sand, but its clear lagoon is what captivates most tourists. For watersport enthusiasts, Rizal Beach in Gubat town is a surfing hotspot.
The town of Irosin has some hot spring resorts for tourists who want to relax in warm waters. Due to its proximity to Mt. Bulusan, the water in the dipping pools of Mateo Hot Spring Resort is heated just right for some therapeutic swim.
Events and Festivals
Kasanggayahan Festival is a province-wide celebration of Sorsogon's foundation as a province. One of the biggest festivals in the province, it highlights the rich culture of the locals through various cultural performances and agricultural activities. Drop by Sorsogon on the last week of October if you want to witness this lively and colorful event.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
Some of the popular fast food chains like Jollibee, Greenwich, and Chowking have branches in Sorsogon. Bigg's Diner, one of the popular homegrown fast food restaurants in the Bicol region, also has a branch there. This old school American diner-themed establishment serves hearty American meals such as burgers and pizzas as well as some Filipino and Bicolano dishes.
Sorsogon has both affordable and upscale dining options. For backpackers, Jane's Restaurant offers a wide variety of pocket-friendly Filipino and Bicolano dishes. Those who have a more flexible budget can enjoy the Italian dishes at Una Pizzeria, the seafood meals at Mango Grill, and the local and international fare at Casa Dominga.
Feast on Bicolano dishes on your trip to Sorsogon. The region is known for using coconut milk or gata in their dishes. Bicolanos are also fond of spicy food because of their frequent use of chili peppers when cooking. Bicol express and pinangat are just two of the must-try Bicolano dishes.
Where to Shop
Primark Town Center has three branches in Sorsogon. This commercial center has several shops for your needs, including a grocery store.
What to Buy
The most popular pasalubong for visitors in Sorsogon are the food products made from pili nuts like candied pili nuts and pili nut bars which you can buy at the pasalubong centers and the public market. Don't forget to bring home some souvenirs like T-shirts, printed mugs, and keychains.
Another delicacy you should buy is the timitim, a steamed native cake made with cassava and gata. These yummy treats can be bought from street vendors.
ATMs and Money Changers
Sorsogon has several banks and ATMs for tourists who need to withdraw cash.
Fare: PHP 900.00 to PHP 1,000.00 (Bus fare); PHP 2,000.00++ (Airfare)
Bus fare ranges from PHP 900.00 to PHP 1,000.00, depending on the destination and the bus model. Fares for buses with amenities like a comfort room and Lazy Boy chairs are more costly. Meanwhile, you can get a one-way flight to Legazpi Airport from Manila for as low as PHP 2,000.00. The bus or van fare to Sorsogon from Legazi costs more or less PHP 100.00.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00
A budget of PHP 100.00 to PHP 150.00 would be enough if you'll be eating at a fast food chain or an affordable restaurant like Jane's Restaurant. For fancier establishments, you can set aside a PHP 200.00 minimum budget.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 300.00
Pili nut delicacies range from PHP 30.00 to PHP 100.00. Meanwhile, souvenir shirts range from PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00, depending on the design.
Accommodation: PHP 300.00 to PHP 1,200.00
Compared to other destinations, the accommodations at Sorsogon are cheaper. Backpackers can enjoy staying in a basic room for as low as PHP 300.00 per night. Meanwhile, overnight stays at midrange hotels range from PHP 800.00 to PHP 1,200.00.
Activities: PHP 100.00 to PHP 1,000.00
Tourists are required to pay PHP 30.00 to enter Bulusan Volcano National Park. Renting a kayak costs an additional PHP 100.00 for a 30-minute cruise. For the hot spring resorts, entrance fees are more or less PHP 40.00.
Surfing lessons inclusive of board rentals at Rizal Beach cost PHP 300.00. Meanwhile, boat rentals for the firefly watching tour at Donsol River are priced from PHP 1,250.00 to PHP 1,500.00 for up to five people.
Tourists who want to swim with the whale sharks need to pay the PHP 300.00 registration fee at the Donsol Visitors Center. Boat rental is at PHP 3,500.00 for up to six passengers. You can also rent snorkeling gear for PHP 300.00.
||Arrive in Sorsogon City from Legazpi.
||Check in at your chosen accommodation in Sorsogon City.
||Have an early lunch at Jane's Restaurant.
||Travel to the town of Barcelona via jeepney.
||See the St. Joseph Parish Church.
||From Barcelona, ride a jeepney to Bulusan. Once you get there, ride a tricycle to Bulusan Volcano National Park or hop on a Irosin-bound jeepney which passes by the park's entrance.
||Once you get to the park, rent a kayak and cruise along Bulusan Lake.
||Hop on a jeepney to Irosin.
||Head to Mateo Hot Springs, pay the entrance fee, and enjoy a dip in the warm dipping pools.
||Head back to Sorsogon City.
||Have dinner at Bigg's Diner.
||Have breakfast at a fast food chain like Jollibee.
||Ride a jeepney to the town of Gubat. Once there, hail a tricycle to Rizal Beach.
||Spend your day at the beach swimming and learning to surf.
||Grab some lunch at the resorts or in a carinderia.
||Travel to Juban.
||Arrive in the town of Juban. Do a walking tour and see the many Spanish-era ancestral houses.
||Head back to Sorsogon City.
||Arrive in Sorsogon City. Do some pasalubong shopping. Make sure to pick up some pili nut delicacies.
||Explore the city proper.
||Grab some dinner at Casa Dominga.
||Have breakfast at a fast food chain.
||Ride a van to Donsol.
||Arrive at the Donsol Visitors Center. Pay the appropriate fees and wait for a boat. If you don't have snorkeling gear, you can rent one there.
||Start your whale shark watching tour. Enjoy seeing and swimming with these gentle giants.
||Head back to shore. Have lunch at the restaurants in Donsol.
||Ride van back to Sorsogon City.
||Arrive back in Sorsogon City.
It's best to visit Sorsogon during the dry season months of December until May.
Make sure to bring some medicine, first aid supplies, and insect repellent for your trip. There are hospitals and clinics in the province should you be in need of any medical assistance.
Safety and Security
Take extra caution when visiting a new place. Sorsogon may be generally safe for tourists, but it's best to be careful to avoid any untoward incidents. Make sure to always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables in a safe place.