In one look, the Philippines is a country that is inspired by a simplistic lifestyle reflected by the humbleness of its domains. You would wonder why it has become a primary spot for tourists all across the globe. But all of this is because underneath its plainness and humility, it hides marvels that can literally soothe your soul. This is why in this chapter of my Philippines Tourist Spots series, I will showcase to you the perfection camouflaged in the southern parts of the Luzon Island in the Philippines. And by the time you finished reading this article, I assure you that Albay is one place you’re not going to forget in your next trip to the archipelago.
How to Get to Albay
Traveling to Albay is relatively easy. There are direct bus lines going to “Legazpi” from Manila. Just tell the cabbie to drop you off at Cubao Terminal and Pasay Terminal (where most of the bus companies have their terminals) and you can pick the bus that best suits you. There’s DLTB, Philtranco, Bicol Isarog, Cagsawa Travels and Tours, and many more. Bus rides going to Albay usually take up 10-12 hours depending on traffic, and consist of break times where you can get something to eat at their company stopovers.
But if you feel a little overwhelmed with the travel time, you can always access Albay by air. Check out tickets online for arguably the most scenic airport in the world, the Legazpi Airport. Cebu Pacific, Cathay Pacific and Philippine Airlines are among the airlines that can cater to you for that relatively short 1-hour flight.
Once you land, you will be mesmerized by the natural embrace of Mt. Mayon, as if it’s pulling you closer and closer. Next thing you know, you’re on your way to that Albay grand trip! Are you ready for utter perfection?
Urban Transcendence of Legazpi Boulevard
A coastal road that stretches to the business districts of Legazpi which is the capital of the province, Legazpi Boulevard holds great distinction as a primary tourist spot for its astonishing view featuring the perfection of Mt. Mayon and the mountains of Sorsogon in the southern side. Plus, going there is a piece of cake. Ask a tricycle driver to take you to the Blvd., and you’ll be there in 10 minutes tops.
Legazpi Boulevard will surely not disappoint. Enjoy the food experience with the famous mountain at the backdrop, and you’ll never want to be at another dining spot again. After you’ve finished refueling your energies, reinvigorate yourself with some cultural fun and meet the statue of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the renowned Spanish Conquistador from which the city is named after.
Whether you’re a sports junkie or a casual runner, this place is a good spot to sweat out. With the boulevard spreading to almost 3 kilometers, you can enjoy jogging, and biking. You can even join the locals in their Zumba lessons! Wouldn’t that be a great start to a long weekend?
Snuggle with Nature at Lignon Hill
The perfect cone of Mt. Mayon is well-documented all throughout the Philippines. You wouldn’t realize that just in its proximity hides another great spot to embrace tranquility with nature. Lignon Hill Nature Park is an amazing consort to the majesty that is Mayon. The 156-meter-high hill offers not only a close encounter with nature, but a variety of activities that you’ll surely enjoy.
Ascending the hill is an adventure of its own. While the road is steep and winding, you have a chance to truly get a sense of nature. Just a tip, hike in the morning so you’ll have the early morning breeze to keep you cool and dry! After the winding ascend, give yourself a tap in the back because you will witness one of the best sunrises arguably in the whole world. If you’re feeling more love for sunsets, there’s nothing wrong with a hike in the afternoon!
While the view is the primary attraction in Lignon Hill, the activities there are extremely exhilarating. Guests can also thrill to a 320-meter zipline where the adventurous can soar through the air harnessed to a cable. The hill also offers other adventure activities and extreme sports, such as hiking, biking, rappelling, paintball and more!
If you’re coming from Legazpi, take a Legazpi-Daraga Loop 1 jeepney. It will take you directly to the foot of the hill. So what else are you waiting for?
No Albay trip can ever be accomplished without a visit to the iconic ruins of the Cagsawa Church. Often seen as a sidekick to the Mayon, the Cagsawa Ruins is the remnants of a 15th century church built by the Franciscans. With the activity of the Mayon at its peak in the 18th century, the church has been eaten by lahar along with the town of Cagsawa. Then again, its tower bells are standing against the test of time.
For this reason, it has been declared in 2015 as a National Treasure and is now managed by the municipality of Daraga, in Albay. If your aching to go there right now, the trip is not hard to remember. Ride a jeepney bound for Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao or Polangui. These will all pass by the junction leading to Cagsawa where you can walk or hire a tricycle to take you to the ruins.
Once you’re there, you will be greeted by a venerated feel that only this site will provide you. From then on you will urged to learn about its history by way of its artifacts, documents and its geology. After a while, you can delight on souvenirs that are sold in assortment, ranging from shirts to home accessories. Some of these souvenirs are made of indigenous materials like abaca and even volcanic ash!
What proves to be a great highlight in this Cagsawa trip is the unique ATV experience. The town, being a famous jump-off point for ATV adventures is stacked with people wanting to experience the thrilling ride! For just $8, you can enjoy the short trail which takes about 45 minutes, and features the belfry ruins of the Church. The Green Lava Wall Trail is another spectacle to behold. Extending up to 14 km in total trail, you will witness the breathtaking view of the Albay Gulf, Misibis Bay and the City of Legazpi in an entirely different vantage point. Not bad for $20 right? Finally, the Black Lava Wall Trail is the most challenging trail to take because of the uphill and downhill slopes you have to take. You wouldn’t mind that until you see the the scenic Lava Wall. All of this for only $24.
The province of Albay holds a distinct place as one of the best tourist spots in the Philippines mainly because of its natural attractions. The majesty that is the Mayon is a breathtaking experience that will open your eyes to the beauty of the world. But aside from the perfection of the mountain, Albay also boasts of a variety of spots that can surely sooth your wanderlust soul. Fly to Albay and see for yourself!
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