Legazpi City and Surrounding Areas: The Tourist Round in One Day

All we really wanted was to see Mayon. Caramoan was a last minute addition to our Bicol trip. The original plan is to go straight to Legazpi via sleeper train and spend the entire duration of what was then a three to four days vacation exploring the city and the surrounding towns.

The more my research of places to see in Bicol progresses, the longer the list of places I wanted to see became. Due to bad weather, we ended up extending our stay in Gota Village and spent a total of four days in Caramoan instead of the planned 3 days.

A view of Mayon Volcano from Cagsawa

Four people in one row of seat with absolutely no room to stretch your legs in a two to three hour journey. A scene we’re all too familiar with, from our commute from Naga to Sabang then back to Naga via UV Express vans. So this time, we decided to take a bus to Legazpi.

According to most blogs I’ve read, Naga to Legazpi by van takes only two hours; half the travel time as compared to taking the bus. We were willing to sacrifice a couple of hours for comfort.

Picture perfect Mayon volcano and farmers

I spoke too soon. The air inside the bus is a bit stuffy, the air-conditioning system is having a hard time keeping the bus cool. Much like vans, there’s barely any leg room. The bus loads/unloads at every town, no wonder it took us over four hours to reach Legazpi. It also didn’t take long for the entire aisle of the bus to be crammed with people. It got really crowded. So much for travelling in comfort. :)

I found this page very helpful during my research about Legazpi. Send them a message on their facebook page and they’re sure to respond and help you out.

The Legazpi leg of the trip, supposedly the only place we were supposed to visit, is ironically one of the most poorly planned vacation we’ve had. We usually have a minimum of three hotels in our list of places to stay. This time we only have one, Sampaguita Tourist Inn. We’re not picky with our accommodations, we don’t mind roughing it out when we travel. But when a hotel has a huge fire hazard warning in front of it… No thank you.

With the little remaining battery left in our gadgets we weren’t able to go online to look for a hotel. The only option we have is to walk around the old city area of Legazpi to look for a place to stay. After about a couple of hours walking, we ended up in Casablanca Hotel (port area).

The facade and lobby of the hotel was promising. It looked newly renovated. The newly painted walls and ceilings of the hotel did little to hide its true age. It reminded us of a hotel we stayed in at Bondowoso on our way to Mt Bromo in Indonesia. The shower curtain is moldy. I didn’t want to step inside the bathroom. Some good points, the hot shower works as it should, the a/c gets the job done, and the staff are friendly.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this place. The Php 1,250 per night price tag (promo without breakfast) would have been reasonable if it were in a better location.

The majestic Mayon dominates over the skyline of the entire city of Legazpi. The volcano has been called a “shy beauty” by some as it usually hides behind a veil of clouds. The best time to appreciate the full splendor of Mayon is early morning. We left for Cagsawa around 6 am.

To get to Cagsawa from Legazpi, take a Guinobatan or Polangui bound jeepney (Php 12). It’s around 45 mins to an hour ride. Unlike in Metro Manila, most jeepneys in Legazpi don’t have signboards, routes are written on their sides. From the main road, you may either walk 500 meters or take a tricycle (Php 30) to the ruins itself. Entrance fee is Php 10.

Cagsawa is very touristy. Souvenir shops are everywhere. There are also photographers offering to take trick shots of you with Mayon and the ruins. Then there are the various markers (the one by TV Patrol in particular) that are such eyesores! It’s also very sad to note that the other ruins inside the park did not get the same attention and care as that of the church.

Despite all these, I was really able to enjoy this place. I can’t get over how stunning Mayon is. Its perfect cone is so unbelievably beautiful!

The jeepney ride (Php 8) from Cagsawa to Daraga’s centro takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Barely having any breakfast, spending a good couple of hours in Cagsawa and spotting a Bigg’s Diner at the centro was the perfect excuse for a brunch before walking to Daraga Church.

Formally known as Our Lady of the Gate Parish, Daraga church was constructed in 1773 and sits atop a hill. Climbing the narrow, winding stairwell has a certain charm to it. Reminded me of scenes from the movie Before Sunrise.

Reaching the top of the hill, the church with its limestone whitewash is quite a sight to behold. It also offers a great view of Mayon. You can also see the ruins of Cagsawa from here. Inside the church, you’ll see old photos of the church and the restoration efforts being made. As well as old photos of Cagsawa and other structures in the surrounding regions.

After having a bowl of Halo-halo at Bigg’s Diner, we hired a tricycle (Php 50) to take us to Ligñon Hill. Ligñon Hill is an outdoor adventure park located near Legazpi International Airport.

I’ve read a lot of blogs saying that the climb up Ligñon Hill takes only about 30 mins. If you’re not physically fit like us, the climb will take much longer. Hahaha! We do walk for an hour, five days a week; still, this was pretty challenging. We regretted not taking the 30-peso motorcycle ride to the top. There is a Php 20 entrance fee.

A view of the city of Legazpi from Lignon Hill

On the way to the top of the hill, you’ll see a World War II Japanese tunnel and the various activities that can be had. There is a run-down building at the very top of the hill where various, somewhat overpriced souvenirs are being sold.

The 360º view of the surrounding areas at the top of Ligñon Hill is pretty nice; The majestic Mayon to the Northwest, the entire city of Legazpi to the south and Albay Gulf to the east.

Jeepneys plying the Legazpi-Daraga route are few and far between. The abundance of tricycles make up for the lack of it, we hired one to take us to the main highway for Php 30.

Before heading back to our hotel to freshen up, we did a quick stop at St Gregory the Great Cathedral in front of Peñaranda Park.

Good thing we decided to walk back to the hotel. We passed by Smalltalk Cafe, a highly recommended food place among people who’ve been to Legazpi. And there’s good reason why, the food is great!

The last location on our list, the Embarcadero. The Embarcadero de Legazpi is much like most malls; there are shops, boutiques, restaurants, rides, throngs of people… But what this mall has that others don’t is an awesome view of Mayon.

Embarcadero de Legazpi

The bay is surprisingly clean. I was thinking, being this close to the city, and a mall at that, it would be littered. There are lots of people sitting by the breakwater munching on a few snacks, watching the occasional person sliding down the zipline and of course the view of perfect Mayon volcano.

The following are our major expenses. This does not include purchases like snacks, supplies, souvenirs, etc.

Naga to Legazpi Bus PHP 180
Accommodations PHP 1,250
Legazpi to Cagsawa Jeep PHP 12
Cagsawa Entrance PHP 10
Cagsawa to Daraga Jeep PHP 8
Daraga to Ligñon Tricycle PHP 50
Ligñon Entrance PHP 20
Ligñon to Hi-way Tricycle PHP 30
Jeep to Legazpi PHP 8
Jeep to Embarcadero PHP 8

Although we were only able to spend a couple of nights in Legazpi and just one whole day to explore the surrounding towns, Albay definitely made its mark on me.

A view of Mayon from Embarcadero de Legazpi

Albay is a province overflowing with history and beauty. One whole day may be enough to see the usual tourist attractions, but Albay has so much more to offer. From the hot springs, beaches, and other natural wonders, to the restaurants, century-old churches and other man-made marvels. All these serve as an invitation for another visit, and then another, then another…

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14 Responses to Legazpi City and Surrounding Areas: The Tourist Round in One Day

  1. Rainbow Journal 15 May 2014 at 5:13 am #

    I'm also from Bicol. Was born there. Hehehe! So true, Bicol is indeed home to some of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. :)

  2. Mars Callo 14 May 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    As a Bicolana myself despite having been born in Manila, I am very proud of my family's roots in Bicolandia. We are home to world-famous Caramoan and Calaguas virgin beaches and of course majestic Mt. Mayon and lots more! The pic btw is perfect! You caught her on a very clear day w/ no clouds hovering its top!
    Awesome article! Thank you for featuring Legazpi City ☺

  3. Rainbow Journal 7 April 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    It would be great if your plan to visit Legazpi this summer pushes through. Hope you were able to have an idea of some places of interest in Legazpi through this article.

  4. Ma Theresa Montino 7 April 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    My college friends wants to visit Legazpi this summer but we still don't have definite plans yet!

  5. Rainbow Journal 5 April 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Mayon is indeed a shy beauty, not everyone who visits get to see her full splendor. I think everyone should visit Legazpi if just to see Mayon. :)
    Thanks for visiting Maria Theresa!

  6. Maria Theresa Dalagan 5 April 2014 at 9:05 am #

    I've been to Legazpi before during a school-related trip. Good thing we got to see the Mayon even just for a few seconds (because the rain clouds are blocking it). The pili nuts sold in souvenir shops taste great too :D

  7. Rainbow Journal 4 April 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Hi Mitch! Mt. Mayon is really mesmerizing. I can look at it for hours on end! It really isn't that hard to go to Legazpi. There are daily flights and tons of bus companies have routes there. Also, Legazpi and Naga has some of the most well-organized central terminals I've seen. :)

  8. Mitch Ryan 4 April 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    It would be great to go there and take a photo of Mt. Mayon. Transportation is something that the Philippines has to work on if we are to lure more tourist in the country.

  9. Rainbow Journal 2 April 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Hope you'd be able to check Legazpi off of your bucket list soon! Thanks for visiting! Cheers!

  10. Shirgie Scf 2 April 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Legazpi is on my bucket list. I think it's an interesting place to visit.

  11. Rainbow Journal 2 April 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Hi Kenneth! I wish you luck and hope that you indeed get to start exploring our beautiful country. Make sure to have Legazpi City on that list! :)
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  12. Kenneth Manaloto 2 April 2014 at 4:33 am #

    Those are such great scenery . How I wish I can start exploring the whole Philippines soon.

  13. Rainbow Journal 1 April 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Thanks Raymond! Legazpi is really worth visiting. And Albay is not a very big province and it's really easy to go around, even when commuting. I do hope you'd get to see Mayon Volcano in person, it truly is lovely. Hehe!

  14. Raymond Nicolas 1 April 2014 at 7:21 am #

    Nice photo of the Mayon Volcano! So lovely! Hehe. I've never been to Bicol. Hopefully, I can go one day. When I have more time. Hehehe.