Here’s a possible itinerary if you’re short on time and you want to explore Bicol on a weekend. An overnight stay is actually enough to swim with the whale sharks, watch fireflies, conquer Mayon Volcano, and feast on Bicolano dishes. We shall refer to this part of your Bicol adventure as the Mayon-Butanding Connection.
This itinerary is designed for those who are taking the bus from Manila on a Friday night and leaving Bicol, again by bus, on Sunday night. Likewise, this is also intended for those flying to Legazpi on an early Saturday morning and flying back to Manila on Monday morning. You can use the same itinerary as long as you have an overnight to spare in Bicol (make that two nights if you’re traveling by plane).
If you take the 7pm bus trips from Manila, expect to be in Legazpi by 6am the next day. Cebu Pacific has the earliest flight to Legazpi, you’ll be in the city by 7am if the flight is not delayed.
Breakfast. If you’re hungry, you can have breakfast at Bigg’s Diner, a popular local food chain. They have branches in Daraga, Old Albay, LCC and Gaisano Malls. Head to their Old Albay branch. From the Legazpi Terminal, your last bus stop, hop on a jeep that bears a Daraga sign and asked to be dropped off at the Capitol. Fare is PhP8. From there, it is a short walk to the diner.
Your other option is to take a tricycle, in which case you will need to shell out PhP40-50 for the ride. From the airport, ride one of the tricycles that are parked outside and tell the driver to take you to Bigg’s Diner. Fare should not be more than PhP40. Slowly acquaint your tastebud with Bicol cuisine by ordering their pork chop and laing combo meal.
If it’s hole-in-the-wall dining experience that you fancy, eat at Kaunan ni Jun. Follow the same direction from the bus terminal and airport and ask the driver to drop you off in front of the Albay Astrodome. The eatery is not hard to find from here.
Romancing Mayon. After your quick breakfast, it is time to see Mayon. Since commuting will take a lot of your time, I suggest you hire a tricycle to take you to three viewing spots – Daraga Church, Cagsawa Ruins, and Lingnon Hill – and back to the city. The price can go from PhP200 to PhP300 depending on how good you are in haggling. Do not agree if the driver commands a higher price. If you’re traveling as a big group, I suggest you avail the city tour package offered by your hotel.
Your first stop in conquering Mayon is Daraga Church where you get a view of Mayon from a hill. Added bonus here is the Church of Our Lady of the Gate, which facade was built using volcanic rocks from Mayon.
After which, proceed to Cagsawa Ruins which is famous for its bell tower, the only remnant of the Cagsawa Church when Mayon erupted in the 18th century. Have some trick and jump shots taken with Mayon as your backdrop. Entrance fee is PhP20.
Your next stop is Lingnon Hill, a really interesting spot to view Mayon. Environmental fee, which also serves as your entrance fee, is PhP20. I am not sure if the tricycle can get to the top of the hill. If not, you are in for some “smooth” climbing. Try the zipline ride (PhP250) for a unique Mayon-watching experience.
Ask the driver to drop you off at the Gaisano Mall for lunch. You can eat at 1st Colonial Grill and try their chili ice cream.
Going to Donsol. After lunch, head back to the Legazpi Terminal (jeepney fare is PhP8, tricycle ride costs PhP30) and ride the shuttle vans to Donsol. Fare is PhP75. Travel time is an hour and a half, at most.
Once in Donsol and you’ve settled your stuff at your resort, proceed to the Tourism Office to register, avail of slots for next day’s tours and attend the briefing. You will pay PhP100 as your registration fee while the tour costs PhP3,500 and can be shared among six people. The Tourism Office is open until 5:00pm. Read everyhing there is to know about the whale shark tour here.
After the briefing, you can go back to your resort and take some rest while you wait for the sunset. You should not miss Donsol’s sunset.
If you want, go on a firefly tour by 6:00pm. You can take the tour from Amor Farm Beach Resort or from the jump-off point near Donsol’s only prominent bridge.
After the tour (which can run for two hours at most), have dinner at Kawnkita Restaurant where their house specialty is Bicol cuisine such as adobadong manok, bicol express, and kinunot (fish meat, malunggay leaves, chili, coconut milk).
Date with the butandings. Get up early for the whale shark tour if you’re able to book the 7:00am schedule. If you weren’t lucky to reserve and would be needing luck to get on the first batch of the tours, you need to be at the Tourism Center before 7:00am. The tour runs for three hours so you will be back at your resort by lunchtime.
After lunch, proceed to Donsol’s Terminal and ride the vans to go back to Legazpi. There are usualy vans until 2:00pm, after which only jeepneys travel to Daraga, some 30 minutes ride to Legazpi. Jeepney fare is PhP60, travel time is almost two hours.
Once back in Legazpi, you can buy pasalubongs at the terminal. The items are a lot cheaper here compared to tourist spots like the Cagsawa Ruins.
If you still have time, have meryenda at Small Talk. It is a famous local restaurant revered for its fusion Bicolano dishes. Try the Bicol Express Pasta or Mayon Pizza. Follow the same direction when going to Bigg’s Diner. Small Talk is some few meters away from the diner.
Goodbye Bicolandia. After which you ride the bus back to Manila. Make sure you take one of the window seats on the right side you can bid goodbye to Mayon while she melts into darkness.
For those spending the night in Legazpi for their early morning flight to Manila, you can hang out at Embarcadero de Legazpi where you get a seafront view of Mayon. Remember Baywalk of yesteryears? Embarcadero transforms into that after dusk so you can probably have dinner here.
If you still have the energy and wanting a good massage to end your weekend escape, there’s a good massage place on the third floor of Gaisano Mall (which name escapes me at the moment and that should tell you to come back to this posy for an update). The massage costs PhP300.
Alternative itinerary. Head straight to Donsol after arriving in Legazpi and then take the 10:00am or 2:00pm whale shark tours and end your day with the firefly tour. Wake up early the next day and head back to Legazpi where you conquer Mayon and feast some more on Bicolano dishes.
See? A weekend in Bicol is not really complicated. You get to glide along the world’s largest fish and enjoy the sight of the world’s near-perfect cone in just two days. Enjoy your Mayon-Butanding Connection!
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust!
Posted via WordPress for Android while enjoying middle of the road music, on my way home to Donsol.