5 Things I’ve Realized After Visiting Bicol For The First Time

Legazpi City, Philippines – I should probably get a hotel in Legazpi, Albay or perhaps an Airbnb next time‘ is just one of the many things I told myself last time I went there. You see traveling to Bicolandia is no walk in the park, but it truly is one of the most beautiful places and most rewarding trips I have ever had.

Here are other things I have discovered that could possibly help make Bicol more fun or at least easier for you if you plan on going there:

  1. If you could afford to fly there… DO IT!

Yes, road trips are fun. That’s until you find yourself sitting on a bus, bored out of your mind, for 12, maybe 14 hours and counting… then they’re not that fun anymore. If you could afford the plane tickets, take that route. You will save yourself from unnecessary stress and exhaustion. You’ll even have more time and energy to enjoy the trip.

  1. Do yourself a favor and drop by a Bigg’s Diner

One of my greatest regrets is not getting the chance to stop by Bicol’s most famous fast food place. Bigg’s has been around since 1983 and has grown to 16 branches in the Bicol area alone. They have that distinct and nostalgic early Americana vibe and a home-style fried chicken and milkshake recipe that Bicolanos love. Metro Manila is slowly catching up with the announcement of its first branch opening soon in Fairview, QC.

  1. Laing is the essential Bicol dish. Period.

In Manila, Bicol Express gets top billing. But you haven’t tasted laing (shredded taro leaves with meat or seafood cooked in thick coconut milk spiced with chili, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste.) until you’ve had it in Bicol. In addition, foodies looking for the best local fare would probably not believe this, but they’re better off asking locals to cook for them instead. I’m sure there are great restaurants here, but ask any Bicolano and they’ll tell you this: the best local dishes are cooked at home.

  1. The Mayon is truly stunning

Growing up in the 90’s, kids were bombarded with images of the country’s most iconic volcano. It’s in the history books, postcards, and posters in the walls in every classroom all over the archipelago. Most Filipinos probably haven’t seen it, but it is definitely ingrained in everyone’s consciousness. Needless to say, I was more than ready to face Mount Mayon… or was I? Nothing could have prepared me from the majestic sight of that perfect cone and that equally breathtaking Cagsawa Ruin on the foreground. Everything was surreal. I just wished the skies weren’t overcast that day. I also wish our group didn’t ask those hack photographers take souvenir photos. 

  1. Go on a side trip to the beach

Most of Bicol is landlocked. So you have to drive all the way to Camarines Sur to get your dose of Vitamin Sea. It is, without a doubt, worth it.

BONUS TIP:

Where to stay in Legazpi, Albay? Check out The Oriental Legazpi. After exploring the Legazpi City tourist spots, you can look forward to having a rejuvenating massage at the outdoor spa or unwinding by the infinity pool overlooking Mayon Volcano. Fall in love with Mayon’s beauty right in front of you as you take a break for the day. 

Guests are sure to have a unique gastronomic experience at our hotel in Legazpi, Albay. Indulge in a variety of international dishes as well as local food favorites including Laing Bagnet, Pasta Bicolandia and the famous Bicol Express. At The Oriental Legazpi, you are greeted with a choreographed dance and a welcoming smile. Serving you with passion and dedication throughout your stay, the hotel staff will make you feel at home at The Oriental. 

Beyond the majestic view of Mayon Volcano from the hotel, The Oriental Legazpi brings you closer to its beauty through the hotel’s trusted ATV tour partners. Ride an all-terrain vehicle and experience coursing through volcanic rocks, creeks, and paths along the mountainside. An exhilarating 45-minute ATV ride will take you to the Mayon Lava Rocks where you can enjoy hiking and ziplining, perfect for capping off your ATV adventure. 

For more information, visit The Oriental Legazpi Hotel in Albay, Philippines’ website at www.albay.theorientalhotels.com