7 Best Things to Do in Albay: Visiting The Mayon Volcano

To feel awe is one of the reasons why so many people around the world travel. Awe is a feeling that does not only make us happy, but according to nbcnews.com, it actually helps us live our best lives.

The Philippines, even though famous for paradise-like beaches, has other stunning attractions that fill people with awe and wonder. One of them is the Mayon Volcano in the province of Albay (located in the Bicol Region). In my study about the best mountains in the Philippines, Mount Mayon ranked as the second-best mountain in the whole country.

Mayon, Philippines

Though Mayon can’t be hiked in the meantime due to its recent volcanic activities, millions of people still to Legazpi City, the city closest to Mayon. According to the Philippine News Agency in 2019, there were 1.27 million tourists visited Legazpi City to see the majestic Mayon Volcano and its perfect cone shape.

Bicol Region, Philippines

Indeed, Mayon is the leading top tourist-drawer in the Bicol region. Yet, your trip must not end just in staring at Mayon Volcano. Other leisure activities and beautiful places are waiting for you there. You can start your adventures around Mayon Volcano in Legazpi City.

Disclaimer: I haven’t been to Mayon Volcano. I made this blog post because I want this to be my guide when I finally go there. I was planning to go there during the dry season of 2020, but Covid-19 happened. So yeah, It’s kinda frustrating.

But I have contacted some of my friends and other travelers who have been to Albay. They have willingly shared their experiences and tips – and they’re all here.

Bicol Region, Philippines

I created this blog post because I know you need tips and ideas about Mayon Volcano too. I want this to be your one-stop page guide for your trip to Mayon Volcano. I’ve read reviews and watched YouTube videos as well to add juice to the content of this page. I hope you enjoy and find this post very useful.

How to go to Mayon Volcano or Legazpi City?

You can go to Legazpi City by plane or by bus. However, years ago, Filipinos could travel to Bicol from Manila by train. The route was suspended after devastating typhoons hit southern Luzon, damaging the railway.

Personally, I can’t wait for the Manila-Bicol railway route to resume operation. Besides the fact that it is safer and more comfortable than a bus ride, it will be a totally new experience for me. I haven’t tried any railway service in our country other than LRT and MRT in Metro Manila.

By Plane

If you are short on time, air travel would be your best option to arrive in Legazpi City. In normal circumstances, flights from Manila to Legazpi are available daily and should only last for an hour or less. Flights are usually cheap and cost only 10 to 15 dollars higher than a bus ride.

TIP: If you plan ahead of time, watch out for the local airline companies’ flight seat sales (Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Philippine Airlines). These promos usually happen during the same day-month-digit dates. Example, 3-3 seat sale (March 3).

By Bus

For those who love to travel slowly like me, a bus ride would be a good option. You can choose between different types of buses depending on your budget. You can pick between (1) an airconditioned bus which is the cheapest, (2) an upgraded version of the airconditioned bus, which has a restroom, reclining seats, and larger legroom, and lastly (3) a sleeper bus.

Bicol Isarog is the only bus company that offers a sleeper bus to Bicol Region (Manila to Legazpi). You can catch other buses going to Bicol at these terminals around Metro Manila: Araneta Center bus station, EDSA Cubao, LRT Buendia, EDSA Pasay, PITX in Paranaque, and Alabang.

The bus ride from Manila to Legazpi takes about 10 to 12 hours.

When should you visit Mayon Volcano or Bicol Region?

The best time to explore Bicol Region is during the dry season, which usually starts in March and ends in May. However, you might want to see the colorful and lively Bicolano festivals. You might have to tweak your schedule a bit for you to maximize your Bicolandia trip.

Since you will travel to the Mayon, I suggest you check the rest of our beautiful country. The best time to visit Mayon is also the best time to travel to Cebu (the adventure capital of the Philippines), Sagada (the most beautiful place in the northern Philippines), and Maligcong (the town with the most beautiful rice terraces in the Philippines).

Festivals To Watch While Visiting Mayon Volcano or Bicol

There are hundreds of festivals and fiestas that happen in the Philippines all year round. There are 19 festivals in the province of Albay alone! But here are the ones that really got my attention:

Magayon Festival

Magayon Festival is a yearly month-long colorful & lively celebration to honor the bounty and beauty of the province of Albay. The festival is derived from the legend of Daragang Magayon, whose death gave birth to the majestic Mount Mayon.

At first, I could not believe that it was actually a month-long celebration! That’s epic! In our town in Batangas, our celebration only lasts for two days. The festival gets more fantastic when you see the actual events.

Activities at Magayon Festival are endless! There are local product exhibits, workshops, float parades, fireworks display, concerts, live bands, drum and lyre competitions, sports tournaments, colorful dance competitions, dance recitals, jobs fair, paragliding experience, dog marathons, beauty pageant, bodybuilders competition, and grand Santa Cruzan!

Magayon Festival occurs every May. That’s a perfect time to go and visit Mount Mayon!

Cagsawa Festival

Cagsawa Festival is another month-long celebration in Albay which occurs to celebrate Albayanon’s strength and resiliency. Cagsawa Festival happens every February. Though the celebration starts on February 1, most events happen during the third and fourth week of February (like what happened last February of 2020).

Ibalong Festival

Like most of the festivals in Albay, the Ibalong Festival demonstrates lively synchronized dance parades with vibrant costumes. It is based on the story of Ibalon and three other legendary heroes. They destroyed the monsters terrifying the town, and saved the villages from great floods.

Ibalong Festival is one of the most social events in the Philippines; it is a way for the Bikolanos to express their hospitality to the tourists. During the festival, Bikolanos do not only invite visitors to watch the festival, but they also encourage them to join it!

Aside from dance parades, you can also watch fireworks and festival musical performances. There is also a drag race show during the Ibalong festival, a unique activity that shall add fun and excitement to your stay in Albay.

Things to do in Legazpi near Mount Mayon

Now that you know how to go to Bicol and you already know when to visit, it’s time you learn where we should be going. I recommend these seven places for two reasons. First, they are the destinations that most Facebook Travel groups visit. Second, you gotta read the conclusion after you finished reading everything under this section. ?

If you are a foreigner, I would recommend that you rent a motorcycle or private vehicle. Transportation (tricycles and jeep) is not convenient in the Philippines, especially if you are six-footer like me. But I recommend that you try them at least once.

Hey, before you continue, I would like to let you know that Mount Mayon is only one of the most beautiful mountains in the Philippines. Another that I love is Mount Pulag. Read my experience in Mount Pulag from my other blog post about Conquering Mount Pulag (I conquered the mountain twice).

Cagsawa Ruins

The first thing that you must do in Legazpi is visit Cagsawa Ruins. The view from Cagsawa Ruins is printed on millions of postcards bought by millions of people before smartphones came into existence.

Cagsawa Ruins, Albay, Philippines

Whenever I recall our social studies classes, Cagsawa Ruins is the first image that comes to my mind. Behind the beautiful view is actually a manifestation of the tragic past and the power of Mayon Volcano.

Cagsawa Ruins, Albay, Philippines

In 1814, Mayon erupted violently; it buried and destroyed the whole town of Cagsawa, including Cagsawa church. Amazingly, the church’s belfry survived that later on became a tourist attraction.

How to go to Cagsawa Ruins?

Cagsawa Ruins is located in Daraga, Albay. The travel time to Cagsawa Ruins is less than 30 minutes for an 8-kilometer jeepney ride from Legazpi City Grand Terminal.

When to see Cagsawa Ruins?

There are a lot of people swarming the ruins during weekends. We should avoid it so we could get the best shot without photobombers. Personally, I choose to go early morning or sunset when the sun rays make a smaller angle with the ground. The Golden Hour should make our photos look epic!

Mayon ATV ride

Cagsawa Ruins would just be a brief stop if you will not rent ATVs to explore the area. From the Ruin’s tower and volcano view, it would only take a 2-minute walk to arrive at MayonSkyDrive ATV Adventure. There, you can start a fun and incredible adrenaline rush experience with nature and Mayon. It is the best thing to do so you can get a close up view of Mayon Volcano.

ATV, Mayon Volcano

ATV rental service starts at 7 in the morning and ends at 5 in the afternoon. You can choose Green Lava Trail or Mayon Lava Trail to follow on your ATV adventure.

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ATV, Mayon Volcano

The Green Lava Trail will lead you closer to Mayon Volcano until the 6-kilometer safe radius from the crater. You’ll have fun with river crossings, uphill and downhill tracks in the forest.

ATV, Mayon Volcano

On the other hand, Mayon Lava Trail will give you a more thrilling and exciting experience. With this trail, you’ll be following tracks passing wide rivers, fields of lahar, and hectares of coconut plantation. What’s even more fantastic is when you reached the end of the trail. There, you’ll get an amusing overlooking view of the city, sights of deep gullies, and erupted lava rocks.

Lignon Hill nature park

If you love riding a zipline, well, you have to go to Lignon Hill Nature Park. It’s great to see Mayon while you feel like flying, right? Haha! Anyway, Lignon Hill Nature Park is an elevated lookout and creational park which offers activities for a day of fun in Legazpi. This is the best thing to do if you just want to see Mount Mayon in different prespective/height.

Lignon Hill, Albay, Philippines

Beautiful Shot by @kaelish

Aside from zipline, you might want to try rappelling in Lignon Hill Natural Park. If adventure is too exhausting for you, you can instead have a discovery trip on the observatory, galleries, and view deck. You can play minigolf too, but you must see the Japanese tunnel unique to this place.

Lignon Hill, Albay, Philippines

Stunning Shot by @jusibeyb

Lignon Hill nature park houses the Mayon Volcano Observatory, the central monitoring station of Phivolcs for Mayon Volcano.

When to visit Lignon Hill Nature Park?

To get the best experience, try climbing the hill in the early morning so you can avoid the heat in midday. Besides, I think it would be amazing to witness the sun paint the majestic Mayon with golden colors during sunrise.

Lignon Hill, Albay, Philippines

The park is open 8 am to 11 pm Daily, and  5 am to 9 am for Regular Joggers (free of charge). Source: Amazing Albay

How to go to Lignon Hill Nature Park?

Find any jeepneys following Loop 1. They circulate around Legazpi city, and they pass through the jump-off site of Lignon Hill. You can also hire motorcycle cabs (tricycles) to transport you to Lignon Hill if you can’t find Loop 1 Jeeps.

Quintinday Hills

Not too far away from Legazpi City but still in Albay, you’ll find Quintinday hills. This is a thing to do Legazpi if you want to see Albay province’s version of Bohol’s chocolate hills.

In the photos, they seem to look not as grand as the hills from Bohol. But with Mount Mayon in the background, Quintinday hills gained unexplainable charm (at least to me), which balanced the scale.

I discovered Quintinday Hills during lunch with my French boss at a cafeteria near our office. We were talking about our adventures when he showed me his photo with his Filipina girlfriend in Quintinday Hills.

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Quintinday, Albay, Philippines

AMAZING Shot by @erroldamor

They were hugging each other at the peak of a hill under a golden pinkish morning sky! I was stunned because the picture so looked perfect! I am not overreacting, I promise.

Romance did the thing, but Mayon Volcano and the hills plus the clouds made a significant impact too.

Quintinday, Albay, Philippines

A Lovely Photo by @joyventures_

That’s when I gained interest in going to Bicol and seeing Mayon.

How to visit Quintinday Hills?

From Legazpi City Grand Terminal, hop on a jeepney or bus to Camalig and drop off at Quitinday Junction / Diversion Road. After arriving in the junction, charter a motorcycle cab or “tricycle” for a back and forth trip to Quintinday hills.

Alternatively, you can rent a motorcycle or any four-wheeled vehicle to drive via Cotmon-Solong-Calabidong and Baligang-Caguiba routes to get to the Quintinday hills.

When to visit Quintinday Hills?

The best time to go to Quintinday Hills is during the morning when the heat is not at its peak yet. If you want to take good photos, consider going within golden hour (4:30 to sunset). The angle of the sun’s rays creates awesomely beautiful shadows in the hills.

FarmPlate

Are you looking for a stress-free zone near Legazpi City? You must check Farm Plate. Here, you can go camping with a bonfire with your family or friends, and play with your kids in a playground. Visiting Farm Plate is a thing to do in Legazpi near Mayon if want to relax and watch the sunset by a small lake.

Kids can go around with a bike and fly a kite in Farm plate, teach them to be adventurous by riding on a carabao cart ride. This ride is an old way how Filipinos transport people and goods from the farms.

FarmPlate, Albay, Philippines

A perfect photo taken by @justinnnrosss

How to go to FarmPlate?

If you’re around Legazpi or Daraga, you can charter a tricycle going to FarmPlate. According to their Facebook page, If you start from Caltex Daraga, for a tricycle trip of 3 persons, each pays only 20 pesos.  

When to go to FarmPlate?

Farm Plate is open Monday to Thursday 8am – 9pm and Friday to Sunday 8am – 10pm. Source: FarmPlate Facebook page

In my opinion, it would be better to visit FarmPlate before sunset and spend time at night. Imagine how lovely the moment when you’re with your loved ones around the bonfire and eating dinner?

Sumlang Lake

This is the place where the epic mirror shots of Mayon Volcano from a lake are taken. Sumlang Lake is an incredibly relaxing place to hang out and chill while admiring the beauty of Mayon from a raft.

Visiting Sumlang Lake is a great thing to do if you want to dwell with nature. Aside from a raft, you can rent kayaks, aqua bikes or even floating cottages! 

Sumlang lake, Albay, Philippines

If you’re a photographer, you’ll love the glittering waters or the mirror-like lake surface (not always) that makes a gorgeous reflection of the Mayon Volcano.  

How to go to Sumlang Lake?

If you are commuting from Legazpi City, you can start your way to Sumlang lake by getting a tricycle ride to Bañag. There, you can find jeepneys with “Polangui” signage. Hop on that jeep and alight at the intersection before Albay Agri Ethno Eco Village. You can charter a tricycle or walk your way to Sumlang lake.

Best time to go to Sumlang Lake?

Sumlang lake is open 8 am to 6 pm every Monday to Thursday and 6:30 am to 6pm every Friday to Sunday. The lake could get very touristy on weekends you should consider visiting the lake during the off-peak days.

Legazpi Boulevard

Finally, to complete your trip around Mayon Volcano, you must go to Legazpi Boulevard and capture a photo of yourself with the humongous “LEGAZPI” signage. Just kidding! Well, it is up to you. 

But seriously, I think it would be a good place to get in touch with the locals and watch the sun slip down behind Mayon Volcano while listening to the crashing waves.

Conclusion

When I started looking for places around Mayon, I was unsure what is the best among all these tourist spots. Believe me, there are no statistics out there yet on the internet saying what’s the most loved attraction by tourists.

I had a hard time choosing, though.

I chose these seven places around Mayon Volcano because I think they’ll give us, travelers, value. There are many attractions in Albay that we could try, but I felt they’re just plain and ordinary when I started looking for details.

I just hope that these tourist spots will help you learn history or science; feel alive by getting thrilling adventures and an adrenaline rush. And hopefully, the places on the list have also given you ideas to have a place for romance or build strong bonds with your friends and family.

Ultimately, I really wish that I provided you with destinations that would fill you with awe as you admire nature and its beauty.

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mayon, albay, philippines
mayon, albay, philippines

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