Albay Experience: Of Majestic Mayon, Food, Luxury, Adventure and More
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We all have our moments of awe. And these moments stay in our memories, for good.
Summer of 2000 – It was the first time I visited Albay, a province located in the Bicol region in Southeastern Luzon and home to the picturesque Mayon Volcano. We rode a motorbike for hours to cross from one destination to the other. It was exciting yet exhausting. My most vivid memory of the trip was when we went to Cagsawa Ruins. It was here where I first saw the towering, nearly-perfect cone of Mayon Volcano in person. I was immediately stunned.
Fast forward to sixteen years and some months later, I was back to the province of Albay. A lot has changed, indeed. Part of the vast green fields and empty lots are now replaced by homes of different sizes and commercial establishments of all kinds. Hotels and restaurants line the streets. Recreational facilities are made available for leisure and adventure seekers. The local economy and tourism has already boomed. It was a far cry from the scene I saw back then. Through all these, one thing has remained the same – the magnificence of Mayon Volcano.
Nevertheless, the province of Albay isn’t all about the iconic volcano. A lot of natural wonders, gastronomic delights, luxurious offers and thrilling activities await visitors. I was able to experience it first hand during our 4-day trip to the province.
Historical and Natural attractions
If all of Albay’s wonders and attractions resemble a parfait, Mayon Volcano is the cherry on top. A visit to this province isn’t complete without seeing and taking a photo of the stunning volcano. Some places that offer a better view of Mayon include: Cagsawa Ruins – the most visited tourist spot in town for its postcard view of Mayon Volcano with the Cagsawa belfry infront; Daraga Church – a Renaissance Gothic and Mexican baroque inspired colonial church nestled on top of a hill; and the Lignon Hill Nature Park – a place located off Binitayan Road behind Albay Park and Wildlife that includes nature trails, zip lines and view decks.
With Bicol being a culinary melting pot of everything gata and spicy, it is no surprise that Albay prides of mouth-watering dishes and satisfying desserts. We had a taste of some of Albay’s must try delicacies in places like Small Talk Café – a local favorite serving fusion dishes like Pasta Pinangat (pasta infused with the local delicacy ‘pinangat’ made from gabi leaves and coconut cream), the spicy Bicol Express Pasta and the delicious Pili pie; and 1st Colonial Grill Restaurant – best known for serving classic Bicolano dishes like laing, Bicol Express and Tinutungang Manok, as well as the nationally-famous Sili ice cream.
There’s nothing like starting and capping off the day in a comfortable and cozy room. We experienced first-class accommodation and superb stay at two of Albay’s topnotch hotels. Sitting on the top of Taysan Hill, Oriental Hotel didn’t disappoint in offering a noteworthy view of the Mayon Volcano, Albay Gulf, and the Legazpi cityscape from the balcony of its rooms. The spectacular scenery complements the hotel’s sophisticated ambiance and enticing food flavors. On the other hand, Misibis Bay Resort is another luxurious gem waiting to be experienced. This private resort offers a tropical island getaway that perfectly encapsulates relaxation, tranquility and adventure altogether. The stylish architecture and interiors, coupled with its abundance of activities and wide range of flavorful cuisines, make is a breathtaking paradise that’s hard to leave.
Leisure and Adventure activities
Fun, thrill and excitement are also present in every visit to Albay. A multitude of activities related to leisure, recreation and adventure are made available to guests thru places like Embarcadero de Legazpi – a world-class waterfront lifestyle hub and premier urban mall in Legazpi city; Legazpi Boulevard – a coastal road network envisioned to become a new urban district, and is also a favorite recreation area due to its fresh sea breeze and excellent view; and the Mayon ATV Tour – a well-known and recommended activity for tourists who want to enjoy the beauty and natural surroundings of Mayon Volcano while learning about the local livelihood and culture around the foot of Mayon.
A lot has changed since I first saw and experienced Albay. However, these changes proved to be valuable and essential to the growth and development of the province, particularly when it comes to local tourism. My latest trip to Albay was a blend of fun, relaxation, learning and adventure all in one.