Sleeping Lion hillocks, Legazpi, Philippines

30 days in the Philippines – Bicol Region

Days 13- 25: We were now in Legazpi in the Bicol region, southern Luzon. Waking up to the sight of the Mayon volcano standing majestically in between elegant palms from our window, we got ready for the day ahead. We visited many hotels and restaurants on our research trip of the city of Legazpi, the highlight being the Oriental Legazpi, with incredible views from its infinity pool out towards Mount Mayon. Another of our favourite spots was to stop at the First Colonial Grill for famous Bicol chili ice cream. A choice of three levels of heat intensity were available. Esme even tried level three, thinking how hot can it be? It turned out very … 

Chili ice cream in Bicol

Donsol – home of the whale sharks

The second day we visited Donsol the go-to-place to see whale sharks, although it was off season and most trip start around December. After we’d finished our research trip around Donsol and Legazpi, we were lucky enough to get a speed boat ride to the ultra luxurious Misibis Bay resort and a chance to try out some water sports on offer. Just off the boat, greeted by the smiling staff, we were given a coconut drink and a stone necklace and bracelet to wear.

Hot tub, Misibis Bay, Cagraray Island, Bicol, Philippines
Hot tub, Misibis Bay, Cagraray Island, Albay, Philippines

The uber-luxurious Misibis Bay, Bicol

In the room, we were amused to find our very own hot tub. After we had settled in, we headed out to try the paddle boarding. After a few times of falling in, we managed to keep our balance and navigate ourselves around the bay, peering over the side of the board into the clear waters below. We took some lunch by the pool and later felt revived by a foot massage.

Just before sunset, we were driven up into the mountains for a special ‘five views experience’ . Here we found our very own cocktail master making drinks to order. We drank his Piña Colada speciality and watched as the sun went down below Mount Mayon.

Cathedral, Naga City, Bicol, Philippines
Cathedral, Naga City, Philippines

Naga City, Bicol

A few days later, via some other towns and cities we found ourselves in Naga, a pilgrim city with three big churches. Among the busy and polluted streets, we found reverence in the cathedrals and shrines and also the plush Avenue Plaza hotel.

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On to the Quezon Province

Our next stop via a very long bus ride was the city of Lucena in the Quezon province. Exploring the city found a shiny glass fronted coffee shop standing out against the usual metal and wooden shack establishments that we had become accustomed to. Inside we found the original owner, who told us the story of how she grew the business, from selling just lady fingers to expanding into cakes and even main meals. 

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Later on that day we tried another of the city’s restaurants Luisa and Daughter’s, which had received many great reviews online. First impressions weren’t great but as we tried the ubod lumpia – an egg roll filled with shredded coconut heart, ginger and small shrimps, we found it to be some of the best food we’d tried in the Philippines.

Just half an hour away in the town of Lucban we discovered that the locals were celebrating the 175th anniversary of their regional hero – Hermano Puli, so we decided to join in the festivities. Although it was pretty much a wash out, we managed to see a few speeches and were kindly invited to try the sweet cassava served in banana leaves. Having been unable to get in contact with the tourist office in Lucena, we went to see the friendly Dennis at the Lucban office who kindly treated us to lunch at Isabelito’s restaurant, set in a garden centre and surrounded by colourful bromeliads and ponds.

The next day we headed back Manila via bus with plasma screen and even free wi-fi. Heading straight to the airport we were glad of free fast internet to catch up on our digital work.

If you’d like to find out more about what we get up to in the Philippines, check back here for updates on our ‘30 Days in the Philippines‘ tag.

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