Legazpi City

The southern part of Luzon is home to provinces that boast of a combination of beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and flourishing cities. One of which is Albay’s Legazpi City, where the most beautiful volcano, Mt. Mayon, resides.

Named after Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the city is progressive yet relaxed in nature. To be honest, we only went there to see Mt. Mayon. Little did we know that there is so much more to do in Legazpi! We were also lucky that the Magayon Festival is celebrated every May, so there were many activities in the city all throughout the month.

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After leaving our things in the hotel (we stayed at Emerald Boutique Hotel which we really liked), we headed out for lunch to one of the most famous café restaurants in Legazpi – Smalltalk Café.

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Clockwise from bottom: Fried chicken with potato salad and rice, pinangat/laing, bicol express pasta.
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Halo-halo for dessert! The cereal on top was a nice touch.

The food and ambience were nice. After all, they have been serving local fare for almost 20 years in a renovated ancestral house. Although a perfect place for intimate dining, I still found the food in carinderias (small street-side stalls that sell pre-cooked budget meals) more delicious. I suggest trying both to see which one you’ll like better. 🙂 Also, make sure to try sili (chili) ice cream. I tried the 1st Colonial brand, and it’s good! Very creamy! They have 3 levels, so you can start with level 1 if you’re not really into chilis. Other noteworthy flavors are ginataang mais, pili, and tinutong na bigas.

We booked an ATV tour around Mt. Mayon with Bicolandia Travel and Tour. It was one of the most amazing experiences ever! Besides the thrill of riding an all-terrain 4×4, the view was just breathtaking.

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Explaining the trail, and briefing us about safety.
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View of the almost-perfect-cone volcano.

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We chose a 2-3 hour trail ride that took us until the lava wall. It’s a wall made of boulders and different debris that naturally formed after the eruption of Mayon.

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On top of the lava wall.

The ATV tour costs P3,500 each. Super worth it, if you ask me. You can get a much cheaper price for a shorter trail, and/or ATV with a lower engine capacity (ours was 200cc).

After the ride, we continued on with a regular tour in a car. Places of interest include the Cagsaua Ruins, a church built in the 1500’s. It was ransacked by the Dutch in the 1700’s, then totally destructed during Mayon’s eruption in the 1800’s.

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We also checked out Sumlang Lake, which is not actually a lake (I don’t know how they ended up calling it that), but a waterhole. :/

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Daraga Church, established by the people of Cagsaua after the Mayon eruption, is now the oldest church in Legazpi. Just look at the stonework! A meticulously carved facade exemplifying Baroque architecture, made of volcanic rocks. 🙂

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Our last stop was Lignon Hill – a then sanctuary to Japanese troops during WWII. They dug tunnels from the hill to certain areas of the city. Atop the hill is also a perfect place to see Legazpi in a 360 degree view. 🙂

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We went inside the tunnel for a P25 entrance/preservation fee. The chills!
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Can you see the Sleeping Lion hill? 🙂

Please don’t make the same mistake we did of underestimating Albay. We only booked for 2 nights because we thought there’s nothing else to do besides seeing Mayon. It turns out you can also do an underground river tour, and swim with whale sharks there! You will definitely fall in love with Legazpi and its people. In fact, I loved the city so much, I had thoughts of moving there, hahah! Hashtag true story. 🙂

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