The final leg of our 5-day ALMASOR tour allowed us a day to explore Albay; the Queen City of Southern Luzon. I noticed improvements the moment we landed at Legazpi International Airport from the last time that I’d been there. It’s undeniably, one of my favorite airports in the country because of the clear view of Mayon volcano.
It was July of 2014 when I last visited Albay.I remember giving this airport a 5-star rating when I reviewed it on Looloo regardless, if it looks old, small, and simple. I love how clean and organize the airport is. Back then, I’m hopeful that the local government will allocate funds to improve Legazpi Airport.
And my prayer was answered immediately. In August 2015, the renovation of the airport was completed. I was impressed when I saw its eco-friendly inspired facade. There was also a wide glass wall that provides passenger a majestic view of Mayon. The building has become well-ventilated, clean, and spacious. I also like their restrooms, which are better than those in NAIA.
As we toured around the city, I couldn’t help but reminisce all my good experiences in this province. I love Bicolanos because they are one of the most hospitable people I’ve met during my travels here in the Philippines. Other improvements going on is the construction of Bicol International Airport, which is expected to be operational in July 2017. The newly international airport is expected to trigger economic growth in the region.
What to do in Albay?
I did ATV in different parts of the country and I could say that Mayon ATV is still the best place to do this adventure when it comes to experience and view. My first experience was in a shorter trail, about less than an hour [Read the review here], but this time, I tried the Mayon base camp trail. It’s a 2-hour adventure going to the camp and 15-minute walk going to the helipad.
The path leading to the base camp was stunning. The moment we started driving, it all felt like yesterday. I can still remember the joy of driving on the river bed and getting wet. The wide grassland with cows everywhere. The adrenaline of driving on a rocky and uneven road was like an aphrodisiac to me.
What made this adventure even more exciting is the idea that you can come closer to Mayon where you can get the most picturesque view of the volcano, one of the most famous and active volcanoes in the Philippines.
We had a short break when we arrived to the camp then trekked all the way to the helipad. It could be one of the unobstructed places to see Mayon. On our way down there was a zip line back to the base camp.
Our ATV adventure was arranged by Your Brother Travel and Tours. For inquiries please click this link
Where to eat in Albay?
I could testify that food in this part of the country is one of the most delicious dishes in the Philippines. Some of my favorite Bicolano dishes are Ginataang bagongon, Inon-on na isda, Tinutungan na manok, Gising-gising, Pili pulp with patis, and Laing.
Tourism Promotions Board brought us to one of the oldest traditional houses in Albay converted into a family owned restaurant, the Balay Cena Una from Bicolano word “Balay” means house and Cena Una or “Sinauna” means ancient or old fashion.
The moment I stepped inside the restaurant, I immediately felt the homey ambiance of the place. It feels like I’m visiting my grandmother’s house in the province or visiting a classy old grand house with a twist of modern design.
Ms. Angel Villanueva-Reyes, the manager of the restaurant warmly welcomed us to Balay Cena Una. She told us that their restaurant started back in 2006 but due to the wrath of Typhoon Reming that heavily affected the Bicol region, they had to close the business for a while and turned their resto into a mobile kitchen that fed people from different barangays in the area.
During that time, a member of US Navy asked help from their family to feed Filipino volunteers they brought in the region. Without a second thought, their family extended their help and that is how he met this US navy guy who later became her husband. I believe that Balay Cena Una can stand the test of time since its foundation was kindness, generosity, and love.
Our lunch started with some appetizers, pako (wild fern) and pumpkin soup, followed by my favorite Chicken Tinotongan (smoked chicken cooked with coconut milk and papaya). I swear that you shouldn’t miss this food the next time you visit Bicol. We also had mixed sweet and sour seafood, their very own Lumpia Sorpresa (they call it sopresa or surprise in English because what’s inside the wrapped spring rolls differ from one another). You can have pork, tinapa (smoked fish), or kandingga (pork organs) and my other favorite Gising-gising (Green bean with Pork in Coconut milk).
Ms. Reyes always told us that we should have some room for dessert, she always told people to wait for the dessert because that’s the highlight of their meal. We had their signature cake, sili (chili) ice cream, and tinutungan (toasted coconut) ice cream. I was delighted with all the food that they served.
For more details visit about Balay Cena Una, please click this link.
Where to stay in Albay?
I was so excited when I saw the hotel where we would be staying in Albay. Being a self-proclaimed hotel enthusiast, one definition of heaven to me is staying at a luxury hotel and thinking of a luxurious break in the region, someone shouldn’t miss Misibis Bay, probably the only 5-star hotel in the province.
We arrived past 6:00 p.m at Misibis. From the Airport, travel time is less than an hour. Located at Cagraray Island, the staff of this private island resort welcomed us with drinks and wooden bracelet. I can’t help but be amazed at how modern their facilities are. I personally loved their stylish architecture on how rooms/villa was designed. Despite the extravagant vibes, the feeling was homey. It seems like you’re inside a posh village. Misibis bay is really not your typical upscale hotel.
Imagine how huge this 5-hectare island resort, which for a more convenient check-in we have to ride a golf cart going to our room. We got a one bedroom deluxe, one of the most classy rooms I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a 65-sqm room with 2 double size beds; the comforter was thick and irresistibly soft.
The main room is connected to the restroom, which has a bathtub and toiletries are all l’occitane. Our common area has a daybed and next to it is the dining area with a mini bar set up. What made this room surprising is the back door connected to the pool area. Every corner of our room is like taken from a magazine cover; tranquil, luxurious, and exclusive.
Misibis bay offers various land and water activities to check the complete list please click this link.
Misibis bay is also less than a 30-minute walk from Cagraray Ecopark where you can see their famous amphitheater which one of the pitstops of Amazing Race Asia 4.
The Bicol region is truly blessed with natural wonders, great food, and warm people. Albay is also fortunate to have the perfect shape volcano gracefully standing in their province.In fact, it has been named as one of the world’s most photogenic volcanoes by CNN Travels. Gone were the days where Bicol region was one of the least visited provinces in the country. Today, it’s one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the Philippines.
Note: This is a sponsored FAM Tour by Tourism Promotions Board to promote the province of Albay. All views, posts, and opinions shared here are my own.