The Philippines is home to many scenic islands that will entice even the most determined homebodies! Situated in the western Pacific Ocean and in the heart of the Indo-Pacific’s Coral Triangle, this archipelago consists of over 7,000 islands and islets lying just 800 kilometres off the coast of Vietnam.
In this article, we endeavour to bring you through a compilation of must-dos and must-visits in Bicol and Cebu! Look no further than Bicol and Cebu for a seamless experience of culture and beachside serenity. Bicol is the travel capital of the Philippines! Enjoy the magnificent sights of the Mayon Volcano and ride ATVs along its rocky terrain or soak up the tropical sun at the countless beaches of Cebu. There are also plenty of colourful, vibrant and exciting festivals throughout the year to get immersed into the local cultures!
BICOL, THE PHILIPPINES
Top 3 travel destinations in Bicol
1. Mayon Volcano
Immerse yourself in the myths that surround the famed Mayon Volcano, the highest point in the region (2,463 meters). With an almost symmetrical cone-shaped structure, the Mayon Volcano is an active stratovolcano that looks over the island of Luzon. The myth that follows this volcano follows the story of two lovers, Magayon and Panganoron, and is named after the former – Daragang Magayon. The name was soon changed to represent the home of a God of the Bicalonos people, Gugurang, who also chose Mayon as the repository of the sacred ire of Ibalon. Rent an ATV and ride along the rocky terrains that nestle this volcano.
How to get there: Albay can be reached by air via Bicol International Airport (LGP) with lights from Manila and Cebu. There are also regular aircon and premium buses from Manila bound for Legazpi.
2. Lignon Hill Nature Park
Raise your adrenaline level by ziplining through Lignon Hill Nature Park! Renovated in 2006, the park now has a viewing deck with a coin-operated telescope, restaurants and souvenir shops. Apart from the zipline, the park also features a 50- foot Japanese tunnel constructed during World War II. At the foot of Lignon Hill, Albay Park and Wildlife is a worthy visit on your trip to Bicol. This large sanctuary of over 5 hectares has turned into a zoo, a rescue center for wildlife and a recreation area.
Costs to bear in mind: The entrance fee is P20 per person, which excludes the zipline and ATV rides. The zipline costs around P250 to P400 depending on the season while ATV rentals can go from P400 up to P1,500.
How to get there: From Legazpi, take the Legazpi-Daraga loop 1 jeepney to take you directly to the foot of the hill. If you are coming in from Daraga, you can take a tricycle to Tagas and direct the driver towards the tennis court for a quick hike up Lignon Hill.
3. Binurong Point
One of the newest tourist attractions in Catanduanes, Binurong Point ofers a panoramic view of the green hills as well as the boundless ocean. The hike up is a steady uphill and would take around 20 to 30 minutes to reach the top. The views from the top are simply breathtaking. We recommend trekking up to Binurong Point at dawn so you can reach the top by sunrise.
How to get there: You can charter tricycles or motorcycles from Virac or Baras, the closer of the two, heading towards Binurong Point or Puraran Beach. There is also an entrance fee of P20 and a parking fee of P10. Guides are mandatory for the treks and while there is no fixed guide fee, it is recommended to pay P150 to P200 per group.
Festival Calendar in Bicol
The Cagsawa Festival aims to celebrate the indomitable spirit of the Albayanos and not the horrors of the disaster, Cagsawa Festival is a month-long festival at the historic Cagsawa Ruins. It was launched in 2012 and the festival showcases various outdoor activities and entertainment performances such as dances and sports events.
The Tinagba Festival of Iriga City is a harvest thanksgiving festival that features parades, street dancing and various sporting competitions. Though it is a reenactment of an age-old pagan ritual, the festival is still popular among the locals and they are seen dressed to the nines.
The Magayon Festival originated from the legend of the Mayon Volcano. The legend follows the death of a love-struck woman, Daragang Magayon. The untimely demise of the woman resulted in the formation of the Mayon Volcano. The clouds that float above are symbolic of the spirit of Daragang’s mystery lover, Panganoron.
The Peñafrancia Festival is the biggest Marian event in the entirety of Asia, is celebrated on the third weekend of every September. It is a religious festival honoring Our Lady of Penafrancia, Patroness of the Bicol Region. The festival features a fluvial procession along the Naga River, where the Our Lady of Peñafrancia’s original image is transported from its official home at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and back.
CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES
Top 3 travel destinations in Cebu
1. Bounty Beach
Want an exciting beach day filled with Filipino culture? Look no further than Bounty Beach! The many bars and restaurants that face the vast expanse of the ocean are a picturesque view for any diner. The beach is white and the waters are crystal clear, perfect for an activity-filled day. Even if you snorkel in these waters, you can clearly spot the tropical ecosystem that flourishes along the seafloor.
How to get there: From Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB), you can hire a private vehicle or board a public transport heading towards New Maya Port.
2. Busay Falls
Busay Falls is a mini waterfall and has turned into a popular tourist and local attraction. The waterfall may be smaller in comparison to the majestic Niagara Falls but it exudes the same level of appeal and maybe even more! Fight off the tropical heat and take a dip in the cool waters of the waterfall during the hot summer months. The pool is not deep, with a depth of around 8 to 10 meters closer to the waterfall.
How to get there: From the main streets of Barangay General, Tudela, on Camotes Islands, Busay Falls is a short 20-minute walk away. You may also choose to ride a van, motorbike or a cake towards the cave, which can fit comfortably in the overgrown flora.
3. Jumalon Museum, Butterfly Sanctuary and Art Gallery, Basak Pardo
At this sanctuary, you can get up close and personal with the many butterflies discovered by Prof. Jumalon. Complete your tour at the Jumalon Museum, where Prof. Jumalon has produced some of the most intriguing pieces of art by putting together wings of past butterflies.
How to get there: Take a taxi from Ayala Center and make sure to write the exact address of your destination as many people are unaware. It is dificult to hail a taxi when departing from the museum so we recommend requesting the same taxi driver to wait for you until the end.
Festival Calendar in Cebu
The 3rd Sunday of the month is set aside for the Sinulog Festival, specially celebrate the biggest festival of Cebu, Sinulog Festival. Held in honor of Senor Sto, the streets are looded with foreign and local tourists as well as street performers.
Kadaugan sa Mactan is a week-long celebration of the historic battle between the Portuguese Explorer Fernando Magallanes and the Mactan Chieftain Lapu-Lapu. People enact the famous battle through a series of theatre or music performances complemented with delicious street food and live entertainment.
The Palawod Festival is dedicated to the ishermen’s livelihood and the stunning beaches that envelop Bantayan Island. Street dances feature ishing rituals and traditions through their music, dance style and costumes.
The Karansa Festival also takes place on every 3rd Sunday of the month, and is widely celebrated in Danao City to commemorate its Patron Saint Sr. Sto. Thomas de Villanueva. The locals gather to watch the dance performances as well as eat and drink together.
To read more, do check out our Discover the Philippines e-Newsletter series! Both Bicol and Cebu have plenty to offer for all travellers, so do consider them as your next travel destinations to fully immerse yourselves in the tropics and experience all that the Philippines has to offer to you!