Mount Mayon, Albay (Photo: Lester Ledesma)

Where to stay

  • Casablanca Suites, Benny Imperial St corner South Rd; +63 52 481 0788. The 19 rooms and suites at this sleek hotel offer amazing views of Mt Mayon and Albay Gulf.
  • Hotel St. Ellis, Rizal St; +63 52 480 8088; hotelstellis.com.ph. A downtown hotel with 40 spacious and modern rooms decked out in cream and white.
  • La Piazza Hotel and Convention Center, Imelda Roces Ave; +63 52 480 3377; www.lapiazzahotel.com. A chic hotel that’s just 10 minutes away from the Legazpi Airport, with a great view of Mt Mayon.
  • The Oriental Taysan Hill, Sto. Niño Village; +63 52 480 0383; www.legazpi.theorientalhotels.com. A four-star hotel with large rooms, a spa, a fitness center and an infinity pool.

Where to eat

  • 1st Colonial Grill, 1/F Pacific Mall, F. Imperial St corner Circumferential Rd; +63 52 481 1213. While the restaurant serves up classic Albyano fare, it’s best known for its innovative sili (chili) ice cream. You can choose its level of spiciness! Or go for the bestselling tripartite serving of silt, pili nut, and toasted rice ice cream flavors.
  • Balay Cena Una, F. Lotivio St, Brgy. Bagumbayan; +63 52 435 4338; www.balaycenauna.com. A Filipino restaurant that serves up a hearty international buffet lunch every Sunday.
  • Balay sa Bicol, 1446 Pag-asa St, Daraga; +63 52 742 0029. Dining at this Spanish-Filipino restaurant is like enjoying a meal at your grandmother’s house — from the hearty dishes to the charming, homely ambience.
  • Bigg’s Diner, various locations; www.biggsdiner.ph. A fast-food chain known for western grub like grilled burgers.
  • Jasmine Restaurant, G/F The Oriental Legazpi, Taysan Hill, Sto. Niño Village; +63 917 430 5915, www.legazpi.theorientalhotels.com/jasmine-restaurant. The biggest buffet in the region is famous for Bicolano-fusion cuisine.
  • Mexita Pizza, Tahao Rd; +63 52 480 1675. Head here for scrumptious pizza, tacos and baby-back ribs.
  • Small Talk Café, 51 Doña Aurora St; +63 52 480 1393. A restaurant that fuses Western culinary influences with traditional Bicolano dishes. It’s one of the best places in town for laing (dried taro leaves, chili and meat in coconut milk) and Bicol Express (pork simmered in coconut milk and chili) pasta.
  • Waway’s, Peñaranda Extension, Bonot; +63 52 480 8415. Get your fix of Bicolano comfort food like Bicol Express (pork simmered in coconut milk and chili), laing (dried taro leaves, chili and meat in coconut milk) and more at Bicol’s oldest restaurant.
  • Ysabelle’s, Rizal St corner Doña Aurora St. Occupying a converted old house, this restaurant’s marquee dish is the Bicol Express, which is made with bagnet, the air-dried and deep-fried pork specialty from the far north.

What to do

  • Albay Pili Nut, 873 Rizal St, Old Albay District; +63 52 484 1161. Purchase pili nut products as pasalubong from the first pili nut candy factory in the Bicol region.
  • Amater Spring Resort, Malinao. Take a dip in the cool spring waters at this resort, which is located about an hour from Legazpi City.
  • Bacacay. Here, you’ll find black sand beaches from which you can take a boat to nearby islands, such as Crab Island, Pinamutungan Island, and San Miguel Island.
  • Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga. A baroque church built around 1724, which was supposedly destroyed by the Mayon Volcano eruption in 1814.
  • Daraga Church, Sta. Maria St, Daraga. Also known as the Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, this majestic landmark has been declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum.
  • Embarcadero de Legazpi, Legazpi Blvd. At this waterfront lifestyle hub, you’ll find a mall, a hotel, an events arena, a semi-alfresco dining strip and a 90ft Skywalk.
  • Kawa-Kawa Hill and Nature Park, Ligao City. Walk the sloping paths of the park to reach the hill’s summit, which is a large crater planted with a field of sunflowers. Very photo-worthy!
  • Legazpi City Public Market. Visit for fresh greens — bundles of taro leaves, cassava tops, pako (fern), tanglad (lemongrass) and chillies.
  • Lignon Hill Nature Park. You can jog, trek, zipline and even try your hand at paintball at this popular park. There’s also an observation deck with coin-operated telescopes.
  • Mt. Mayon. At 2,462m above sea level, this active volcano is Bicol’s main attraction. Named after the Bicolano word “magayon”, meaning beautiful, the volcano is visible from anywhere in Albay. Check out the Mayon Rest House, a nature park, which is located on the eastern slope of the volcano. After you’ve enjoyed the cool fresh air and surrounding greenery, explore the Mayon Planetarium & Science Park to learn more about other active volcanoes in the country.
  • Quitinday Green Hills Nature Park, Camalig. These verdant, rolling hills are essentially Albay’s version of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills.
  • Ride an ATV. Ride an all-terrain vehicle on Mt Mayon, and try rock climbing near the volcano’s summit. Check out Mayon ATV Tour (+63 52 472 9871; www.mayonatvtour.com).
  • Vera Falls, Malinao. Take a 1.5-hour drive to admire the beautiful cascading waterfalls at the foot of Mt Malinao.

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