Get up close and personal with Mayon Volcano.
Mayon might be one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, but that's never stopped visitors from dropping by to marvel at it. With Mayon's perfect cone shape, and the greenery surrounding it, the volcano continues to captivate people as much as the legendary maiden it's named after.
And now, thanks to the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) services provided by Your Brother Travel & Tours, you can see Mayon's beauty for yourself up close. Using an ATV, you can follow Mayon's lava trail up to 1,000 meters above sea level, be awed by the greenery covering the slopes, and engage in a different kind of outdoor activity.
Tour the Cagsawa Ruins.
To say that Cagsawa Church had it hard would be an understatement. Built by Franciscan friars in 1587, the church was burned down by Dutch invaders in 1636. It was then reconstructed in 1724, only to get destroyed again on February 1, 1814 by the most violent eruption Mayon Volcano has ever made. Around 2,000 people died from the eruption, and only the church's belfry stands as a reminder of that ill-fated day.
Today, the belfry is one of the most iconic landmarks of Albay, often featured on postcards set against Mayon Volcano as a backdrop. You can see the belfry via Cagsawa Park, which is maintained and protected by the government of the municipality of Daraga. The park is also home to the Cagsawa National Museum, where you can see pictures of Mayon Volcano's eruptions throughout the years. If you can drop by around the 1st of February, you can also join the Cagsawa Festival, which is held annually to commemorate the victims of Mayon Volcano's most violent eruption to date.
Get showered by cool waterfalls.
Albay is chockfull of natural resources, like waterfalls where you can take refuge from the Philippines' hot tropical climate. There's the Vera Falls and Palale Falls in Malinao, the Busay Falls in Malilipot, the Bugsukan Falls in Tiwi, and the Mataginting Falls in Jovellar, among others. These places can take a while to find, but once you find them, the cool, cascading waters underneath which you can bathe are worth it.
Have a taste of Bicol's spicy dishes.
Bicolanos are famous for their love of spicy food, and the natives of Albay are no different. Steel your tongue for an authentic version of Bicol Express (stewed coconut milk with chilies, meat, and shrimp paste), or sample the Camalig specialty pinangat (similar to Bicol Express, except drier and covered in taro leaves).
If eating chili-covered foods isn't your thing, no worries: Albay has other cuisines up its sleeve. Try tasty street foods like sinapot (banana fried in batter), balisongsong (cooked ground rice with coconut meat and sugar), and pancit dinuguan (noodles simmered with meat broth and innards). Or stick with classic Filipino favorites like taho (tofu mixed with sweetener and tapioca), banana cue (deep-fried bananas covered in caramelized sugar), and other dishes made from the saba banana.
Pray at the local churches.
Whether you're a Roman Catholic or not, you'll want to visit Albay's churches. For instance, the St. John the Baptist Church in Tabaco City is such a fine example of Spanish-era religious architecture, it was declared a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines.
Other churches in Albay you can visit include the San Lorenzo Church in Tiwi, the Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Guinobatan, the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Joroan, and the St. Michael the Archangel Church in Oas. Their majestic facades contrast beautifully with the rustic atmosphere in Albay, making them a must-add to any visitor's "Places to Visit in Albay" list.
Visit World War II tunnels.
At the height of World War II in the Philippines, Japanese soldiers dug tunnels near the foot of Mount Kitwinan in Camalig. With these tunnels, the Japanese were able to transport military equipment discreetly, move their troops without getting detected, and look out for any aerial and naval assaults from their enemies. Needless to say, the tunnels have since been abandoned, but military paraphernalia continues to turn up from the tunnel to this day.
Visitors to the Japanese War Tunnels often report an "eerie" feeling whenever they're inside. Locals also claim to have found gold and other treasures left behind by the Japanese, and the tunnels are often a focal point of stories about the exploits of Albay's guerrilla fighters. Regardless of the veracity of these stories, one thing's for sure: Camalig's war tunnels are an interesting alternative to other Albay caves like Hoyop-Hoyopan, Calabidongan, Minaroso, and Del Rosario.
Enjoy Albay's natural beauty.
As mentioned earlier, Albay is blessed with natural wonders, which you can enjoy to the hilt. You can ride a zipline on Lignon Hill, hop on islands near the side of Albay facing the Pacific, or dive from beaches like Buhatan where you can find sunken Spanish galleons.
Want to recommend other sights and sounds in Albay? Let's hear more about them in the comments!