Friday, May 4, 2012

Backpacking Guide: 4D3N Bicol Region Trip

I know, this is already an overdue post since February. I never got the chance to write about this trip after the Mis/Adventures.
Since our original itinerary to land first in Legazpi was scrapped, we had to re-plan everything. Fortunately, anything can be done randomly because we had no reservations on hotels and everything.

Landing in Naga was a bit rough; it's been raining all day in the city before we arrived. As we were on a budget trip with our backpacks, we rode a bicycle to the highway where we have to wait for a bus taking us to Naga. It's a short walk though but we were dead tired from the previous day.
Buses to Naga comes from the distant towns of Camarines Norte and don't expect to have it air conditioned. Naga airport is a 30 minutes ride to the city.
As soon as we hopped off from the bus, we decided to go to SM Naga and ask some locals where we could find their best-served dishes in the metro. As recommended by the people, we ate at Bob Marlyn's Restaurant. They offer good food here, we ordered a boodle fight meal which includes pork, shrimps and other seafood!
There's nothing to do more in Naga so we decided to experience wakeboarding in CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC). We took the tricycle and told the driver to take us to the Central Terminal and ride a bus.
There are buses bound to Pili, just tell the "konduktor" to drop you off at the entrance of CWC. Fare is minimal; I think we just paid Php 15.00 to take us there.
From the national highway, there are single motorcycles that can take you to the main complex for P20. In our case, we just took one motorcycle since we can fit there together with the driver.
CWC offers affordable thrills. An hour of wakeboarding including the helmet and wakeboard rentals would cost you P125. It doesn't hurt your pocket to pump up your adrenaline.
After a few hours of spending ourselves getting pulled by cables on the waters, we went back to Naga City to grab a quick dinner before heading to Legazpi City.The last Naga-Legazpi bus leaves at 8PM so better be early at the terminal. The bus is old and already cranky but it's fun to ride these guys at the country side.
The weather worsened on our way to the southern city. We reached Legazpi before 11PM and heavy rain was pouring. It must be the cyclone forming on that month. Tricycles were still available that night so we asked one of the drivers to drive us to Legazpi Tourist Inn.
Legazpi Tourist Inn offers a decent room for an overnight. It's one of the old hotels I think. Don't expect luxury though so it's nice for backpackers like me. Although there was no aircon on the room we took, the hotel offers a free wifi at their lobby. Apparently, their comfort room's clean.
We woke up early with a scattered rain showers, left the hotel around 7 and had breakfast at the nearest Jollibee. We asked some of the locals on how to get to Donsol, Sorsogon. We're glad that Bicolanos are very accommodating and hospitable. They helped us with the directions and what vans should we take.
From the town center, we rode a tricycle that took us to the central terminal. It's the same terminal where we arrived the previous night except that there's a section for vans going to nearby towns and Sorsogon.
At this time, I must say that you have to buy some nibbles to eat for the 2 hours travel. Van fare costs around P120-P140/person. The van was packed with locals and foreign tourists. This is the best part of traveling; you have to meet a lot of people and gain new friends. That's where we met Huang, the guy from Taiwan, Bruno from France and to guys from China which I wasn't able to get their names.
We told the van driver to drop us off at the Santiago Lodging House and so he did.
Santiago Lodging is already an established homestay for tourists visiting Donsol. The place is squeaky clean despite it's an old house. The room we took was big for 2 people and it costs Php 400 only. It is also located at the heart of the town so it's very accessible.
When we were already settled, we went to the tourist center to register for the whale shark or more popularly called "Butanding" encounter.
Since we are already a group of 6, we divided the boat rental. We paid Php 600 plus and entrance fee of Php 100 each. The boat ride is approximately 3 hours and it's enough to do the whale shark encounter. If you can bring your own goggles, I advise you to do so because I rented mine and got lost in the middle of the ocean, so that's additional dent on my budget.
The encounter was so cool and I must say, the Butanding we saw was so big and SCARY! It's a must though, you just have to swim fast and chase them.
The swim with them was tiring so head immediately to the town proper for lunch and take a rest until late afternoon.
If you are looking for a sumptuous dinner, go to Baracuda restaurant. Although it's a bit pricey, you can have here the freshest seafood dishes in town. Rey and her sister manage the restaurant themselves, they are the one who serves your food and hop to guests' tables to check if the food is great or even offer you a rhum shot. I must say that this place is very nice, cozy with the view of the ocean and Bob Marley singing in the background.
It's time to head back to Legazpi and see the view of the Mayon Volcano. Too bad the weather didn't permit us to see the view. Although it wasn't raining anymore, it was so humid and cloudy. But still were clinging to our hopes, we hopped off from the van in a barrio in Legazpi where we can take the jeepney to the Cagsawa Ruins, just tell the driver.
After we had a quick stint at the Cagsawa, we headed back to Legazpi and checked-in at the Sampaguita Inn. They accommodation is cheap at P400/room but it was horrible. The place is dirty and dark, I suggest you to go back to Legazpi Tourist Inn. But we were so exhausted to complain, we just slept through it.
I guess there's so much to say and nothing to do in Legazpi, we should have just stayed in Donsol for another night. But if ever you are already stuck in the city, you can go to Cie's Pastry Café and indulge in their creamy cakes.
Nothing to do, we just stayed indoor after having breakfast at Bigg's Diner because it rained all day. We just literally waited for our flight back to Manila.
Legazpi Tourist Inn: Php 800/room – non-AC but clean and free wifi, recommended for backpackers and on budget trip.
Santiago Lodging House (Donsol): Php 400/room non-AC, clean and communal toilet, nice to stay in Donsol for backpackers.
Sampaguita Inn (Legazpi): P400/room Aircon, not-recommended. Look for other hotels or stay again in Legazpi Tourist Inn.
Bob Marlin Restaurant (Naga) - ~Php 200/pax.
Bigg's Dinner (Legazpi) - ~Php 150/pax.
Baracuda Restaurant (Donsol) - ~Php 300/pax
Cie's Pastry Café (Legazpi) - ~P200/pax
Naga – Legazpi - ~Php 90
Legazpi – Donsol and v.v. - ~P120


  1. Very nice place for your adventure!

  2. Here's my review of Legazpi Tourist Inn. Thanks.

  3. nice.
    a good opinion.
    visiting us.pacu itiak sumatra barat terima kasih.

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