Road Trip Itinerary: Bicol Highlights

Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth from Manila to my hometown Naga City in Camarines Sur. I’ve also gone on road trips with the family to nearby provinces of mainland Bicol: Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon. The Manila to Bicol route passing the Asian Highway 26 (AH26) (also known as the Pan-Philippine Highway or Maharlika Highway) is a major road trip route on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. After traversing from Manila to Bicol, you can cross all the way to Visayas via the Roll-on Roll-Off Ferry from the Matnog Port in Sorsogon to reach Allen in Samar and head towards Mindanao.

I’ve been getting inquiries from people planning to drive this route whether by car or motorcycle (and even a few long-distance bikepackers), so I’ve decided to compile a suggested itinerary covering the essentials and some travel tips.  Continue reading

10 Things to Do in Camarines Norte

While Batangas and La Union are probably the closest you can get to a beach fix from Manila, if you’re willing to travel a little further, then Camarines Norte (or Cam Norte) in the Bicol region, roughly 343 km southeast of Manila might be the ideal spot for you. Much has been written about the historic destinations in the province, so here are my picks of some of the fun and unique activities you can do in this province.

mojos in calaguas travel up

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10 Extreme Adventures in Camarines Sur

My hometown Naga City, the capital of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region is commonly associated with religious pilgrimage sites. Most people who stop by Naga usually do a Visita Iglesia tour of the historic churches or come to witness the festivities in September during the Penafrancia Fiesta, one of the biggest and most popular religious events in the Philippines. 

caramoan island hopping catanaguan island limestone 1

But for adventure-seekers, it’s good to know that there’s a lot more to do any time of the year. From scaling down waterfalls to biking down mountain trails, adventure-packed activities await. Here’s a look at some of the fun and exciting activities that you can do around Naga City and the rest of Camarines Sur. Continue reading

Travel Guide: Caramoan

Caramoan is a rugged getaway in the Philippines best known for being the filming location of several seasons of the hit reality show Survivor. The TV show often chooses exotic locales with stunning scenery. With its clusters of islands lined with white sand beaches, limestone cliffs, coral reefs, diverse marine life, serene lagoons, subterranean river and caves, it’s easy to see why the production crew chose to film here.

caramoan mountain sea grasslands summit travelup
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The Long and Winding Road to Bicol

I’ve gone to Naga City from Manila and back countless times. I lived there growing up and still go back home several times a year. Most times I just hop on an overnight bus without a second thought. I rode the PNR Bicol Express train when it was still running. I’ve gone there by plane. My family and I used to take long car trips there and back several times for holidays.

But last Christmas was different. It was my first time to drive a motorcycle all the way there.

01. motorcycle manila to naga bicol bitukang manok diversion road travelup

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Vintage Garage Bar & Diner in Legazpi City

I’m kind of a sucker for any establishment that uses retro motorcycles and bicycles as its theme. There are a few biker bars in Metro Manila, including The Roadhouse along Mall of Asia, Vintage Cafe Muvela in Marikina and Handlebar & Grill, to name a few. I heard that there was a similar bar in Legazpi City in Bicol, so during a family road trip there, I made it a point to check it out.

vintage garage bar legazpi bicol mopeds
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Farm-to-Table Feast: La Huerta in CamSur

La Huerta de Rosario is a rustic farm getaway where guests can enjoy a wonderful farm-to-table feast amid artistic surroundings. Visitors can experience harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables, taste it in the local cuisine served, and get inspired by the beauty of rural arts.

09. la huerta baao camarines sur farm to table kalabasa pili Continue reading

Food Trip: Naga City

Updated May 2016

In recent years, my hometown Naga City in the Bicol Region has become a rising foodie destination. Every visit means that there are new restaurants waiting to be sampled, as well as old favorites that just have to be revisited.

food trip naga city

Bikol cuisine is known as being spicy and sweet. Sili (chili peppers) and coconut milk (gata) are used in a lot of dishes, as well as pili nut products for desserts and a unique relish. Here’s a look at some of the best places where you can savor the flavors of Bikol (compiled from numerous visits to Naga to visit my folks), as well as some of the new restaurants worth checking out.

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A Feast on Caringo Island, Camarines Norte

You know your trip is off to a good start, when the first words you are greeted with are: “Kain na po!” (Let’s eat!). We had just set foot ashore Caringo Island in the coastal town in Camarines Norte in the Bicol region. Home to a small community of fishing families, Caringo is the furthest of the seven islands of Mercedes, yet it is well worth getting to. The invitation to eat — and the sight of the island itself — was very welcome.

caringo island mercedes camarines norte bicol beach

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Trek to Engkanto Falls, Libmanan

With its multi-tiered cascades and natural allure, it’s easy to see how Engkanto Falls got its name. The falls, named after creatures of local folklore usually characterized as forest spirits or elves, are believed to live in natural dwellings in the environment.

engkanto falls libmanan camarines sur bicol 01

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