Most known for Mayon Volcano, with its perfect cone
|Camarines Sur |
Better known as CamSur, the largest province of Bicol is rich in cultural heritage and beaches.
|Camarines Norte |
Rainy province with hidden beaches and small towns.
Little-visited island province with beaches, prehistorical monuments and old churches.
Has a reputation for poverty, but it also has beaches, old churches, Visayan culture, and a rodeo festival.
The gateway to eastern Visayas, with Visayan and Bicolano cultures,
- Iriga - Center of the "Rinconada district" in Camarines Sur.
- 1 Legazpi — Regional center, and capital of Albay
- Ligao - Small city further inland in Albay.
- 2 Masbate City — Capital of Masbate province.
- 3 Naga – Commercial and economic center of Camarines Sur
- 4 Sorsogon City - Capital of Sorsogon province.
- Tabaco - Little port city, has the ferries to Catanduanes
The region is largely fertile lowland, dotted with volcanoes.
The local people are called Bicolanos, which are well noted for their spicy local cuisine.
Bicol, by and large, has a tropical rainforest climate, with no clearly defined seasons. While the rainforests have mostly disappeared save for small patches, it generally rains at any time of the year in the region. The rainiest months are generally November and December.
The region is regularly struck by typhoons, some of them devastating. When combined with explosive volcanic eruptions, rain from those storms can create devastating lahar, mudflows that form when rainwater and lava mix. The last major typhoon that devastated much of Bicol was Typhoon Durian ("Reming") in 2006, which made landfall while Mayon was erupting.
Most Bicolano speak one of the various Bikol languages, which are mutually intelligible and form a continuum with the Visayan languages. There are generally three major Bikol groups:
- Coastal Bikol, includes Central Bikol (Bikol proper), the most commonly spoken and understood variety, and Southern Catanduanes Bikol, spoken around Virac.
- Inland Bikol, includes Rinconada and the Albay Bikol languages like Buhi, Libon and the Miraya varieties.
- Pandan Bikol or Northern Catanduanes Bikol which is distantly related to Southern Catanduanes Bikol, is both a group and a language in itself.
To a similar degree as Chinese dialects or the major European languages, Bikol languages are notable among Philippine languages for its wide variation between dialects. Regions of provinces, cities and towns may have their own dialects, many not intelligible to each other.
A group of Visayan languages influenced by the Bikol languages called "Bisakol" is spoken in southern Sorsogon and Masbate. Masbatenyo, a language mutually intelligible with Hiligaynon, is spoken and widely understood in Masbate. Hiligaynon is widely spoken natively in Masbate's southeastern tip. A Waray-influenced dialect of Bikol is spoken in the southern tip of Bicol, around the towns of Matnog, Bulan, Bulusan and Irosin. One Bikol dialect spoken in Sorsogon have a lexicon heavily influenced by Hiligaynon.
Tagalog is also spoken around areas near Quezon, and has supplanted Bikol in Camarines Norte. Tagalog in Bicol is mostly of the Tayabas (or Quezon) dialect, but standard Tagalog (Filipino) is also understood. Bikol spoken in northwest Camarines Sur, Naga and Camarines Norte are heavily influenced by Tagalog.
For many travelers, buses departing from Manila are the cheapest and economical way to reach Bicol.
Philippine National Railways' long-distance services remain suspended as of 2019.
Legazpi Airport (LGP IATA) is the main entry point by plane, and is served by PAL Express and Cebu Pacific (and regional carrier Cebgo). This airport is expected to be replaced by the newer and larger Bicol International Airport, which is just a few kilometers to the southwest, and can handle larger aircraft and international flights.
The three other airports with regular flights, Moises B. Espinosa Airport (MBT IATA), Naga Airport (WNP IATA), and Virac Airport (VRC IATA), are only served by Cebu Pacific (or regional carrier Cebgo).
Roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) ferries from Samar call at Matnog port, at the southeastern tip of the mainland, and takes about a hour. Another ferry route connects Masbate (at Cataingan) with Cebu (at Bogo), and takes 6 hours. Both ferries are part of the Nautical Highway system, and you can bring your vehicle with you.
- Hang out at Bagasbas Beach, Camarines Norte's best known surfing and kitesurfing spot.
- Wakeboard in Naga City after landing in the Naga Airport.
- Walk around Naga City to see 15th-century churches that has served as witness to Philippine History.
- Meet friendly Nagueños as you walk around the city center.
- Shop around Naga City with several malls and night bazaars.
- Celebrate nightlife in Naga City by visiting the Magsaysay Avenue, the most vibrant street, and the center of nightlife in Bicol.
- See various animal species at Albay Park and Wildlife in Legazpi City or ride a rubber boat by yourself.
- Enjoy riding a raft while watching the perfect view of Mayon Volcano at Sumlang Lake in Camalig, Albay.
- Island hopping is so much fun in Cagraray Island. Misibis Bay offers water activities to guests.
- View the perfect cone-shaped volcano named Mount Mayon up close at Lingyon Hill in Legazpi City and/or Mayon Skyline in Tabaco City.
- Swim and interact with 'whale sharks' the largest fish in the world in Don Sol, Sorsogon.
- Ride the waves at Lola Sayong Surfing Camp in Gubat, Sorsogon.
Bicolano cuisine is distinctive for its heavy use of spices, especially the wild red chili and the long green chili. Coconut milk is the most important ingredient to be added during the cooking. Typical main dishes will be pork, seafood or poultry.
Some common Bicolano dishes are:
- Bicol Express — Named after the eponymous passenger train, it is pork and pig's intestine slow-cooked in coconut milk, vinegar and some spices.
- Kandingga — a Bicolano version of the Tagalog dish called bopis. It is water spinach (kangkong) cooked in vinegar with pork innards.
- Pansit Bato — It is raw noodles which is the specialty of the town of Bato in Camarines Sur. It is cooked either with or without soup.
- Laing - Pronounced LAH-eeng, it is taro leaves cooked in coconut milk.
- Pinangat - overlapping taro leaves with pork inside and cooked in coconut milk and is sold locally in Camalig, Albay.