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 any any time of the year in the region. The rainiest months is generally during the months of 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 formed when rainwater and lava mix. The last major typhoon that devastated much of Bicol is Typhoon Durian ("Reming") in 2006, which made landfall while Mayon is erupting that time.
- See also: Bikol phrasebook
Most Bicol natives speak any of the various Bikol languages, which form a continuum with the Visayan languages. There are generally two major varieties of Bikol:
- Northern Bikol, includes Central Bikol, the most commonly used and understood variety.
- Southern Bikol, includes the Albay (not including Tabaco and Legazpi) and Rinconada varieties.
Most Bicolanos can understand English and Tagalog in addition to their native languages. Tagalog is also spoken around areas near Quezon.
For many travelers, buses departing from Manila are the cheapest and economical way to reach Bicol.
Philippine National Railways' two long-distance trains from Manila, the Bicol Express and Mayon Limited, remain suspended as of 2019. Only the Bicol Commuter from Tagkawayan in Quezon is operational.
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 ferries from Samar call at Matnog port, at the southeastern tip of the mainland.
- 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.
Bicolano cuisine is distinctive for its heavy use of spices, especially the wild red 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 train, it is pork and pig's intestine slow-cooked in coconut milk, vinegar and some spices.