Philippines · Sorsogon · Travel Tales

A Backpacker’s Guide: Three Days in Donsol, Sorsogon

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Bicol. It has everything not too far away from where I live– beaches and forests, Spanish-era churches and an Ayala Mall, islands and mountains, very accommodating people, aaand whale sharks.

Our EDSA Revolution weekend in Donsol coincided with the submission of my students’ grades, so this post is a little late. But this was the most awesome time I’ve had in a while. Here’s my travel story.

Meanwhile, on to the practical stuff:

Donsol in Three Days: Our itinerary as it happened

  1. Day 1: Go to NAIA-3 to take a flight out to Legazpi.
  2. Have lunch at Kim’s Bowl in Legazpi.
  3. Take a van to Donsol.
  4. Spend the night firefly watching at the Ogod River.
  5. Day 2: Reserve a slot for butanding interaction very early in the morning.
  6. Go swim with the whale sharks.
  7. Go to town and see the Lumang Bahay.
  8. Visit the Alims’ farm.
  9. Have dinner at Giddy’s Place and videoke after.
  10. Day 3: Go back to Legazpi. Eat a buffet lunch in the hotel by the airport. Go back to Manila.

Some tips

Better book your butanding interaction slot early and not on the day itself during peak season. We had to wait till 10 AM for our turn. The good thing about it was that we were ensured of a butanding sighting once those from the 7 AM slot had come back. However, I read somewhere that there are supposedly more butandings in the morning. The sun was hot and high on our turn, although who’d notice that with all the whale sharks around?

Don’t say you won’t need fins, even though they look and feel awkward on land. The smaller butandings are quite fast and it’s hard to keep up with them.

Our budget

I overshot our budget by almost a thousand pesos! I would’ve spent even more if we hadn’t stayed in Donsol and instead explored other towns, and if it hadn’t been for a Cebu Pacific sale. I underestimated our food, transportation, and other expenses — we went all-out and spent something like P500 a day for meals.

  Actual Cost Cost Per Person
Transportation
Plane fare (Cebu Pacific MNL-LGP-MNL) 2206 2206
Taxi to NAIA-3 (plus toll)* 382 382
Tricycle from airport 15 15
Van to Donsol 75 75
Tricycle from Poblacion to Dancalan 20 20
Tricycle to Ogod River and back 100 100
Tricycle for town tour 100 100
Tricycle from Dancalan to terminal 20 20
Van from Donsol to Legazpi airport 75 75
Other fees
Firefly viewing at Ogod River 1250 250
Accommodations
Amor Farm Beach Resort
Brgy. Dancalan, Donsol
+639195181150
2 triple fan rooms for 2 nights
with 50% downpayment
4000 800
Whale shark interaction registration fee
(P100 for Filipinos, P300 for foreign nationals)
100  100
Boat rental package for whale shark interaction 3500 700
Snorkel, mask and fins rental 300 300
Terminal Fee (Legazpi airport) 20 20
Running Total 12143 5143
Other expenses
souvenir (t-shirt) 200 200
underwater film camera** 750 150
food*** 1200 1200
medicine**** 102 102
 GRAND TOTAL 14395 6795

* Never again. A cheaper (not necessarily better) route would be to take a jeep to Pasay Rotonda, and take the shuttle to NAIA-3 at the bus station behind Sogo Hotel. However, I was pressed for time.

** No pictures of the butandings because we have yet to have our film developed. And yes, I understand that it would incur additional cost.

*** Estimate. We did not go the backpacker’s limit this time around. We ate a lot in not-very-cheap restaurants and ate glorious Bicol express everyday. Also, we lost in a volleyball bet so Czhar and I had to treat the rest to drinks.

**** Bactidol (because I was nursing a sore throat — I felt better in Donsol and worse when I came back to Manila. Go figure) and band-aids (I injured myself on the boat)

Do read all about our adventure in Donsol here: Chasing Fireflies and Whale Sharks in Donsol

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7 thoughts on “A Backpacker’s Guide: Three Days in Donsol, Sorsogon

    1. In my experience, no there aren’t. Also, the whales will likely not stay in one place (not like in Oslob, because Donsol locals don’t feed them) and they won’t pause for a picture with you! You’ll have very little chance of getting a picture with them. But the experience itself is worth it 🙂

  1. Are there places you can rent kayaks or other options like that? Hikes you can do? My boyfriend and I plan to do a quick 3 day excursion to Donsol from Manila but we want to do a bit more than just see whale sharks. We are very laid back and don’t need anything fancy. He can speak Tagalog fluently so we could always ask around but I’d like to know what to look for or at least plan. I’m a planner 🙂

    1. Hello! I’m not sure if they still have this (you may contact your hotel/resort if you want) but you can go on a “sunset cruise” (basically just ride a banca to watch the pretty sunset) right before you go firefly watching on Ogod River. Other interesting sites in Sorsogon may be too far, but 1-2 may be doable over 3 days. Sorsogon City is an hour’s drive away and it has nearby beaches. Mt. Bulusan is a little farther; you can do trekking there. The farthest end of Sorsogon province is Matnog, from which you can take a boat to nearby islands with nice pink-sand beaches. 🙂 Just check out these links:
      https://lakwatserang-guro.com/2012/11/02/subic-beach/
      https://lakwatserang-guro.com/2012/11/02/bulusan-and-barcelona-sorsogo/

    1. Hello! It’s actually an ancestral house which we were able to visit thanks to a friend of a friend. You might try to see if you can visit, it’s just in the town proper!

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