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Introducing Southeast Luzon

It’s de rigueur in travel writing to describe a place as shaped like something – Vietnam is an oxbow, Thailand a kite. The crazy coastline of southeast Luzon is shaped like nothing, except maybe a mess. But what a beautiful mess. Between the dagger heights of volcanic Mt Mayon and the leviathan-studded sea depths near Donsol, there’s a lot of variety here.

Plus: islands like Masbate and Catanduanes, where the pace of life is so slow as to be (cheerfully) comatose; the university-driven youth of Naga and the medieval Catholicism of Marinduque; surfing in Daet and limestone cliffs on the Caramoan Peninsula. And the food. Bicol brings the spice, and a welcome dash of taste, to the oft-bland Filipino table. Best of all, southeast Luzon is close enough to Manila to benefit from good infrastructure, but far enough away to feel removed from the capital region’s grind.