Donsol is a small coastal village in Sorsogon province in the Philippines’ Bicol region. It has become a popular destination for those wanting to swim with whale sharks (locally known as butanding). The best time to see whale sharks is from February to April, which is Donsol’s peak season.
The distance from Manila to Donsol is 510 km (317 miles). In this post, we compare the 2 best options to travel from Manila to Donsol: by Flight (3 hours) and by Bus (15 hours). Ticket prices range from 1,150 PHP ($21.50) – 1,270 PHP ($24).
The flight is the fastest option to go from Manila to Donsol. As Donsol doesn’t have an airport, your best option is to fly to the nearest airport, which is in Legazpi City. From there, you need to take a minivan or a jeepney to get to Donsol. The total costs for the three-hour journey start from 2,000 PHP ($38).
Since the pandemic, there has been no direct bus trip from Manila to Donsol. The indirect option would be via Legazpi with more bus and schedule choices. This option costs 1,200 PHP ($22.50)–1,750 PHP ($33) and there are three trips daily.
Tip: Cebu Pacific offers regular discounts on advanced seat sales annually. Keep an eye out for these promotions so you can book a cheaper flight for this route!
Step 2: Legazpi to Donsol by Minivan
Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes Cost: 150 PHP ($2.85)
From Legazpi Airport, you can take a tricycle or jeepney to Legazpi’s Grand Central Terminal (GCT) near Ibalong Centrum for Recreation. A tricycle ride should cost you about 50 PHP ($0.95), although some drivers may charge slightly more. The tricycle ride only takes about 15 minutes.
Minivans bound for Donsol are parked at the Legazpi GCT. They don’t have specific schedules, but they leave once they’re full. Expect to pay 100 PHP ($1.90) for the 1.5-hour van ride.
Another option is to take a jeepney going to Donsol. Note that the last trip for both minivans and jeepneys depart at 17:00. Read more on how to go from Legazpi to Donsol.
Manila to Donsol by Bus
Duration: 14-15 hours Cost: 1,270 PHP ($24)
Philtranco Lines used to offer one trip daily from Manila to Donsol. The bus departs at 17:00 from the Philtranco Bus Terminal in Pasay City, at EDSA cor. Apelo Cruz Street.
They charge 1,015 PHP ($19) per person for a one-way trip. To purchase your ticket, you can go to their website. The journey takes 14 hours and the bus drops you off at the bus terminal in Donsol.
Alternatively, you can also take an indirect route via Legazpi. This indirect option allows more bus options and schedules. With a VIP or sleeper bus, you can enjoy more luxury for the first leg of the journey from Manila to Legazpi. Combined travel costs start at 1,470 PHP ($28) and the total journey will take around 15 hours.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the covid-pandemic, there are currently no direct buses available between Manila and Donsol. The only way to travel overland by bus from Manila to Donsol is via Legazpi.
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS: Public transport, like DLTB Co. buses, require an original copy of your double vaccination card or a negative antigen result. Tests can be bought at the origin terminal for 850 PHP ($16). More information on domestic travel requirements can be found here.
Step 1: Manila to Legazpi by Bus
Duration: 13–14 hours Cost: 1,200 PHP ($22.50)
You can choose from 3 types of buses when travelling from Manila to Legazpi. The standard tourist is the cheapest at 1,200 PHP ($22.50), but we don’t recommend them as they provide regular seats that can be a bit cramped for such a long journey.
The DLTBCo VIP bus will definitely provide you with more comfort with it’s “lazyboy seating”.
There also used to be s sleeper bus operated by Bicol Isarog, but this bus unfortunately stopped operating during the pandemic.