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Flight chronicles of the backpacker Tutubi, with travelogues, pictures/photos/videos, travel guides, independent and honest reviews, affordable, recommended resorts and hotels (including inns, guesthouses, pension houses, lodges, hostels, condotels, bed and breakfast and other cheap accommodations), commuting guides, routes (sometimes street maps and GPS coordinates/waypoints) and driving directions to answer "how to get there" questions, information and tips on tourism, budget travel and living in Philippines, Exotic Asia and beyond!

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    Sorsogon: Donsol Whale Shark Tours Rates/Boat Rental

    Looking for cheap whale shark tours in the Philippines? The cheapest of the cheap is the backpacking way. You can go there using public transportation while at the Donsol Visitor Center, everything is so easy for DIY budget travel enthusiast like Tutubi:

    Tutubi was able to visit Donsol, in a spur-of-the-moment unplanned trip, and got to interact with the gentle butanding (local name for whale sharks, Scientific name: Rhincodon Typus), in April 2002 (Holy Week) and swears his Donsol butanding interaction Adventure is his most memorable experience so far.

    Swim with the largest fish in the world in Donsol, a place frequented by locals, foreigners for the giant whale sharks, locally called butanding

    Updated Information herewith (as of April 2013):

    When to Visit Donsol:

    Recommended visit to Donsol for the butanding is from January to May when the abundance of plankton, whale shark's main food, make those gentle filter-feeders stay in Donsol Bay. There's also the Butanding Festival in April so be prepared for competition with tourists and higher rates.

    Whale Shark Interaction Adventure Tour:

    Upon reaching Donsol, register first at the Visitor Center located in Barangay Dancalan where you'll be shown a short video about the whale shark interaction then hire a tricycle to take you to the boat station.

    Registration fee per tourist:
    Local PhP 100.00
    Foreigner PhP 300.00

    (at least here, they provide discounts to locals unlike in most places where prices only cater to foreign tourists)

    Donsol Visitor Center Opens at 6:00am (even in Holy Week)

    Whale shark interaction PhP 3,500.00 (per boat. price includes the three persons:
    Skipper: who steers the boat for the tour
    Butanding Spotter: standing at the bow always on the lookout for whale sharks
    Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO): directs the whale shark interaction

    Firefly watching/river cruising
    PhP 1,250.00 (cost per boat)

    If you're a solo backpacker, you can pay PhP500.00 Butanding interaction fee and share the boat with six others

    Do take note of the rules and policies posted on the walls of the Visitor Center and reiterated during the video presentation:

    1. No touching/riding on the butanding
    2. Do not restrict the movement of the shark or block its natural path
    3. Recommended distance from the whale shark is 3 meters from the head and body and 4 meters from the tail
    4. No flash photography allowed (tip: you may buy inexpensive disposable and waterproof cameras for this, not sharp but passable for bragging rights)
    5. No scuba, scooters, jet-ski or any motorized underwater propulsion
    6. Strictly one boat per whale shark policy with a maximum of six (6) swimmers per whale shark

    Things to do in Donsol other than Butanting Interaction:

    Other activities: Donsol River Cruise and Firefly Watching in the mangrove forest (optional but requires an overnight stay unlike the Butanding Interaction tours)

    Whale shark picture and video here

    Cheap hotels/resorts/accommodations and Where to Stay In Donsol Information:
    Donsol Inn-keeper Association (DIKA): +63.906.762.5955

    How to get to Donsol, Sorsogon for the whale shark tours (butanding adventure)

    Donsol, Sorsogon can be reached via Legazpi City in Albay. Flights from Manila to Legazpi City and Cebu City to Legazpi City are available. Vans bound for Donsol are available at the Satellite Market for another one-hour ride. A short tricycle ride from the Visitor Center to the boat station is required.

    Philippine Airlines, ZestAir and Cebu Pacific flies daily to Legazpi City daily. Donsol-bound vans are available at the Satellite Market for another one-hour ride.

    For land travel (commute) to Donsol from Manila, buses are available in Cubao, Quezon City for a 12-hour ride to Legazpi City. These buses drop passengers at Satellite Market where one can get a van bound for Donsol.

    Philtranco, with terminal in Cubao, has buses to Donsol. Inquire at their office or website for updated fares and trip schedules.

    You may also hire vans in your area to drive you directly to Donsol then arrange the tour yourself to save on costs.

    For your return trip, you may hire a tricycle (better to commission one in advance to fetch you at an appointed time to avoid waiting) to take you back to Brgy. Dancalan or the FX/Van terminal where vans going to Legazpi are available.

    Note: other places where you can avail of whale shark tours are Puerto Bay in Palawan (where they're called tiki-tiki), in Bohol Island and in the waters of Calatagan, Batangas. Donsol is the most famous due to the high concentration of the butanding and already laid claim to the title "whale shark capital of the world."

    Fare guide to Donsol, Sorsogon:
    Tricycle from Legazpi Airport: PhP50.00/trip (good for 5 persons)
    Van from Legazpi City terminal to Donsol: PhP60.00
    Tricycle in Donsol to resort: P20.00/person

    Besides Whale Sharks, sightings of rare megamouth sharks were recorded in Donsol bay while the nearby Ticao Pass is teeming with giant manta rays for sure sighting.

    please leave comments for more tips or fore updates on the cheapest donsol butanding package tours, rates and cost chnages
    UPDATED: April 2013

    Related Posts:

    Donsol Beach resorts

    Labels: , , , , ,

    posted by backpacking philippines @ 9:58 PM,


    At Jan 7, 2008, 7:25:00 PM, Anonymous nina said...

    We're going Butanding watching this February, so this is a very timely and helpful post. Thanks for sharing !

    At Jan 7, 2008, 10:22:00 PM, Blogger philippine dragonfly said...

    nina,i wish i caould go back there with a waterproof camera so i can have passable undewater pictures of whale shark interaction

    At Jan 28, 2008, 11:09:00 PM, Anonymous freeze said...

    I'm looking forward to our trip come february. The whale sharks better show up! :D

    Thanks for the info!

    Any info on where we can book a private van from legaspi airport to donsol?

    At Jan 28, 2008, 11:28:00 PM, Blogger tutubi philippines said...

    freeze, try the vans at the satellite market. you can hire them for a day perhaps. when i went there we took public transpo, el-cheapo travelers/backpackers that we are :P

    At Mar 17, 2008, 8:35:00 PM, Anonymous freeze said...

    we were a big group so hiring a van would come out cheaper and more convenient. :D

    Vans for hire are readily available at the airport to Dancalan at P1000-1500. There's also a tourist desk at the arrival area that's ready to assist.

    At Jul 24, 2008, 9:44:00 AM, Blogger LilyoftheValley said...

    Hi tutubi,

    am going to donsol on June 26 with 4 friends... we still dont have a place to stay for a night... was wondrin if you have a personal choice on the list of donsol accommodation you provided? we are planning a night in donsol and the next day we are going back to legaspi... also, would you know if we have the chance to see whale sharks this time of the year? thank you very much...

    At Jul 25, 2008, 7:17:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    lilyof the valley, june 26? or july 26? i don't have any recommended resorts there since we didn't stay for the night in Donsol. we went back to Legaspi right after just two hours of "sailing". There may be whale sharks there even during lean months but i think Donsol people don't invite tourists there when it's mating season for the butandings

    At Jul 29, 2008, 6:00:00 PM, Blogger LilyoftheValley said...

    thanks tutubi.. funny didnt notice, twas july 26... and we're back actually... didnt get your message soon... actually really no butandings and we were the only guests.. hahaha... ok lang... we really just wanted to get away from the city and relax... we had fun... will just go back on butanding season... thank you again...

    At Jul 29, 2008, 10:46:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    lilyofthevalley,it's off-season actually. does this post need updates? current fares? i will be back there one of these days but with a waterproof cam in tow

    At Jul 29, 2008, 10:46:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    lilyofthevalley,it's off-season actually. does this post need updates? current fares? i will be back there one of these days but with a waterproof cam in tow

    At Aug 13, 2008, 9:15:00 AM, Blogger LilyoftheValley said...

    hi tutubi----so late reply... busy days... post still informative and helpful... but it would be nicer if you could include fares for transfers to give the visitors idea the next time you travel down there and update... we actually had a little problem about it when we were there.... thank you tutubi.. .back to work now...

    At Aug 13, 2008, 9:53:00 PM, Blogger tutubi said...

    lilyofthevalley, i don't knwo the current fares there. perhaps i'll my friends from Legazpi but it's increasing due to rising gas prices :(

    At Jan 11, 2009, 9:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    how much is the van ride from Satellite Market to Donsol?

    At Jan 16, 2009, 1:34:00 PM, Blogger LilyoftheValley said...

    hi anonymous,
    'twas P70 when we went there June '08...

    At Jan 16, 2009, 9:54:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    lilyofthevalley, i remembered you to answer the question :P when we were there in 2003, it was only P25 so it was not hard to pay for the 2 slots for our van to leave donsol.

    At Mar 26, 2009, 2:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hi, would you know travel time estimates from Bagasbas in Daet to Donsol Sorsogon? We're planning to surf first then go visit the butandings this coming holy week. thanks,

    At Mar 26, 2009, 8:02:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    anonymous, donsol is 1.5 hours or more from Legazpi City while Legazpi City is about 3 to 4 hours from Daet. Faster if you have your own car with you

    At Jul 9, 2009, 9:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I went june 2009 and was told to come back next year jan to may

    At Jul 9, 2009, 9:32:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    anonymous, yeah...if you've only came here earlier you might have known of the butanding season is really jan to may. there are also whale sharks there at this time but they're breeding or something that's why locals will leave them alone

    At Aug 12, 2009, 12:47:00 AM, Blogger eric said...

    I was just wondering what kind of recreational facilities you offer there...

    At Aug 16, 2009, 3:50:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    eric, the accommodations there are mostly basic rooms and no high end resorts present. most visitors i saw were backpackers even those who foreigners who to the philippines solely for the whale sharks then flew out of the country to KL...too bad so many places to see here that they missed

    At Mar 18, 2010, 8:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    is it safe for a single female traveler in the phillipines for about 3 weeks in october?

    At Mar 18, 2010, 8:40:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    anonymous, i assume you're a foreigner. Yes, it's safe to get to the places including Donsol but you may not see those gentle whale sharks in October. You just require common sense and dress down so as not to catch attention. There are areas to avoid just like any major city but you'll be fine most of the time. If you can make it in october, just ask me and i'll be glad to give you the answer or find it for you, even give you my mobile number to contact, no strings attached. enjoy your stay

    At Mar 29, 2010, 11:37:00 PM, OpenID mamsyeb said...

    hi tutubi, just curious: would you know how to get to matnog from donsol?

    At Mar 30, 2010, 3:13:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    mamsyeb, not sure of direct bus/jeepneys from Donsol to Matnog but there are buses from Sorsogon city going to Matnog so you need to ride jeeps/vans to Sorsogon City then transfer to buses going to Matnog (even the Ro-ro buses to the Visayas pass by)

    At Sep 19, 2010, 1:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    How would I get from Donsol to Sabang and or Puera Gallara?

    At Sep 20, 2010, 2:32:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    anonymous, you need to take a bus to Manila but alight at Turbina bus station in Calamba (along maharlika highway or pan-philippine highway to take another bus to Batangas Pier. From Batangas pier you'll take the ferry or boats to puerto galera. It's not easy though and quite a long travel

    At Dec 14, 2010, 3:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I am Joel BIO. As the new Vice-President of Donsol Butanding Interaction Officers, I would like to invite everybody to come and visit Donsol to swim with our Whalesharks.
    Guests can contact me for inquiries and infos about Donsol Tourism
    Also by email you can contact my partner
    Sure you will enjoy Donsol !!!

    At Apr 4, 2011, 11:56:00 PM, Blogger La Vie Magnifique said...

    hi. anyone knows what is the cheapest way to go back to Legaspi from Donsol (particularly the bus station back to Manila? Thanks a bunch!

    At Apr 5, 2011, 9:38:00 AM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    la vie magnifique, buses or vans waiting in Donsol to Legaspi City. In legaspi city the bus fares to manila only differ between the ordinary and aircon buses.

    At Apr 5, 2011, 1:45:00 PM, Blogger La Vie Magnifique said...

    how do we go to the bus/vans station in Donsol going to Legaspi if we are coming from the tourist center? And would you happen to know how much is their current rate? thanks again!

    At Apr 5, 2011, 1:55:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    La Vie Magnifique, the answer to your queries are already posted above except the current tricycle fares (that may be slightly higher) for budgetary purposes

    At May 31, 2011, 9:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i don't know how to dive nor swim but id really love to have a whale shark interaction in the future. but how? i love nature trips and ive been to some famous beaches and i had just tried one water activity that was helmet dive. any advice?

    At May 31, 2011, 9:59:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    anonymous, wear a lifevest and's easy

    At Nov 27, 2011, 3:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hello Tutubi! We are going whale watching on December 15 and we would like to know if the van fare from the airport is still 1000 to 1500 and any recommendation for a place to stay? thanks .The Listener

    At Nov 27, 2011, 7:01:00 PM, Blogger backpacking philippines said...

    the listener, van for rent to donsol must have increased by now. expect amounts around of P3000 due to high cost of fuel. have yet to get the latest cost of baot rentals. there's a list of beach resorts and accomodations above, just click it

    At Jan 23, 2012, 5:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hi tutubi, your post is very helpful... we are planning to go to legaspi on feb... and would want to include in our itinerary visiting Donsol, i got a few queries, i hope you could assist me, if we go on the afternoon from Legaspi to Donsol, could we still contact someone in watching the fireflies at night? or this should be done only upon registration in Visitor Center? also, could we reserve ahead of time slots for whale watching? Thank you for your help! -M


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