With a population of more or less 5,000, a location of 1,500 feet above sea level, and a temperate weather, who wouldn’t dare travel the 12 hour trip from Manila just to be in a place on top of the mountains called Sagada?
Defined by its famous hanging coffins, fresh foods, rice terraces, warm people, and cold weather, this small town promises an experience you’ll whisper to the mountains and a story to tell everyone when you get back home.
How to get to Sagada
For Do-It-Yourself, there are three ways:
1) MANILA > BAGUIO > SAGADA
A six hour trip going to Baguio via Victory Liner is available every hour. From Baguio Terminal, take a cab going to the Lizardo bus station or GL Transit bus that’ll take you straight to Sagada, which will take about six to seven more hours on top of the six hours trip from Manila to Baguio.
2) MANILA > BANAUE > SAGADA
If you plan to see the Rice Terraces before indulging in the wonders of Sagada, then this route is for you. Ohayami Trans, which is the only bus line that operates the Manila-Banaue route, leaves Manila every 9 and 10 PM everyday. This route will take you approximately 9 hours going to Banaue. You will arrive there just in time to catch the jeep going to Sagada.
3) MANILA > BONTOC > SAGADA
Alternatively, if you think you can handle a straight 12 hours trip, I suggest you take the Cable Tours bus. When you reach the place, you’ll find jeepneys that travel every hour going to and from Sagada.
Another option is getting a tour package. This way, it will save you the the hassle of transferring from one vehicle to another. There are many tour packages available online. For us, we availed of Ken-U-Tour packages. For Php 3,700/head inclusive of transportation, hotel accommodation, and tour guide fees, it was definitely worth it.
What to do in Sagada
- Spelunking – What is the difference between caving and spelunking? Caving is a term used for experienced cavers, while spelunking is for newbies.
- Food trip
Php 6,000 – 7,000 per head for a group of six.
What to bring
- Mosquito repellant
- First aid kit
- Spelunking attire – It is advisable to wear something light as you will get wet. Think long sleeves and pants (or tights!) so as not to scratch yourself. Also wear slippers since you will need to remove your footwear every now and then.
- Cash – Located just below the Municipal building, a Megalink powered Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is available in Sagada. Being the sole ATM in town, it is open everyday from 8 AM to5PM except Mondays where it only functions half day, sometimes, they say, it even goes offline so you never know. Better bring enough cash to cover your expenses while you’re there.
Suggested itinerary for Sagada
0800pm: Assembly Trinoma open spaced parking facing SM North (Near PUV Terminal)
0900pm: ETD from Trinoma to Banaue
0600am: ETA at Banaue, Breakfast, Picture Taking Viewpoints
0700am: ETD to Sagada
1000am: ETA to Sagada Check-in
0100pm: Proceed to Lumiang Cave and Sumaguing Cave
0500pm: Estimated time of return from the cave
0530pm: Back to Lodging (Wash up)
0700pm: Dinner, Bonfire and socials
0600am: Wake-up call. Breakfast
0700am: Proceed to Fedelisan
0730am: Start of Bomod-ok Falls Trek
0830am: ETA Bomod-ok Big falls, Swimming, Picture Taking
1030am: Trek back to Fedelisan
1200pm: ETA Fedelisan
0200pm: Proceed to Sagada Weaving, St Mary’s Church and Echo Valley (Location of hanging coffins)
0400pm: Visit Pottery House
0530pm: Sunset Viewing Lake Danum, Picture taking
0700pm: Dinner, Souvenir hunting
0800pm: Bonfire, Socials
0500am: Wake up call, Check out
0545am: Sunrise Viewing Kiltepan Tower
0630am: Breakfast Rock-inn, Orange Picking in the Orchard
0730am: ETD from Sagada to Baguio
0100pm: Late Lunch La Trinidad Jollibee or Mcdonalds
0200pm: ETA Bencab Museum, explore and picture taking (optional)
0400pm: ETD from Baguio
1030pm: ETA to Manila
Where to stay in Sagada
In our four days and three nights stay there, our tour package entitled us to spacious rooms with free coffee, hot shower, plus cooking facilities in the kitchen and a bonus of a very strong WIFI signal at Residential Lodge. Priced at ₱250/ head /night. Contact Mary Daoas at 09296257419.
For other options, you may check HERE.
Where to eat in Sagada
For breakfast, it is ideal to go to Bana’s Cafe & Restaurant as they serve native coffee and delicious home-baked breads. They also have free WIFI.
For snacks, if you’re craving for sandwiches and/or crepes, Strawberry Cafe has it for you. My personal favorite was their Bacon sandwich which includes fresh lettuce and tomatoes.
For lunch, we tried Kusina Ysagada which offered casual American and Filipino dishes on a budget-friendly prices. I wasn’t that much impressed by the offerings of this cafe, pretty much the same food you’ll see and taste in the metro but it was nonetheless, inexpensive, so if you’re on a budget, then this one fits it!
For dinner, after a heavy day’s load of trekking and/or spelunking, go straight to Salt & Pepper to immense your taste buds with their good vegetarian and native Filipino dishes.
Yoghurt House was filled with artsy photographs hanging in the walls beside signs that pleads visitors and customers alike to not take pictures of. We weren’t able to dine here since we crave for real Filipino food but next time, I’ll definitely try it here.
We arrived at Sagada days before local elections so evidently, just like in Manila, campaign posters can be found here, there, everywhere.
Everyday, kids from Felisida aged 7 and up, walks to and from the mountains just to go to school. It only takes them roughly 15-30 minutes on what took us 1.5 hour trek one way!
There is a common look in the eyes of every child we stumble upon there — eager to ask but never uttered a single word, just smiles. They all look cute!
The local version of barangay hall is called Dap-ay. This is where the natives gather and talk about their own local proceedings.
When others opt for hanging coffins, the rest of the Sagada natives opt for their loved ones to reside outside their houses.
Now, if you’re looking for some take home souvenirs, why not check out the gold rocks for sale on the way to Bomod-Ok falls? They sell it for a dust price but I doubt if they are valued at more than what you paid for. You can only see hints of gold but I can’t really tell if it’s real or not.
It fascinated me to spot some sari-sari store on top of the mountain! I may have underestimated the adaptation to modern times of this rural place.
On our way home from Bomod-ok Falls, we saw an old man beside the wheat fields, sitting pretty with his umbrella. When asked what he’s up to, he told us he’s just there appreciating the view after watering the fields.
Due to the small road this town has, give and take is a practice that is extremely common to them.
Ever saw a sunset or sunrise on top of the mountain? Don’t miss Sagada’s famous shot at Kiltepan Peak! It’s one of the most magical moments I’ve seen in my entire life.
Everything in Sagada shuts down at 9PM. The road gets foggy and the only sound you may hear beyond the curfew hours is the wind that blows and some dogs hounding. If you will be coming in late, kindly inform the owner of the hotel you’re staying at so you won’t be locked up outside.
If you’re on the lookout for cheap blueberry preserves, buy it from the Sagada Weaving House. Regular bottle is priced at 85php compared to 110php from other stores.
What else to do and see in Sagada
- White Water Rafting
- Rock Climbing
- Eat at the Yoghurt House
- Try Lemon Pies
- Orange Picking
- Exprience Sagada Festivals
- Drink bugnay (rice wine)
Other info about Sagada
Remember that it is always cheaper to travel in groups, than alone. Same rule applies with getting tour guides in Sagada.
Check the standard tour guide rates here.
TRIVIA: Majority of the location in the film “Don’t Give Up On Us” was shot in Sagada.