Travel Diary: SAGADA
“I am with you & will keep you, in all the places where you will go.”
- SAGADA is known as “Mountain Province’s Pride”
- Best time to go is from November (weather is dry) to February (the coldest month – average temperature drops to 12 degrees Celsius)
- December 28 is the annual bonfire festival. This is also a fun time to go.
- The town fiesta is held during the first week of February. Another festive time to visit.
- With its low crime rate and with only 5,000 residents, SAGADA is also a favorite among foreign tourists.
- March and April get dusty and somewhat hot so skip those month’s if you really want to experience SAGADA’s cool mountain ambiance.
- Rain falls very often from May to July, with typhoon season during August to October. Landslides are more frequent at that time (seen some landslides during our August visit, Thank God for safety! 🙂 ) Please avoid those months at all costs!
Tipid Tips or Saving Tips
- Be a friend: If you’re not traveling in groups, make friends during the trip. They can help by sharing the expenses. 🙂
How to get there
- The bus leaves at 10PM from the Ohayami station (near University of Sto. Thomas) to Banaue. The fare each way is P470 and gets you into Banaue at 7AM the next day.
- From Banaue, you can take a 2-hr van to Bontoc for P150 (I’ve never taken this route personally so I don’t know what time and from where the van leaves but there’s a power in asking. Don’t be shy to ask for directions to the people around. :D) or you can also take a jeep or a bus to Bontoc, it leaves around 8:30AM and the fare is P150 for jeep while the bus charges P120.
- From Bontoc, you can take a public jeep to SAGADA, will cost only P45 for a 45-min ride, jeeps leave every half hour from 8:30AM until 5:30PM.
- I’m not an endorser of Victory Liner but I recommend/prefer this bus company. They have a bus leaving for Baguio every hour for 24 hours from Cubao terminal. Each way will cost you P445 only.
- I suggest taking the 11PM from Manila as this will get you into Baguio at around 5AM.
- From the Victory Liner station (in Baguio), take a taxi to the GL Liner station in Baguio Dangwa Terminal.
- From there, it’s a six-hour ride via local bus to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province. It will cost you P155, one way.
- The Bontoc-SAGADA jeepney fills up quickly, so one option is to “topload” or ride on a jeepney’s roof. It is not the most comfortable ride, but it is one for the books! Go for fun and adventure! 🙂 The fare is P60 only.
HELLO SAGADAAAA! 🙂
How to get around
Walk. Walk. Walk. This is the best time to use your feet. 🙂 Most places can be reached by walking.
How long to stay
For most travelers, 3 days will be enough to see all the tourist attractions. SAGADA is often paired with a trip to Banaue, Baguio or Bontoc, so you may want to plan your trip with those other destinations. We stayed at George’s Guesthouse, the room cost P600 and can accommodate up to 4 persons already! Sulit! 🙂 No aircon inside the room, it is not needed anyway. 😀
What to do / Where to go
St. Mary of the Mother Church
- Known as the mother church and the first Anglican church in SAGADA.
- It is a stone walled church built from the rubbles or WWII. Take a look at the architecture. 🙂 Such a beauty!
- Tour fee is P150 to be paid at the municipal office and inclusive of tour guide.
- The hanging coffins are the second most popular attraction in SAGADA next to Sumaguing Cave. It is pretty amazing to see them up close.
- The cave houses a total of 200 coffins that have survived 500 years of natural and man-made disasters.
- Based on my research, the coffins are smaller than normal because of the Igorot tradition of being buried in the fetal position, which represents a return to nature.
- A 15 to 20-minute hike from SAGADA town proper is a 2000-year old Lumiang Burial Cave and resting place for Igorot tribal elders.
- Our guide told us that the coffins were positioned at the mouth of the cave for the belief that light coming in will protect the soul of the deceased from bad spirits.
- At present, they already adapted the way of burying and visiting the tomb of the dead in the cemetery. But, those who have loved ones buried in the burial cave do not visit the cave. Instead, they perform rituals at home.
Sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint
- This is the highest point in the area, it’s known for its heart-stopping views of the rising sun from behind the mountains of Cordillera over an ocean of clouds. Made famous by the That Thing Called Tadhana movie.
- Vans can be arranged at the tourism office for P500 round trip. They’ll pick you up from your hotel at 5AM.
- Also known as Small Falls because it is smaller in height. This falls is part of the Echo Valley Tour and can be reached by foot via the rice paddies. Super enjoyed the walk (barefooted), the talk, the laughs under the rain with friends 🙂
- Accordingly, this is where SAGADA locals learn to swim.
- Also known as Big Falls. You can arrange for a van at the tourism office for P650 round trip or a track and have that topload experience again! 🙂 We did it. Again! Fun!
- From Banga-an information center, you can hire a tour guide for P600 (max of 10 pax). Again, Tipid tip: Make friends! 🙂
- Then begin the hour-long trek down to and enjoy the scenery to the falls where you can go for a swim in the freezing waters! Going down is fairly easy. It’s the trek back up all those steps that are tough… really tough.
- We did not personally experience spelunking because we were warned (by my cousin Raymon) not to because during our time it was not that safe to go spelunking (our lives are too precious for greater risk! Haha!) so we obeyed. Take note: Avoid the typhoon season (August to October) okay? 🙂
- Accordingly, you can see many stunning rock formations in Sumaguing.
- For your safety: wear flip-flops and shorts, keep valuables in a ziplock bag, bring a waterproof camera and be back before nightfall.
Where to eat
Because supplies are limited with SAGADA being remote, expect to spend around P300 per meal with drinks. Food is often served in big portions to satisfy hungry trekkers. One thing I loved about the food in this place, cooked with all fresh ingredients and really tasty. You can really see and taste the difference. They put veggie in almost every food that is being served! 🙂
- Complete with a second floor and a balcony, this place is really charming with its boho feel. They served in big portions, a single order meal in the menu can be consumed by two pax already.
- Price wise, theirs are not cheap but it is all worth it because of the overwhelming serving and really delicious meals.
- Don’t forget to try their famous yogurt okay? That’s the reason why they are called the Yoghurt House.
- The façade of this diner is quite inviting. The food was great and they give free extra rice too. Yes! 😀
- Based on my research, you must try their Pinikpikan (I’ve read about this before but I didn’t know that it is also available in this diner. Nag-order unta ko! Huhu :D) Pinikpikan accordingly was good as the chicken was served on a different plate than the soup. By this, you could control the amount of flavor the soup would make on your chicken.
Lemon Pie House
This place is best known for one thing, can you guess what it is? 🙂 Yes, correct! People really come here for the lemon pie although they also offer savory dishes.
What to buy
Heres some of the shopping places that you can visit in SAGADA:
- SAGADA Weaving
2. SAGADA Weekend Market
3. I.Forgot.The.Name.Of.This.Shop 😀
Other specialties are the local wines that come in different flavors. Homemade jams are also sold almost at every souvenir shop. Some of the best tasting arabica coffee and mountain tea are worth buying. Weaving is another main occupation in Sagada. The woven knapsacks, coin purse, and body bags are also worth a buy. If you want something that you can give to your family and friends, a variety of ref magnets, keychains, T-shirts, car stickers and wood carvings are also available in most souvenir shops. You have to be an intelligent shopper to get the best deals. 🙂
Keep wandering & wondering,
*All photos are mine unless otherwise stated. 🙂