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Roughly twelve hours of bus ride from Manila, that’s how far Sagada is. But is it worth a long journey? Read the blog and find out.
SAGADA is the ancestral dwelling of Kankanaeys, one of the 6 ethno-linguistic groups of Igorot that dominate the Cordillera Administrative region encompassing the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and the Mountain Province. It is a community of small populous situated five thousand feet high between the mountain ranges of Cordillera and Ilocos. Because of its remote location, Sagada remained untouched from the influence of Spanish conquest; thus was able to keep most of its indigenous culture over time.
Limestone cliffs and pines on forested valleys are a typical sight in the area. Mornings are tranquil, bearably cold and are usually met with shrouded mist. People go for long walks on the many hiking trails, eat on a freshly picked vegetables, and brew locally grown coffee. Though a world away from how the Philippines is usually perceived: being a tropical paradise of fine beaches, Sagada speaks for the often overlooked side of the country and the nearest thing you can associate in terms of culture to its Southeast Asian neighbors.
Sagada is the right mix of Filipino ethnic culture, nature and adventure. If you are eyeing on this kind of experience then getting on a long journey to its highlands is definitely worth it.
QUICK FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT SAGADA
Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around Sagada.
- The months of November to February are the best time to visit Sagada while the weather is temperate.
- In December, between Christmas and New Year, Sagada observes its annual bonfire festival. Travelers can take part in this celebration for a minimal fee of around P250. Food, drinks and transport to the venue are already included in the fee.
- Holy Week and the Bonfire festival are the most crowded time to visit Sagada. Arrange your accommodation ahead and pack a load of patience while lining up in your visit to its top attractions.
- The rice terraces in Cordillera are at their greenest during the months of March to April.
- A traditional Kankanaey rice festival called Begnas is celebrated in Sagada and other areas in Cordillera 3 times a year: during planting, when the seedlings start to offshoot, and harvest time in June. During the festivity, women wear a woven skirt called tapis and older men put on G-strings. They will lineup in a single file and walk to the mountain and back to perform a ritual. At this time, locals also offer a traditionally cooked chicken called pinikpikan, where the fowl is repeatedly beaten with a stick while alive to soften its meat before it’s cooked – an age-old tradition that has met a backlash from animal rights supporter.
- Trekking is a major activity in Sagada. It is a must to bring non-slippery sandals or shoes. Also, always see to it that you hike with a walking stick or pole to lessen exhaustion.
- Bring a jacket. The weather can be too cold early in the morning.
- There are no taxis and tricycles. Getting to the tourist spots (which are mostly accessible) are done on a jeepney or by walking.
- Sagada Pines is the place to be for a drinking session at night. The bar is quaint and a great vibe. It has a section where you can dedicate notes, like that of Korean cafe, and enjoy a display of different mementos from guests all over the world. While here, try their very own rice wine.
- There is curfew in Sagada from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
- Accommodations in Sagada are basic and may not provide toiletries.
- There are only 2 ATMs in Sagada, one inside the tourism center and another on the 2nd floor of the next building. To avoid hassle, stack up some cash.
- Smart and Globe cellular networks work fine, but mobile data and wi-fi connectivity may not be reliable.
- Roads to Sagada are mostly paved and smooth but are narrow once you enter Banaue area.
HOW TO GET TO SAGADA
As of late, travel to Sagada can only be done by land. Below are directions on how to get to Sagada from the different areas in Luzon.
Direct bus from Manila (via Banaue)
Coda Lines Corporation offers an overnight bus trip direct to Sagada from Cubao HM Terminal in Quezon City. The night bus leaves daily at 8PM, 9PM and 10PM. Regular bus fare is P760, travel time is 12 hours. For inquiry and reservation, contact them at +63 977 186 0548 and +63 939 467 7863 or visit their website at Online Bus Booking.
If you plan to drop by Banaue for its rice terraces before going to Sagada, you can take the Ohayami bus in Sampaloc, Manila. Their buses leave daily at 10PM. Make your reservation at their website at ohayamitrans.com or by contacting them at +63 927 649 3055. Bus fare is P490, travel time is roughly 8 hours. At the bus stop you can either go immediately to Sagada or take a side trip to Bontoc.
- If you opt to go directly to Sagada, you can take the van at the bus stop in Banaue near the tourism office. Fare is P300, travel time is roughly 4 hours.
- If you plan to drop by Bontoc for its set of attractions, ride a tricycle to Banaue town proper for P30 and then catch a jeepney or bus that leaves for Bontoc for P150, travel time is 3 hours. From Bontoc, ride another jeepney to Sagada for P50, travel time is 1 hour. While on a ride, you can go to the roof of the jeepney to get the best view of the surroundings.
There are a number of bus companies that travel to Baguio from Manila. The most recommended of them is the Victory Liner which leaves for Baguio in an hourly basis whole day. Their bus stations are in Caloocan, Cubao, Pasay, and Sampaloc. Regular bus fare is P450, travel time is around 5 hours. Once in Baguio, grab a taxi to Baguio Dangwa terminal, just behind Baguio Center Mall, fare is roughly P70. At the terminal, take the bus from GL Liner to Sagada. Fare is P250, travel time is 6 hours. Last trip is 1PM.
Trip from the Ilocos region will require three transfers and will commence in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. Follow these steps:
- Go to Bitalag UV Express van terminal and take a passenger van bound for Cervantes. Trips start at 6AM and end at 5PM. Fare is P150, travel time is 90 minutes.
- At the town of Cervantes, take a van for Bontoc. Van terminal is located at the plaza in sitio Bulaga. It leaves as early as 6AM, last trip is around 2PM. Apart from the vans, you can also take a bus or jeepney at Cervantes Market. Fare is P120, travel time is another 90 minutes. Tell the driver that you will drop off at Sagada junction.
- At the junction, catch a jeepney or bus to Sagada. Travel time is 15 minutes. Fare is around P30.
Going Away from Sagada
For travelers from Manila, take a Coda Line bus which departs at 2PM and 3PM daily. For Baguio, there are buses in Sagada that leave daily from 5AM to 5PM. For Bontoc bound, jeepneys are available as early as 6AM, last trip is around 1PM.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN SAGADA
Here are 7 top tourist spots that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days while in and near Sagada.
LUMIANG BURIAL CAVE
TOP THINGS TO DO IN SAGADA
Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try around Sagada.
- Drop by at Sagada Weaving and take great pleasure in the making of hand-weaved bags and other textiles.
- Walk down memory lane and learn the rich history of Sagada by visiting the Ganduyan museum.
- Watch the sunrise at Kiltepan or the sunset at Lake Danum.
- Enjoy the local cuisine. Visit some of Sagada’s finest eats: Yoghurt House, Log Cabin, Lemon Pie House and Salt&Pepper Diner.
- Try civet and the local coffee of Sagada at Gaia cafe, Sagada Brew or Bana’s Cafe.
- Go spelunking on a cave connection tour for 3 to 4 hours in the massive cave system of Lumiang and Sumaguing.
SAGADA SAMPLE ITINERARY
In getting around the top tourist spots in Sagada, one can go on a DIY or an arranged tour package. The late is preferred by travelers who are in a shoestring budget. Here is a sample DIY itinerary for Sagada good for 3 days and 2 nights which assumes a party of two and will set back a budget of P4,800.00+ per person, excluding expenses for accommodation, souvenir and other incidentals.
Side note: Here is a travel guide for Batad-Sagada-Baguio good for 5 days.
|Arrive in Banaue||6:00AM||P490|
|Arrive in Sagada||11:00AM||P300|
|Register at Tourism Office||11:15AM||P35|
|Lunch at Salt & Pepper||12:00PM||P200|
|Cave Connection Tour||2:30PM||P400|
|Dinner at Sagada Homestay Diner||6:00PM||P200|
|Socials at Sagada Pines||7:00PM||P200|
A beautiful rock formation inside Sumaguing cave. Note that some sections in the cave require a rappel on a rockface to cross over.
|To Kiltepan Viewpoint||4:00AM||P300|
|Rock Farm Café and Orange Picking||7:00AM||P50|
|Echo Trail Tour||1:00PM||P300|
|The Episcopal Church of St. Mary|
|Lake Danum until sunset||5:00PM||P300|
|Dinner at Log Cabin||7:00PM||P200|
|Lemon Pie House||8:00PM||P200|
|Coffee at Gaia Café||8:00AM||P150|
|Dessert at Strawberry Café||1:00PM||P150|
|Check out and depart to Baguio||2:00PM||P250|
Things to remember in getting around the tourist spots of Sagada:
- Tour packages that are offered in the Tourism office are good for a maximum of 6 persons. You may tag along other solo travelers to save up your budget.
- Most of the attractions are physically exhausting. Take enough rest at night so you can go on for another activity the day after.
- You will need a transport to get to Bomod-ok falls, Kiltepan viewing deck and Lake Danum. You may charter a van or jeepney at a round trip rate of P500-P700 per attraction, good for 6 to 10 persons.
- Spelunking, caving and the cave connection tour require a tour guide from the tourism office. You will also be asked to present the tourism fee receipt as you enter the caves.
- Spelunking is an extreme activity and is definitely not for the claustrophobic. Please avoid taking any risk.
- Waterproof gadgets and always be prepared to get wet in going to the waterfalls and caves.
- Most of the attractions in Sagada are sacred to the locals, please behave yourself.
- Ask permission when taking pictures of the locals, especially the elderly.
- Sagada is a sleepy town and gets very dark at night. Make sure to get back to your accommodation before nightfall.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAGADA
Most accommodations in Sagada are basic and non-luxurious. Here are just few of the best rated among them.
- Big Dipper Sagada Check rate and availability here
- Pinewood Lodge Check rate and availability here
- Agape Log Cabin and Restaurant Check rate and availability here
- A&M Lodging House Check rate and availability here
- Misty Lodge & Cafe Check rate and availability here
- Rock Valley Inn & Cafe Check rate and availability here
- Sagada Heritage Village Check rate and availability here
- Sagada Igorot Inn Check rate and availability here
- Sagada Blue Mountain Cabin Check rate and availability here
Camping is allowed in Lake Danum, Mt. Ampacao, Marlboro Hills, Calvary Hill and in Kiltepan viewdeck.
Go for an orange picking at the Rock Inn and Cafe.
People in Sagada generally speaks Filipino or Tagalog, but on the off-chance of talking to an elderly Igorot, here are phrases that prove to be useful:
English to Kankana-ey (language of the Igorots in Sagada)
Good morning – Gawis ay agsapa
Good afternoon – Gawis ay masdem
Good evening – Gawis ay labi
Where did you come from? – Nalpuam?
Let’s go – Entako
BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
Lastly, have fun and don’t forget to be awesome! 😉
EXTEND YOUR TRIP
Visit other top destinations in Luzon:
- Baler Budget Travel Guide
- Baguio Budget Travel Guide
- Zambales: Anawangin, Nagsasa and Capones Budget Travel Guide
- Palaui Island Budget Travel Guide
- Pagudpud Budget Travel Guide
- Laoag Budget Travel Guide
- Vigan Budget Travel Guide
Or, go to Visayas and visit these fascinating islands:
Or, go to the surfing capital of the Philippines – Siargao Budget Travel Guide here.
Or visit other countries in Asia:
- Bangkok, Thailand Budget Travel Guide
- Chiang Mai, Thailand Budget Travel Guide
- Johor Bahru, Malaysia Budget Travel Guide
- Singapore Budget Travel Guide
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