Sagada can be a pain in the ass to get to (literally), but like most beautiful places, it’s worth the effort. Get comfortable as you and your numb bum endure the 12-hour bus ride from Manila to the Mountain Province situated 5,000 feet above sea level to explore the life-changing (or rather, challenging) caves, walk along the rice terraces (maybe accidentally fall into one), and bathe under one of the many (ice cold!) waterfalls.

Getting There

 

There are a few options you can take on the road to Sagada, but here are three of the most popular ones when coming from Manila:

Manila to Sagada

Coda Lines Corporation leaves their terminal in Quezon City (near St. Luke’s) daily at 9pm, arriving in Sagada at 8am the next day. Fare is Php 760. For inquiries please contact +39 927 559 2197 or +390929 521 3229 or visit their Facebook page.

Manila-Baguio-Sagada

From Manila, taking the Victory Liner bus is usually the fastest way to go, especially if you’re coming from the airport as their Pasay terminal isn’t too far away. There’s a Baguio-bound bus that usually leaves the terminal every hour and costs Php 455. No need to pbook in advance, just get in line.

From the Victory Baguio Terminal, take a short cab ride to GL Liner Terminal (they have four trips daily from 6am to 1pm) or to Lizardo Transit Terminal (bus leaves at 9:15am) to catch a bus to Sagada. Fare for both bus lines is Php 220 with travel time to Sagada being around 6 hours passing along the scenic Halsema Highway.

Manila-Banaue-Sagada

Ohayami Bus and Dangwa Transit run the Manila-Banaue route. Located at the corner of Fajardo Street and Lacson Avenue, Sampaloc, book your ticket way in advance because they fill up fast! They have around two to three trips a night, depending on the season, with the fare costing you Php 450. For inquiries call +63 927 649 3055 o r +63 2 516 0501.

From Banaue, ask around for a van headed to Sagada by the bus terminal (there are a lot of them). They should be easy to spot, as they can usually be heard shouting, “Sagada! Sagada!” The fee is Php 300 for the three-hour drive, which includes a quick stop by Sunrise Viewpoint for obligatory pictures.

Top Tip: If you’re headed straight back to Manila and don’t want to pass by Baguio, secure your seat at Coda Lines before heading off and doing any activities because those seats fill up fast with only two rides leaving for the city daily.

Where to Stay

 

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With Sagada being quite the popular out-of-town travel destination, homes along the main streets and back alleys of the once quiet town have reinvented themselves into hostels, rest houses, and lodges. There are a variety to choose from based on one’s location, budget, and other preferences.

If you’re with a small group that’s looking for some peace and quiet in the evenings, I’d recommend St. Joseph’s Rest House, located on top of a hill near the municipality hall. Ask about setting up a bonfire at night when checking in so they can have someone gather bits of wood for you. For inquiries or to book a room, please call +63 927 236 0344 or +63 918 559 5934.

If you’re looking for a place right in the middle of the town, Grandma’s Yellow House Inn & Cafe is a good option, located right across from the popular Yogurt House. For inquiries or to book a room, please call +63 928 997 1400.

If you’re bringing your furbaby on your Sagada trip, I hear Gecko Inn & Cafe (contact +63 920 289 5471 or +63 948 455 9323 for inquiries), a little way outside of the town proper, and George’s Guest House (+63 918 548 0406 or +63 920 948 3133 for inquiries) allows well behaved pets and their furparents.

What to Do

 

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What does one do in Sagada? A whole lot! A weekend isn’t enough to explore half the activities available, but don’t try and squeeze in everything in a span of two days. Activities are best done with your mates, as the guide and driver fees can get quite expensive.

Spelunking

 

  • Cave Connection
    • 4-5 hours spelunking
    • Route: Lumiang Burial Cave, Dokiw Hanging Coffins, Sumaging Cave, Kapay-aw rice terraces view
    • Guide Fee: Php 400/person
    • Php 400 two-way transportation
  • Short Course Caving (Sumaging Cave)
    • Route: Lumiang Burial Cave, Sumaging Cave, Dokiw Hanging Coffin, Kapay-aw rice terraces view
    • Guide Fee: 1-4 people – Php 500, 5 people – Php 600, 6-9 people – Php 1,000, 10 people – Php 1,200
    • Php 350 two-way transportation
  • Balangagan Cave
    • Guide Fee: 1-4 people – Php 650, 5 people – Php 750, 6-9 people – Php 1,150, 10 people – Php 1,350
    • Php 650 two-way transportation

Waterfall Hikes

 

  • Bumayeng Twin Falls
    • Hike Duration: 3 hours or more, one way
    • Guide Fee: Php 2,500 for 5 visitors or less (includes packed lunch)
    • Php 650 two-way transportation
  • Bomod-ok Falls
    • Guide Fee: Php 500 for 10 people or less
    • Php 650 two-way transportation
  • Ponga Falls
    • Guide Fee: Php 600 for 10 people or less
    • Php 650 two-way transportation
  • Bokong Falls
    • Guide Fee: Php 200 for 10 people or less
    • Php 250 two-way transportation

Tours & Trails

 

  • Central Sagada Eco Tour
    • Guide Fee: Php 600 for 10 people or less
    • 3-hour loop hike
    • Church of St. Mary the Virgin
    • Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
    • Sagada Underground River Entrance
    • Bokong Waterfalls
    • Passing through rice fields, coffee farm, and Sagada Weaving Showroom
  • Sagada Adventure Trail
    • Guide Fee: Php 1,000 for 10 people or less
    • 3-hour loop hike
    • Church of St. Mary the Virgin
    • Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
    • Sagada Underground River Passage
    • Bokong Waterfalls
    • Passing through rice fields, coffee farm, and Sagada Weaving Showroom
    • River crossing
  • Mt. Ampacao Traverse
    • Guide Fee: Php 800 for 10 people or less
    • 3-hour loop hike
  • Marlboro/ Grassy Land
    • Guide Fee: Php 600 for 10 people or less
    • 2-3 hours horseback trekking with a view of the rice terraces and some limestone formations
  • Langsayan Danum Traverse
    • Guide Fee: Php 1,000 for 3 people or less
    • 3-hour hike or more, passing through mossy and pine forest
  • Mt. Sisipitan
    • Guide Fee: Php 2,000/person
    • The highest mountain in Sagada
    • Passing through mossy and pine forest
  • Mt. Polis
    • Guide Fee: Php 1,500 for 3 people or less
    • Pine forest with a view of the neighboring municipalities
  • Marlboro Hills – Blue Soil Traverse Trek
    • Guide Fee: Php 1,300 for 3 people or less
    • Transport Fee (optional): Php 1,350
    • 4-5 hours horseback trekking with a view of the rice terraces and some limestone formations
  • Sagada to Mainit Hotsprings
    • Guide Fee: Php 2,500/person
    • Expect additional fee from the hot spring to Maligcong

Canyoning

 

Canyoning (or canyoneering in the U.S.) is “traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, rappelling, and swimming.” Canyoning in Sagada takes place above Pongas Falls, near Brgy. Ankileng, and involves negotiating a sequence of waterfalls in a deep canyon.

  • Warning: This is a demanding trip that requires above average endurance and agility, and is best suited to active, athletic people with experience in outdoor sports. Participants must be healthy and in good physical condition.
  • Participants will:
    • Hike 1.5 to 2 hours to the canyon, including steep climbs and descents
    • Descend a rough trail to the canyon, involving a steep descent  and some brush, sometimes with thorns
    • Scramble over rocks, boulders, and ledges
    • Spend a lot of time walking in water
    • Swim several pools
    • Rappel down multiple waterfalls
    • Jump 6 meters into deep water (life jackets are provided as needed)
    • All while carrying gear for personal use
  • Trip requires a full day – Leave at 7am and be back by 5pm or 6pm
  • Trip Cost: 3 or less people – Php 3,000/person, 4-8 people – Php 2,500/person
  • Participants with no experience in rappelling with rope, harness, and ATC will be asked to take a short rappelling class the day before the trip, which is an additional Php 500.
  • Trip inclusions:
    • Transportation to and from the jump off point in Balugan
    • Highly trained professional guides
    • Equipment that meets international standards
    • Packed lunch (advise dietary requirements in advance)
    • Splash tops for warmth is weather is cool
    • Dry bags for items that cannot get wet
  • Participants need:
    • Sturdy footwear that can get wet – water shoes, strap-on sandals or trainers are best
    • Clothes than can get wet and dry quickly
    • Sun protection

 

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For those looking for a little less adventure and a little more relaxing, there are other less strenuous activities to appreciate, too:

  • Watch the sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint
  • Search for the best lemon pie in Sagada  (it’s not where you’d think it is)
  • Visit Ganduyan Museum
  • Walk to Lake Danum and catch the sunset
  • Go Orange Picking at Rock Farm

Where to Eat

 

With everyone wanting to tick Sagada off their bucket list,the local residents have come to adjust to the influx of people nicely and have taken an entrepreneurial approach by converting most of the houses on the main road into inns and restaurants. Which is just as well, as there has been a lot more variety on the food on offer,a pleasant surprise for foodies. But one has to take note that these aren’t seasoned waitstaff and Michelin chefs working in the kitchen, so expect the service to be slow – your itinerary will revolve around how fast they can get your food to your table, so it would be best to eat before the rest of the lunch and dinner crowds if you want to get more stuff done.

 

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If the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning is what turns you on, I’d highly recommend Masferre Country Inn and Cafe, who bake their own little loaves which they serve with a simple omelette and jam on the side. The walls of the cafe are covered in pictures of the former owner who was also a photographer, the first ever to take pictures of the Sagada tribes in their natural habitat, before the introduction of modern conveniences. If you’re in a rush, they have a store right next to the inn that sells Pretzel Pizzas, a monstrous portion of bread in giant pretzel form topped with everything from pesto cheese to Italian sausages. They’re best enjoyed warm, but also make for a great mini-meal on the 10-hour ride back to Metro Manila.

 

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The Yogurt House is probably on everyone’s tick list when they visit Sagada, but let me tell you now – that place is always packed and really hot inside – it’s totally normal to see people hanging out by the balcony, having a meal and trying to keep cool. I found Strawberry Cafe to be a way better alternative, The cafe itself looks like a hippie hovel, the walls decorated with painted murals of Bob Marley and weed. I loved it.! The food was pretty good, too, all served with purple mountain rice. Ask for the Pork Adobo (Php 140) washed down with minty Mountain Tea (Php 40), and maybe split a slice of Lemon Pie (Php 50) and Strawberry Yogurt (Php 80) for dessert.

Although Pinikpikan is a local dish that is sort of a delicacy for us Manileños, I find the idea of beating a chicken to death as a way of tenderizing the meat as a form of animal cruelty, and don’t recommend it. For those looking for a good chicken dish, there is Salt and Pepper Steakhouse‘s Chicken Inutom that comes in Classic (Php 170), Rosemary (Php 170), Chili Garlic (Php 170), and Mushroom (Php 190) – pan-seared chicken that is served with rice or marble potatoes.

Lemon Pie House is a bit of a walk from where most of the other restaurants and cafes are and have been selling out lemon pies since it opened. I went there to check it out, turns out is wasn’t so great. It was nice and quiet though.

Weekend Itinerary

 

I went the Manila-Banaue-Sagada route on my trip up to the mountain province with a budget of around Php 5,000 for the weekend, which was more than enough for my trip, splitting the guide and transportation fees with three other friends. Make sure you withdraw a little more than you think you’d need before heading up, as I only saw one ATM my whole time there and it was out of cash.

 

DAY 00

10:15pm
Board Ohayami Bus to Banaue (Php 450)

DAY 01

12am
Stopover in Bulacan
5am
Stopover in Nueva Viscaya
8am
Arrival at Banaue – register and pay Environmental Fee before hiring a van to Sagada (Php 300/person)
8:30am
Breakfast at Halfway House
9am
Stopover at Sunrise Viewpoint
12nn
Arrive at Sagada – Check in at St. Joseph’s Rest House
12:15pm
Lunch at St. Joseph’s Restaurant
2:30pm
Bomod-ok Falls activity – Guide: Php 540 + Transport: Php 560 for group of 4
6:30pm
Return to town proper
7pm
Dinner at Strawberry Cafe
10pm
Curfew – drinks and bonfire at St. Joseph’s Rest House

DAY 02

4:30am
Watch the sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint (Transpo: Php 500)
6:30am
Breakfast at Masferre
8am
Walk to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin

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8am
Sagada Cemetery + Echo Valley + Hanging Coffins Tour (Guide Fee: Php 200)
10am
Walk to Sagada Weaving
11:30am
Lunch at Pepper & Salt
12:30pm
Dessert at Lemon Pie House
1pm
Free time, souvenier buying (mini-agnets for Php 50)
3pm
Board Coda Lines to Manila (Php 750)
5pm
Stopover at Bontoc – really cheap vegetable market!
11pm
Stopover at Nueva Viscaya

DAY 03

2am
Arrive in Quezon City 

 

I hope you find this article helpful when planning out your Sagada itinerary. If there’s anything I missed or something you’d like to recommend, let me know!

 

 

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