Long overshadowed by its more famous neighbors – Banaue and Sagada, Bontoc is now carving out its own identity on the tourist map. If you fancy the outdoors and off-the-beaten track, this modest capital of Mountain Province will surprise you with its wealth of attractions concealed in its towering mountains draped by verdant wilderness.
Just 30 minutes away by land from downtown Bontoc is Maligcong, made famous by travel blogs who were looking for something new to explore in this region. So when Kirk asked me to join him on his long weekend trip to Maligcong, I packed my bag right away. This largely uncharted village is far from the tedious trappings of commercialism, and you will learn a lot from your encounter with the locals. For a province-dweller like me, visiting such place is like journeying to the core of my being.
Here is a travel guide blog to help you plan your trip to Maligcong in Bontoc, Mountain Province:
HOW TO GET TO MALIGCONG:
CODA Bus has daily trips to Sagada via Bontoc leaving at 9:00 PM and arriving at 7:00 AM the next day. Fare is PHP 685/ USD 13.80. Their bus station is at HM Transport Cubao Terminal. See CODA Lines bus schedule below.
At downtown Bontoc, look for the terminal of jeeps bound for Maligcong. It is along Capitol Road beside the market, however during market day/weekend, they are parked on another street. If you can’t find it, just ride a tricycle and tell the driver to take you to the jeep en route to Maligcong. Tricycle fare is Php 10 per person. Travel time to Maligcong proper from Bontoc is 30 minutes and jeep fare is PHP 20 / USD 0.40.
CODA LINES BUS SCHEDULE
|09:00 PM||Cubao, Quezon City to Sagada|
|03:00 PM||Sagada to Cubao, Quezon City|
|04:00 PM||Bontoc to Cubao, Quezon City|
|06:30 PM-7:00 PM||Banaue to Cubao, Quezon City|
|QUEZON CITY SCHEDULES||ROUTE|
|12:00 AM||Via Baguio|
|04:00 AM||Via Ifugao|
|09:00 PM||Via Ifugao|
|06:00 AM||Via Ifugao|
|12:00 PM||Via Baguio|
|03:00 PM||Via Ifugao|
CODA LINES Terminal Quezon City
HM Transport, INC
Monte de Piedad corner Maryland Street, Cubao Quezon City
Contact #: +63 927 559 2197 / +63 929 521 3229
CODA LINES Terminal Baguio
Otek Street, Burnham Park beside Rizal Monument, Baguio City
Contact#: +63 935 535 9114 / +63 998 444 8831
CODA LINES Terminal Banaue
Poblacion Banaue near Tourism Office
Contact#: +63 936 971 9240 / +63 920 651 9672
GOING BACK TO MANILA FROM BONTOC
At Bontoc, there are buses to Baguio or you may take a Coda Bus Line to Cubao, Quezon City that leaves at 4:00 PM. Or take a jeepney to Banaue from Bontoc and at Banaue, ride the Ohayami Bus to Manila that leaves at 6:30 PM and 6:45 PM.
MANILA – BAGUIO- BONTOC-MALIGCONG
Take a bus to Baguio such as Victory Liner in Cubao and Pasay. Fare is PHP 445/ USD 8.97. Once you’re there, take a cab to Slaughter House and catch the Rising Sun bus en route to Bontoc. Travel time is 6 hours and fare is PHP 250/ USD 5. In Bontoc, look for the terminal of the jeep to Maligcong. Travel time is 30 minutes and fare is PHP 20 / USD 0.40. If you are in a large group, you can also rent an entire jeep to Maligcong from Bontoc for PHP 700/USD 14.10.
Take Ohayami Bus to Banaue. Fare is Php 450/ USD 8.98, travel time is 9 hours. Here’s the schedule Ohayami Bus:
Schedule of Ohayami Bus Trips to Banaue
Corner J. Fajardo A.H Lacson Sampaloc, Manila
Contact Number: 917- 506-0817 / 0927-6493-0355 or (02) 5160-501
MANILA TO BANAUE OHAYAMI BUS SCHEDULE
|MANILA||BANAUE||09:00 PM||1||06:00 AM||PHP 450/
|MANILA||BANAUE||10:00 PM||3||07:00 AM||PHP 450
/ USD 9.07
|MANILA||BANAUE||10:15 PM||4||07:15 AM||PHP 450
/ USD 9.07
|MANILA||LAGAWE/KIANGAN||09:30 PM||2||06:30 AM||PHP 450
/ USD 9.07
BANAUE TO MANILA OHAYAMI BUS SCHEDULE
|BANAUE||MANILA||06:30 PM||2||04:30 AM||PHP 450/
|BANAUE||MANILA||06:45 PM||3||04:45 AM||PHP 450/
|BANAUE||MANILA||07:00 PM||1||05:00 AM||PHP 450/
|LAGAWE||MANILA||07:30 PM||2||05:30 AM||PHP 450/
|LAGAWE||MANILA||07:45 PM||3||05:45 AM||PHP 450/
|LAGAWE||MANILA||08:00 PM||1||06:00 AM||PHP 450/
In Banaue, look for jeep or van bound for Bontoc, fare is PHP 150/ USD 3 – PHP 250 / USD 5, travel time is 1.5 hours. Alight at downtown Bontoc and look for the terminal of jeep bound for Maligcong. Fare is PHP 20 / USD 0.40 and travel time is 30 minutes. If you are in a large group, you can also rent an entire jeep to Maligcong from Bontoc for PHP 700 / USD 14.10.
BONTOC TO MALIGCONG TO BONTOC JEEPNEY DAILY SCHEDULE
|BONTOC TO MALIGCONG||08:00 AM||PHP 20 / USD 0.40|
|BONTOC TO MALIGCONG||12:00 PM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|BONTOC TO MALIGCONG||02:30 PM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|BONTOC TO MALIGCONG||04:30 PM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|BONTOC TO MALIGCONG||05:30 PM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|MALIGCONG TO BONTOC||06:30 AM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|MALIGCONG TO BONTOC||08:00 AM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|MALIGCONG TO BONTOC||09:00 AM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|MALIGCONG TO BONTOC||02:00 PM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
|MALIGCONG TO BONTOC||04:00 PM||PHP 20/ USD 0.40|
MALIGCONG, BONTOC TOURIST SPOTS
Maligcong Rice Terraces
Maligcong Rice Terraces, an age-old man-made stone-walled rice terraces, is looming with brooding power over pine-fringed mountains. And like other rice terraces in the Philippines, it is great testament to the creativity and indigenous engineering skills of its residents. Early this year, the Provincial Board of Bontoc passed a resolution asking the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) to include the Maligcong Rice Terraces on the list of National Cultural Heritage Sites. If you wish to see the rice terraces in their greenest state, visit around March to May.
Do not leave Maligcong without climbing Mt.Kupapey at sunrise, the view here is mesmerizing. It is the highlight of our trip. If you visit in December, you might chance upon the sea of clouds before sunrise covering the rice terraces below. The climb to Mt.Kupapey is good for beginners, difficulty level is rated 3/9 by mountaineers, but as the trail is not that well established yet, be prepared to scramble on some rocks and fallen branches.
Travelers visiting Maligcong can also hike Mt.Fato, but Kirk and I failed to do this as we arrived quite late. But according to the other group of hikers we met (Karl Joseph and her group), the trail to Mt. Fato is more difficult than that of Kupapey’s. There is a rock formation at the summit of Mt. Fato that offers affordable 360 view of Maligcong village.
WHERE TO STAY IN MALIGCONG
There are three homestays in Maligcong, but I didn’t get the number of Rowena’s Homestay.
Contact#: 0915 546 3557
PHP 350/ USD 7.05 -Php 400 / USD 8.06 per person
We stayed at Ate Suzette’s house with a veranda offering dramatic view of Maligcong Rice Terraces while you sip your free home-made tea! They have three rooms, one with bathroom inside and two with shared bathrooms (with hot and cold shower). Overall, the house is clean with spacious lawn. If you like dogs, they have plenty and they will even join you in your hike. But they can get annoying when they beg for food, so Ate Suzette instructed us not to feed them while we were eating.
Contact #: 0905 701 1448
Another homestay option in Maligcong, I didn’t get to see the rooms though but the house is located near the jumping-off point to Maligcong Rice Terraces.
RECOMMENDED GUIDE IN MALIGCONG:
Hiring a guide when climbing Mt.Kupapey (Mt.Kofafey) and Mt.Fato is recommended. Guide fee is PHP 500/ USD 10.07 per 1-5 person and additional PHP 100 / USD 2.01 if you are six in the group. If you are more than 6, you need another guide.
Mobile #: 0975 417 9231
SAMPLE MALIGCONG TRIP BUDGET/EXPENSES
Sample budget good for 1 person, so if you are in a group, it is definitely cheaper.
|BUS FARE (MANILA TO BANAUE)||PHP 450 / USD 9.07|
|BUS FARE (BANAUE TO MANILA)||PHP 450/ USD 9.07|
|VAN TO BONTOC FROM BANAUE||PHP 200/ USD 4.03|
|JEEP TO MALIGCONG FROM BONTOC||PHP 20 / USD 0.40|
|BARANGAY ENTRANCE FEE||PHP 20 / USD 0.40|
|HOMESTAY||PHP 350/ USD 7.05|
|MEAL||PHP 120 x 2 = PHP 240|
|TOWEL RENTAL||PHP 20 / USD 0.40|
|MT. KUPAPEY GUIDE FEE||PHP 500 / USD 10.07|
|TOTAL||PHP 2,250 / USD 45.33|
Rates based on PHP 1 = USD 0.02
SAMPLE MALIGCONG BONTOC ITINERARY
|10:00 PM||Bus to Banaue|
|06:00 AM||Arrival in Banaue|
|06:15 AM||Breakfast in Banaue|
|10:00 AM||Van to Bontoc (We had to wait for passengers before the van leaves)|
|10:20 AM||Van stop over at Banaue View Deck|
|11:00 AM||Van stop over at Bayyo Rice Terraces|
|11:30 AM||Arrival on Bontoc Town|
|11:31 AM||Lunch in Bontoc|
|12:00 PM||Jeep to Maligcong|
|12:30 PM||Arrival in Maligcong homestay|
|01:00 PM||Rest or Start hike to Mt. Fato|
|03:00 PM||Arrival at summit|
|06:00 PM||Arrival at Homestay|
|09:00 PM||Lights out|
|03:00 AM||Wake up call|
|03:30 AM||Start climb to Mt.Kofafey|
|04:30 AM||Arrival at Mt.Kofafey’s summit|
|05:00 AM||Wait for sunrise|
|07:00 AM||Detour to rice paddies|
|08:00 AM||Arrival at homestay|
|09:00 AM||Jeep to Bontoc|
|10:00 AM||Bus to Baguio|
|05:00 PM||Arrival in Baguio|
|07:00 PM||Depart for Manila|
MALIGCONG TRAVEL TIPS
⊗ Bring jacket as the weather can get pretty cold at night.
⊗ Wear proper hiking shoes especially during rainy season as the trail can get muddy and slippery.
⊗ You can cook your food at the homestay or order a meal in advance.
⊗ Strictly lights out at 9:00 PM for the entire village.
⊗ Hire a guide when climbing Mt.Kupapey (Mt.Kofafey) as it is easy to get lost there.
⊗ Guide dogs owned by the guide or the homestay might join you on your trek. But we were told that this is not encouraged by some local farmers as some dogs run after their carabaos and they end up falling from the cliff or to the rice terraces destroying the crops.
⊗ To shorten your hike to Mt. Fato, you can catch the jeep from Maligcong that can drop you off the jumping-off point.
⊗ Overnight camping is not allowed.
⊗ The jeep back to Bontoc is usually full, so be prepared to climb and sit on the roof.
⊗ Please do not leave trash on the mountains or anywhere on the village!
⊗ Smart/Suncellular signal is weak in Maligcong. No signal and data at the homestay, but I had data connection and signal at Maligcong Rice Terraces. So if you wish to post on Facebook amd Instagram, go to the rice terraces or bring a Globe sim card.
MALIGCONG SIDE TRIPS
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