Karst formations rise against deep green pine trees in Echo Valley, Sagada, overlooking a highland rich in culture, history and mesmerizing scenery. The Cordillera Region has a special place in my heart. When I first saw a slide film created by my classmates featuring Sagada’s cultural changes in one of our Anthropology subjects, I’ve dreamed of visiting this highland. Here’s a Sagada travel guide blog to help you plan your trip this 2017.
The Cordillera Region is situated in Northern Philippines, the ancestral domain of the Igorots comprised of the six provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province as well as Baguio City. The Igorots are grouped into 6 ethno-linguistic groups, the Ifugao, Bontoc, Isneg (or Apayao), the Kankana-ey, Ibaloi and Kalinga. The Kankana-ey’s domain includes Sagada in Mountain Province. Unlike most parts of the Philippines, Sagada was unfazed by Spanish rule.
According to the locals, Sagada’s first resident is Biag. He is believed to be the founder of Sagada who moved to Sagada from their settlement in Candon, Ilocos Sur to evade headhunting enemies and the Spanish colonizers, he brought with him a rich culture handed down to the next generation.
Today, the erstwhile sleepy town of Sagada situated about 5,000 feet above sea level has made its mark on the tourist map because of its people, its culture and jaw-dropping attractions. While most people here thrive on agriculture (most of them have their own land where they raise vegetables, corn and rice), tourism has motivated some residents to modify their houses into guesthouses, restaurants or souvenir shops.
LANGUAGE IN SAGADA
The people of Sagada are Igorots / Kankana-eys who speak a language called Kankana-ey. Most residents can also speak Tagalog and English, you will not have a hard time asking for tips, recommendations and directions. The Igorots are generally genuinely hospitable, kind, tourist-friendly and helpful. Main reason why the Cordilleras remains one of my favorite places in the country.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SAGADA
Sagada has two climates, wet and dry season. If you want to experience Sagada’s cool climate, best time to visit is from November to February (wet season) when temperatures can drop to as low as 4 degrees Celsius. Dry season in Sagada is from March to May, so it can be hot and dusty. The rainy season in the Philippines starts from June to October. Check the weather updates before proceeding especially during off-peak season.
SAGADA DIY TRAVEL GUIDE
HOW TO GO TO SAGADA FROM MANILA
From Manila head to HM Transport Cubao Terminal in Quezon City where you can ride a Coda Bus bound for Sagada. Take note that there is only 1 trip daily at 9:00 PM. Fare is PHP 720 / USD 14.42 and travel time is roughly 12 hours.
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 Sagada
Contact#: +63 929 5213 247 / +63 936 971 9216
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
HOW TO GO TO SAGADA FROM MANILA VIA BANAUE
From Manila, ride the Ohayami Bus en route to Banaue. They have daily trips at 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM and 10:15 PM. Fare is PHP 450 / USD 9. Be there early to reserve a seat especially on holidays or weekends. Better buy your bus ticket in advance.
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|
|MANILA||BANAUE||10:15 PM||4||07:15 AM||PHP 450|
|MANILA||LAGAWE/KIANGAN||09:30 PM||2||06:30 AM||Php 450|
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|
Once you get off the bus in Banaue, locals will approach you offering van ride transfers to Sagada that includes a quick stop over at Dyannara viewpoint in Banaue. Passenger van fare is PHP 300/ USD 6. The van usually leaves at 09:00 AM, do ask the touts about the schedule, so you can have your breakfast first in Banaue. The passenger vans are usually parked at the jeep terminal near the Banaue Tourism Office.
If you plan to drop by first in Bontoc. Van fare is PHP 150 per person. You can read my Maligcong Rice Terraces Travel Guide here.
At Bontoc town proper, there are jeepneys that leave for Sagada starting at 6:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Travel time is roughly 1 hour and fare is PHP 45 / USD 0.90. There is also a bus en route to Sagada from Bontoc town proper that leaves around 12:00 noon. Fare is about PHP 120/ USD 2.40 .
Going back to Manila from Bontoc, you can ride a Coda Lines bus bound for Cubao, Quezon City that leaves at 4:00 PM from Bontoc.
HOW TO GO TO SAGADA VIA BAGUIO
If you can’t catch the 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM bus for Banaue or the direct trip to Sagada, you can always go to Sagada via Baguio. Several bus lines leave for Baguio from Sampaloc, Pasay, Caloocan and Cubao, Quezon City. But I prefer riding Victory Liner bus as they have 24/7 trips to Baguio, buses leave from their station in Cubao, Pasay, Caloocan and Sampaloc, Manila. Fare is PHP 445 / USD 8.88 to PHP 750 / USD 14.97 and travel time is 5-6 hours. Make sure to arrive in Baguio before 12:00 Noon as the last trip to Sagada from Baguio is at 1:00 PM.
In Baguio, take a taxi or GRAB to Baguio Dangwa Terminal, taxi fare is roughly PHP 53 / USD 1.06 from Victory Liner Bus Station in Baguio. Or if you want to commute, ride a jeep going to Center Mall and walk on the middle road (that divides the building into two wings) to get to the terminal at the back of the mall. Ride a GL Trans Bus line (ordinary bus) that leaves at 5:30 AM, next trip is 6:30 AM with 30 minutes interval until 11:30 AM. Last trip to Sagada is at 1:00 PM. Fare is PHP 220 / USD 4.41. Travel time is roughly 5-6 hours.
Alternatively, there are also ordinary buses bound for Sagada via Bontoc at the Slaughterhouse Terminal in Baguio that leaves early in the morning. Lizardo Bus to Sagada leaves at 9:00 AM. Fare is PHP 220 / USD 4.41, travel time is 5-6 hours.
GOING BACK TO MANILA FROM SAGADA VIA BAGUIO
You can take a GL Trans Bus/Lizardo Bus from Sagada Town Proper to Baguio. Fare is PHP 220 / USD 4.41 and travel time will take about 5 hour. Here’s the schedule of bus from Sagada to Baguio.
|05:00 AM||Sagada to Baguio 1st Trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|07:00 AM||Sagada to Baguio 2nd Trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|08:00 AM||Sagada to Baguio 3rd Trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|09:00 AM||Sagada to Baguio 4th Trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|10:00 AM||Sagada to Baguio 5th trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|11:30 AM||Sagada to Baguio 6th Trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|01:00 PM||Sagada to Baguio 7th Trip||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
In Baguio, take a cab to the Victory Liner Terminal. Fare is about PHP 53 / USD1.06. Board a bus bound for Manila, Cubao, Pasay or Caloocan. Fare is PHP 445 / USD 8.88 to PHP 750 / USD 14.97 and travel time is roughly 5-6 hours.
GOING BACK TO MANILA FROM SAGADA VIA BONTOC AND BANAUE
Alternatively, if you want to make a sidetrip to Bontoc, you can ride a jeep from Sagada to 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.
Here’s the jeepney schedule from Sagada to Bontoc. Fare from Sagada to Bontoc is PHP 45 / USD 0.90. Travel time is 45 minutes.
|06:30 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|07:00 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|07:30 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|08:00 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|08:30 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|09:00 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|10:00 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|11:00 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|12:00 AM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
|01:00 PM||Sagada to Bontoc||PHP 45 / USD 0.90|
And here’s the schedule of jeepney from Bontoc to Banaue. Fare is PHP 150/USD 3 and travel time is 1.5 hours.
|07:00 AM||Bontoc to Banaue||PHP 150 / USD 3|
|09:00 AM||Bontoc to Banaue||PHP 150 / USD 3|
HOW TO GO TO SAGADA FROM VIGAN, ILOCOS SUR
If you notice on the map above, there is a road (Tagudin-Cervantes-Sabangan Road) connecting Ilocos Sur to Sagada. While from Vigan you can also reach Baguio then transfer to a bus to Sagada. You will save about 3 hours of travel time if you do the route below, but be warned that you need to transfer about 5 times to complete this route.
So from Vigan, ride a bus (Partas Bus or others) bound for Manila, tell the conductor that you are off to Sagada and you need to alight at Bitalag UV Express van terminal for Cervantes. Marker is Bitalag Park. Fare is PHP 150/ USD 3 and travel time is roughly 1.5 hours.
At Bitalag, ride a passenger van (UV Express) en route to Cervantes. Van fare is PHP 150/ USD 3 and travel time is about 1.5 hours.
Once you are in Cervantes, transfer to a van bound for Abatan. Fare is PHP 70 / USD 1.40 travel time is approximately 1 hour.
At Abatan, ride a passenger van to Bontoc. Fare is PHP 70/ USD 1.40 and travel time is about 1 hour.
At Bontoc, ride a jeep to Sagada. Fare is PHP 45/ USD 0.90, travel time is about 45 minutes.
Total travel time for this route is roughly 5 hours and 45 minutes and total fare is PHP 485/ USD 9.69.
GETTING AROUND SAGADA
Once you arrive in Sagada, you are required to register and pay the tourism fee of PHP 35 / USD 0.70 at the Sagada Tourism Office. You cannot enter Sumaguing Cave without paying this as they might ask you for the receipt, always bring the receipt with you.
Most attractions in Sagada are walkable, some needs serious hiking so hiring a local guide in Sagada is recommended and required (Sumaguing Cave) to avoid accidents.
To get to Kiltepan for the iconic sunrise and sea of clouds made famous by “That Thig called Tadhana” movie, you can ride a van for PHP 500 / USD 10 per person round trip, just inquire at the Tourism Office or rent a vehicle at SAGGAS Tourist Information. The vehicle will fetch you at your guesthouse at around 4:30 AM.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN SAGADA
Here’s a list of the top attractions in Sagada and a map of tourist attractions from Sagada LGU.
( Photo by Roslyn, Creative commons)
(Photo by Arlene, Creative Commons)
SAGADA TOUR GUIDE RATES
You will never run out of things to do in Sagada because of its wealth of attractions. For first-time visitors in Sagada, I recommend the Central Sagada Eco-Tour + Sumaguing Cave + Kiltepan Sunrise and if you want to see at least one falls, try Bomod-ok Falls.
Here is a list of the standard tour guide and transport rates in Sagada. You can hire guides in Sagada at SAGGAS (highly recommended) or at Sagada Tourism Office (local guide will approach you near the tourism office).
|GUIDE & TRANSPORT FEES||DESTINATIONS||DURATION|
|PHP 200 / USD 4 (1-10 persons)||Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins only||1 -1.5 hour|
|PHP 600 / USD 12 (1-10 persons)||Central Sagada Eco-Tour (Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins,St.Mary’s Church, Sagada Underground River,Bokong Natural Swimming Pool)||3 Hours|
|PHP 200 / USD 4 (1-10 persons)|
PHP 250 roundtrip vehicle
|PHP 600 / USD 12 (1-10 persons)|
PHP 600 / USD 12 roundtrip vehicle
|Pongas||2 -3 hours|
|PHP 600 / USD 12 (1-10 persons)|
PHP 650 / USD 12 vehicle via Agod
PHP 500/ USD 10 vehicle via Bangaan
|Bomod-ok Falls||3-4 hours|
|PHP 2,500 / USD 50 (1-5 persons)|
PHP 650 /USD 13
|Bumayeng Twin Falls||3-4 hours|
|PHP 500 / USD 10 (1-4 persons)|
PHP 600 /USD 12 ( 5 persons)
PHP 1,000 /USD 20 2 guides (6-9 persons)
PHP 1,200/USD 24 2 guides (10 persons)
PHP 1,500/USD 30 3 guides (11-12 persons)
|Short Course Caving (Dokiw Hanging Coffins), Lumiang Burial Caves, Sumaguing Burial Cave, Sagada rice Terraces Viewpoint||3 hours|
|PHP 800 / USD 16 (1-2 persons)|
PHP 400 / USD 8 per additional person
*PHP 400/ USD 8 optional roundtrip transport
|Cave Connection: Dokiw Hanging Coffins, Lumiang Burial Cave (entry point), Sumaguing cave (exit point), Rice Terraces Viewpoint||4-5 hours|
|PHP 650/ USD 12 (1-4 persons)|
PHP 650 / USD 12 transport fee
8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 Noon (20 persons)
|Balangagan Cave / Marcos Cave Spelunking||3 hours|
|PHP 200 / USD 4 (1-10 persons)|
PHP 200/ USD 4 optional roundtrip transportation
|Sightseeing (Dokiw Hanging Coffins, Lumiang cave)||1-2 hours|
|PHP 800 / USD 16 (1 person)|
PHP 400 / USD 8 each for 2 persons or more
|Rock Climbing ( Echo Valley)||1 hour|
|PHP 500/USD 10 per person (roundtrip transport)||Kiltepan Sunrise, leave at 4:30 AM|
|PHP 550 / USD 11 per person (roundtrip transport)||Lake Danum at Sunset|
|PHP 800 / USD 16 (1-10 persons)||Mt. Ampacao Traverse|
|PHP 600 / USD 12 (1-10 persons)||Grassyland / Marlboro||2-3 hours|
|PHP 1,000 / USD 20 (1-3 persons)||Langsayan Danum Traverse||3 hours|
|PHP 2,000 / USD 40 per person||Mt. Sisipitan||3 hours|
|PHP 1, 500 / USD 30 (1-3 persons)||Mt.Polis|
|PHP 2,500 / USD 50 per person (transport included)||Mainiti Hot Spring + Maligcong Rice Terraces|
WHERE TO EAT IN SAGADA
Sagada is sprinkled with restaurants, serving both local and foreign cuisines. Many have their own specialty. Food in Sagada is quite expensive, prepare to spend at least PHP 150 / USD 3 per meal, for those who want to save, try the eateries at the public market. Where to eat in Sagada? Here’s my handpicked list of restaurants to try in Sagada.
Gaia Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant made famous by the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana”. The place is owned by my classmate back in college (nothing to disclose, not sponsored,we paid for our food). I tried the food here together with blogger friends Marcos and Dave, we love their food and their coffee plus the view here is jaw-dropping! If you want to see Sagada Rice Terraces, this is a great spot for viewing.
Sagada Log Cabin food is just superb. We tried their pasta and salad when we first dined here and the huge serving of chicken with fries. Reserve food and seats because this restaurant gets packed at night.
Strawberry Cafe’s yogurt is mouth-watering, we like it better than that of a rival resto known for serving yogurt (our friend had an issue with how the staff at the rival cafe seem to serve foreigners first before locals).
Serves really good dishes, quite expensive compared to other restaurants in town, but it’s bang for the buck.
As you might have surmised, tourists come here for their lemon pie. Also try their mountain tea. A nice place to chill after spelunking in Sumaguing Cave.
For those wanting to stay on a budget, you can dine at the eateries inside Sagada Public Market. Haven’t tried eating here but our foreigner friend Dave said the food here is okay.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAGADA
Sagada is dotted with affordable hotels and guesthouses. Best to reserve a room during holidays or weekends when tourists flock here.
Isabelo’s Inn and Cafe
Poblacion, Sagada, Sagada
Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant
Kanip Aw Pines View Lodge
Atey, Dao-angan, Sagada
Shamrock Tavern Inn
Makingking, Demang, Sagada
Grandma’s Yellow House
Dagdag, Poblacion, Sagada
Sagada Igorot Inn
WHERE TO BUY SOUVENIRS
⊗ There are a handful of souvenir shops in town, some hotels and cafe have their own shop. I like buying at Gabay Wines, they sell beautifully-crafted walking stick, fruit wines, Sagada coffee, shirts, key chains and ref magnets. Gaia Cafe also have a nice collection of souvenirs.
⊗ Also visit Sagada Weaving to buy hand-weaved bags, textiles, wallets and purse.
⊗ Lemon Pie House for their lemon pie.
SAGADA TRIP ITINERARY
Here’s a sample Sagada 3 day/ 2 night trip itinerary. You can adjust it depending on the activities that you want to try in Sagada. Just refer to the tour guide rates above. This itinerary is ideal for long weekends.
|09:00 PM||Cubao to Sagada via Coda Lines (bus stops quickly at Dyannara View Point for Banaue Rice Terraces)||PHP 720 / USD 14.39|
|09:00 AM||ETA in Sagada. Pay the Tourism Fee||PHP 35 / USD 0.70|
|09:15 AM||Hotel Check-in||PHP 700/USD 13.99|
|09:30 AM||Breakfast||PHP 150 / USD 3|
|10:00 AM||Hire a guide. Star of Echo Valley + Hanging Coffins.||PHP 200/ USD 4|
|11:30 AM||End of Tour. Lunch at Gaia Cafe||PHP 150/ USD 3|
|12:30 PM||Start of short Course Caving (Dokiw Hanging Coffins), Lumiang Burial Caves, Sumaguing Burial Cave, Sagada Rice Terraces Viewpoint. Make sure to bring your receipt for the Tourism Fee.||PHP 600/ USD 11.99|
|04:00 PM||Snack and chill at Lemon Pie House||PHP 60 /USD 1.20|
|04:30 PM||Walk back to hotel. Order food and reserve seat for dinner at Log Cabin.|
|05:00 PM||Freshen up. Rest or buy souvenirs at Gabay Wines.|
|07:00 PM||Dinner at Log Cabin.||PHP 300 / USD 5.99|
|08:00 PM||Socials. Sleep.|
|04:00 AM||Prepare for pick up for Kiltepan Sunrise||PHP 500/ USD 9.99|
|06:30 AM||ETA downtown Sagada or hotel|
|07:30 AM||Trek to the Bomod-ok Falls||PHP 600 / USD 11.99|
|08:30 AM||ETA Bomod-ok Falls|
|10:30 AM||Trek back to downtown Sagada|
|11:30 AM||ETA Sagada town. Lunch at Strawberry Restaurant.||PHP 150 / USD 3|
|12:00 AM||Back to hotel. Freshen up. Rest. Buy souvenirs.|
|03:00 PM||Trek to Sagada Pottery or if you still have enough stamina, head to Lake Danum.|
|05:00 PM||ETA Sagada Town|
|07:00 PM||Dinner at Masferre||PHP 300 / USD 3|
|06:30 AM||Check out from hotel|
|07:00 AM||Bus to Baguio||PHP 220 / USD 4.41|
|01:00 PM||ETA Baguio|
|01:15 PM||Take a cab or jeep to Stobosa Hillside/ Valley of Colors.|
|02:00 PM||Ride jeep to Baguio Taoist Temple.|
|03:00 PM||Ride jeep or cab to La Trinidad Strawberry Farm|
|05:00 PM||ETA Baguio City. Snack.|
|06:30 PM||ETD for Manila.|
|11:30 PM||ETA Manila|
SAMPLE SAGADA TRIP BUDGET
Here’s my sample Sagada budget/ expenses for 3 day 2 night stay for a solo traveler to give you an idea of around how much to spend for your Sagada trip. But of course, our spending habits vary, your choices and expenses may be different from mine so you can make it lower or higher to fit your budget. If you have travel buddies in your Sagada trip, you can save more on guide fees.
|PHP 720/USD 14.20||Bus Fare from Manila to Sagada|
|PHP 445/USD 8.88||Bus Fare Baguio to Manila|
|PHP 220/USD 4.40||Bus Fare Sagada to Baguio|
|PHP 35 /USD 0.70||Sagada Tourism Fee|
|PHP 600 /USD 11.99||Short Course Caving (Dokiw Hanging Coffins), Lumiang Burial Caves, Sumaguing Burial Cave, Sagada Rice Terraces Viewpoint|
|PHP 200/ USD 4||Echo valley and Hanging Coffins|
SAGADA TRAVEL TIPS
⊗ Avoid making too much noise, many of the attractions in Sagada are sacred to the locals. Please be respectful.
⊗ Do not leave trash anywhere.
⊗ Make sure you are back at Sagada town proper before nightfall. There are no lamp posts along the road.
⊗ Hire a local guide for your safety. And it is also a way of contributing to the local economy. You are helping create jobs in Sagada by doing so.
⊗ There is only one ATM in town, and it is unrealiable. So be sure to stack up cash (Philippine Peso) before proceeding to Sagada. Establishments and hotels here only accept cash.
⊗ Bring your tourism fee receipt when heading to Sumaguing Cave. You will not be allowed to enter without paying the fee. A guide is also required. Avoid bringing your DSLR camera inside the cave, if you insist, wrap it with plastic or water-proof camera cover or place it inside a water-proof bag. I recommend bringing a water-proof action camera instead. Most parts of the cave are slippery, you will most likely be wet, be extra careful with your steps. Wear shirts, shorts or leggings instead of jeans. Put your cellphone, wallet and money inside a Ziploc.
⊗ Ask permission when photographing people especially the elderly.
⊗ Buy food in Sagada. I know you want to stay on a budget by bringing your own snacks or food, but when you buy your meals from local restaurants or snacks from local stores, you are helping the local economy. You are savoring the beauty of their hometown, just think of it as giving back to their community.
*Cover photo by Marcos Caratao.
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