Sagada had always been in my bucket list since I decided to become a travel blogger. Even when the only thing I knew about Sagada was the Hanging Coffins, I already wanted to visit the place and get lost in its nurturing charm. There was just something about Sagada that was fascinating to me. Or maybe I just really loved the highlands.

       

The first time I set foot on Sagada was during our company trip in 2009. Even before we hopped out of our rented vehicle, I already fell in love. The sights that welcomed us as I peeked through our van’s window were all captivating and breathtaking. Within a minute since we entered the town, I had decided that I must return. And return I did. The next time I visited, I was with my closest friends, all of whom had been dying to be here. It was one of our barkada’s best trip ever.

How to Get to Sagada

There are three routes that you can take to get to Sagada from Manila via public transportation: via Baguio City, Bontoc or Banaue. For more information on these routes, please click the links below. They will lead you to a friend’s blog, Visit Sagada, the most useful guide on traveling to and around Sagada that you will find online.

  • Via Baguio City
    Manila to Baguio — Victory Liner (Cubao), P445, 6 hours
    Baguio to Manila — Lizardo Transit, P220, 5 hours
  • Via Banaue
    Manila to Banaue — Autobus (Sampaloc, Manila), P462, 9 hours
    Banaue to Town Proper — Tricycle, P20
    Banaue to Bontoc — Immanuel Bus, P100, 2 hours
    Bontoc to Sagada — Jeepney, P35
  • Via Bontoc
    Manila to Bontoc — Cable Tours (E. Rodriguez, Quezon City), P650, 12 hours
    Bontoc to Sagada — Jeepney, P40, 45 minutes

You may also hire a van for 3D/2N. There are many vans for rent for Sagada trips out there and the most common rate we encountered when we asked around was P17,000 for the van rental inclusive of driver’s fee, toll fees, gas and driver’s accommodations. The van and the driver will be with you for the entire trip. This is a good option if you’re a group of 10 or more.

Our van contact was Kuya Jojo. His number is 09155197077.

Where to Stay in Sagada

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Sagada is a small town. There are no fancy hotels or luxury resorts here. But the town’s main street is flanked with guesthouses, lodges, and inns. Still, during peak season (November to January, March-May), it is best to book in advance. The usual cost of a stay here per head is P250 during peak, and P200 during offpeak. Here are some of my recommendations:

Residential Lodge
Residential Lodge

Ligaya's Guesthouse
Ligaya’s Guesthouse
  • Residential Lodge – town proper, +63 919 672 8744
  • George Guesthouse – town proper,  +63 918 548 0406
  • Ligaya’s Guesthouse and cottages – far from the highway, +63 918 343 8415, +63 920 7849633

There are many others but the three above are those that I have tried. Again, please make a reservation in advance!

       

What to Do in Sagada: Tours

First things first, you need a guide. You don’t want to be exploring the caves or meandering to the falls alone. The Sagada landscape is rugged and treacherous. One slip and Sagada might just be the last place you’re gonna see. So yes, you need a guide. And it’s also your way of helping the community earn.

Sumaguing Cave

To hire one, just visit the SAGGAS Office (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) at the town proper. The office is just beside Salt and Pepper Diner, along the main road of the town. Like I have said, Sagada is a small town. Everyone there knows where the SaGGas office is. Once there, you will be asked to choose the tour you want. Here are the crowd favorites:

  • Sumaguing Cave
    Spelunking is the name of the game in Sagada and Sumaguing is perfect for beginners! You’ll see fantastic rock formations inside the cave. You’ll get wet soaked because you’ll be dipping in cold, cold water at one point. There’ll be a lot of climbing and crawling and rock hugging! You’ll also be astonished by the strength, balance, and flexibility of the tour guides, trust me. It usually includes a short stop at Lumiang Burial Cave.
    Rates: 1-4 persons (1 guide) – PhP 500, 6-9 persons (2 guides) –  PhP 800
  • Cave Connection: Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave
    While the Sumaguing Cave Tour makes a sidetrip to the mouth of Lumiang Cave, the Cave Connection allows visitors to enter the burial cave and come out of Sumaguing Cave on the other side of the mountain. Of course, it’s not easy. I’m shocked that I was able to survive it.
    Rates: 1-2 persons (1 guide) – P800, 3 persons – P1200, 4 above – P400/pax
  • Bomod-ok Falls
    The Big Falls. You’ll walk across mountains to reach it. The getting there is quite a challenge but this 200-ft cascade will deliver. You’ll be balancing on the edge of the terraces while wallowing in the gorgeous scenery. You may also opt to take a dip at the pool at the base of the waterfall. You might find yourself doing something new — vomit air — so bring lots of water and energy.
    Rates: 1-10 pax (1 guide) – P600 

There are many other sites that are well-worth a visit including Kiltepan Viewpoint, Echo Valley (Hanging Coffins), Lake Danum, and Bokong Falls. Choose three and a guide will take you there for only P400 for up to 10 guests.

Note that the rates here are lifted off of the SaGGAs website in 2011. To make sure you have the updated rates, please get in touch with them.

Places to Visit in Sagada

The photos below will lead you to more details about the destination. These are the places that I have already visited in Sagada. Allow me to share my experiences and reviews.

Sumaguing Cave
Sumaguing Cave

Cave Connection
Cave Connection

Lumiang Burial Cave
Lumiang Burial Cave

Mission Compound Cemetery
Mission Compound Cemetery

Bomod-ok Falls
Bomod-ok Falls

Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins

kiltepan sagada
Kiltepan Viewpoint

Bonfire Festival
Bonfire Festival

Orange Picking at Rock Inn
Orange Picking at Rock Inn

Sagada Weaving
Sagada Weaving

Where to Eat in Sagada

I have tried many restaurants in Sagada but the four most memorable were the following. Click on the name of the restaurant to read my full reviews.

The famous Lemon Pie of the Lemon Pie House
  • Cafe Bodega, Rock Inn: Cafe Bodega serves mostly Filipino food including some local favorites. Every serving is big enough for group sharing. But what I like best about this place isn’t what’s on the table but in the backyard. Visitors may go orange-picking (ponkan na ponkan) here for P50 per kilo.
  • Salt and Pepper Diner. This is my usual breakfast spot. While it offers a variety of dishes, they usually just serve longganisa and tapa when there are too many customers. Don’t worry because both dishes taste good especially when paired with coffee or chocolate.
  • The Lemon Pie House. Of course, the Lemon Pie House offers other appetizing dishes aside from lemon pie. Like many restaurants in Sagada offering home-cooked meals, there are only a few items on their menu, categorized into breakfast dishes, lunch and dinner, beverages, and desserts. Their egg pie was also a best-seller.
  • The Yoghurt House. Favorite among tourists for their homemade yoghurt (d’oh!). They also serve rice meals and pasta dishes among others. But yep, don’t leave Sagada without having a cup of yoghurt!

Preparing a 3D/2N Sagada Itinerary

Before you build your itinerary, here are some things you might want to consider to make the most out of your trip.

  1. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Sagada, it is spelunking! Choose between Sumaguing Cave Tour and Cave Connection. Bear in mind that Cave Connection is a lot more difficult and requires more strength, endurance, and time. If it’s your first time inside a cave, choose Sumaguing. Don’t do both on the same trip because the Cave Connection also passes through Sumaguing Cave. If you have a knack for adventure and the muscle power to match, pick Cave Connection.
  2. The Sumaguing/Cave Connection, and Bomod-ok Tours are the most popular activities here in Sagada. And they are very physical activities. Emphasis on very. It is best to do them on separate days because they can drain all your energy and sanity, too. (LOL.)
  3. If you can, visit Sagada during the period between Christmas and New Year so you could join the Bonfire Festival, an annual event hosted by the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SaGGAs). Tourists get to party Sagada-style at the Kiltepan Viewpoint (top of a hill) and enjoy good food and music.
  4. You may also choose to visit Sagada during the Halloween Season so you can witness the Panag-apoy, a unique observance of the All Saints’ Day.
  5. On your way back to Manila, make a side trip to Banaue Rice Terraces, Bontoc, La Trinidad, or Baguio (depending on your chosen route).

With these in consideration, here’s our initial itinerary. We were a group of 10 so we decided to rent a van instead. Renting a van allows your group to maximize your time (best for those who only have less than 4 days to spare).

Day 0: DEPARTURE
07:00 pm – Meet up (Manila)

Day 1: ARRIVAL, LUMIANG BURIAL CAVE, SUMAGUING CAVE
07:00 am – Arrival in Sagada
07:20 am – Breakfast at Salt and Pepper
08:30 am – Check in at Ligaya’s Guest House
09:30 am – Lumiang Burial Cave
10:15 am – Sumaguing Cave/Cave Connection Tour
01:30 pm – Lunch
03:00 pm – Echo Valley, Sagada Weaving, Mission Compound
06:00 pm – Dinner
07:00 pm – Rest

Day 2: BOMOD-OK FALLS, ROCK INN, BONFIRE
06:00 am – Wake up call
07:00 am – Bomod-Ok Falls
12:00 pm – Rock Inn and Cafe, Orange picking
03:00 pm – Change clothes, rest
05:00 pm – Prepare for Bonfire
12:00 am – Return to Hostel

Day 3: DEPARTURE, BANAUE SIDETRIP
04:30 am – Wake up call
05: 10 am – Watch sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint
06:30 am – ETD Sagada, Sidetrip to Banaue
08:00 pm – ETA Manila

If you’re taking public transportation, take note of the bus schedules especially of buses from Baguio to Sagada.

Budget Breakdown

The itinerary above entails the following expenses. Again, bear in mind that this breakdown assumes that you are a group who rented out a van. The total cost can go much lower if you take public transportation.

  • P1,700 – Van Rental per person
  • P1,400 – Total Food
  • P500 – Ligaya’s Guest House, 2 nights
  • P80 – Sumaguing Cave Tour (P800/10 pax)
  • P40 – Echo Valley Tour (P400/10 pax)
  • P60 – Bomod-ok Falls Tour (P600/10 pax)
  • P250 – Bonfire Fest ticket (inclusive of transportation, buffet dinner, and drinks)
  • P50 – Rock Farm Orange Picking Entrance Fee
  • P20 – Shower Fee (Sumaguing Cave)
  • P200 – Incidentals (bottled water, junk food, etc)
  • P4,300 – TOTAL

If you’re alone, you can ask another group to “absorb” you and let you join their tour. This way, you can save much more. You can also form a group with other solo travelers.

That’s about it! And oh, don’t forget to bring a jacket and a scarf. You’ll love the chilly climate!

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Yoshke Dimen

Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
Yoshke Dimen

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  • Sagada is one of my Dream Desti…

    Hope one day i can able to experience the Beauty of Sagada too..:)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Go this year! in November for Panag-apoy or December for the Bonfire Fest!

      • Thanks sa Info Sir.. Sabihan ko mga friendships ko.. hehehe..:)
        Salamat po ulit..

  • lady subastah

    will it be possible for you to share ur contact for the van rentals. specially those destinations to the north.. much appreciated your immediate reply. thanks,

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi! The number is 09155197077 His name is Jojo.

  • gilvie

    Can you share the contact # of your van? thanks.

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi! The number is 09155197077

      His name is Jojo. I’m just not sure if he’s still operating. 🙂

  • ana

    hi can you please share number of the van rental. thank.

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi! The number is 09155197077 His name is Jojo.

  • Jingkay Danda

    see you soon Sagada! 🙂

  • I just came to Sagada last month, and the experience was just indescribable. I loved how you shared your Sagada experience — I couldn’t have done it better. I will definitely go back this year (who cares if it’s twice this year?). Your words took me back there, thank you. 🙂

  • The last time I was in Sagada was almost 10 years ago but I really cherish my stays there. St. Joseph is a nice place to stay to those who have a limited budget and to those who doesn’t mind sharing the bathroom. On my first time there, I went to Bomod-ok Falls with other local tourists to share the guide fee with. Then, in the afternoon, I joined another group of local tourists for Sumaging Cave. It was an intensely tiring experience. Even the guide told me that they normally don’t do that as the hike from Fidelisan to Bomod-ok Falls and then hike up to Aguid Village is tiring enough. But I extremely enjoyed that solo trip and convinced several group of friends to return with me the next few years. Hopefully, the crystal cave is already open by now to the public as it is closed for several years because of an earthquake in the 1990s. Since I used to reside in Baguio that time, I simply take the Lizardo bus to go there which takes the Halsema highway route. I used the available transportation there is in Sagada and go to Bontoc to visit the museum. I love Masferre’s photographs but I never got the chance to see the photograpsh displayed in his house. I hope Yoghurt’s House is still operating, I love their pasta. If you made a mistake of just coming in without ordering ahead of time, their food is worth the wait. 🙂

  • Matti

    After reading this blog…im convinced to visit sagada soonest!