“Let’s go to Sagada.”

More than five years ago, just before our college graduation, my friend Tonet invited me to go to Sagada. “I don’t think that’s possible given that we’re too busy working on our theses. Perhaps after graduation?” I suggested.

After graduating, while we were walking in Makati looking for a job, she brought it up again. “I think we should find a job first. And then let’s plan a Sagada getaway,” I dodged. She agreed.

When we finally landed a job, the desire to travel to Sagada was still there. But neither tried to bring it up because we knew there was no way we could squeeze a 3-day trip into our totally toxic schedules. It wasn’t until our company-sponsored outing in 2009 when I finally set foot on Sagada.

When Tonet found out that I had been there already, she made me promise that I should take her with me the next time. Fortunately, Sagada is one of those places anyone would love returning to. A year later, I decided to go back to Sagada. The perfect time glimmered in between Christmas and New Year. I gave Tonet a call.

“You asked me to call you the moment I decided to go to Sagada. The moment has come. You still up for it?”

Tonet’s response was a loud and happy “Of course.”

After 5 years of wanting, it finally happened.

When our friends found out about this trip to Sagada, they decided to join. After all, because the trip was scheduled on December 27-29, they already had filed a leave of absence from office. Before we knew it, we became a group of 10, composed of college friends and some colleagues.

Planning a Trip to Sagada

Since my friends and I wanted to visit Sagada during the Christmas break, between Christmas and New Year, we knew we would be in for a difficult planning stage. December is considered a peak season in Sagada so finding accommodations can be a lot less easy within this period. Why did we choose to go in December? Because we wanted to feel the cold and we wanted to join the annual Bonfire Fest, which happens usually on December 27 or 28. Here are the things we had to settle prior to our trip:

1. Transportation. You can reach Sagada on public transportation via any of the following routes.

  • Via Baguio City
  • Via Banaue
  • Via Bontoc

Since we were a group 0f 10, we decided it would be more convenient and comfortable to just rent a van and split the cost. This way, we could make the most of our time as we would travel in the evening and reach Sagada in the morning rather than spend a full day on the road if we take the bus. (There are no evening trips to Sagada from Baguio.) The cost of van rental for 3 days and 2 nights inclusive of everything (from driver’s fee to gas to toll fees) was PhP 17,000, which meant each of us would shell out P1,700 for transportation. Not bad.

2. Accommodation. We started planning this trip a little too late, which we realized when all the hotels we called were all fully-booked. Luckily for us, blogger friend Benj of VisitSagada.com, who was already in Sagada that time, helped us find a guesthouse which could accommodate us. We ended up occupying a room at Ligaya’s Guest House and Cottages. Read my review here.

3. Itinerary. Creating a Sagada itinerary wasn’t that difficult for us because I, having been there before, was able to estimate how much time it took to complete each tour we wanted to take. Here’s our initial itinerary:

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
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, KILTEPAN SUNRISE
04:30 am – Wake up call
05: 10 am – Watch sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint
06:30 am – ETD Sagada,
08:00 pm – ETA Manila

Of course, we were not able to follow it strictly but what actually happened was pretty close!

Here are more details on how we planned this trip: Planning a Trip to Sagada: Itinerary, Getting There

Day 0 – Meet-up and Departure

A couple of days before the trip, four of our friends flaked out, leaving only six people. While it sucked that they backed out just like that, the six of us decided to still push through with the trip despite knowing that the cost of transportation would increase dramatically.

The group met at Trinoma in Quezon City, where the van was waiting for us. At 7pm, we hit the road. Our first stopover was at a gasoline station at NLEX, where we grabbed quick dinner and some toiletries. Our driver made a few stops after that but I was asleep the whole time. When I woke up, the sun was already shining and we were already in Sagada.

Day 1 – Arrival in Sagada, Sumaguing Cave Spelunking Tour

Had we arrived while it was still dark, we could’ve prioritized catching the famous Kiltepan Sunrise on our first morning in Sagada. Unfortunately, we were a few minutes too late. We decided to just stick to our original itinerary. We had breakfast at Salt and Pepper Diner (which we loved), booked tour guides at the SaGGAs Office (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) and then checked in at Ligaya’s Guesthouse and Cottages.

After an hour of rest, we went back to the town proper and started the Sumaguing Cave Tour, with a quick sight-seeing stop at Lumiang Burial Cave. (We actually had a brief discussion about whether doing the Cave Connection Tour instead.) After three and a half grueling hours of spelunking inside the cave, we had lunch at Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant and went back to the hotel to freshen up. Unfortunately, our beds were magnetizing us that we decided to not get out of it until dinner.

Sumaguing Cave

Here are the detailed accounts of what happened on our first day! Check out these posts:

Day 2 – Bomod-ok Falls, Orange Picking, and Echo Valley

We started our second day at the Lemon Pie House, where I had the first lemon pie that I actually liked and loved. After that, we immediately drove to the access point to Bomod-ok Falls. We climbed up and down the terraced hills for what seemed like forever until we reached the mighty Bomod-ok and get drenched in all its cold, cold glory. Haha. It was a great experience albeit exhausting.

We then headed to Rock Inn and Cafe for lunch and for a quick visit to their orange orchard for some picking session. I always enjoyed orange-picking perhaps because it’s not every day that I get to see orange trees. When we were done, we were glad to see our lunch served, which we finished in no time since we were all pretty starved.

Bomod-ok Falls

We then went our way back to the town proper. On the way there we made a stop at Sagada Weaving and at a small pottery shop near Mapiya-aw Pensione. We were then dropped off at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, from which we would start walking to the Echo Valley. We passed through the more modern Mission Compound Cemetery, where we spent several minutes looking at tombstones and reflecting. We then traversed a cliff to the Echo Valley (which was a short, pretty easy walk) but we didn’t stay that long. Later in the evening, we joined most of the tourists in Sagada at the Bonfire Fest!

Here are the more detailed chronicles of our Day 2 experiences:

Day 3 – Kiltepan Sunrise and Sidetrip to Banaue Rice Terraces

The sun had yet to rise when we started our third day. As early as 5am, we were already in the van on our way to Kiltepan Viewpoint to catch the famous Sagada sunrise. It was still dark when we arrived and we had to walk through a thick blanket of fog covering red soft muddy ground. We climbed up the hill and waited at the viewpoint for the heavenly spectacle! The sunrise was beyond breathtaking!

After that, we went back to the town proper for breakfast and then to our guesthouse to fetch our belongings. Our driver offered that we take the Bontoc-Banaue route on our way back so we could see the rice terraces in Banaue and Bay-yo. We agreed, even though we knew it would take more time. It was a good decision. We were able to admire these two sites (although from afar) and it was worth the travel time.

After several more stopovers (including late lunch in Nueva Vizcaya), we finally arrived in Manila at around midnight!

Check out these posts as I narrated here in detail what happened to us per stop.

Expenses

Even before the trip started, we knew the biggest chunk of our budget would go to transportation expenses. Again, we were supposed to be a group of 10 renting a private van for P17,000 (3days, 2nights inclusive of driver’s fee, gas, and toll fees) but then some of us started dropping like flies until we were trimmed down to a group of 6. What was supposed to be P1,700 per head became P2,834 per person.

Anyway, here’s the breakdown of our expenses in Sagada.

  • P2,834 – Van Rental per person
  • P1,400 – Total Food
  • P500 – Ligaya’s Guest House, 2 nights
  • P133 – Sumaguing Cave Tour (P800/6 pax)
  • P33 – Echo Valley Tour (P200/6 pax)
  • P100 – Bomod-ok Falls Tour (P600/6 pax)
  • P250 – Bonfire Fest ticket (inclusive of transportation, buffet dinner, and drinks)
  • P50 – Rock Farm Orange Picking Entrance Fee
  • P150 – Oranges (P50/kilo)
  • P20 – Shower Fee (Sumaguing Cave)
  • P200 – Incidentals (bottled water, junk food, etc)
  • P5,670 – TOTAL

Hmmm. Pretty expensive, huh? Please note that this was due to our friends’ backing out at the last minute, which forced us to cover their transportation fee as well. Had they gone with us as they committed, there would have been more people dividing the cost. Had we known that we would only be a group of 6, we would have taken public transportation instead, too! Hay, I hate flakers!

Anyway, flakers or no flakers, Sagada will always be one of the most unforgettable destinations for me. I’m just in love with the highlands, the weather, the food, and the places to visit in Sagada!

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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

Comments

  1. Jess says:

    Hi Poor Traveler,

    We are planning to go to Sagada this June. Can you give me the possible accomodations there? Is St. Joseph bed n breakfast okay?

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Hi Jess, I have tried Ligaya’s Cottages and Residential Lodge, and both are excellent. :)

      Ligaya’s might be too far, though.

  2. Coritho S. Recinto says:

    This place will make you beg to stay in this hell-like season. ;)

  3. kung sino man po ang gusto pumunta sa Sagada this summer vacation.
    just to make sure na puntahan ang bana’s cafe…..siguradong sigurado po….sa lamig ng klima ng sagada ay mapapawi ang inyong mga stress…sa bawat higop ng arabica coffee nila…and higit sa lahat matatagpuan ninyo po sa kanila(bana’s cafe) ang “the most expensive coffee in the whole world”. I promise… its more fun to drink coffee in Sagada bana’s cafe.(^_^)

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Woot! Thanks for the recommendation Francis. I’ll try that this December when I return to Sagada! :)

  4. Jan Scooterista says:

    still cant get over Sagada been there 2x and still wanting to go back its a wonderful place

  5. What a wonderful place. Me and my 2 friends are planning to visit Sagada this May 25-27. Excited na ako! Sana may makasama pa kaming tatlo. :) nice post!

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Thanks for dropping by my humble blog! Enjoy Sagada!

  6. kim b says:

    Hi Poor Traveler,

    We are planning to go to Sagada this July. whats the latest schedule from manila-banaue-sagada and vice versa? :-) thank you.

  7. soulsearcher says:

    how much would it cost for a trip to sagada per person?

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      No prob, Benj. After all, you’re the unofficial Mayor of Sagada. Hahaha

  8. Cie says:

    Hello po :) kailangan pa po ba namin ng guide pag nasa sagada na? we’re palnning to go there on Oct27-29 :)

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Hi Cie! Yes. You can drop by the office of SAGGAS (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) at the town proper. Just ask around. Everyone there knows where it is located. It’s along the main road, between Salt & Pepper and Yoghurt House.

  9. lulu says:

    Is it really required to have a tour guide with you when touring sagada. Or i can tour the place alone. Cos it’s like, more exciting when you do it alone. Or are there some view points, like hunging coffins where you can just explore or track your way down there alone? Your reply is appreciated :D

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      I’m not sure if it’s really REQUIRED but it will be wise to hire one. :) Anyway, it’s not expensive.

  10. lulu says:

    ‘oh i see, i’ve been researching about the place as well. And it’s like each spot is needing a tour guide, jeez, not cool. haha, anyway, Thank you! :)

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      There’s a reason why you need a guide. For example, for the Sumaguing Cave tour, that’d be really, really, really difficult to do without a guide.

  11. T-rex says:

    Hi! poor traveller! we’ll be at sagada on saturday. 2 pax lang kami. balak namin maki ‘hitch’ sa ibang group para makamura kami ng gastos. hehe. possible kaya yun?

  12. dang samson says:

    can you recommend me a van rental for sagada and tour guide. Do you think makakaya ng 60 yrs old person yon mga activity sa sagada? For example were 8 persons in a group, pero during the tour bigla hindi nakaya noon ibang kasama namin, is there a place where they can stay while waiting for us in exploring the cave or falls o better huwag na lang sila sumama, kasi baka naman may mga lugar na puede ang elderly. please enlighted me kung magsasama ako nang elderly.Thanks

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Hi Dang! This is the contact number of the van rental I hired: 09155197077. His name is Jojo.

      The activities in Sagada are a little bit too physical. Baka di kaya ng elderly.

  13. jen says:

    Hello, me and my friends are planning to go to sagada hi april, so for a group of three-how much kaya ang budget namin for a 3d/2n stay din?(yung mga fees sa tour guides, do we need them?)thanks!:)

  14. lanie says:

    hi! i really love ur posts, we are planning to go to sagada on november, is it ok to bring our vehicle or is it wiser to commute na lang? we are from nueva ecija and I can’t find a bus trip that will take us to sagada.

    • virgo says:

      Hi Lanie, bringing your own vehicle would be comfy. But see to it that your driver is familiar to the terrain, otherwise you will find yourself in deep ravine.
      If via Baguio, there are buses to Sagada. There are also available commercial vehicles.

  15. melanie resma says:

    hi poor traveler,

    me and my co-teachers were just done visiting Sagada! (April 2013) The Sumaguing Cave adventure was really great! but our stay at George Guest House was so disappointing! We weren’t told by the owner beforehand that our reservation was limited up to 11am only of the next day even if we arrived there at 5pm, meaning they don’t offer a 24-hour stay, you have to pay extra charge if you plan to stay after 11 am. I made the reservation i think 1 month earlier and i’ve been texting the owner since then just to inquire and to ask about their services because we were so excited. infact i still have my conversations with the owner (thru text) on my phone including my inquiry about the 24-hour stay but she was so unreasonable when i tried to show her our past conversations from my phone and i find it so unfair. We had no choice but to leave for Baguio earlier than we had planned. We actually planned to extend our stay in Sagada but everyone was really disappointed.

    melanie

  16. Jamz says:

    Awesome post! Have you check Misty Lodge in Sagada? Panalo! hehe bigla ko tuloy namisssss ang sagada. :)

  17. JUlie-Cel says:

    hi! me and my friends are planning to go to Sagada this august.. we are looking for some agencies who can accommodate us. kaya lang sinasabi nila na hindi daw safe magpunta doon ng month of july to october.. and hindi sila nag aaccept ng booking during that month.. meron po ba makakapag sasabi na totoo ito? please hel us! thanks

    julie

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Hi! You can do it yourself instead. You don’t need a travel agency to thoroughly enjoy Sagada anyway. :)

    • Alex says:

      Rainy season at kalimitan maraming bagyo kaya siguro inadvice nila na hindi safe pero you can do it yourself since kayo naman ay group. Search nalang kayo ng mga itinerary ninyo at mga suggestions ng mga bloggers for Sagada tour :)

  18. bonetsmile says:

    Good day, I would like to ask about the van rental. How do you know the driver?

  19. Ian Ord says:

    I love that you add some sample itineraries. It’s amazing how fast a place can change – but so many things stay the same. I loved visiting Sagada and going to the Lemon Pie shop just a few years ago. I’m happy to hear it’s still there too! It looks like you went to some cool places I didn’t get the chance – if you want to see my itinerary, here were some of my discoveries in Sagada:
    http://wheresidewalksend.com/city-guide-sagada-philippines/

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