Back in the mists of time, stories handed down through the generations, tell of a man by the name of Biag, who, together with other members of his family, had been driven to find a new place to live as they were under threat from headhunters! They settled in the remote Mountains of Cordillera, started Sagada and began their new lives.
They picked an ideal place to never be found as the village is remote even today. It was so secluded that even the marauding Spaniards who invaded the Philippines in 1565, did not find them until 1882, when they established a mission there. It can only be reached by a long and sometimes arduous trek, but it’s such a special and unique place, that you should make every effort to get there.
Today’s locals are mostly Kankana-ey (that’s also their native language) who mostly speak good Tagalog and English, traditionally make a living mostly based on farming and agriculture, but now as the area is on an increasing tourist bucket list, they are finding that the tourism peso has become a major source of their income.
So what’s all the fuss about?
Facts about Sagada
- There is curfew in Sagada from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
- Accommodation in Sagada are basic, so go prepared
- There are only 1 ATM (DBP) in Sagada located in the Postal Office Building near the Police Station and they often run out of cash. It’s a lot easier to take what you need with you.
- Smart and Globe cellular networks work fine, but mobile data and wi-fi connectivity is often non existent and at best super slow.
- Best months to visit Sagada are the months of November to February while the weather is temperate.
- Trekking is a major activity in Sagada. It is a must to bring non-slippery sandals or shoes. Also, always see to it that you hike with a walking stick or pole to lessen exhaustion.
- Bring a jacket. The weather can be too cold early in the morning.
- There are no taxis and tricycles. Getting to the tourist spots (which are mostly accessible) are done on a jeepney or by walking.
- Sagada Pines is the place to be for a drinking session at night. The bar is quaint and a great vibe. It has a section where you can dedicate notes, like that of Korean cafe, and enjoy a display of different mementos from guests all over the world. While here, try their very own rice wine.
- Sagada observes its annual bonfire festival every December, between Christmas and New Year and Travelers can take part in this celebration for a minimal fee of around P250. Food, drinks and transport to the venue are already included in the fee.
- Holy Week and the Bonfire festival are the most crowded time to visit Sagada. Arrange your accommodation ahead and pack a load of patience while lining up in your visit to its top attractions.
- The rice terraces in Cordillera are at their greenest during the months of March to April.
Top Destinations in Sagada
This huge and stunning cave can be tricky to get around unless you’re super fit, as it has some steep inclines that are always slippery as well as often narrow and intimidating descents and assents, to negotiate. It is certainly a place of wonder, but perhaps best left alone if you have, as yet, not attempted a successful climb of Mount Everest!
Known more famously as the “Burial Cave”, it has over time, been the most popular burial site in the area. It’s like the Egyptian Valley of the Kings comes to the Philippines and it is where you will find the majority of the Sagada Mummies, laid to rest in wooden coffins. It is not easiest place to
reach, but most will cope with the trek and it is well worth the effort.
Marlboro Hills is a superb place for those who want to catch the mystical sight of the sun rising over a milky ocean of clouds (subject to conditions). It’s generally never that busy as most prefer to stay in bed! and if you get the right moring the 360 degree view is spectacular.
Kiltepan Viewpoint is the highest spot in the vicinity and gives you tremendous and breathtaking views across the Cordillera Mountains and is an alternative venue to enjoy the sunrise. Most choose the more famous spot over the Marlboro Hills, but it is way more popular and crowd sizes
are accordingly bigger, especially in the high seasons.
These waterfalls, known by the locals as the ‘Big Falls’ are hidden away off the beaten track past a few villages and rice fields and takes around a pretty strenuous 3 hour trek to get to. is the sweat and grief worth it? You bet it is!
The Falls are about 200 feet in height and are spectacular, and when you arrive there dripping in perspiration, you can jump in the crystal clear and welcoming chilly pool directly below the cascading water. You will marvel at the spectacle and probable the noise of the tumbling water, but it’s truly wonderful and I’m sure you will end up staying for a while, if only to recover from the trek to get there! Don’t worry it’s a bit easier on the way back!
A must visit for all the kids that hide in us – I mean what better than having a great shout and the sound echoing around the mountains. A fun experience and welcome diversion.
The unique and awesome ‘Hanging Coffins’ are well known around the world and it would be criminal not to go and see them if you are in Sagada.
It’s about an hours trek and not that difficult and as well as the Hanging Coffins, you can also take in the general cemetery.
The practice of hanging coffins is far from unique to the Philippines and exists in China and Indonesia, but many say the Sagada site is the most striking. There are some somewhat ghoulish stories regarding the placement of the coffins, including one that requires family members to carry the corpse to its final coffin in the hope that they will be touched by the fluids emitting from the corpse and be magically infused with various attributes and talents of the deceased.
Some of the coffins are much smaller than others and this is also another belief that by putting the corpses into a fetal position (much smaller) to assume their posture prior to birth, thus leaving the world in a similar way to which they arrived.
On the way to the hanging coffins you will come across the current, in use, cemetery. Nothing special you might think that merits a visit from you, but it is unusual as it came about as a merger between old traditions and the Spanish introduction of Christianity. Known as Panag-Apoy (Light a Fire in modern English) in the Kakanaey local language, on a particular days families of the departed light bonfires of old Pinewood instead of candles.
St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church
St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, the main Episcopalian church in Sagada. Founded by the Rev. Staunton in the early 1900s, it is the reason the Sagada is around 95% Protestant as compared to the 2 main religions that dominate the Philippines.
Sagada Pottery and Training Center
A place to spend your tourist pesos with a tour of how pottery started in the area and of course some great examples for you to buy and take home to cherish forever. Don’t forget that purchases are strictly on a cash basis as they have no card facilities.
Another local and traditional craft, where workers will demonstrate how its done and you can again buy and take home examples of their marvelous work.
This is a private museum and is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing as it contains a pretty voluminous and comprehensive collection of antiques. The son of the originator of the collection is now the curator and gives tours a personal guide to the treasures.
Blue Soil Hills
There are mixed opinions about the ‘Blue Hills’ that vary from a waste of time to spectacular. From what i can make out, if it has been raining and the soil is wet/damp, then the colours can be vibrant and impressive. On the other hand, if it has been dry for a while, it’s a big anti-climax and you are going to regret the pretty arduous trek that it take to get to them. Personally, if you are going to miss one of the treks to visit places, this is the one I would dodge!
Other Places of interest in Sagada
Sagada Underground River
Latang and Matang Caves
Orange Picking At Rock Inn Cafe
Banaue Rice Terraces
Northern Blossom at Atok, Benguet
Strawberry Farm at La Trinidad, Benguet
Highest Highway Point
Baguio Vegetable Market
Lion’s Head, Baguio City
Tips and Reminders
going around Sagada
- We highly suggest to hire only accredited guides to keep you safe during your adventures.
- Always ask permission when taking photographs of the people especially if you plan to post it on the net (well, this must always be the case anywhere). Just take pictures of the burial sites and coffins, but don’t disturb it in any form such as touching, vandalizing, etc. Respect local rituals whenever you have the opportunity to witness one.
- Taking your mobile phones with extra power banks are a must to maintain open communication when an emergency arise.
- The roads in Sagada are narrow, so please observe road courtesy when driving. Park your car at any designated place.
- Whenever possible, walk when browsing some shops or restaurants. Besides, you will enjoy more the beauty of the place when walking.
- Help in the conservation of the environment by registering and paying the environmental fee of PHP 35.00 at the Tourism Center.
- Most of the attractions are physically exhausting. Take enough rest at night so you can go on for another activity the day after.
- You will need a transport to get to Bomod-ok falls, Kiltepan viewing deck and Lake Danum. You may charter a van or jeepney at a round trip rate of P500-P700 per attraction, good for 6 to 10 persons.
- Spelunking, caving and the cave connection tour require a tour guide from the tourism office. You will also be asked to present the tourism fee receipt as you enter the caves.
- Spelunking is an extreme activity and is definitely not for the claustrophobic. Please avoid taking any risk.
- Waterproof gadgets and always be prepared to get wet in going to the waterfalls and caves.
- Respect for the place, people, and culture. Many sites in Sagada are regarded by its people as sacred. Do not vandalize, nor leave your garbage during your adventure.
- Most of the attractions in Sagada are sacred to the locals, please behave yourself.
- Bringing of the reliable water container and extra pouches for your garbage are a good choice.
- Ask permission when taking pictures of the locals, especially the elderly. Sagada is a sleepy town and gets very dark at night. Make sure to get back to your accommodation before nightfall.
- Just like in other places in the Philippines, tipping is not mandatory in Sagada. Tip only if you really enjoyed the service. However, I encourage you to tip your guides, especially the spelunking guides. What they do every day isn’t easy. You’ll understand this after you’ve done it. It doesn’t have to be money all the time. You can invite them to join you for lunch.
Where to eat in Sagada?
Ganduyan Inatep Cafe
“Underrated yet the best place to go for cozy breakfast. Last time we ate here was eight years ago and came back to check how it was now. Did not disappoint is at all. Still the same delicious omelette I had and cozy as ever. A perfect spot after a leisure walk around the village . The cafe is simple. No frills. Yet the food is divine and affordable” – Fatima Kulit
Gaia Cafe & Crafts
“Worth the money and time! It’s quite far from the town, but it’s worth it. Their food is fresh, though quite expensive. The service is really good, I didn’t have to wait too long. The server/cashier was really courteous. Plus, it has a great ambiance and location.” – Racquel Corpuz
Salt and Pepper
“After climbing up the falls, cave we asked our tour guide to drop us off here in salt and pepper restaurant, we have ordered their best seller food, try the “sinarabasab” dish, it is superb! For me, don’t leave the place without trying this dishes, it is authentic food of Sagada.” – Jan
“We ate at Sagada Brew, Lemon Pie House, Salt and Pepper and Yoghurt House. Among the 4, it was the latter that impressed me because of how they prepared their food. The yogurt is a must try simply because it doesn’t taste too processed and commercial. We tried the yogurt with banana, strawberry, and granola. For just 180 pesos, your money is absolutely well-spent.” – Jo B
“Best place in town to have breakfast or lunch! We have tried many places in Sagada but came back here everytime. It has a small terrace. The coffee is great and the food is really good. Loved the banana pan cakes, eggs, bacon and fruit platter. Also the fried bangus was really good.” – mathijswitte
Where to stay in Sagada?
Alternatively, if you want a more outdoor experience, Camping is allowed in Lake Danum, Mt. Ampacao, Marlboro Hills, Calvary Hill and in Kiltepan viewdeck.
How to get to Sagada?
From Manila to Sagada
Sagada Bus Schedules via Coda Lines Corporation has a daily trip from Cubao HM Terminal to Sagada via Banaue and Bontoc.
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SCHEDULE OF MANILA TRIPS
Quezon City to Sagada – 9:00 pm
Sagada to Quezon City – 3:00 pm
Bontoc to Quezon City – 4:00 pm
Banaue to Quezon City – 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Coda Line Quezon City Terminal
HM Transport Inc.
Monte de Piedad, corner Maryland street
Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila
0927 559 2197/ 0929 521 3229
From Baguio to Sagada
Take GL Liner Terminal located in Baguio Dangwa Terminal, which is just in front of Baguio City Public Market or in Lizardo Transit Terminal in Barangay Sto. Niño to catch a bus to Sagada. GL Liner has five trips daily at 06:30 AM, 08:30 AM, 09:30 AM, 10:30 AM and 11: 30 AM, meanwhile Lizardo Transit has only two schedules daily at 03:00 AM and 05:00 PM. Both GL Liner and Lizardo Transit is P220.00 (student and senior citizen: P176.00), travel time takes around six (6) hours
To go back to Baguio from Sagada, you can catch the bus from the lot near St. Mary’s Church. Buses depart every hour on the hour from 05:00 AM till 10:00 AM, with the last buses leaving at 01:00 PM and 05:00 PM. Please be advised that bus schedules are subject to change without prior notice so it’s best to confirm departure times soon as you arrive.
The easiest access to Sagada is Bontoc whenever you are coming from places further north. From Bontoc, simply ride a jeep to Sagada. Travel time is 45 minutes and fare is P45.
Ride a bus or a van going to Bontoc (P120). From Bontoc, ride a jeep going to Sagada (P45). You can also take this route from Manila riding an Oyahami Bus in Sampaloc (P450). Coda Lines also has trips via this route. Kindly check their website for updated schedule.
From Ilocos Sur:
Taking this route involves multiple transfers from the town of Tagudin in Ilocos Sur. You will save about 3 hours of travel time if you do the route below.
So from Vigan, ride a bus bound for Manila and get off at Bitalag UV Express van terminal for Cervantes. Fare is PHP 150 and travel time is roughly 1.5 hours. At Cervantes, transfer to a Bontoc bound van stationed at the plaza or at Sitio Bulaga after Aluling Bridge. Vans to Bontoc leave as early as 06:00 AM, with the last trip at around 02:00 PM. There are local buses and jeepneys too from Cervantes Market to Bontoc. Ask the driver or conductor to drop you off at Sagada junction, fare is approximately P100 pesos, travel time is around an hour and a half. From Sagada junction, you may catch a jeepney or bus bound to Sagada, it is only around 15 minutes ride.
Total travel time for this route is roughly 4 hours and estimated fare is PHP 450.
Going back to Manila
From Sagada – Bontoc – Manila
If you want to make a sidetrip or still have plans to visit Bontoc, you can ride a jeep from Sagada to Bontoc. From Bontoc, there are buses going to Baguio or you may take a Coda Bus Line to Cubao, Quezon City that leaves at 04:00 PM. Jeepney schedule from Sagada to Bontoc are 06:30 AM, 09:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 AM, and 01:00 PM. Fare from
Sagada to Bontoc is PHP 45.
From Sagada – Baguio – Manila
You can take a GL Trans Bus/Lizardo Bus from Sagada Town Proper to Baguio. Fare is PHP 220 and travel time will take about 5 hour. The schedule of bus from Sagada to Baguio are 05:00 AM, 07:00 AM, 09:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM and 01:00 PM.
Sagada Tour and Rates
|ECHO VALLEY WALKING TOUR|
|Echo Tour – 3 hour hike(Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins,St. Mary, Sagada Underground River, entrace continuing to the rice paddies, Bokong Falls)||Guide Fee: PHP 500 up to 10 pax|
|Adventure Trail – 3-hour trek (Echo Valley Hanging, Coffins, St. Mary, entering Sagada Underground River and arriving at Bokong Falls. Include river crossing and forest trails)||Guide Fee: PHP 1000 up to 10 pax|
|Echo Valley Hanging Coffins – A short walk to see the Hanging Coffins||Guide Fee: PHP 200 up to 10 pax|
|Cave Connection – Sumaguing Cave and Lumiang Cave Spelunking.|
Duration: 3-4 hours
|Guide Fee: |
PHP 800 for 2 pax and P400 for each additional heads
Optional 2-way Transpo: PHP 400
|Sumaguing Cave (Short Course) –|
Duration: 1 1/2 hours
|Guide Fee: PHP 500 for 4 | PHP 600 for 5 | PHP 1000 up to 9|
Optional 2-way Transpo: PHP 350
|Bomod-Ok Falls – 3 hour hike to and from from Banga-an||Guide Fee: PHP 500 up to 10 pax|
2-Way Transpo: PHP 650
|Pongas Falls – 1 hour hike from Brgy. Suyo||Guide Fee: PHP 600 up to 10 pax|
2-Way Transpo: PHP 650
|Bokong Falls – 30 minutes hike from town center but is part of the Echo Valley Tour.||Guide Fee: PHP 200 up to 10 pax|
Optional 2-Way Transpo: PHP 250
1-1.5 hours of walking
|2-Way Transpo: PHP 550|
|Marlboro Country – 2-3 hours trek||Guide Fee: PHP 600 up to 10 pax|
Shuttle Service: PHP 650
|Mt. Ampacao||Guide Fee: PHP 800 up to 10 pax|
|Langsayan Danum Traverse – more than 3 hours hike.||Guide Fee: PHP 1000 up to 3 pax|
|Marlboro Country – Blue Soil Hills Traverse – 2-3 hours trek||Guide Fee: PHP 1800 up to 3 pax|
Transport: PHP 1350
|Mt Polis – Located in between Mt. Ampacao and Marlboro Country with a beautiful view of Sagada.||Guide Fee: PHP 1500 up to 3 pax|
If convenience is your top priority, choose a guided tour. In our group, selected the services of Travel Now Asia which cost Php 2,999.00/ pax which included the following:
P35 pesos fee registration at the Municipal Hall (INCLUDED WITH TNA), P125 pesos per person fee for guides in Sumaguing Cave (INCLUDED WITH TNA)
P10 pesos each for registration at Bomod-ok falls (INCLUDED WITH TNA), P500 pesos 1 is to 10 persons guide fees at Bomod-Ok (INCLUDED WITH TNA), P250 pesos per van ride back (Jeep) divided to the group optional to entry point not included, P300 pesos 1 is to 10 persons guide fees at Eco Valley (Hanging Coffins) (INCLUDED WITH TNA), P10 pesos per person Church donation fee (INCLUDED WITH TNA), Donation such as P20 pesos in Ganduyan is optional and we glad you can donate to support the localsSagada Pottery demo per group of P100 is optional.
Jeep to Kiltepan Sunrise is P850 divided per pax. Van is not included.
Minimum of 10-13 pax per trip of Individual packageAll in package Inclusions:
✔ 3 days and 2 nights room accommodations in a top notch SAGADA LODGE-INN ONLY
✔ FREE daily breakfast
✔ Round trip van transfer [Manila-Banaue- Sagada-Baguio- Manila]
✔ 1 Professional friendly driver with 1 co-pilot/coordinator ( Your Safety is our concern) 2 persons
representative of Travelnowasia not like other agencies only 1 driver/coordinator
✔ Comfortable VANS 2010-2016 Maximum of 12-13 seats only. (for bigger groups please let us know)
✔ Gas/diesel, toll fees, driver’s lodge and meals are inclusive NO HIDDEN CHARGES!
✔ Local tour guides fees for Sumaguing Cave and Bomod-ok falls in Sagada are Inclusive
✔ All entrance fees, permits and guide fees are inclusive NO HIDDEN CHARGES!
✔ Tours for Day 1, 2 and 3.
3D2N SAGADA TOUR ITINERARY
UP TO 27 DESTINATIONS TO VISIT
DAY 0: DEPARTURE FROM MANILA 8-9PM/9-10PM
|7:00||Breakfast at Banaue|
|8:30||Banaue View Deck and Bayyo Rice Terraces|
Orange Peaking (Seasonal November – January)
|11:30||Check in, rest and free time|
|1:00||Spelunking at Sumaguing Cave & Lumiang Cave|
|5:00||Return to your hotel|
|6:00||Dinner at Sagada Town|
|8:00||Bonfire Pit : Bilza Lodging|
|4:30||ETD for Kiltepan Rice Terraces Sunrise Viewing or Marlboro|
|5:00||Kiltepan Rice Terraces Sunrise Viewing (optional for Marlboro Country 360degrees sea of clouds) different|
rates applies (if weather and fog conditions permits / can be done on day 3)
|8:00||Bomod-ok Falls, Fidelisan Rice Terraces|
|12:00||Free time for Lunch|
|1:00||Sagada Echo Tour ( Sagada Weaving, Echo Valley, Burial Caves, Modern Cemetery, Hanging Coffins , St.|
Mary’s Episcopal Church, Ganduyan Museum, Sagada Pottery, Sunset at Lake Danum)
|7:00||End of tour, Free time|
|8:00||Bonfire Pit @BILZA LODGING ( marshmallow and hotdog roasting cab be arranged, ask your|
coordinator ) (Bring your own marshmallow & hotdogs)
|4:30||ETD for Kiltepan Rice Terraces Sunrise Viewing or Marlboro|
|7:00||Estimated time of arrival at the lodging house, free time|
for breakfast then check out.
|10:00||Stop over fresh organic vegetable roadside store|
|11:00||Organic Strawberry Farm for strawberry peaking (this is different from La Trinidad)|
|14:00||Highest Point view deck|
|4:00||La Trinidad Strawberry Farm / La Trinidad Market|
|6:00||Hello Kitty’s Head (Lions Head)|
|8:00||ETD TO Manila|
|10:00||Estimated arrival time in Manila|
Sagada is a truly wonderful place to visit. Rich in culture, unique history and some of the most spectacular performances that nature can deliver. It’s a unique Philippine enclave from many aspects; Hanging Coffins, Stunning Sunrises across seas of clouds, 200 foot waterfalls with clear aquamarine pools. The locals are the cream on the cake with their friendly and helpful welcoming, keen to share and tell you about their ancestors history and where to go to enjoy nature at its finest.
It is in general a fairly cool climate not dissimilar to Baguio and especially at night, so make sure you take some suitable clothing to keep you warm and that includes gloves and if your going to do a major cave trip, take a good pair of non slip trainers or similar, you will need them.
Sagada is a place that should be high on your ‘must go and see’ list – go soon or you will regret you did not!