April 24, 2016

Sudden Sagada Trip

Just like the movie,  'That Thing Called Tadhana', the #Mendiolables had an improptu road trip to Sagada last April 11.  Unlike the movie though, we didn't take a bus, my husband drove. We left Manila at 12:30am, with 2 stops for gas and coffee, we reached Sagada after 8 hours.  

The first thing we did was to find a place where we can stay for our five days Sagada exploration. During that time, accommodations are fullybooked due to Caving Conference.  Since I have read about St. Joseph Resthouse before, we took a chance. Luckily they have an available room for the night at P2,500. This is a good place to stay if your travelling with kids because the place is clean, with lots of flowers around, the rooms are comfortable. They also have their own restaurant. If bringing a car or vehicle, you don't have to worry about the parking because they have ample space which is located within their compound. On our second night, we had to move to a one-bedroom (with 3 beds at P1,500 only) because the 3 bedroom we stayed for the night was reserved by a bigger group months ahead.

We were supposed to stay for 5 days but my father passed away on the night of April 12, so we headed back in Manila on the morning of the 13th.  It was our first time in Sagada and because of our sudden trip back home we were not able to explore the whole of Sagada. Although travel time is pretty long, it was a lovely ride seeing all those trees, rice fields, the sun, and the people along the way.  Let me share with you some of places we've visited and the things we've learned from our two-day sudden Sagada trip. I do hope that you find this post useful and that the videos I made will let you in the beauty of Sagada.

Hanging Coffins of Echo Valley

To get to the coffins, you will be needing a guide (Guide fee is P200 for up to 10 pax). There will be a 15-20 min hike to the coffins. Go there first thing in the morning to avoid the sun and the crowd.

Sumaguing Cave

Sumaguing Cave is the most popular attraction in Sagada for its stunning rock formations. This cave is an absolute must-do but be warned that although Sumaging Cave provides a lot of fun for adventurous people, it is also  potential for danger because it is really dark and slippery inside. it’s very dangerous to go on your own so be sure to register and get a guide at the tourism office for P500 for 4 people or less. We paid P600 (for 5 to 10 people). The entire caving experience is about 2 to 3 hours, depending on your fitness level, the people you are with, and on the number of tourists on the day of the visit. Be prepared to get wet. I suggest you wear hiking shoes that is light and can be wet and lycra pants and top for easy gliding.

For the more adventurous, you might want to do the advanced Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection route, with 4 to5 hour trekking into a much deeper cave. Tour guide fee is P800 for two people. 


Bokong is a favorite picnic site which has a small falls.  It is a fairly easy hike. Our tour guide said you actually don't need a guide going at Bokong as long as you know the way.  (Guide fee is P200 for up to 10 pax).

Bomod-ok Waterfalls

Bomod-ok Waterfalls is also known locally as the “Big Falls”.  If you do not have a vehicle, you can arrange for a van at the tourism office for P650 round trip. Once at the Banga-an information center, you can hire a guide for P600 (for 5-10 pax). You’ll then begin the hour-long trek down to the falls with an estimated 3 to 5 hours, depending on your fitness level. The trek, especially back up, is tough but it's all worth it once you go for a swim in the cold waters coming from the falls.

Kiltepan Sunrise

Kiltepan Viewpoint is the highest point in the area, it’s known for its breathtaking views of the sun rising from behind the Cordillera mountains over an ocean of clouds. Remember Tadhana movie? This is the spot where Angelica's character emoted because of she was broken-hearted.  If you're bringing a car, it is best to leave your logding place at 4:30 so you can park with ease. Vans can be arranged at the tourism office for P500 round trip.

Other must see places we weren't able to visit:

Lake Danum (Sunset viewing)
Lumiang Burial Cave
Orange Picking at Rock Inn
Balangangan Cave, also known as Marcos Cave
Bumayeng Twin Falls
Pongas Twin Falls
Mt. Ampacao
Marlboro Hill 
Langsayan Danum 
Mt. Sisipitan
Mt. Polis
Mainit Hotspring

Where to eat:

When in Sagada you do not have to worry about getting hungry. There are pretty much a number of restaurants that offer  cheap and decent meals. Expect to spend around P200 per person. Meal is often served in big portions, with salad on the side. For coffee lovers, additional P50 per cup, but it''ll surely satisfy that caffeine craving.

Log Cabin

First on the #Mendiolables list is Log Cabin, located at Poblacion,Ato, Sagada, Mountain Province Sagada. When we went there it was buffet night so we enjoyed all the food they served, from stuffed chicken, ribs, baked eggplant on tomato sauce, salad, bread, chocolate cake and more!  Log Cabin is highly recommended by tourists who have tried this place so expect to meet diners from different parts of the world. We met people from France, Amweica, Canada and other countries.

Log Cabin is open for dinner ony and the food MUST be RESERVED earlier than 3:00pm on weekdays. Every Saturday, they have dinner buffet at P390 per head. They are open from  6:00PM to 9:00PM. For reservation, call 0915 671 7949

Sagada Brew

Sagada Brew serves some of the best coffee and desserts in town. I don't have sweet tooth but I like their lava cake a lot!  They offer a lot of savory meal, like kaldereta, adobo, carbonara and burger steak. They also have the best server-cashier in town, he is so nice and friendly!

Sagada Lemon Pie House

The Lemon Pie House is one of the most popular restaurant because of its lemon pie.  Although my children find their lemon pie's taste weird, it is still a place to visit. We didn't get to try their other dishers because  they offer a few savory dishes, which runs out fast. 

Yoghurt House

Yoghurt House was highly recommended by our 2 tour guides but when we went there to have dinner ,the owners insisted we seat upstairs. We were so tired from the long trek so we wanted to seat on the ground floor and since there were enough seats. I even said, "dito na lang po kami sa baba kasi pagod na sa lakad". To which the old lady said, "konting lakad na lang yan, akyat na kayo dun". For the nth time, the lady owners (an old woman and a lady in her 30s) kept on insisting we go up. We felt disappointed so we just graciouly left Yoghurt House. Better luck next time.

Salt and Pepper Diner

Salt and Pepper Diner was also highly recommended, not only by the tour guides but also by tourists. Unfortunately, for lack of time, we were not able to dine at Salt and Pepper Diner.

Pinikpikan is a Cordillera delicacy, which is highly recommended by the locals. Of course we ordered pinikpikan! Although I tried pinikpikan, I must say, it is an acquired taste, not many will appreciate its smoky goodness. But yeah, life's too short not to try, right?

ETAG is also highly recommended by Sagada people. ETAG is a smoked pork delicacy. My verdict, it's not for everybody. But then again, life's too short not to try ETAG.

Things to remember:

1.  All Sagada tourist must register at the tourism center and pay environmental fee for P35 per head. You have to keep the receipt and bring it to all spots you will visit because they will check the control number before you can proceed to the sites.

2.  If you're not fond of humid weather skip March and April. During our trip, it was really warm from 10am up to 3pm. We had to wait for 7pm to feel the cold air. Locals said the best time to go to Sagada is from November to February. If you want to experience Bonfire Festival on December 28, book a year ahead. May to July comes with rain, while August until October is a typhoon season.

3.  Be warned that Sagada is hard to get to. You will be needing a really good driver that can navigate the sharp curves and bumpy road. 4. My brother Jubert and most of my friends who went to Sagada took a bus. 

4. Bring cash becuase Sagada is a small town with just one ATM and no money changers. Establishments do not accept credit cards so be sure to bring enough cash. 

5. Bring a flashlight and toiletries. The place we stayed provided only one toilet tissue. 

6. There are plenty of places to stay in Sagada with accommodations for as low as P250/head/night (depending on the travel dates). Just make sure to book in advance during peak season. If you're coming with kids and a car or cars, I highly recommend St. Joseph Resthouse. 

7.  I'd say you stay for 5 days to explore all of its attractions. Honestly, you can stay for over a week and just enjoy walking around and meeting people from all over the world. We met families from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Paris and more.

8.  All visitors must secure/hire a Sagada local guide as per Municipal Ordinance #07-2007.

9.  Sagada has a 10:00pm curfew. Always inform your lodging house if you will not be back by 10pm to avoid untoward incident.

10. After registering at the tourism center you will be given a list of must see places. Keep it for reference. Ask the staff at the center, which ones you can visit even without a tour guide.

11. Start your treks early in the morning as possible so you can avoid heat from the sun, especially during summer. Most importantly so you can make it back to your lodging place before nightfall because it is quite difficult to walk at night due to limited lightposts.

12.  Be respectful to the locals and of the sites, especially the hanging coffins.

13.  Be environmet friendly! Did you notice there's an exclamation point? Well, because it's really sad to see trash are just being thrown carelessly by some tourists.

14. Dress appropriately. Bring thick clothing during December to February, the coldest month. March and April is hot in the afternoon, but do bring jackets that will keep you warm at night.

Hot to get to Sagada:

Those bringing cars, take the Manila-Baguio-Sagada-Banaue-Manila route or do the reverse, going up via Banaue and down via the City of Pines.

Hire a private van/vehicle
If there are enough people in your group, at least 10, I suggest you hire a tour guide with a van. This is what my friend Michelle did. They paid 2,500 per head. They were picked from Manila/ Makati.  It is the most convenient way to go because you're sure that the driver is familiar with the road and sites. 

Direct from Quezon City
As of October 2015, Coda Lines has been offering direct trips to Sagada from Quezon City. Buses leave from their terminal near St. Luke’s Hospital (277 E Rodriquez Sr. Ave, Cathedral Heights) at 9PM daily.  For details, contact Coda Lines at 0927-559-2197 or 0929-521-3229.

Bus - Manila Via Baguio
Many bus companies take you to Baguio from Manila. They have buses leaving for Baguio every hour for 24 hours from their four terminals in Manila (Manila, Pasay, Cubao, Caloocan). You can visit their website for information.

Bus - Manila to Banaue
There are daily bus trips from Manila to Banaue that leave at 10:00 p.m. The trip from Manila to Banaue is about nine (9) hours. Bus companies plying this route are Autobus and Dangwa Tranco, and both have terminals in Sampaloc, Manila.   DANGWA, 1600 Dimasalang, Sampaloc, Manila; Telephone: (632) 731 - 2879 or  AUTOBUS, 1455 Loyola St. corner F. Cayco St., Sampaloc, Manila; Telephone: (632) 493 - 4111

Mini-bus, jeepney, van - Banaue to Sagada
At the Banaue bus terminal there are jeepneys, mini-buses or vans,  waiting to take passengers to Sagada. 

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