When asked of one thing that he would like to see in the Philippines, my husband would mention the rice terraces. The Banaue rice terraces are irrigated rice terraces in the mountains of north-central Luzon, created more than 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao people. In 1995 various sections of the terraces were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, described as “a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.”
In addition, I’ve always wanted to visit Sagada following the popularity brought to it by a hit Filipino movie in 2014. I love nature, and I thought a couple of nights up in the mountainous Sagada would be a breath of fresh air for me.
After a short break in El Nido, we travelled to Sagada via Banaue. We took a bus on the night of April 22nd via Ohayami Trans and woke up in Banaue the following morning. We took a van for about 3 hours going to the town of Sagada that costs 500 pesos per person. We paid a total of PhP 1,108.79 for the Manila-Banaue Ohayami bus and PhP 2,536 for the Coda Lines‘ deluxe bus from Sagada back to Manila.
Duration of journey:
Manila-Banaue 8 hours
Banaue – Sagada 4 hours
Sagada – Cubao 12 hours
Let me share with you our 3D2N Itinerary. You would see that we didn’t have activities at night because Sagada is not a place for bar hopping and people are usually home early in the evening. I advise to make the most out of your days as people in the town are early risers.
*The expenses listed above does not include souvenir shopping and snacks cost.
Upon arriving in Sagada, the first thing to do is to pay the environmental fee at the Tourist Information Centre. They will issue a receipt that tourists should always keep with them as every tour would require that.
We stayed at Agape Log Cabin, a guesthouse that is located 10-minute walk away from the Tourist Information Centre. I would say it was convenient and very affordable because for 2 nights, we only paid 2,500 pesos (£18/night). Their staff has been helpful to us and we even got free coffee in the morning. And to make it better, they have complementary wifi. 🙂
For Day 1, we chose the 3 hour trek day tour that led us to the Bomod-ok waterfalls. I would say the tour guide assigned to us was not as friendly and informative as a tour guide should be. She was on her phone most of the time and liked to walk about 10 metres ahead of us.
The trek uphill tested my endurance but it was good as I haven’t done any hiking like that in a long time. I enjoyed walking on the rice paddies that lead us to the falls. How I wish I had the chance to swim there!
We woke up the following morning with a bit achy legs but that didn’t stop the fun from yet another adventurous trail for Day 2. The same driver that brought us to the tour the day before, referred a tour guide for the day. He was more entertaining than the other tour guide but I would say this guy had been too comfortable with us that he was laughing at times when we stumble, slip or fall on the water.
True to its name, the mountain walls would bounce the echo back when you shout at it. Echo Valley is well known for the hanging coffins of Sagada. Our tour guide explained that the hanging coffins contain the corpses of the dead elderly who were of high rank in the village. Aside from that requirement is that they should have died of natural death and not diseased.
We entered the Sagada underground river after a long walk through the forest trails to get to the Bokong waterfalls. I wore hiking shoes that eventually got wet because we had to cross a lot of rocky rivers. The underground river was bit scary as the three of us were the only persons and it was pitch black, feels like Batcave!
It was a relief once the tour was over for I was really tired. We headed to Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant and had a good late lunch. We were disappointed by how a lot of dishes on the menu were not available. Interestingly, the cafe is named after a Filipino-Catalan photographer, Eduardo Masferre, who made important documentary reports about the lifestyle of native people in the region of the Cordillera in the Philippines at the middle of 20th century. The restaurant exhibits some of his works and I would say I instantly fell in love with his works.
We went back to the cabin to chill and watch another Netflix movie. For dinner, we went to Salt N Pepper Diner. They have good pizza and beer. It was getting late so we headed back to the cabin and had an early sleep in preparation for the Kiltepan sunrise because the driver has arranged another driver to pick us up at 4:30 in the morning.
We woke up early on the following morning and we waited for half an hour for the driver who didn’t arrive. Fortunately, another driver saw us and offered to take us to Kiltepan so we don’t miss the famous sunrise view at the sea of clouds. That was an annoying experience but we got over it as soon as we got to Kiltepan. The sea of clouds is amazing and really worth waking up early to.
St. Mary the Virgin chapel
Once the sun has risen completely, we headed back to the town. We went to see the St. Mary the virgin chapel but unfortunately, it was closed. We proceeded to Bana cafe for breakfast and we were pleased by the freshness of the internationally award winning Arabica coffee. After a good breakfast, we went to buy more souvenir items and went back to the cabin to pack and check out.
Below is the list of activities and costs of tour, van hires and extra fees.
There are more things to see and to be done in Sagada but we had limited time. If you ask me was it worth the 12 hours bus ride? Definitely it was!