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Here’s the Sagada Super Post. Almost everything you know for planning your very own cost-efficient, organized and fun Do-It-Yourself Sagada getaway is here. If you don’t find it here, post a question on our Facebook page.
Think of this post as a table of contents that would tie together almost all the entries that we have here.
How do I get to Sagada?
There are multiple ways to get to Sagada. Traveling to the western side of the country is slightly more convenient due to the number of buses leaving Manila for Baguio City in a day (perhaps as much as 50 trips for Victory Liner). Traveling via the eastern side (Ohayami or Cable Tours) gives you less options but gets you to Sagada earlier.
- Via the Manila – Baguio City – Sagada route
- Via the Manila – Banaue – Sagada route
- Via the Manila – Bontoc – Sagada route
Filed under: Blog
The touring in Sagada is generally governed by three tour guide associations – the oldest and most established of which is the SEGA or the Sagada Environmental Guides Association. According to to their history page, guiding in Sagada was done through a referral system involving the inns and hostels in town and the known guides. In the 90s however, the town moved to organize guides and in 1998, the SEGA was registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Through out the years, the organization has continued to improve the skills and knowledge of its members by both conducting and attending workshops most especially in the fields of safety and first aid. SEGA has also forwarded alternative livelihood projects like bee-keeping to help their guides participate in the economic growth of Sagada in ways other than tourism services.
The SEGA office is located in the Sagada Town Hall. They are at the first window to the left once you enter the building.
Filed under: Travel
The area surrounding Lake Danum offers a stunningly gorgeous view of the sunset. Located in an area halfway between the town center of Sagada and the neighboring town of Besao, the spot features a set of ridges that allow people to see the sun as it disappear behind the peaks of the Cordilleras.
The area is an uphill hike from town so most people would probably prefer to hire a van or jeep to get to it. It is next to the pottery factory so the lake, the factory and the sunset could be one late afternoon’s itinerary. The road is not lit at night so make sure to have lamps or flashlights if you choose to walk to the site for the sunset.
Super Typhoon Maysak (Philippine name: Chedeng) is expected to make landfall on Sunday (April 5, 2015). The track of the typhoon may still change due to the other weather systems north of the Philippines but as of the 9AM April 1, 2015 forecast, the typhoon is expected to pass through Northern Luzon – with Sagada and other Cordillera towns at risk of being on the eye wall. Maysak is expected to weaken significantly before landfall but it is still expected to bring winds in excess of 100mph, heavy rain and pose risks for landslides.
The typhoon is currently category 5 (160-195 mph) and has devastated parts of Micronesia.
If you are going to Sagada please be aware that there might be a major typhoon on Sunday and your plans on returning back to Manila/ leaving Sagada might not go as smoothly as planned. Make the necessary arrangements and preparations and be alert at all times.
Please check Typhoon2000 for up-to-date news on Typhoon Maysak. Keep yourself informed of the latest weather bureau bulletin through radio and TV news updates. Stay safe everyone!
This is a photo of Bomod-ok Falls. It’s a towering falls that cascades through a sheer cliff and is only accessible through hiking for around an hour across several levels of rice terraces. It’s a stunning sight and the route is likewise gorgeous.
This is what it looks like during peak season. There’s hardly any place to stand and while the scenery is still quite breath-taking, having so many people around does make it hard to have a more reflective moment. Sagada draws people for various reasons – the adventure, a chance to reflect etc – but the crowds just make it hard to execute on these goals. This photo was not taken recently. Nope, this is not a net effect of the new found popularity of Sagada thanks to the box office mega hit That Thing Called Tadhana. This was actually taken during the December break of 2009. Sagada is a small town with very few roads and it isn’t equipped to handle an influx of tourists especially if the drivers of this rise are tour promoters from out of town.
With many people already chiming on describing Sagada as a potentially very crowded town during the end of Lent and other public holidays, I felt compelled to write something and repeat some of the things I wrote about the town as early as 2009. I have gone to Sagada several times (24 times and counting) and I’ve seen it through most months of the year.
I know what it looks like during the early part of the year when foreign tourists from Europe are in town as they try to escape their harsh winters, I’ve seen how throngs of college students go up during the summer months to try out spelunking. I’ve experienced first hand the perils of traveling through Halsema Highway during landslides season and by now, I know that Sagada turns into virtual parking lot almost every time there’s a three-day long weekend.
What needs to be addressed first is how people’s attitudes travels and destinations have changed throughout and how it is to be reconciled with the philosophies and way of life of people who do not necessarily subscribe to the same standards and expectations. In the “customer is always right” mantra that has been sold as truth in the city (so much so that both the service provider and the client tend to believe it), it has been expected that a service provider would go to extraordinary lengths to provide great service. Business owners or in this case, the municipal government is expected to go the extra mile to ensure the utmost comfort and convenience of their guests.
However, in the case of Sagada, it might be different. Sagada is a fifth-class municipality. It doesn’t have the financial capacity and flexibility to create infrastructure for the few times in a year that it gets filled to the brim. It just isn’t worth the investment. The people are also from a proud culture that has been more or less contained in the Cordilleras. The way they run their business reflect their way of life and it might take some time for some to get used to having to serve hundreds of people a day. It might be frustrating to wait for your meal a while longer but keep in mind that people in town are also experiencing a period of adjustment.
Just a few notes:
1. If you can help it, don’t go to Sagada during Holy Week, the Christmas break or any other long weekends. Sagada is best experienced when there are less people. Roads are less congested and the trails to sites of interest and inside the slippery formations in the caves are more relaxing and conducive to optimal enjoyment when there are less people in town. This trickles through your prospects for getting tables and timely meals at your restaurant of choice.
2. If you have no choice but to go to Sagada during the crowded days of the year, check your attitude before you enter the town and acknowledge the stressful time that everyone is in – this goes for all the hostel owners, municipal officers, drivers, restaurant owners and even your fellow travelers. It won’t be a picnic and it’s in your best interest to keep a level head and just roll with the punches. Expect difficulty in finding a hostel (if you don’t have one yet), drives and commutes to certain sites will remind you of a EDSA (but on a mountain) and finding a restaurant that has a table will be tough (especially for big groups).
3. If you’ve been to Sagada, relay this information. Sagada is a small town. It is not equipped to have its population double for a weekend half a dozen times in a year. Make sure that people get the correct expectation of what it is. As it stands now, while Sagada is modernizing at a pace much faster than most of us expected and/or preferred, it still an idyllic mountain town that strikes the balance between peaceful isolation and modern convenience.
Filed under: Blog
Sagada is getting a good dose of pop culture cred thanks to Antoinette Jadaone’s romantic comedy That Thing Called Tadhana. The town of Sagada figures heavily in the movie and is even suggested to be a good place to soul-search and mend a broken heart – the relaxing environs of the town could in fact soothe people who are seeking the warm embrace of a mountain mother.
The movie which stars Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman has been a hit in the box office and has racked up over a Php 120M in just three weeks burn. Critics have also been giving very favorable reviews of the film – the IMDB has it rated at 8.8/10, the MTRCB has given it an A rating and various websites have given perfect or close-to-perfect scores.
Have any of you seen it? How well does this movie improve the pop culture lore surrounding our beloved Sagada?
UPDATE: according to CODA LINES’ official Facebook page, they daily trips are stil currently on hold.
Traveling to Sagada is now made easier by new routes by Coda Lines (formerly KMS Philippines). The Coda Lines terminal is located at Lot 6 Block 2634 Legarda St (Below LRT), Manila. The fare is 760 from Manila to Sagada. This cost is very comparable to the usual tw0-leg route that passes through Baguio or Bontoc.
The trip schedule is as follows:
Manila to Sagada – 8:00 PM (will arrive in Sagada at around 7AM)*
Manila to Bontoc – 8:30 PM
Manila to (Banaue) Ifugao – 8:30PM
Sagada to Manila – 2:30 PM (will arrive in Manila at around 430 AM)*
Bontoc to Manila – 3:30 PM
(Banaue) Ifugao to Manila – 6:00 PM
They have indicated in their Facebook page that reservations would be entertained. Please contact Coda Lines via their hotlines – SMART (09394677863) and GLOBE (09771860548). The trips just started today and we would love to hear feedback on how this new route works out.
Filed under: Travel
For inquiries regarding itineraries and tours reservation, please contact the Sagada Genuine Guides Association. The information is from their Contact Us page.
email: sagadagenuineguides [at] gmail [dot] com
mobile: 0929-556-9553 (Gareth Likigan)
Filed under: Tour, Travel | Tags: Bokong Falls, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, Sagada, SAGGAS, SEGA, Small Falls, Underground River
This is Part 2 of Visit Sagada’s list of Places to Go and Things to Do in Sagada. Please click here for Part 1. Part 1 featured the ultimate must-see sights in Sagada.
For part 2, we will feature attractions that are within walking distance from the center of town.
Echo Valley is accessible through following a clearly marked foot path that leads hikers from St. Mary’s Church (an Episcopalian church in Sagada) through the town cemetery. From the cemetery, the trail hugs the edge of the hill that gives a great vantage point to different parts of town. From various look out points, it would be easy to locate several hanging coffins. For people doing this hike for the first time, it would be ideal to get a guide! People have gotten lost on this trail before. The entire walk from the church takes around 15 minutes.
Sagada has a great deal of places for people looking to do different activities. The accredited Sagada guide associations (SEGA and SAGGAS) have been actively pushing to adding more sites to the current set of tourist attractions. All guides and tours are to be arranged through accredited tour guide associations (SEGA’s is inside the Municipal Hall; SAGGAS is near Yogurt House). Costs are standard and are published so you’re definitely getting a fair deal.
I know that there will be different opinions, but personally, I think no trip to Sagada will be complete without these two sites.
The Sumaguing Cave (AKA The Big Cave) is arguably the best known attraction of Sagada. Caving is one of the more exciting and unique experiences that visitors can do in town. There are various cave systems and routes but Sumaguing gets the most traffic because of its big chambers and notable rock formations. As one would expect, it is pitch black in the deeper parts of the cave (the guide will be carrying a lamp) and you will be heavily reliant on your guide for directions and the proper foot holds. You may choose to do the “simple caving” which is a in-and-out course through Sumaguing. It could take from two to three hours to finish the entire route.
The cave connection takes spelunkers from the Lumiang Burial Cave entrance to the main chambers of the Sumaguing Cave. When done in a steady pace, the entire activity can take 3-4 hours. Balance and presence of mind will be critical.
The entrance to the Sumaguing Cave along with other caves like the Lumiang Burial Cave are all downhill from the center of town. It’s a nice 15-20 minute stroll along the road. From the road, you can see some of Sagada’s rice terraces and in the rainy season, you can also see some waterfalls. Some people rent a van for this but if you’re fine with walking for a few minutes, you can definitely skip the car.
The Bomod-ok Falls (AKA The Big Falls) is located north of the town center. Most people would find the hike to the village a bit far so it’s best to rent a van or a jeep for this one. The falls can be reached after trekking through stretches of rice terraces. For those who usually do cardio, the hike will be a piece of cake (30-40 minutes each way) but those who are not that active will find this to be extremely difficult. Some people might find the trek to the falls to be easier since it’s almost all downhill. Make sure you leave something in the tank for the ascent.
There is a very cold water pool just under the falls and a quick dip can definitely rejuvenate a hiker for the hike back up the hill. The Northern Sagada Indigenous Guides Association (NoSIGA) has jurisdiction of this area. They charge 500 per group of 10.
For Part 2, we will be featuring the best sights that are closest to the center of town. Click here for the most accessible sites by foot in Sagada.
Filed under: Accommodation Hostels Guest Houses | Tags: Agoda, online bookings, online reservations
Most reservations are handled by Sagada hostels via the phone but things are definitely changing. Agoda now supports online booking for several hostels and guest houses in Sagada. Via Agoda, people planning to go to Sagada can book and pay for rooms via their credit card. Be reminded though that the costs will be billed in dollars and might be slightly more expensive compared to the peso price if you were to directly contact the hostel.
Here are the hotels that have listings on Agoda: