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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
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:
Filed under: Travel | Tags: accuweather, precipitation, rain, real feel, temperature, weather
Is it raining is Sagada?Is it hot?
These are the common questions that people who are days or weeks away from their trip to Sagada ask us. Of course calling or texting a contact who lives in Sagada (like the owner/manager of your lodge) would be best, but if you want to check it online, you could via the Sagada weather page on Accuweather.
The forecast contains information regarding the general weather (as indicated by the graphics), the daily highs and lows in degrees Celsius as well as the “RealFeel“. The RealFeel takes into consideration several factors that would alter the way people would perceive temperature. Factors included in the calculation include humidity, cloudiness, windiness, sun intensity and the angle of the sun. This needs to be taken seriously because even if it may be a relatively nice 26C on Saturday (May 31), the RealFeel is expected to be at 36C due to the confluence of these other factors!
There are options to view the current weather forecast along with the hourly, extended and monthly forecasts. The hourly forecast can be very useful in deciding which activities to do during the morning and which ones to do during the afternoon. The page also has an indicator for the chance of rain – for other areas, it also has indicators for snow and ice.
Accuweather also has mobile apps on Google Play and the Apple Apps Store.
Of course, any weather report needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The weather can turn at any moment – especially in the mountains. Be prepared for a sudden downpour. For a year-round chart of temperature and precipitation, check this post on the climate charts of Sagada.
When is the best time to go to Sagada?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions and the two main considerations would be the weather and the rains. We’ve created two charts that show the yearly trend for temperature and precipitation.
Just like the rest of the Philippines, the hottest days in Sagada of the usually happen during the summer months of March, April and May. The temperature drops a bit until July before a small bump in temperature on September through October. The four coldest months are November to February. During these months, the minimum temperature can drop below 15 degrees Celsius.
Warm months: March- May
Cold Months: November – February
The rains start late May and usually ease up during October to November. Since landslides can greatly affect road conditions, most people recommend traveling to Sagada when the chance of rains and typhoons are minimal. The coldest months are usually relatively dry so it’s arguable that the best time to go to Sagada is during December to February.
If you’re trying to evade the rains and storms, you’re better off not planning your trip during August.
For the daily weather forecast for Sagada, go to the Accuweather page.
Filed under: Travel
Traveling alone to Sagada can be a bit daunting to some travelers and for several reasons. The commute/drive to Sagada can be quite long and traveling with a group can definitely make costs considerably less especially for tour costs and accommodations.
Here are a few ways on how you can find travel companions to Sagada (or to any place for that matter):
Travbuddy has a membership of half a million users worldwide and is specifically targeted towards travelers who want to meet other travelers to go on trips with or to give and share advice too. The Sagada page has some activity and currently, there are 42 people who are thinking of going! The site also integrates user blogs, recommendations and itineraries to make planning your trip convenient.
Couchsurfing Manila has thousands of members and more often than not, there’s one person or one group who’s organizing for Sagada, Banaue or any specific place in the Cordilleras. I have been able to assemble trips via this networking several times already and for the most part, people in this community are very chill and laid back with their traveling style. Just keep in mind that Couchsurfing’s central philosophy is the creation of meaning connections through cultural exchange between people of different backgrounds.
There are over 7,000 people on the Visit Sagada Facebook page and while that number might seem small, this number reflects the most diehard fans of the town! Post your inquiry on the wall and hopefully, someone also looking up resources for Sagada would find your posting.
4. Project Dora
Project Dora is a tour company created by travel bloggers so you know that you’ll be treated to a very efficient and stimulating itinerary. They have a Facebook page that contains their tour schedules. You may also call/text them at 09063365870 for more details.
Pinoy Exchange is the largest online forum for Filipinos. There’s a very active thread on Sagada on the Travel and Leisure section.
If you have any other places that you use to find travel buddies, kindly share it with us!