We at Visit Sagada believe that to truly enjoy your stay in Sagada, your trip should have a good balance between adventurous spontaneity and a rough idea of what to do formulated through research (in your case: reading this website) During the early months of this site, most of the people were happy with figuring out things for themselves, but more and more now, visitors seem to be more open to the idea of having somebody else do an itinerary for them. To accomodate those who are probably scared of venturing into the deep end during their first time up there, we have come up with this easy-to-follow guide on how to plan your activities.
Resource: How To Tour Sagada
HOW MANY DAYS?
This should be the first question that you should answer before planning the rest of your activities in Sagada. Keep in mind that a round figure like three days will not translate as three days in actual waking hours. Here’s why:
If you were to take the Manila-Baguio-Sagada bus route, the earliest time you could arrive in Sagada would be 12 NOON because the first bus leaves the station at around 5:30 AM. Keep in mind that this will only be feasible if you can leave Manila the night before. This means that your first day isn’t really a full day – you lose a significant chunk of potential tour time to travel. Once you factor in the things you have to do after checking in (lunch, unpacking etc.), it’s likely that you will only have three to four hours of sunshine left to do whatever you want to do.
Keep in mind that you are also coming off a very taxing half-day journey on bus through the rough and winding roads of the Cordillera mountains. Some people (like myself) may prefer resting during Day 1 and just focus on the touring the next day.
If you can muster the strength to do some touring for the afternoon, you may try any of the following by going to the town hall and inquiring at the tourism desk:
- The “sightseeing” package is a medley of three points of interest that are reachable within a few minutes hike of each other. You may choose three places to go to and the tour will probably take 3-4 hours depending on when where you choose to go. Echo Valley is probably among the most popular of these sites. It’s fairly easy to go to and it will surely be a hit for younger travelers.
- Go to the caves! Sagada is famous for its cave system so no one should ever leave the town before checking out Sumaguing cave. It’s a twenty minute walk from the town center it’s a fairly easy hike up the road. You will also see nice views of the Sagada Rice Terraces and traditional village houses called dap-ays along the way. The normal spelunking route takes 2-3 hours to finish.
- After a day of traveling, most people would probably want to relax. If you’re with me in that regard then I strongly suggest that you visit Bokong Falls (also known as Small Falls). The falls is situated next to rice paddies and though it doesn’t really dazzle you with the way it looks, it sure makes up for it with sheer adrenaline potential. You can jump off the falls’ highest point into a cold deep natural pool below. There’s nothing like a nice cold dip that could rejuvenate your road-weary body, right?
LESSON #1: DAY ONE HAS A VERY TIGHT TIME WINDOW. DON’T EXPECT TO DO A LOT OF THINGS DURING THIS DAY.
In my opinion, visitors should prioritize two points of interest while in Sagada – the Bomod-ok Falls (Big Falls) and the Sumaguing-Lumiang cave system. Both would require a considerable amount of time and energy to get to so it will be wise to reserve a day for each site. I’ve heard of people doing both in a single day but those people were hardly comparable to your average human being (haha). To be on the safe side, stick to one for one day.
- Bomod-ok Falls / Big Falls – There are two routes to the falls – one’s a bit easy (a leisurely 90 minute hike along paved bridges) while the other one is a 2-3 hours traverse of rice terraces that would have you balancing for your life! You might want to rent a van for this since the barangay that has jurisdiction of the falls is already at the outskirts of Sagada. The water is quite cold and deep. The rocks and boulder near the falls are also slippery. Be extra careful.
- Cave Connection – Again, the caves are around 20 minutes away from the town. The traverse from one mouth of the cave to the other would take 3-6 hours depending on the skill level of the spelunker. This would require scaling cave formations, a bit of rope climbing, rapelling, crawling and even a little bit of swimming. You will get wet!
These two activities will require one day each with the afternoons reserved for walking around town, meditation, buying souvenirs or getting a massage. I really think that an important part of a trip to Sagada is to feel its natural serenity that lulls you into sitting back and just relaxing. Sagada isn’t all about extreme eco-adventures. It’s also about communing with nature and the alien landscape of the Cordilleras that urbanites can’t fathom at first.
LESSON #2: Realistically speaking, you need 4 days in Sagada. But once you think about it, four days in Sagada is more like three days. The first day doesn’t start until 12 NN. The last day can only last until 1PM (the time the last bus for Baguio leaves).