Ten things you must do in Sagada

Angel Juarez came up with his own version of this list so I’m just going to compile my own ten. Do check out Angel Juarez’s link – he’s certainly one of the best travel bloggersin the Philippines and he’s fast becoming one of the most popular as well.

Here are the ten things you have to do when you’re in Sagada:

1. Complete the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection.

Most people haven’t gone caving and most people are NOT prepared for the physical requirement that this task entails. This makes it the perfect almost-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to somehow push yourself to the limit and take some risks with your physical well-being. You’ll be surprised how many seemingly nonathletic people have managed to finish the course.

2. Go to the Bomod-ok Falls (Big Falls)

The Big Falls is one of the largest waterfalls you’ll see in the Philippines and the trek to the valley that hides it is a great treat. You will be literally walking along the rice terraces and going through villages that don’t have access to a main road. It’s an easy enough hike if you can go walk for 60-90 minutes without huffing and puffing. Do not underestimate the sun – it may be cold in Sagada but the sun is still king around these parts. Always protect your skin with sunblock.

3. Not fall while doing the Echo Valley trek

It’s cool that I still got to take this photo as two of my friends were falling down the trail! Echo Valley is just within the confines of the town proper but by the time you’re done with the trail, you would have seen three cave openings, dozens of hanging coffins, an underground river and lots of perilous ravines. The path has changed a lot so if you’re a first timer or you haven’t been to Sagada in a while, get a guide to make sure you don’t get hopelessly lost.

4. Run with the wild horses at Marlboro Country

I first heard about Marlboro Country through Howie Severino’s I-Witness documentaryon the wild horses of Sagada. You may not see the horses but you’ll know that they’re there – the evidence is all over the place. Even if you don’t get to see the horses, the panoramic view from the hill top is just spectacular. It probably offers the best view of Sagada.

5. Try the coffee

I don’t usually drink a lot of coffee but the one that they have in Sagada is awesome. Residential Lodge has overflowing coffee for all their hostel guests and I usually drink five to six cups a day when I’m there. The coffee is just that good. Maybe the special context of the cold, dry weather makes it the perfect place to sip a hot cup. Bana’s Coffee is the premier cafe in town. It is located just across Residential Lodge at Traveler’s Inn.

6. Climb Mt. Ampacao

Yes, that’s me in the middle – the only one who’s actually off the ground. Mt. Ampacao is probably one of the easiest mountains to climb in the entire country. Near the summit is a central clearing that allows for a great view of Sagada and the neighboring town of Besao, Mt. Province.

7. Have the cinnamon bread at Navales Bakeshop

Formerly Makamkamlis Bakeshop, Navales is the go-to-place for really good breads and cookies. For just 17 pesos, you’ll get a nice sized cinnamon bread (much larger than your face!). The sugar on top is burnt just right and the bread is really fluffy and soft especially when you’re getting it in the afternoon when they cook their second batch of bread. The bakeshop is located just a few meters away from the hospital and is situated atop a small hill.

8. Eat at Log Cabin

Log Cabin is the best restaurant in town in terms of the menu and overall ambiance. It’s also the priciest one so be prepared to spend more than usual. There’s a Saturday buffet for just 350 and a full course meal on a regular day would probably cost the same as well. The food is great and the breads are really something else. You may reach them by texting +639205200463.

9. Have the Hiker’s Delight at Yogurt House

Hiker’s delight is essentially a crepe with a banana and yogurt filling. It comes with toast and eggs. I used to love the yogurt from Yoghurt House but in recent years, it seems like they have opted for a less sour and more umm… bland “flavor” making eating the plain yogurt a similar experience to eating mayonnaise. During the good old days though, their yoghurt was simply excellent – sour and almost excruciatingly impossible to eat plain. The strawberry preserves give the otherwise unremarkable yogurt a good flavor though. Hopefully they go back to the old recipe soon.

10. Stay at Residential Lodge

This could have been number one, actually. I have stayed in Residential Lodge(+639196728744)over ten times over my 16 trips to Sagada and it has been an awesome experience. I’ve met a lot of great people here and I’ve referred this place to many of my friends – and just about everyone who has e-mailed me about Sagada. They let you cook, there’s wi-fi in the lounge for a minimal fee and there’s a television set on each floor. The rooftop also affords for an amazing night time view.

This list would be different for everyone so if you disagree with it, please post your own top ten. If you haven’t been to Sagada yet, I hope this inspires you to go there and most if not all of the things on this list.