Bong Magana

Are you bored of the usual Baguio or Tagaytay summer vacation and seeking the same cold-weather environment and adventure? Why not try Sagada? Sagada is an excellent alternative place, a three and a half drive from Baguio. From the sky-high winding roads to the majestic mountain landscape scene on the way, the journey alone was already an adventure.

Sagada is also a perfect getaway to introduce the adventurer in you. It is famous for its incredible adventures like hiking, exploring caves and waterfalls, camping, picnics, rappelling, visiting historical places, and joining with tribal gatherings. With so much to offer, it guarantees every one of an unforgettable experience with nature and culture. All, are packed in this enthralling place.

Sagada is a small world and remote town of Mountain Province, with over five thousand feet above sea level, home of the vibrant Kankanaey. There is something about Sagada that makes it simply irresistible. From the jaw-dropping rock formation, dramatic waterfalls, delectable foods, vivid landscapes, enchanting sunrise/sunset, elegant rice terraces, famous burial caves, hanging coffins, vibrant culture of its people and to its impressive hued mountains. Name it, Sagada has it all protected. 

Because of its isolation, you can experience a time travel life of a past civilization. The simplicity and authenticity of the local culture will entice you. A quiet and peaceful community and it was able to hold much of the original tribal practices and beliefs - a distinctive old passion world. No companies or modern commercial establishments are allowed to establish – only locals are allowed to acquire land and invest in Sagada. Undoubtedly, the charm of this mountain town is still incomparable to most tourist destinations in the country. Everywhere you look is covered with lush and verdant pine trees, a truly magical place, and a haven for travelers.

Sagada is one of the cheapest places to travel, and there are so many things to do as well. It is advisable to stay at least three days to enjoy the scenery and explore most of the popular adventure sites.

So here are the things you shouldn’t miss to do in Sagada.

First, upon arrival in Sagada, the first thing you should do is register with the Tourism Office and pay for the environmental fee (35/pax). You will need to declare the receipt before entering on some particular places. Rates for guides are posted in the Municipal Government. Be sure to get Tourism accredited Guides for your safety. 



Cave Connection

The most visited and popular destinations in Sagada are the Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves. Perfect activity and suited for the adventurous and energetic travelers. Definitely not for the claustrophobic!

The cave connection starts at Sumaguing Cave. At the entrance of Sumaguing Cave, you will be baffled by some display of stacks of wooden coffins and human bones, once served as a burial place for the Igorot elders. Then steep descents through the breathtaking bizarre rock formations of stalagmites and stalactites formed for thousands of years. This extreme activity requires wading through chilly clean waters, rappelling on waterfalls, and crawling on cramped and narrow spaces inside the caverns. 4-7 hours of spelunking traverses in Lumiang Cave, depending on how fast your group pacing through the challenging route, or you can take the less challenging Sumaguing (Short course), which may take only 2 hours to explore.

Proper gear and attires are necessary like the dry fit, headlights/flashlights, dry bag to protect your cameras, and electronic gadgets from getting wet, booties or sandals, energy bar, extra clothes, etc. Tour fee is P400/pax (minimum of 3pax) while the optional two-way transport costs P400/group.

Balangagan Cave Spelunking

You can also explore the Balangagan Cave, also known as Marcos Cave, which is a 4-hour adventure. It features pure white flows tones and impressive rock formations. Tour Fee is P650 for four (40)pax or less while the two-way jeepney ride costs P650.

Hanging coffins

The Hanging Coffins destination is a reminder of the ancient burial practices in the Philippines, where it shows the rare culture of the Igorot people of Sagada, a one of a kind attraction in Sagada. They are known for their traditional way of burying their dead. They hang the colorful coffins to the sides of the cliff. Some of which are over 500 years old, and they believe that these methods of burial bring one closer to heaven and provide a more natural way to their gods. 

To reach the famous hanging coffins, go to St. Mary’s Church and just a few hundred meters away from the Cemetery. It requires a short hiking activity to the site. The trek can be scary, especially to those who are suffering from an alto phobia (fear of heights). The trail is so treacherous and narrow. There are no railings; just watch your steps to avoid stepping closer to the edge. For safety reasons, please avoid this site during rainy seasons.

There are many trails to explore around Sagada, along with hanging coffins leading to lots of lovely sceneries like: 

  • ECHO TOUR- a three (3) hour loop hike to Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, Church of St. Mary, Sagada, Underground River, Rice terraces with a trail leading to Bokong Falls. 
  • ADVENTURE TRAIL – A three (3) hour trek to Echo Valley, Hanging Coffin's entryway from the church of St. Mary, Underground River, then Bokong Falls. Including river crossing and forest trails.

Kiltepan Sunrise (Temporarily closed)

One of the best places to witness God’s beautiful creations is to visit Kiltepan known for its spectacular movie “Tadhana,” which draws a crowd of tourists due to its fantastic landscape and sunrise viewing. The best time to visit the site is during dawn means that you have to wake up early morning (4 am) to catch this tremendous scenery. If you’re lucky, here you can gaze upon the remarkable descending of heaven embracing the earth. Followed by the sun peeking behind the distant mountain while its golden ray glimmers towards the ground, revealing a truly breathtaking surreal picturesque which will surely make everyone stare in awe. 

(Due to the fire incident in 2018, Kiltepan is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.)

Marlboro Hills and Blue soil

Another good alternative for Kiltepan is the Marlboro Country traverse to Blue Soil. While experiencing these amazing beautiful sights of Sagada and finding refuge in nature, you certainly didn’t know Cordilleras has still more to offer. You might be surprised to know that this town always has something less explored to show. Since Kiltepan, a popular sunrise destination, is temporarily closed, a much better similar alternative place, which is often referred to as Marlboro Country (Kamanbaneng Peak), can be explored. 

You need to wake up early and arrive at this by 4:30 am to catch the breathtaking sunrise at the summit. The drop-off point is at Antadao, Sagada, near a Petron Station, across the Kiltepan drop-off point. Climbing to Marlboro is 45 minutes of trekking. A gradual ascending hike to the summit surrounded by a thick, towering pine forest with muddy rough roads and some slippery rocks. A narrow trail will lead you for 15 minutes to the open space towards the viewpoint where stalls of appetizing champurrado, sopas, and arroz caldo await for breakfast. A few minutes later, the sun will spread its rays to the darkness, revealing the breathtaking landscape of overlooking “sea of clouds,” embracing the mountains of Cordillera reminds you that a new day is emerging, a rare display of beauty that will awaken the intense euphoria of adventure within you.

After enjoying the beautiful scenery, it’s time to leave Marlboro Country for Blue soil. It will take you at least 2 hours of brisk walking, depending on your pacing. Descending to densely grown pine forests covered with wild shrubs and bushes all over, shielding you from the sun rays. You can spot some rare flora species and flowers along the trails. Halfway you will meet some rock formations made of massive limestone cliffs resting on a large bed of green grass known as Kaipitan. As you arrive closer to your destination, it will reveal a mirage of the bluish color of soil at the center of the pine forest. A few minutes later, you will find yourself at the heart of this Blue Soil Hill. The whole trek will last 4-5 hours from the starting point on Antadao. 

Sagada Pottery

Another place to visit is the Sagada Pottery Training Center, going to Lake Danum. From Sagada town proper facing the Police Station, follow the cemented road on the right side going up along Besao Road to Log Cabin. After a few kilometers, you will see a signboard on the right side placed on an elevated land with a shabby old house resting on. It is the pottery house filled with all sorts of pots, vases, and beautiful ceramics, a favorite attraction.

It is owned by Archie Stapleton, a foreigner who lived in Sagada. You can observe them molding the clay, turn into a jar on a giant spinning dish for a small fee of P100. Or you can try the actual pottery making lesson for an additional P100. Aside from this, you can also buy some of their products, which I find slightly costly.

Lake Danum Sunset

Our country has one of the most panoramic sunsets, and among these, some are found in Sagada. Lake Danum formed by a small lake in the middle of a forest that is circled by grassy land and a dramatic backdrop of pine trees. It is also the jump-off point for hiking Mt. Ampacao. Lake Danum is an excellent place for camping or relaxing. The best time to visit this place is during the late afternoon (sunset), where you can view the fantastic evening on elevated terrain.

Continue driving for 2 kilometers from Sagada Pottery, and you will see a descending cemented road on the left covered with bushy plants and trees that will lead you to the lake. You can park your vehicle near the lake. 

Aguid Rice Terraces and Bomodok Falls

If you miss walking on the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces, well, this is your chance to experience the same exhilarating thrill. Unknown to us, there are rice terraces in Sagada, comparable to Banaue! The Aguid Rice Terraces, it is one of the most visited and treasured sites in Sagada. It is also the gateway to Bomod-Ok Falls, which means “Big” or “Big Falls,” towering 200-foot tall falls.

Be ready Guys for a long and exhausting hike about 4 hours back and forth. The trek starts from Banga-an drop off point near a basketball court descending to 4,000 steps downhill through a cemented pathway. The scenery is so stunning that you will never notice the long, arduous trek and sweltering heat brought by the scorching sun. Don’t forget to bring your camera; you will surely be surprised by the impressive scenery. The rice terraces, challenging rice paddies, adorable small villages, and the breathtaking panorama of greenery that will surely compensate the fatigue you’ll experience, especially something to look forward to on a distance that will be worth after the journey. 

It will take at least 6kms of trekking to reach the waterfalls. Along the way, you will pass by the magnificent Aguid Rice Terraces that will lead you to Bomod-ok Falls. You will pass to the concrete narrow paddies of beautiful rice terraces, though it is not astounding like the famous Rice Terraces in Batad still implies the same as an appreciation of Mother Nature. Our sincere utmost respect for the people of the Mountain Province on their endeavor of building and maintaining all these marvelous creations of Mountain Province.

After an hour of long, tiring trekking, you will arrive at Bomod-Ok Falls. The magnificent falls lie on a gigantic boulder of rocks adorned with green shrub and foliage where sparkling water flows over a slab of rock down to a pool where the course of the river flows endlessly. Dare to take a dip or swim in the freezing crystal clear water to recover from the long tiresome journey. By the way, don’t forget to bring extra clothes and an umbrella for your sun protection. 

Relax and stretch to recover from the long, tiresome hike. The descending is always the easiest part during the trek, but there is an adage that “what comes down must come up.” Be ready for the much grueling ascending hike back trail later. Despite this, it is all worth it.

Orange Picking at Rock Farm

Maybe some of you experienced strawberry picking in La Trinidad. Well, picking your fruits is really enjoyable and will give you an authentic farm-to-table food experience, plus you are sure that the fruits are clean and adequately handpicked right from the tree with your own hands before you consume.

If you happen to visit Sagada during the last quarter of the year and you want to do something different and less adventurous. Let yourself go and escape for a little while and try visiting The Rock Farm Inn; you will definitely want to try out orange picking activity so far the only orange plantation in the Philippines I know! October to December is the season for orange picking. The orchard has different orange varieties within including Ponkan, Satsuma, Hamlin, and Washington Level.

You need to pay first the registration fee then a local will explain to you about the do's and don'ts when inside the farm. They will provide you pruning shears and plastic. Enjoy eating some fresh oranges you pick right from the tree while you appreciate the landscape. It's a unique experience to enjoy.

Here are the guidelines for orange picking:

  • Php 50 - entrance fee for 30 mins of picking and you can eat all you can
  • Php 80 - per kilo of oranges
  • Don't pull or break the branches because they will make you pay Php800 pesos.
  • Don't pick the oranges using your bare hands. Use the pruning shears they provided
  • If you lose the pruner, you have to pay P400
  • Don't climb the orange trees
  • Leave the orange peelings beside the orange plant because it will serve as fertilizer

Once you're all finished with your orange-picking adventure, you can relax and eat at the Bodega Café. They serve delicious meals, yogurt, and coffee, just a little bit pricey. The orchard is always open for guests like you if you want a place to stay and experience a remote countryside lifestyle.

Travel Tips and Reminders

  • Always respect the people, values, beliefs, and culture. There are sacred sites in Sagada, and you should always ask permission when taking photographs. It would be easier for most of us if we can learn about their cultures and accept that there are many different cultures other than our own. Keep your voice down also.
  • Do not haggle the price when buying a local product; if you think the product is worth, and then pay the people whole-heartedly what they deserve. By this, you can contribute to the locals.
  • Pay the registration fee and hire accredited guides at the Tourism Center only.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and avoid buying single-use plastics. One way we can help the environment and the community.
  • Do not leave your garbage anywhere during the trip. It has been a growing problem in SAGADA, increasing of the waste left by tourists. Practice “Leave No Trace” principle. 
  • Please conserve water when in SAGADA, this is a common tourist accommodation problem, especially during summer. Water from the watersheds decreases and even runs out, therefore, limiting the water supply of the town.

These are the reasons why I keep coming back in this town' it’s a PARADISE, a true God’s creation. You’ll really fall in love with this place.

For those who enjoy traveling on a group tour - we offer exciting group tour packages for a group of 10 people or more. We'll plan an unforgettable trip to some of the most popular and unique destinations or in your chosen destination. We'll customize your experience to your preferences.

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