Truth be told, some humans of Sagada do not appreciate us raving about their homeland.
It puts too much pressure on them and it dissolves the quality of variable experience their portion on the mountain can offer.
They want you to experience it yourself without any expectations from what you’ve heard or read.
Let Sagada reveal its charm to you by going there with a tabula rasa– a clean slate, an empty mind.
But we’ll help you get there and plan your days by putting together this Sagada Travel Guide.
The entire experience is up to you.
HOW TO GET THERE
|VIA BAGUIO||11:00 AM||5 hrs||Bus to Baguio||P455||Option: De Luxe Nonstop bus with toilet, wifi, snacks, 4-hour trip (P750)||victoryliner.com|
|4:00 AM||10 mins||cab to Dangwa bus terminal||P60|
|4:10 AM||quick breakfast at Good Taste||P150|
|5:30 AM||6 hrs||Bus to Sagada||P220|
|11:00 AM||Arrival Sagada|
|DIRECT||9:00 PM||13 hrs||Coda Lines bus direct to Sagada||P720||Near Erod St Lukes; 0927-559-2197 or 0929-521-3229||codalines.com|
|10:00 AM||Arrival Sagada|
|VIA BANAUE||10:00 PM||9 hrs||Ohayami Trans Bus to Banaue||P470||Ohayami station near UST (Lacson Avenue cor. Fajardo Street)|
|7:00 AM||Arrival Banaue|
|8:00 AM||2 hrs||Van to Bontoc||P150|
|10:30 AM||45 mins||Jeep from Bontoc to Sagada||P45|
|11:15 AM||Arrival Sagada|
Via baguio is more flexible with time since bus leaves every hour from Manila.
Direct trip is shorter but bus from Manila leaves once daily only (9PM) so you have to catch that schedule.
Via Banaue will give you more sleep in the bus as you’ll arrive in Banaue right in the morning. You may also take this route if you really intend to check out the terraces anyway. Bus also leaves once daily (10PM).
I personally prefer via Baguio route as I want to eat breakfast properly when in a long trip. I also like to have a good long butt and leg break midway through it. It also gives me enough leeway to recoup and recover in case something undesirable happens like motion sickness or bad stomach.
Others I met recommend via Banaue route as it feels shorter for them having to sleep through the entire night and arrive in the morning all charged up.
P6500 for 2-day Sagada/2-day Banaue trip. The major expense generators are the tours, transportations, and food.
If you can cut down on any of these by sharing costs with other travelers or coming in big groups, the better for your travel fund.
Click the link above and edit the date, timing, and expense amounts accordingly. It will add up your costs automatically.
You may download a FREE Itinerary Template here for all your future travels, with instructions on how to use it.
WHERE TO STAY
Here’s an exhaustive list of accommodations in Sagada.
WORDS OF ADVICE: stay anywhere along the tourism office. There’s a whole stretch of options going down or up the hill. Check the map. Ask the receptionist.
This is because everything happens in this area: food options, tour meet-ups, night life, chances of meeting other travelers, etc.
I’ve tried staying at Rock Inn, a good 5-7 minute drive from the town center. It’s a fantastic place, yes, but it was not the most cost-effective option especially if you are a budget traveler. We had to rent a private vehicle every time we needed to eat, go to tours, etc. That cost us! They have their own cafe, yes, but you wouldn’t want to be eating at the same place the entire stay, would you? We thought we can just walk every time but the tours just take a toll on you and you wouldn’t have the energy anymore at the end of the day.
Accommodations are relatively cheap in Sagada. Average rate is at P300 per pax per night. It can go as low as P150 to a “fancier” one at P350-P500 per head per night.
The rate equals the facilities, of course. Rooms are basic, just variations in bed quality, cleanliness, and bathroom privacy. Some offers free wifi at their lobbies. Most don’t.
You have to pay for towels, some even for blankets. Be sure to check these items first before making reservations. Doing so allows you to plan well if you need to bring these or you’d prefer packing light and paying extra P20-25 for towels, for example.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at Lodge Labanet during my last trip. It was fairly new, a little pricier compared to most (being new, I suppose). But after weighing options, we were okay with P350/night per head.
It was spacious, relatively clean, has wifi at the lobby. There’s a comfy fleece blanket included. We had to pay P20 for the towel rental.
Truth be told, we were just tired to carry our backpack and walk back up to look for another cheaper one. Human nature has it that we adjust our standards of cheap and pricy depending on the going rate at the market. Lodges were not full first week of December so we knew we can score a better rate. In fact, guests, foreign or local, scouting for a place with us left when they heard the unusually higher rate at Lodge Labanet. We just wanted to lie down for a bit and eat.
BEST TIME TO GO TO SAGADA
Go during the off-peak season. January, February, November. Sagada is best experienced in peace without the tourist crowd.
June-July has the best Kiltepan sunrise. The rain at night clears the sky for that perfect ray of sunshine above white puffy clouds. The risk for a rainy trip is high but you can get lucky and have a good weather when you’re out and an ambient sound of rain when you’re sleeping in.
HOW LONG TO STAY
Stay in Sagada for a minimum of 4 days.
Sagada is best enjoyed in slow-paced, soak-in-the-moment exploration.
Sure you can finish off the best tourist places in 2 days, but the charm 0f Sagada is more than just ticking off places to go.
It’s in meeting fellow travelers, having a nice chat over coffee or hot choco, or while waiting for the sunrise/sunset.
It’s in meeting locals and getting their unique perspectives about their beautiful town and their curiosity-triggering traditions.
It’s in soaking in the moment amidst cool air, the sounds of the bird, and letting go of all the stresses of the modern world.
WHAT TO WEAR
Bonnets, shawls, fleeces, and comfortable shoes for walking if you come at the perfect Sagada cool weather.
WHAT TO BRING
- Camera with extra batteries and spacious memory cards for the whole trip
- Head light and spartan slippers (that soft, cheap rubber pair of slippers–gives your foot better grip as it takes the shape of the rock formation) for Sumaguing Cave spelunking
- Trekking shoes for the ecotrail
- Swimsuit/rash guard for the waterfalls
- Colds medicine (the cold weather might give you the sniffles)
- Well-budgeted cash. No establishment, so far, accepts credit card payment (December 2015). There’s now a DBP ATM at the tourism office but it is highly suggested to bring sufficient cash for peace of mind.
FOOD TO TRY
Sagada Brew – big servings, beautiful food presentation, organically flavored water with cucumber, mint, and tarragon
Yoghurt House – hyped and overpriced. Food servers give better attention to foreign guests than Filipino tourists. Only try it for the yoghurt. Food is just okay.
Log Cabin – cozy mood, reservations recommended as it gets full easily
Sagada lemon Pie House – one-of-a-kind sour lemon pie, only in Sagada
Rock Inn Cafe – meal by the garden/nature view
Bana’s Cafe – try breakfast or snacks here by the balcony overlooking the mountain view
Salt and Pepper Diner
Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Swim at the Bokong Falls and jump from the cliff
Buy fresh produce at the Sunday morning market
Ride a horse, maybe?
Sunset by the Lake Danum
Beer and chips and chat by the bonfire with the locals at Lake Danum
They actually have a package where the tour guide will prepare the bonfire and the boodle fight dinner for you. Arrange this ahead at the tourism office if you’re interested.
Ride at the top load of a jeepney
Experience it here where the weather is cool, pollution is low, or close to null, and you won’t be judged by city dwellers who’ll find you weird and looking for pain on your butt. It’s quite a moment on top and the locals support you while at it!
Sagada is a lot to swallow in terms of travel time but it’s a lot cheaper than what Batanes can do to you.
Don’t go there just for selfies and Instagram-worthy photos. Don’t go there just to join the bandwagon. Don’t go there because it seems like the cool thing, the in thing to do. Don’t go there just to see and tick off all the sights that Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet recommended. Don’t go there to experience what all your friends and favorite bloggers did.
Go there to rest, to relax, to reconnect with nature. Go there to write (accommodations are cheap, you can stay longer than usual). Go there to meet people of the world. Go there to get a different perspective on things, on life. Go there to recenter, to enjoy the quiet. Go there to go back to a healthy lifestyle.
Go there to unearth your own Sagada story.
Here’s my personal photo journal on Sagada if you feel like reading a story.
If you’re feeling inspired to travel, here’s a FREE Travel Itinerary Template to get you started planning your next trip!