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Sagada Travel Guide with DIY Itinerary and Budget 2024

It was 2019 when we decided to go on a North Luzon loop road trip. We were supposed to drive to Ilocos Norte from Cagayan but the road was impassable, so we took a detour. The next thing we know, we’re chilling as we walk down the streets of Sagada one evening in flowy, summer dresses that my mom and I was supposed to flaunt in a dinner by the beach. The next morning, we embarked on an adventure that made us fall in love with Sagada in a heartbeat that we swore to heavens, we’ll definitely come back for it. So I did. As I spend more days in it, the more that I realize that this (literally) cool, lovely town is more than what meets the naked eye. This Sagada travel guide will lead you to the exact same road that made me fall in love with it.

Welcome to Sagada.

About Sagada

Sagada is a landlocked, lone district in the Mountain Province. Nestled in the Cordilleras, this small, peaceful town has been known for its cool climate all year round and its people keeping its indigenous culture.

The language that is widely spoken by the Igorots of Sagada is Kankana-ey. Worry not though as they speak in English and Filipino/Tagalog fluently so you won’t really have a hard time asking around or conversing with them.

Best Time to Visit Sagada

While Sagada can be visited all year round, the most perfect time to visit it is during the last week of February where they celebrate their Etag Festival and/or dry season (December to May). It may be lovely to visit it especially during the rainy days as it may get really cold but you may not be able to explore the tourist attractions as they would close it on some days for everyone’s safety (i.e. safe from landslide, flashfloods, etc.). Also, there may be landslides along the way going to Sagada.

Amazing Facts about Sagada

  • Its real name is Ganduyan.
  • The Igorots of Sagada do not allow people from outside their tribe to acquire a property nor start and establish a business in their land.
  • The Igorots of Sagada are very much fluent in English (and they really have a good accent!) due to the American colonization.
  • The people of Sagada are generally Igorots as they are mountain dwellers but they belong to the Applai-Kankanaey Tribe.
  • They have two names as they are baptized twice: the Traditional Igorot way and the Christian way.

How Sagada Got its Name

Sagada is traditionaly named as Ganduyan. People only started calling it as Sagada around 1600s when this farmer who was carrying “sag-ad”, a farm tool, came across Spaniards on his way to the fields. The Spaniards asked him as to what was the place called. However, due to miscommunication, the farmer thought they were asking him as to what he was carrying. He then answered, “Sag-ad ah”. From then on, the place was called Sagada. Despite its new name, the Igorots of Sagada would still dearly regard to their home as Ganduyan.

Places to Visit in Sagada

The places that you can visit in Sagada guarantees a feast for the senses. They are truly stunning and would instantly ebb your weariness from the long walks away. The best thing about it is that, your knowledgeable local guide will tell you more about it that will make you understand the places and its people more. This Sagada Travel Guide includes both the usual and off-the-beaten places to visit in the town. Among those are the following:

  1. Ganduyan Museum
  2. Balangagan Cave
  3. Sagada Weaving
  4. Sagada Pottery
  5. Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
  6. Bomod-Ok Falls
  7. Pongas Falls
  8. Marlboro Hills (locally known as Lamagan)
  9. Blue Soil (locally known as Kaman Utek)
  10. Lumiang-Sumaging Cave Connection
  11. Church of St. Mary the Virgin

For more details (fees, getting there and additional information about these places), read: Top Places to Visit in Sagada, Mountain Province

Things to Do in Sagada

Here are the top activities that this Sagada Travel Guide highly recommends to make the best out of your trip:

  1. Discovering the history of Sagada. You can learn more about the history and culture of the Applai-Kankana-ey tribe at Ganduyan Museum.
  2. Trekking to Lamagan (Marlboro Hills) and and Kaman Utek (Blue Soil). Be amazed by the beauty of sunrise with a chance of sea of clouds and let the blue soil stun you with its beauty with a trek that starts at around 4:00 in the morning. The long trek is WORTH IT!
  3. Visiting the Hanging Coffins. Learn about their unique death and burial ceremony and tradition as you visit the echo valley and hanging coffins.
  4. Chasing Waterfalls. Be breathless (literally and figuratively) with a trek to Pongas and Bomod-Ok falls.
  5. Spelunking. Explore Sumaguing, Lumiang and Balangagan caves through a guided spelunking with the best guides!
  6. Going on a food trip. Yes, Sagada is also a place for gastronomic adventure! Make sure that you’ll have their etag, pinikpikan, chicken inatep, homemade yogurt, lemon pie and Ate Jane’s homemade wheat bread in your list!
  7. Joining the locals’ gathering and parties on weekends. Sing and dance with the Igorots at Langtiw and Kamangwit Eco Park on Friday and Saturday nights.
  8. Trying pottery. Experience pottery first-hand with the notable potters of the Applai-Kankanaey tribe at Sagada pottery.

Where to Eat in Sagada

If you are down for some gastronomic adventure, treat your palate with some Cordilleran meat dishes. Among the ones that you should not miss are their etag – indigenous, cured or preserved slab of meat and pinikpikan – a controversial dish made of chicken that was beaten alive prior to cooking to bring blood to the surface. You can try etag and pinikpikan, both traditionally prepared or with a twist in the following restaurants that this Sagada Travel Guide highly recommends:

  1. Ganduyan Inatep – a restaurant that will make you feel like you’re dining in a traditional Ganduyan house while enjoying a heart plate of Etag and Chicken yoghurt inatep
  2. The Shire of Sagada – best place to try the Etag pizza and Pinikpikan pasta
  3. Sagada Brew – a restaurant best known for the big serving of pasta, Callos and Herb Chicken with such a mouthwatering presentation.
  4. Dongdaemun Korean Restaurant – the first and only restaurant in Sagada offering authentic Korean food
  5. Lemon Pie House – best place to try the famous lemon pie
  6. Salt and Pepper – one of the well-known and oldest restaurant in town and the best place to try Chicken inutom and etag pizza
  7. Masferre – a place for steak and chicken dishes cooked to perfection
  8. Yogurt House – best place to try their home-made yogurt
  9. Gaia Sagada Cafe – best for vegetarians
  10. Happy House – among the best restaurants to try Pinikpikan
  11. IsangWow Cafe by the Clouds – the best breakfast place in town with an effortless view of the sunrise and sea of clouds

Read more about Sagada’s gastronomic culture and history: Top 10 Places to Eat in Sagada

Where to Stay in Sagada

There are no upscale hotels in Sagada. Most of the accommodation that the locals offer are cozy rustic homestays and lodging. What I personally love about these accommodations though is that, they don’t need air-conditioning anymore as this town is blessed with cool, fresh air brought by the altitude and the trees everywhere. Despite the cold, the locals are warm enough to welcome everyone visiting their homes. If you are looking for places to stay in Sagada, here are the ones that you may choose from:

  1. The Shire of SagadaCheck Availability and Book Here
  2. Inandako Bed and Breakfast
  3. Bilza Sagada Lodge
  4. Joan’s Homestay
  5. Happy House
  6. Agape Log CabinCheck Availability and Book Here
  7. Banga-an BnB and Coffee HouseCheck Availability and Book Here
  8. Sagada Sunrise View HomestayCheck Availability and Book Here
  9. The L’AubergeCheck Availability and Book Here
  10. Andrew & Mary’s Lodging HouseCheck Availability and Book Here
  11. Dagdag Village Homestay – SagadaCheck Availability and Book Here
  12. Sagada Lodging HomeCheck Availability and Book Here

Tips and Reminders when Visiting Sagada

  • The local tourism office DO NOT allow DIY tours. They require a local guide and shuttle service for each attraction.
  • It is cheaper if you can travel at least in groups so you can share and split expenses with others, too.
  • Bring sets of comfortable clothes and footwear as you will be walking A LOT around the town and during your tours.
  • Bring flashlights. This can be useful for treks that starts at dawn.
  • Bring extra layers. It gets really cold especially at night.
  • Bring enough cash especially on tours. They prefer cash in terms of mode of payment for goods and services though some accept GCash already. There are ATMs in Sagada but it only accept domestic cards.
  • Respect their local traditions and house rules. They can be really strict as regards those.
  • Respect the local community and the attractions that you’ll visit; most especially, refrain from touching the burial jars and coffins.
  • Bring reusable bottle of water.
  • If you are commuting and taking the bus, book your bus tickets in advance and take note of the bus schedules.
  • If you are to bring your own car and your homestay doesn’t have enough parking space, there is a paid parking space past the Anglican church. The LGU doesn’t allow tourists driving their own cars around.

How to Get There

From Manila to Sagada

From Cubao, take a Coda Lines bus to Sagada. The first trip is at 8:00 PM and the last is at 11:30 PM. The land trip would take you around 13 hours and a ticket costs about Php 1,080.00 for per way a bus without a toilet and Php 1,200.00 if otherwise.

From Banaue to Sagada

Option 1: From Banaue Bus Terminal, look for jeepneys, vans or minivans that travel to Sagada. The trip may take three hours. Take note though that there’s a minimum number of passengers for it to go. Fare may range from Php 250.00 to Php 300.00.

Option 2: From Banaue, take a van going to Bontoc. From Bontoc, take a jeep going to Sagada.

From Baguio to Sagada

Make your way to Dangwa Terminal. From the terminal, take a bus going to Sagada. The trip may take 5 to 6 hours with the fare ranging from Php 220.00 to Php 250.00. The first trip is at around 8:00 AM and the last trip departs at 1:00 PM.

The view from the Echo Valley

Sample 3 Days 2 Nights Sagada DIY Itinerary

Day 0
8:00 PM – Departure from Cubao

Day 1
9:00 AM – Arrival in Sagada/ Register at the Tourism Office
9:30 AM – Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins Tour
12:00 PM – Lunch at Ganduyan Inatep
1:30 PM – Ganduyan Museum
2:00 PM – Check in/ Prepare for Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection
2:30 PM to 6:00 PM – Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection
6:30 PM – Back to homestay/ freshen up
7:30 PM – Dinner at Sagada Brew/ Happy House

Day 2
4:00 AM – Rise and shine
4:20 AM – Arrival at the jump off
4:30 AM – Start trek to Marlboro Hills
5:30 AM – Wait for the sunrise at Marlboro Hills
6:00 AM – light breakfast (don’t forget to try their black rice champorado for only Php 80.00)
6:30 AM – Start trek to Blue Soil
8:30 AM – Arrival at Blue Soil
9:00 AM – Back to homestay for heavy breakfast and freshening up
10:00 AM – Sagada Pottery
11:00 AM – Sagada Weaving/ Buying of Pasalubong
12:00 PM – Lunch at Masferre/ Yogurt House
1:00 PM – Prepare for Balangagan Cave Spelunking
2:00 PM – 5:30 PM – Balangagan Cave Spelunking
6:00 PM – Back to homestay/ freshen up
7:00 PM – Dinner at the Shire of Sagada/ Lemon Pie House

Day 3

5:30 AM – Rise and shine/ light breakfast
6:30 AM – 10:00 AM – Bomod-Ok Falls tour
10:30 AM – Back to homestay/ pack up
11:30 AM – Check out/ Lunch at Yogurt House
1:00 PM – Bus to Manila
1:00 AM – Expected Time of Arrival in Manila

NOTE: For a 2 Days and 1 Night Sagada DIY, you may consider Day 1 up to the first half of the itinerary on Day 2.

3 Days 2 Nights Sagada DIY Sample Budget

Note: the sample budget in this Sagada Travel Guide considers a small group of 4. You may be able to spend less if you’ll be joining a bigger group of tourists.

Day 1Php 2,760 (with bus fare from Manila)

Bus from Cubao to Sagada – Php 1,200.00
Tourist Registration fee – Php 100.00
Echo Valley + Hanging Coffins access fee – Php 10.00
Guide fee – Php 300.00/ 4 – Php 75.00
Lunch – Php 200.00
Ganduyan Museum Entrance fee – Php 100.00
Shuttle fee for Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection – Php 400.00 (free if you’re staying at Bilza Lodge)/ 4 – Php 100.00
Lumiang-Sumaguing Guide fee – Php 1,500.00/ 4 – Php 375.00
Dinner – Php 250.00
Accommodation Day 1 – Php 350.00

Day 2Php 2,081.00

Marlboro Hills + Blue Soil Shuttle Fee – Php 1,350.00/ 4 – Php 338.00
Marlboro Hills + Blue Soil Guide Fee – Php 1,600.00/4 – Php 400.00
Champorado at Marlboro Hills – Php 80.00
Sagada Pottery (Showcase fee) – Php 200.00/4 – Php 50.00
Lunch – Php 200.00
Balangagan Cave Shuttle fee – Php 850.00/ 4 – Php 213.00
Balangagan Cave Guide fee – Php 800.00/ 4 – Php 200.00
Dinner – Php 250.00
Accommodation Day 2 – Php 350.00

Day 3 – Php 1,760.00

Bomod-Ok Falls Guide fee – Php 500/4 – Php 125.00
Bomod-Ok Falls Shuttle fee – Php 900.00/4 – Php 225.00
Access fee – Php 10.00
Lunch – Php 200.00
Bus fare to Manila – Php 1,200.00

Total Budget for 3 Days 2 Nights Sagada DIY tripPhp 6,061.00

NOTE: For a 2 Days and 1 Night Sagada DIY, you may consider Day 1 up to the first half of the Day 2 itinerary and spend a total of Php 4,978.00

Sagada Travel Guide, In a Nutshell

This Sagada Travel Guide is a start of your wonderful journey to this beautiful place. It’s more than just its panoramic scenes and breathtaking (literally and figurative) attractions. Sagada is among these places in the Philippines to witness how rich and diverse the Philippine culture is and their practices to preserve it is something to pick up from.

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

12 Comments

    • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

      Hello, Ana! What do you mean by the lowest stay-in? If you’re referring to accommodation, you can stay for a night for as low as Php 600.00/ person in some homestays (shared). As for services, since DIY trips (i.e. going to the tourist attractions and exploring on your own without a guide) are not allowed, you can book your tours at the tourism office or Travel Now Asia. These tours usually include pick up and drop off already. However, if you wish to explore the town proper especially to go eat and buy souvenirs, I suggest you book an accommodation that is around the center so you won’t have to think much about the transfers.

  • Don Rogan

    Hi! I would like to inquire if solo traveler? Any tips or advise kung pwede ba mag join sa ibang groups or kung pwede po ba yun pag dating doon? Or kailangan talaga your own group and not allowed makijoin po? Salamat. Planning to go this February. Thank you!

    • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

      We did this some time 2019! We did not join any groups from Manila. You can take a Coda Lines bus to Sagada then inquire at tourism office and makisabay nalang sa ibang tourists from there if they would be okay with others joining their circle.

  • michelle

    Hi Queenie,
    Thank you for this guide! Super helpful.
    Just wanted to confirm bale need talaga ng tour package? We’re group of 5 and we’re planning to go to Sagada this summer.
    Wala bang option sa Tourism Office to book or rent a van with a driver and tour guide to get us to all the attractions doon sa sample itinerary mo? or need talaga namin maki tour with other people? We wanted sana na hawak namin oras namin e. I hope you can answer. Thank you again!

    • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

      Hi, Michelle! While you can go to Sagada on your own (say through commuting or bringing your own car), renting of van from the tourism office for tours is not an option, unfortunately. They really have shuttle services that will pick you up and drop you off from accommodation to facilitate as well the traffic in the town. The good thing with your number is that, you may go on an exclusive tour (allowing you to utilize your own time on your own pace) since most of the tours usually go with 5 persons or more ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps, you just need to coordinate it with them. You need to book your tours in the tourism office. Hope this helps!

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