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.
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:
- Ganduyan Museum
- Balangagan Cave
- Sagada Weaving
- Sagada Pottery
- Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
- Bomod-Ok Falls
- Pongas Falls
- Marlboro Hills (locally known as Lamagan)
- Blue Soil (locally known as Kaman Utek)
- Lumiang-Sumaging Cave Connection
- 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:
- Discovering the history of Sagada. You can learn more about the history and culture of the Applai-Kankana-ey tribe at Ganduyan Museum.
- 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!
- Visiting the Hanging Coffins. Learn about their unique death and burial ceremony and tradition as you visit the echo valley and hanging coffins.
- Chasing Waterfalls. Be breathless (literally and figuratively) with a trek to Pongas and Bomod-Ok falls.
- Spelunking. Explore Sumaguing, Lumiang and Balangagan caves through a guided spelunking with the best guides!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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:
- 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
- The Shire of Sagada – best place to try the Etag pizza and Pinikpikan pasta
- Sagada Brew – a restaurant best known for the big serving of pasta, Callos and Herb Chicken with such a mouthwatering presentation.
- Dongdaemun Korean Restaurant – the first and only restaurant in Sagada offering authentic Korean food
- Lemon Pie House – best place to try the famous lemon pie
- Salt and Pepper – one of the well-known and oldest restaurant in town and the best place to try Chicken inutom and etag pizza
- Masferre – a place for steak and chicken dishes cooked to perfection
- Yogurt House – best place to try their home-made yogurt
- Gaia Sagada Cafe – best for vegetarians
- Happy House – among the best restaurants to try Pinikpikan
- 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:
- The Shire of Sagada – Check Availability and Book Here
- Inandako Bed and Breakfast
- Bilza Sagada Lodge
- Joan’s Homestay
- Happy House
- Agape Log Cabin – Check Availability and Book Here
- Banga-an BnB and Coffee House – Check Availability and Book Here
- Sagada Sunrise View Homestay – Check Availability and Book Here
- The L’Auberge – Check Availability and Book Here
- Andrew & Mary’s Lodging House – Check Availability and Book Here
- Dagdag Village Homestay – Sagada – Check Availability and Book Here
- Sagada Lodging Home – Check 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.
Sample 3 Days 2 Nights Sagada DIY Itinerary
8:00 PM – Departure from Cubao
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
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
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 1 – Php 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 2 – Php 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 trip – Php 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.