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2024 Travel Guide to Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga

As a Filipino national, I have always been proud and fascinated with how Philippines has very rich, diverse and unique culture. I would brave long drives and take flights and ferries from an island to another just to experience it myself. I have seen how a few ethnic groups do their rituals and how their way of lives interestingly are in documentaries and even textbooks but it’s way better to experience it with them. There’s a lot of ethnic groups that still thrive in one of the Philippines’ great divide, Luzon, and they exist in the outskirts – to the highest, farthest mountains. It is not the tradition only that one can best enjoy but also the breathtaking view that it offers. If we seemingly happen to be in the same wavelength, off we go to the Cordilleras and here’s a Buscalan Travel Guide to help you start with that!

About Tinglayan Village

Tinglayan is a small, remote village that sits at the mountain side of Buscalan in Kalinga. It has been popularly known to be the home of the living legend and an indigenous tattoo artist, Maria Oggay also known as Apo Whang Od. In the recent years, it has become a popular tourist destination to adventurers and tattoo enthusiasts alike.

The language that is widely spoken in the village is Butbut. However, you can still engage in chitchats with the Butbuts especially if you speak Filipino/Tagalog as some of them have been fluent in this language.

Things to Do in Buscalan Village

1. Take a sip of their Rice coffee

Aside from getting inked, there are other things to enjoy in Buscalan. First, you can sit down over a coffee with the locals and talk about their culture and traditions. Their rice coffee is a must try! For only Php 100.00 ($2.00) I was able to take home 250g of it!

2. Explore the beauty of Padjao Rice Terraces

It can also be best enjoyed when welcoming the sunrise, getting a dose of fresh air and cold breeze at Padjao rice terraces.

3. Chasing Waterfalls

On your descent or ascent, you can also try bathing into the waterfalls that you can pass by at the trail. Should you decide to stay longer, you can also try hiking into the nearby mountains.

4. Get a hand-tapped tattoo

What you should definitely not miss when visiting Buscalan Village is getting a tattoo in a traditional way. There are various locals who could do it other than Apo Whang Od herself and her nieces, Grace and Elyang. The rate for tattoo starts at Php 500.00 for a basic design that is about 2×2″ in size. Apo Whang Od’s signature (three dots) costs Php 300.00.

The tribes in Kalinga are known for doing the traditional tattooing locally known as “Batok” or hand-tapped. They use thorn from a fruit-bearing tree and charcoal in this technique.

Thinking of getting a tattoo in Buscalan soon? Here’s something that you may find interesting: What You Should Know About Getting a Tattoo in Buscalan Village

How to Go To Buscalan Village in Tinglayan, Kalinga

There are several ways that this Buscalan Travel guide suggests for you to get to the Village. You can get there via Tuguegarao City, Baguio or Tabuk City, Kalinga from Manila.

Option 1: Manila to Tinglayan via Tabuk City, Kalinga

A. From Kamias, Quezon City, you can take a Victory Liner bus straight to Tabuk. Check their Facebook page for the trip schedule.
B. From Tabuk, get into a jeep bound for Tinglayan, alight at Bugnay (turning point/ junction).

Option 2: Manila to Tinglayan via Bontoc, Ifugao

A. From Cubao, you can take a Coda Lines bus to Bontoc (Departs between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM)
B. Alight at Bontoc then take a bus or jeep to Tabuk. The first trip departs at 7:00 AM while the second is at 9:00 AM. The next trips depart in the afternoon at 1:00 PM.
C. From Tabuk, get into a jeep bound for Tinglayan, alight at Bugnay (turning point/ junction).

Option 3: Tuguegarao City, Cagayan to Tinglayan via Tabuk City

A. From the city center, take a van to Tabuk.
B. From Tabuk, get into a jeep bound for Tinglayan, alight at Bugnay (turning point/ junction).

Option 4: Baguio City to Tinglayan via Tabuk City, Kalinga

A. Take a bus to Bontoc
B. Alight at Bontoc then take a bus or jeep to Tabuk.
C. From Tabuk, get into a jeep bound for Tinglayan, alight at Bugnay (turning point/ junction)

Buscalan Village Important Fees

Before proceeding to Tinglayan Village, take note that you should pay for the following fees:

  • Environmental fee – Php 50.00 per person ($1.00)
  • Cultural Tourism Fee – Php 50.00 per person ($1.00)
  • Local Guide Fees (day trip) – for a group of 5 ($19.00)
  • Local Guide fees (overnight trip) – Php 1,500.00 for a group of 5 ($28.00)

On the other hand, here’s a list of fees that you may wanna know:

  • Photo op with Apo Whang Od – Php 100.00 ($2.00)
  • Apo Whang Od’s signature (three dots) – Php 300.00 ($6.00)
  • Bamboo thorn holder – Php 100.00 ($2.00)

Traditional tattoo designs start at Php 500.00 for a 2×2″ size.

Where to Stay in Buscalan Village

Buscalan Village will welcome you with Butbut kids running around and wandering boars. Expect no fancy inns nor hotels and warm showers in the village for you got to live a basic life with the locals. 

There are no hostels nor inns in the village but that shouldn’t worry you. They offer their own homes for homestays ranging for only Php 350.00 a night. You’ll be provided with mattresses, blankets, pillows, food and a room at their own houses. The locals are very accommodating that they would really give and assist you with what you need. They’ll really treat you like their own family. You can actually sit down with them and talk about everything under the sun.

Sample Buscalan Itinerary

This Buscalan Travel Guide includes a side trip to Ifugao’s Rice Terraces. This is ideal if you’re to bring your own vehicle.

DAY 0

8:00pm – depart from Manila

DAY 1

6:00am – ETA at Bontoc/ breakfast
7:00am – ETD to Junction
9:00am – ETA Junction/ start trek
10:00am – ETA Buscalan Village/ take stuff to homestay
12:00nn – LUNCH
1:00pm onwards – tattoo session/ photo ops at Padjao Rice Terraces/ socials/ coffee
10:00pm – Star gazing/ socials

DAY 2

5:00am – watch the sun rise (it’s one of the most glorious sunrise you’ll ever see!)/ coffee
6:30am – breakfast
7:30am – 9:00am – tattoo session/ photo ops with Whang Od
10:00am – pack up
10:30am – start descent
11:30am – ETA junction/ Depart to Bontoc
1:00pm – late lunch
2:00pm – Bagyo Rice Terraces
2:30pm – Viewpoint (Banaue Rice Terraces)
3:30pm – Home bound
6:00pm – dinner  at Solano
2:00am – ETA Manila

Tips and Reminders when visiting Tinglayan Village in Buscalan

  • Always coordinate with a local guide prior to your visit.
  • Bring enough cash. The nearest ATMs are located at the city proper.
  • Expect basic accommodation in the village since only homestays are available. It is also a good way to connect with the locals.
  • There is no mobile reception or network signal in the village at all.
  • You can take photos all you want but they discourage the use of drones.
  • Respect the indigenous people and their culture.
  • Make sure that you’ll bring everything that you need, even personal medicine, snacks and toiletries, as the convenience stores in the village only offer limited goods.
  • Bring trail snack and water (preferably in a reusable water bottle) prior to your trek to the village.
  • There are local eateries in the village. Take this as an opportunity to try their cooking especially their local food.

Buscalan, Kalinga Travel Requirements 2023

The only travel requirement needed to get into Kalinga is an LGU-issued vaccination card or vaccination certificate from https://vaxcert.doh.gov.ph/. The standard health protocols should be observed at all times.

Buscalan Travel Guide, In a Nutshell

Did this Buscalan Travel Guide help or does it, in any way, need improvements? Let us know through the comments section!

Other places to see and explore in North Luzon:

Meanwhile, here are the other places in north Luzon that you may want to explore other than the quaint village of Buscalan:

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.

32 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Hi. Ask ko lang kung pagdating sa drop off point papuntang buscalan. Meron nang available na tour guide. Mag DIY lang kasi kami ng friend ko. Thanks.

  • Nathalie

    Amazing! I have been to Banaue und Sagada and fell in love! Unfortunately not visiting Wang Od. Can you tell me how to schedule a tattoo-session with her? I mean, is she all time free and available? πŸ˜€

    • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

      Buscalan, Kalinga is another place that you should be if you loved those two as this one gives a different local vibe! πŸ™‚ Contacting and hiring a tour guide is a must in here. As for the tattoo session, you have to coordinate it with him or her and he/she will let you know about when can you get inked πŸ™‚

      • Qiao

        Hi, I want to know if from tabuk, where to take the Jeep, and do I need to wait for a while for the keep to Bugnay?
        When I alight at Bugnay, should I take a motorbike to turning point?

    • Gaia

      Hi dear Anna, I find your story very fascinating. I am alone travelling from Manila and I basically have 2 days and half(arriving in the morning and leaving back from manila on the 3d day). Is there any way to do what you have done booking through a tour guide or contacting someone there to be sure that at mine arrival there will be someone. I dewm of seeing the rice terrace and having a tattoo done.

      Thank you so much for your help!!

      • Kaveri

        Hi Anna,

        Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s very detailed . I have the same question as above. Any information would help. I’ve been trying to reach out to guides or travel companies that can help with finding a guide in Buscalan.

        Also would you know if the village still does tattoos during the holiday season from Dec 20th onwards ?

        Thank you β™₯️

        • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

          Hello! You may contact the local who guided us during our visit in there last time, Ate Annie. Buscalan is open for tourists during the holiday season and they also accept tattooing services. As per Ate Annie, some tourists would also opt to spend the holidays in there! πŸ™‚

  • hellotraveller

    this is very informative thank you! just wanna ask if they are accepting tourists this pandemic? like, are there any requirements or do we need to test for covid first?

  • Mike Angelo Gotladera

    Hello. I love the detailed explation by the way. Can i travel solo to buscalan? And where do i find my guide ? Thank you.

      • Eiei

        Hello Anne,
        My husband and I, with our son, are planning a trip to Buscalan. We intend to drive there. A couple questions. First, what can you tell me about check points or issues on the road? My husband is not pinoy but i am and we are from Negros. So im cocerned if check points might be a problem. Any issues or worries about other non government groups on the route to Buscalan? Lastly, are we able to park our vehical at the Buscalan Turning Point?

  • Rex

    Yes, you can travel alone. I was a single traveler and joined a random group out of Manila for my visit to Buscalan in April of 2019. I was the only American in the village at that time. We got a guide from the village (college student) that set up our time to see Apo Whang Od. We stayed overnight in the village and saw Apo and Grace the next day.

  • Karine

    Hi there.
    I sent a message a couple of days ago to Ms Annie D Bayog through messenger but I don’t have any reply. Is she still in charge of bookings?

    I would like to come for a few days, starting December 9th. I am a solo traveller. Could you please put me in touch of any travel company that would organise my trip?

    I am also happy to do things on my own but I know in the Philippines we need a guide for everything:)

  • Karine

    Hi Anne,

    I would like to visit and I am a solo traveller but your contact Annie G is not replying. Did someone else took over her?

  • JC

    Hi Anne,

    Very helpful guide! We’re a group of four planning a DIY trip during the first week of January next year. I was wondering if your sample itinerary is tailored for a DIY experience or for a private car. I’m considering booking a bus via Coda Lines (Cubao-Bontoc) but concerned about the availability of jeepneys upon our early arrival in Bontoc. Any insights would be appreciated! Thank you!

  • JC

    Hi Anne! Your guide is incredibly helpful! We’re a group of four planning a DIY trip during the first week of January next year. I was wondering if your sample itinerary is tailored for a DIY experience or if for a private car. I’m considering booking a bus via Coda Lines (Cubao-Bontoc) but concerned about the availability of jeepneys upon our early arrival in Bontoc. Any insights would be appreciated! Thank you!

    • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

      Hi, JC thanks for checking this blog out! Glad you found it helpful. To answer your questions, Bontoc is pretty much a gateway to a lot of destinations in the Cordilleras. There are lots of jeeps (and even buses) available as early as 7:00 AM up to 4:00 PM only. The itinerary I tailored for this Buscalan trip is for DIY travel (at least it was the actual for our group but take note that we are a group of 10) but give it an allowance of say an hour or two due to several factors like waiting time for passengers and all. Hope these help! πŸ™‚

      • ALEA

        Hello. Saw this as I was researching for the beat route to buscalan. We’re planning to got there this weekend but we’ll be doing so via DIY trip only since weekday sched namin.. We’re planning na magtake ng bus if possible past 11pm to midnight sana na trip. Is the option you provided applicable or you have better suggestions? Ang gulo kasi ng guide namin sabi Victory Liner daw na bus pa tabuk pero check ko yung page nila ang until 9pm lg ganong byahe.. accurate rin ba yung nasa site? Hehe. Anyways, I appreciate if ever you can give your insight. Thanks so much!

        • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

          Hello! Victory Liner’s bus schedule may vary the reason why I opted not to put it on the blog πŸ™‚ They usually update and post about it on their website/ page. Th Coda Lines bus schedule is the most definite of all. Its 10:00 PM schedule is the best for me.

    • Enrico

      Hi Queen..thanks for this helpful travel guide to buscalan..me and my wife are planning to go to buscalan next week..i just want to ask if how can I coordinate in advance with the local guide? Your response will be so much appreciated..thank you

      • Anne Elizabeth Gumiran

        Hi, Patrick! Thank you so much. Yes, it’s better to coordinate in advance especially if you’re doing DIY so they can guide you and give you updates from time to time:) During my trip, we coordinated with a local named Ms. Annie Bayog. She’s very responsive on Facebook πŸ™‚ Have a safe and fun trip to Buscalan!

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