If you really are determined to go to Sagada, you need to psyche yourself that it is far from a tour. It is hardcore backpacking, it is a physical trip, and it is definitely not elegant. But the rewards of seeing magnificent views and achieving personal bests are worth more than anything. Let’s go?
Although you can take a direct trip from Manila to Bontoc and then from Bontoc to Sagada, I suggest you take a Manila to Baguio trip (6 hours), spend the night in Baguio, and take the trip to Sagada first thing in the morning. This is especially if you are coming from a far place such as Davao. You don’t want to tire yourself boarding a plane at the Davao International Airport, and then traveling nonstop to Sagada. The ride up the mountains of Sagada will last for about 6 hours, a bumpy and dizzying one at that, so make sure you’re prepared with your byahilo medicine.
- Drop by the municipal hall to register as tourists.
- Check in to your chosen accommodation. Residential Lodge is a famous choice, with the ever-friendly Tita Mary who makes you feel that you have a home away from home.
- With the remaining hours in Day 1 of your itinerary, waste no time by going into the caves of Sumaging. Make sure you’re wearing your most comfortable clothes, for you will be sliding down slipper stones, holding on to them (bat poop and all), getting wet from the cold water flowing inside the caves, and just letting go of any inhibition and giving all of yourself to the adventure.
- Echo Valley. The main point of going to Echo Valley is to shout and hear your echo bounce back from the mountains. If you don’t shout, you’re such a killjoy.
- Underground River. This will take a long trek down a shallow river where you can finally wash your face and your feet. You wouldn’t take so long down there though, it’ll be a short stop.
- Kiltepan Valley. Another loooong trek through the mountain, until you get to a clearing, and then to the edge of the mountain, where there’s a breathtaking view of Sagada – rice terraces, clouds and all.
- Pomod-oc Falls. Called the Big Falls, Pomod-oc is a shockingly huge and strong body of water that the moment you get there, you will wonder how in the world can you brave the storm-like drops of water to take a dip in the river that looks like the passage to death. The trek down to the falls is extra exhausting and thrilling, as you will walk on the edges of rice terraces and on edges of the mountain. One wrong step and you’d have to be carried by your traveling buddies.
Other must-trys in Sagada:
- The yoghurt in Yoghurt House. Even though there are now a lot of frozen yoghurt shops in Manila, nothing matches this one in Sagada. Have it with fresh bananas and blueberry syrup. It is the best!
- Ganduyan Museum. This isn’t like any other museum. The owner of the museum, Tita Cristina, will personally discuss with you each and every artifact found in it.
- Log Cabin. A French restaurant in Sagada? Why not?! The chef changes his menu once in a while, but feel lucky when you dine there and the broccoli with cheese is available.