Heavenly Sagada Feb 09, 2009
Another adventure for Meme, Lysh and Jacky. After traveling the world the past few years, we decided to have a spur of the moment trip to the Northern part of the country. Yes, we braved the 24 hour bus and jeepney rides to get to the Heavenly Sagada!
We were there for 2 full days and its enough to go around the place but if we had enough time, I would spend another day in Sagada to relax and enjoy the cold weather. And then, spend another 1 to 2 days in Baguio on the way back.
Our adventure started on a Thursday night. We took Cable Tours which will bring us to Bontoc. We took this route to have a chance to see the Banaue Rice Terraces. It was actually a really good choice since that route allowed us to see the beautiful orange sky while the sun was rising. There was also a stop over in Banaue to see the rice terraces.
FROM MANILA TO BONTOC
The bus of Cable tours from Manila to Bontoc takes about 8 hours (probably less since we had to stop twice to change tires). Buses everyday leave at 8:30 pm and arrives in Bontoc at 8:30 am. Make sure that you have reservations though because the bus gets full. Make sure that you call them since they don't respond to texts well. Melody sent them SMS a number of times but they did not reply. Their number is +632 774-1290.
Cable Tours' terminal is very easy to miss. It is on E. Rodriguez in front of Shakey's. Shakey's is beside Trinity College and St. Lukes Hospital. The terminal is beside Garcia's supermarket.
Their buses is a bigger version of a coaster. Enough leg room for an asian but taller people might have a hard time. Have a jacket handy. It gets cold in the bus. They show movies all through out and there is piped in music. Do not expect Hollywood movies though. We watched Dolphy and Robin Padilla and it was fun to watch them! :-) You will be sleeping for 12 hours so make sure that you are comfortable in clothing and bring a travel pillow... the one you can put on the chair as a seat pad because your butt will surely hurt! BELIEVE ME!
There are about 2 to 3 stops along the way. I'm not sure how many really because I was asleep most of the way. Bathrooms are not clean so bring alcogel and tissue paper. Also have coins ready in case you need to pay.
FROM BONTOC TO SAGADA
Cable tours will ask you if you want to take the same bus from Bontoc to Sagada for P100. This will make the trip easier since you don't have to move your stuff. BUT... then again, you will miss out on the whole SAGADA JEEPNEY EXPERIENCE! My suggestion, skip the bus and take the jeep! You're there for the adventure anyway.
The jeep costs less and you will have to wait til about 9:15 am before it leaves Bontoc but the whole dusty and bumpy ride is a different experience! :-) You might even want to ride the roof of the jeep if you feel like it. Just make sure that you hold on tight since the roads are not paved and you can fall of the cliff! GOOD LUCK!
Once you get off the Cable tours Cafe stop in Bontoc, walk two blocks down (you will pass Western Union). The jeepney station is in front of a police station or a hall.
WHEN IN SAGADA
First two things to do... register in the visitors information area and check in the hotel.
We checked in George's Guesthouse. PENTHOUSE BABY! :-) The room is clean and big (its for 8 people at Php1000) for its price. It also has a nice view of rice terraces.. and more importantly... they have hot water! :-) Check out this site for more info http://sagadagenuineguides.blogs
After checking in and registering, we rested for a few minutes and asked the receptionist in George's guesthouse for a guide. After a few minutes, Jordan arrived! :-) You can choose to get a car to go around but we opted to walk it. Everything is so near and the weather is perfect so there's no point wasting it in a vehicle.
20 minutes walk from George Guesthouse is the Lumiang Cave where there are hanging coffins. You will see some hanging coffins along the way but its too far for you to actually see it. Lumiang Cave will let you see the coffins up close.
Another 20 minutes walk, you will get to Sumaging Cave. This is a must-see! Do not ever leave Sagada without going here! Your guide will lead you to a cave that is pitch black except for a kerosene lamp. You will have to go up and down slippery rocks so use footwear that will help you keep your balance and feet stable. Bring a flashlight too that you can put around your neck coz your hands should be free.
After about 10 to 20 minutes of going down rocks, hearing bats, being scared of the dark and holding on to rocks with bat poop, you will see beautiful limestone formations. Wade in the cold waters of the underground river. Expect to get wet from the knee down... you can choose to go further the cave where you will get wet from the waist down.
I love the absence of a mall in Sagada. Everyone converges in their Saturday market where they have all the produce available. Go around streets to find anything and everything (and I mean EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN THINK OF) that you will need at a really cheap price.
Enjoy the Sagada city life by walking with the locals. :-)
We were so lucky to have scheduled our trip on the weekend of their town fiesta. There was a parade on Saturday morning which showcased the culture of Sagada and the Mountain Province. It was an amazing feeling to be part of their tradition. We joined the festivities by walking with them around the church area and eating the street food that they were selling. We had my childhood popcorn and dirty ice cream, P10.00 each! YUMMY!
This is a trek that we kinda did on our own but a boy named Jason helped us to get there. I suggest that you get a map just to know the different places that you need to go to. Guides are available all the over the place... especially kids. We gave Jason P100 for helping us get to Echo Valley.
To get to Echo Valley, go through the St. Mary's church. At the back of the church is a cemetary. Cross that and walk the trail for a few more minutes. You will reach a place where you can shout your name and the echo will shout it back. Pretty cool but nothing much to do here.
There will also be some hanging coffins that you will see. If you want, you can go to the sacred burial site. Pretty steep climb but doable.
Beside the vulcanizing shop is a small pathway that leads to the underground river. I didn't get to go to the underground river but Jacky and Melody followed the trail. Not much to see they said so maybe you can skip this.
Also tagged as the small falls, this is falls is situated pretty near one of the many rice terraces in Sagada. I did not enjoy the falls much but the view of the rice terraces is priceless. Also, you get to walk on the side of the terraces which is an amazing feeling... being in the middle of a fantastic creation by our ancestors. Unbelievable.
You will pass by a small house on the way to the falls. There are benches there where you can just sit and relax for a while. Don't rush... just stay there for a few minutes. Enjoy the laid back Sagada life! :-)
Of course my blog will not be complete if I don't write about the best places to eat at in Sagada. :-)
We ate 4 out of 5 meals in this place. I must admit that there was only one dish that I loved here but their yogurt is really good. I wish we had a place like that here in Manila.
We tried the following dishes and I wasn't impressed. Vegetable curry, fried rice with vegetable and egg, mushroom and cheese pasta. They were all so, so. What I really enjoyed were the roasted eggplant and basil pasta AND the Farmhouse sandwich. Of course the banana and granola yogurt! Super yummy!
Average price of meal: P180
I liked the food here better than Yoghurt House. This is the place where the photos of Masfere, the father of Philippine photography, is displayed. He chronicled the life in the Cordilleras through his photos.
We ordered the chopsuey and the pancit canton and bihon. We also tried the vegetable fried rice which was very tasty also.
Average price of meal: P180
This place only offers Lemon Pie, Egg pie, Carrot cake and Banana Cake. All for P15 to P20 a slice. They only serve breakfast and these cakes. The breakfast served is also dependent on the cook if he/ she is not part of the fiesta. :-)
The pies are ok. Not too tasty but good enough.
NOTE: The restaurants close at 730 pm. If you want to have dinner in these restaurants, make sure that you are there by 6 pm. Remember, this is not a city. People will not stay up late just to serve food.
While there, order Mountain tea or Lemongrass tea. Oh... and the local coffee brewed fresh! Yummy!
Also, you might want to eat at the Log Cabin. They said that its good but you need advanced reservations. It gets really full so better reserve before leaving for Sagada. Meal costs about P350/head.
SAGADA to BAGUIO
Bus trip of Lizardo bus from Sagada to Baguio leaves every hour from 5 am to 1 pm. We woke up at 330 am to catch the 5 am bus it arrived at 530 and left at a little after 6:00 am. I actually prefer this than leaving earlier since it was still pretty dark at that time.
The roads to Baguio are zig zagged almost all the way. The trip took 6 hours but the view is breath-taking. The clouds below us and the sunrise made the 6 hour trip bearable. There were about 3 to 4 stops along the way.
I love it that we were able to buy broccoli and cauliflower at P20/kilo.
BAGUIO to MANILA
From the Lizardo bus station in Baguio, take a cab to the Victory Liner bus station. Cab ride is about P37 to P45.00. The ticketing office of Victory Liner is on the second floor. A bus to Manila (Pasay/ Cubao) leaves every 20 minutes. This costs about P450.00. This trip takes about 7 hours with 3 stops. There are also stops to pick up and drop off passengers along the way.
There is also a non-stop bus from Baguio to Manila. This takes about 5 hours, costs about P700.
These buses show movies that makes the trip bearable. Of course the buses are airconditioned.
What to bring:
b. Flash light
c. Comfortable shoes for walking
d. Trekking sandals for inside the cave
e. Comfortable clothing
** Note: The locals are very laid back... no need for make up and fancy clothing. There will be lots of walking and trekking, better be as simple and comfortable as possible.
A. Manila to Bontoc - P650
B. Bontoc to Sagada Jeep - P45
C. Rooms - 1000/ night (P333.33/person/ night)*2 = P700 for 2 nights
D. Guide - 500 for 1-4 people (Php500/3) = P170/ person
E. Sagada to Baguio - P220
F. Baguio to Manila (Victory Liner) - P450
G. Food - P1000 (or less)
H. Water - P35/ big bottle
Average spending: P3,000 - P4,000 (could be lesser if you find a cheaper place to stay and not to eat out)
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