2019 Ultimate Sagada Trip Guide for First-Time Backpackers
One can always picture the Philippines as the haven of pristine waters in turquoise or green, impossibly white beaches filled with rich biodiversity and marine life. But more than those natural wonders, a lush forest found in the Northern area named Sagada attracts travelers and free spirits to experience a unique backpacking experience in Southeast Asia.
Sagada is located in Mountain Province from the mountainous Cordillera Region. A place for soul-searching and pumping adventures, Sagada holds a special place for travelers who enjoy the serenity of the pine trees and lush forest Mt. Ampacao, Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins, and thrilling cave explorations in Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave.
Life is ordinary in Sagada, staying in humble homes and eating hearty meals without worrying about traffic or anything you left in the city. It’s best to schedule trips in Sagada during the wet season (November to February) because the temperature can drop up to 4℃.
If you’re looking to explore this haven, here’s the 2019 Ultimate Sagada Trip Guide for first-time backpackers and D-I-Y travelers.
One of Sagada’s longest-running tradition is hanging their dead in colorful coffins at Echo Valley; most coffins were placed high up with ancient and new coffins. For P200 (~$4 USD), you will have a 30-minute short trek to the site. Funeral chairs are attached to the rock face were part of the traditional burial; bodies were strapped to them in the traditional ceremony. Small coffins were for accommodated bodies buried in a fetal position. Some coffins were clinging to limestone cliffs or piled up at cave entrance points.
The hanging method is believed to be an easier way for souls to reach the great beyond, and this method also keeps wild animals away from their remains.
If you’re looking for the adrenaline rush in Sagada, spelunking is the perfect adventure for you. You can sign up for the Cave Connection Tour that takes you to their Lumiang Cave through Sumaguing Cave. Be prepared to face the cave system filled with waterfalls, chilly rivers, and small openings in your exploration. This is not for the faint heart because sometimes you will have to squeeze yourself to go to the next destination. But don’t worry, it’s all worth it once you see the magnificent structures of these caves.
Imagine a detox surrounded by all luscious greens. Take your soul-searching to the next level by hiking for half a day to see the rice terraces and underground river. You can climb Sagada’s highest peak, Mt. Ampacao.
Sagada is a backpackers’ haven for affordable accommodation options. You may even try to camp out with your own tent in some of the areas. But if that isn’t your style, you may book hotels.
If you’re looking for a serene, cozy family lodge, you may try Misty Lodge. They have eight private rooms, a restaurant on-site for hearty meals, and massage services. Complimentary WiFi is available in rooms, too.
If Sumaguing Cave is on your list of explorations, it’s best to stay at Shamrock Tavern Inn. It’s a great place to stay in Sagada especially if you’d like to enjoy karaoke and or a nice massage service.
Sitting at the heart of Sagada, Masferre Country Inn delights guests with decorated private rooms complete with toiletries and WiFi. The inn highlights its restaurant that serves excellent food all day.
Gaia Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant that offers sumptuous vegetable dishes, coffee, and a jaw-dropping view. It’s also a place made famous by the movie, “That Thing Called Tadhana.” If you’re looking for a great spot for viewing Sagada Rice Terraces, this is the perfect place for you.
The trip is worth it at Misty Lodge Cafe even if it’s located on the outskirts of town. You get to enjoy amazing pizzas made from scratch and eat your breakfast dishes at affordable prices.
Log Cabin is the best restaurant when you ask around in Sagada. Running for two decades, Log Cabin offers gourmet food that tourists really love. You have to book for a table because the restaurant is only open for dinner. Rest assured all the dishes taste good because they use the finest ingredients available for the season. Chefs at Log Cabin often change the menu depending on the season.
Traveling to Sagada can be done in two ways: Via Baguio or Via Banaue.
Travelers can choose from different bus transports going to Sagada. You can choose among bus transportation companies like Victory Liner and Genesis Bus along Cubao, Pasay, or Caloocan. The trip to Baguio takes 4-6 hours where you can choose from basic to deluxe service around P480 to P800.
From Baguio, you may ride GL Trans Bus going to Sagada which takes 5-6 hours. Don’t expect too much because the bus has no air-conditioning. Prepare for a bumpy ride too.
Take the Autobus, Dangwa Transco, and Ohayami in Manila at 10 pm which takes 9 hours to Banaue. Once in Banaue, you can ride minibuses or vans for another 3-4-hour trip. Ask the local information center when the drivers arrive. You may also ride a jeepney to Bontoc and transfer in a bus going to Sagada.
If you’re looking for convenience, book your trip online at Coda Lines for a straight trip from Manila to Sagada for P720 (~$14 USD).