Sagada is known not just because of its breathtaking mountain ranges and cold weather but mainly of its rich culture and diverse landscape. It has a lot to offer: from its iconic hanging coffins to its caves and hills, Sagada is indeed a popular but underrated go-to site for those who want to see colorful Filipino tradition and experience a different adventure.
• 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) above sea level
• 415 kilometers from Manila (via Baguio)
• Local dialect: Kankanaey
• Coldest month is in February, wherein the temperature can drop to 12 degrees Celsius
• Also known as the Pride of Mountain Province
How to get there
Going to this idyllic town in Mountain Province is surely not for the faint of heart as the ride itself is surely an undertaking. The most common route to Sagada, which is via Baguio City, usually takes at least 12 hours of travel from Manila, by private car or bus- six hours to Baguio City and six to seven hours of bumpy ride to Sagada proper.
If driving 400 kilometers is not an option for you, take a bus in Cubao, Quezon City going to Baguio. Major bus companies, like Victory Liner, have hourly trips to the city every day, seven days a week.
Upon arriving in Baguio, take a cab to the Dangwa Bus Station and ride the bus to Sagada via Lizardo Transit bus. The first trip leaves at 6:30 a.m. and the last at 1 p.m. For first timers, better prepare yourselves in this long, bouncy ride – but rest assured that the beauty of Mother Nature would ease your tension.
If you come in a big group or traveling with kids or elderly, it is advisable to rent a van. Vans from Manila usually cost around P20,000 all-in (10 to 12 people, including toll charges and driver’s food and accommodation) for three days and two nights.
What to see
There are numerous places to see in Sagada. You can explore its several caves, trek along its trails, and watch the sun rise or set on its hills. But before roaming around in this small, quaint town, make sure to register first at the Municipal Office and pay the environmental fee. This is also where you can get accredited tour guides, whose rates depend on your activity and the number of your group.
Lumiang Burial Cave
One of the most famous sites in Sagada is the Lumiang Burial Cave. This cave is the home to a total of 200 coffins, some of which are more than 500 years old, older than the Philippines’ written history.
The Sumaguing Cave, or The Big Cave, is also one of the known attractions in Sagada and is popular for its big hollows and distinguished rock formations. You need a tour guide to explore the cave as it takes spelunking from the Lumiang Cave to reach Sumaguing’s main chamber. The whole caving takes three to four-hour trek so it is advisable to wear comfortable and stretchable clothing and a good pair of shoes.
The Echo Valley can be found within the confines of the city and is also popular for its hanging coffins. There are several paths to take to this attraction, and along these ways are three caverns that you can also explore. Though not necessary, it is advisable to have a tour guide as the ravines can be quite dangerous.
Marlboro Country’s name, as it obviously implies, came from Marlboro Cigarette’s classic commercial where wild horses were running across the field. This place is famous for its wild horses, although it is very rare to see one, and its scenic view of the town.
Bomod-ok, or the Big Falls, is a 200-meter high waterfall located north of Sagada. And since it is located in Mountain Province, reaching the valley that conceals it can be quite a challenge. Trekking the path usually takes an hour and a half but the destination is definitely worth the journey.
These are but a few sites to see when you are in Sagada. You can also try going to Lake Danum, Fidelisan Rice Terraces, Kiltepan, Bokong Falls, and many more. Just remember to enjoy the calmness of nature and forget all the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle.