Nov 29, 2009

SAGADA Mini Guide

It's been 3 months since my first visit to Sagada and my friends who were not able to join us are probably getting annoyed by my overenthusiastic accounts of my Sagada experience. Maybe this video made by Ryan of Tourism Philippines will give evidence of how bewitching Sagada can be. Watching it made me all excited to go back. The beat of the music by Touch and Go accompanying this video is just as engaging as this road trip video.

To make the most of your Sagada trip, the following tips, based on a first timer experience will most probably come in handy. I would suggest you file at least a 5 day vacation leave to make the most of your trip.

How To Get There (My Way ^^):

Take the Baguio Route - i think this is the safest route, longer travel time but the view and the roads are much better. The Halsema Highway are almost 90% paved, no worries for a long bumpy ride.

  • Baguio - Sagada (approx 6 hrs) - LIZARDO or GL Trans (Dangwa Terminal near Centermall) Trip schedules are daily from 6 am until 1 pm only.
Try to leave Manila by midnight, you can sleep during your entire travel time and be in Baguio before dawn, then take the first trip of Lizardo trans and be in Sagada by noon. You will definitely enjoy the breathtaking view along the way. Upon arriving Sagada, everyone is required to register at the Information Center of the Municipal Hall for a very minimal fee.

If you are not up for a 12 hour travel time and prefer to be in a relax mode, spending one night in Baguio is your best option, exactly how we had our trip. :)

Where to Stay :

I highly recommend you stay at George Guest House. If you are a big group get their penthouse rooms. They have 2 penthouse rooms, each can accommodate 5 people. We paid 1,000 pesos/night for each room. This penthouse area is a great viewpoint for admiring the beauty of nature. I woke up early first day in the morning, sit down by the veranda (still fully covered by my blanket), and meditate on the beauty of Sagada while watching the sunrise. At night, we lounged at the same spot, chatted away while having some drinks and marvel at the gazillion of stars twinkling above us. Just keep the noise minimal by 10 pm as the neighborhood is already quiet by that time.

Hire a SAGGAS Guide :

Hiring a SAGGAS tour guide can really spell a big difference in your Sagada experience. Prior to our trip I've browsed some Sagada sites to prepare myself for this most awaited vacation. I came across this site Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS) and it proved really very helpful in planning for our trip. Having all these infos on my mind, I really asserted the need to hire a Saggas guide to facilitate our tour.

Benjch Calpi happened to be the assigned Saggas guide during our visit to their office and I'm thankful that he was. He made our trip as fun and as memorable as it could be, going far beyond the call of his duty and most importantly gaining a good friend for keeps.

You can ask him for favors even ahead of your scheduled trip, like reserving for your accommodation, getting updates about the weather and getting help planning for your itinerary. He's just a text away. Had I known about this prior to our visit, planning for the trip could have been a piece of cake. I strongly suggest you contact him at least 2 weeks before your visit so he can file this tour schedule to their office and you in turn can be assured of his services. You can reach him thru this no. +639295915212 (smart). Mention my name shie and you can be assured of his best service... hahaha, I'm really that confident, he's such a good guy.

The SAGGAS office is located a few steps away from George Guest House, very near Yoghurt House and just opposite the new eating place, Salt and Pepper.

For Standard Tour Guide Rates and Vehicle Rates click HERE

Must Places to Visit

  • Sumaguing Cave - read my entry about my Sumaguing account here. If you are up for a more vertically challenging activity, Cave Connection from Lumiang to Sumaguing Cave will be best for you. It will probably take you 3 to 4 hrs to complete the connection.
  • Echo Valley - Sightseeing tour to the Limestone Valley and the Hanging Coffins, Sagada's most unique culture. Along the way you can visit Saint Mary Episcopal Church and the Christian Cemetery.
  • Bomod-ok Falls (Big Falls) - It's located a few kilometers away from the town center so brace yourself for an hour of uphill walk. You will pass thru some rice fields and villages and some igorot houses along the way. If you are not up for a long walk, you can hire a van to bring you to the nearest jump off point. Afterwards, the cold water of the towering falls will definitely soothe your tired muscles away. The waters are deep so its a must that you can swim.
  • Kiltepan Peak - best to be there before sunrise to have a glimpse of the majestic sunrise with mystical clouds lying in between mountains. Some campers prefer staying overnight on this place. It's a good location to see the rice fields and the mountain ranges.
  • Marlboro Mountain - home of the wild horses and the bald mountains. I'm planning to check this out on my next visit.
  • Mt. Ampacao/Lake Danum - trek to this mountain to get a a good view of Central Sagada, then wait for the sunset at lake danum. Lake Danum is perfect for bonfire gatherings, jamming and enjoying the nightlife in Sagada. Advice your guide to have it arranged for you. Click here to have an idea of this activity but you can have it in small scale with your group.
You can visit all these places if you stay for 4 nights otherwise pick the top 3 places above. But don't schedule Sumaguing Cave and Bomod-ok Falls activities in one day or you'll end up with aching muscles all over with no power to walk the next day. I suggest visit Sumaguing Cave on your 1st day then Bomod-ok falls on the 2nd day with sightseeing in the afternoon to Echo Valley then catching the sunset at Lake Danum. On your 3rd day, wake up early to catch the sunrise at Kiltepan peak, afterwards load a big breakfast at Yoghurt house or Lemon Pie House, do your souvenir hunting and buy a box of Lemon Pie/Egg Pie/Blueberry Pie to bring home. I'm really happy that the lemon pie I brought home was still in one piece and still yummy when I got home since before heading back we stayed for one more night in Banawe.

Eating Places

  • Yoghurt House - with its proximity to our lodging, Yoghurt house became an instant favorite. We had our breakfast and lunch twice in this place. Their yummy and healthy yoghurt is perfect for breakfast. They have an extensive menu list that everything in there looks really delectable and the servings are huge, two people can share. Just be patient while waiting for your orders as the preparation really takes time.
  • Lemon Pie House - on our way to Sumaguing Cave, we saw this interesting place down the road and we promised to have our sugar fix later here. It didn't fail to deliver, I finished two servings of lemon pie with a cup of mountain tea. The place has a unique interior and cozy ambiance. I even ordered one box of lemon pie to take home.
    They also serve Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner which we failed to try due to limited time but heard the food is delicious as well.
  • Log Cabin - a reservation fee is needed to have your dinner here. Saturday nights are the best time as they offer a gourmet french dinner buffet for just 300+ pesos per pax. Great deal indeed.
  • Banas Cafe - we had our coffee fix here and you can try Alamid coffee for 150 a cup to find out why it cost that much. We also enjoyed the Pansit we had there, really taste good with all those fresh veggies that only Sagada can offer. Its very near George Guest House.
There are other great eating places you can try, we happen to just run out of time. So on my next visit, a gastronomical adventure would be on the top of my list,

For a more comprehensive information on Sagada, click on this sites :

You can also check my other Sagada entries :

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