Sagada Philippines travel guide

Sagada, Philippines: top attractions, where to stay and what to wear

Sagada started out as a remote and inaccessible destination but has quickly become a travel hot-spot. This is due primarily to its remarkable natural beauty and the underlying sense of adventure that lurks at every corner. Here is your guide on the top attractions, places to stay, how to get there and what to pack for Sagada, Philippines.

Getting there

In the past, Sagada was hard to access as there was no bus route from the capital city. Now you can easily book transfers, from Manila to Sagada and return transfers from Sagada to Manila. You also have the option of booking a private driver, if you like the versatility of creating your own schedule and dictating your exact pickup and drop off points. The trip by car takes over nine hours, but many travelers say that the long drive is worth it fo the spectacular attractions on offer in Sagada.

Top Attractions

Explore Sumaguing Cave

sumaguing-cave-sagada-mt-province-philippines

  • Spelunking in Samaguing Cave is a must-do for those with an adventurous streak.
  • You will get to explore magnificent rock formations,  wade through naturally formed pools and marvel at the in-cave waterfalls. You will also test the limits of your body as you navigate and climb the slippery rocks.
  • If you are quite fit, up for a challenge and OK with confined spaces we recommend booking a tour guide to explore the cave connection between Sumaguing Cave and Lumian Cave.   This three-hour spelunking adventure is a truly unforgettable experience.
  • Make sure you are not afraid or a bit of rappelling to lower yourself into the cave. It is a great idea to visit some rock-climbing centers to practice your skills beforehand.
  • Also, a head torch and high-grip water shoes are highly recommended

Go trekking in Echo Valley

Echo Valley Sagada Philippines

Jemme Francisco, using Echo Valley as a way of getting over her recent divorce.

  • Echo Valley has become quite a destination for people wishing to let go of the negativity in their life. At a set point in the valley, you can scream your lungs out and hear your voice echoed back at you. Many lost souls have used this as an opportunity to let go of their sorrows and vent their frustrations.
  • However, in recent times, some tour guides have stopped tourists from shouting in Echo Valley. So when booking your tour guide, check if they are willing to let you scream.
  • Even without the opportunity to shout your lungs out, the tour is well worth booking, simply for the great vistas and an opportunity to view the famous Hanging Coffins of Sagada up close.
  • Try to book your tour during a weekday, if possible, as weekends can be quite crowded.

Marvel at the Hanging Coffins of Sagada

Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines

  • Some of the most popular attractions in Sagada are the spectacular Hanging Coffins. Viewing them is generally included in your Echo Valley tour.
  • Suspended at soaring heights within the cliff faces of the valley are these ancient coffins holding Sagadan ancestors.
  •  It is said that the coffins are suspended as high as possible to bring the deceased closer to the gods.
  • Interestingly, there were strict requirements that had to be met before people could be buried close to the heavens.  Only ancestors that had been married, had a lineage of grandchildren and were respected by the community received the honored burial ritual.
  • Please note, you need to have a guide with you if you want to get up close to the coffins, so ensure you book before you head out to avoid disappointment.

Experience the breathtaking Bomod-Ok Falls

Bomod_Ok_Falls_Sagada

The trek to Bomod-Ok Falls will have you immersing yourself among the stunning rice terraces, navigating a suspension bridge and taking in the serenity of the local villages scattered across the hillside. The hike itself takes approximately one hour (one way) and is not for the faint-hearted or those not at an optimum fitness level.

Bomod Ok waterfall Sagada

After the grueling hike, you can reward yourself by taking a refreshing dip in the icy cold waters below Bomod-Ok Falls. The water is very cold and invigorating. Make sure you pack some practical swimming gear (board shorts and rash vest are recommended).

Hike to Kiltepan Peak

Mount Kiltepan Philippines

  • Mt Kiltepan is renowned as one of the best vantage points in the world for viewing a spectacular panoramic sunrise.
  • Part of the appeal is the mystical sea of clouds that surrounds the peak. Experiencing the floating sensation of being above the clouds is truly remarkable, especially when the sun rises above the clouds spreading its warmth and a kaleidoscope of colors in the sky above.
  • It is a good idea to book this experience as part of a tour. But be prepared to wake up at 4 am to make it up to the peak in time to catch the sunrise and the sea of clouds
  • You might also consider hiking up from the bottom. This is quite a direct path and only takes about an hour. However, make sure you do this with a group and preferably accompanied by an experienced guide. There are a number of wild dogs that you will run across and they can be rather territorial, so we don't recommend doing this hike solo.
  • Also, be prepared for it to be extremely crowded as this is a major tourist attraction. Despite the crowds, we think it is still an experience worth having.

Interactive map of Sagada

Choosing the right transport to and from Sagada

It is important to plan your trip and choose the right form of transport for your unique travel style and budget. Here is a quick guide on the pros and cons of different forms of transport to and from Sagada.

Option One: Book a bus

Cost:

  • starting at $18 US (one way)

Trip duration:

  • approximately 12 hours

Pros:

  • an affordable way to travel
  • Some people traveling on a budget use the bus ride as an overnight accommodation replacement. Just keep in mind that the seats do not recline, so you need to be good at sleeping in a sitting position.
  • The drivers are very experienced, friendly and knowledgeable of the area. 
  • You will get plenty of rest stops along the way to stretch your legs.
  • Airconditioning, TV and Wifi are available onboard.
  • Ability to choose between VIP bus and lower cost tourist option.

Cons:

  • Takes longer than a private car
  • No control over designated pick up and drop off point
  • Unlike with a private driver, you will get less flexibility of when and where you choose to take a rest stop/ photo-taking opportunity.
  • The bus makes a detour stop in Banaue, adding to the time of travel
  • The WiFi can be patchy
  • Your booking is non-refundable.

Option Two: Book a private driver

Cost:

  • starting from $230 US (one way)

Trip duration:

  • approximately 9 hours

Pros:

  • You can designate pick up and drop off points
  • Ability to ask the driver to make stops to take photos, use the restroom etc.
  • Control over the departure time.
  • You can split the booking price amongst travel companions, reducing the cost
  • Free cancellation for up to 48 hours before departure

Cons:

  • More expensive than booking a bus
  • A less environmentally friendly option
  • You will have to deal with the unknown in terms of the quality of the driver.

Option Three: Book an all-inclusive tour

Pros:

  • no need to stress about booking your own transfers, creating an itinerary or booking accommodation
  • usually includes an experienced tour guide
  • less need to research and plan your trip, as it is done for you
  • a great option for less experienced travelers or those with limited knowledge of a country
  • an all-inclusive price helps you keep track of your budget

Cons:

  • less freedom to decide where you wish to visit
  • usually, you will need to wait around a lot for other tour members and much time will be wasted on the general admin required to keep a large group of people organized
  • less ability to explore off the beaten path
  • no choice of accommodation or how long you stay in a location
  • less flexibility

What to Wear in Sagada

  • If I had three words to describe the clothing you should pack they would be: casual, comfortable and breathable.
  • You will spend a lot of time trekking, exploring and walking, so your main objective should be active and comfortable clothing.
  • A pair of super comfortable sneakers or walking shoes is vital.
  • If you are traveling from May to October the chance of rainfall is very high, so a lightweight waterproof jacket is a must.
  • From May through to mid-November is also very humid, so you will want to pack clothing high in natural fibers for optimum breathability.
  • If you are planning to hike to Bomod-Ok Falls it is a good idea to pack practical swimwear like board shorts and a rashguard (no itty-bitty bikinis). The rashguard will give you some warmth against the freezing cold water of the falls.  Don't forget to pack a change of clothing.
Swimwear for Philippines

When swimming in Bomod-Ok Falls, try a rash guard and board shorts

  • If you are planning on visiting Sumaguing Cave, be sure to pack some good quality water shoes. They will protect your feet when exploring the sharp rocks and wading through water.

Other essentials to pack for Sagada

  • hand sanitizer: use sanitizer before and after using the restrooms and before eating
  • bring your own medication: paracetamol, anti gastro medication and your regular medication. Sagada is a remote region and there is limited access to medication and pharmaceutical products.
  • mosquito repellent: the mosquitoes can be quite vicious, be prepared by bringing mosquito repellent from home
  • a head-torch: this is vital if you plan to explore Samaguing Cave as visibility is minimal and the rocks are very slippery
  • some small packets of disposable tissues to use as toilet paper. Toilet paper is not always readily available. Be prepared by always carrying a small pack of disposable tissues in your backpack or bag.
  • rock climbing helmet: Although not many people wear them when exploring Samaguing Cave, it is an added precaution that you may wish to consider. There is limited access to medical care within the cave and a head injury would be very dangerous.
  • voltage converter: the local Philippines voltage is 220V, so if you have appliances designed for a lower voltage you will need a step-down voltage converter. No voltage converter is required for your iPhone, just the correct
  • universal plug adapter

As you can see Sagada is the playground for those with an adventurous spirit. Will you be adding Sagada to your Bucket List? If you have visited Sagada recently we would love to hear all about your adventures. Comment your experiences below. Please note, comments are manually moderated for spam and may take a few days to appear.

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