One of the things I love about my home country is how God filled it with a lot of majestic sights and beautiful sceneries. Mostly known for its stunning white beaches, Philippines also boasts of beautiful landscapes one of which is a famous town in northern luzon. I am so happy to have finally crossed this off my bucket list. It was very nice to visit SAGADA. I will surely visit this again and stay longer.
Sagada is probably one of the country's top destinations. With its picturesque landscape, rich culture, and year-round cool weather. It is not hard for Filipinos to enjoy and love this place.
Though known for its beauty, Many Filipinos still haven't explored this hidden treasure due to the fact that it can be a bit tricky to go up here. It has a lot of slopes along the way not to mention the steep cliff that would surely kill you should the driver manage to make a wrong turn. Then there's also the possibility of landslides during rain falls. Truly, Sagada is really an adventure just by reaching the place.
Through the years, a lot has changed. Roads are better which paved the way for tourists to flock the place. Moreover when it was popularized by the movie "That thing called tadhana" for its sea of clouds moment (beware the sea of cloud doesn't always happen. It depends on certain conditions).
How to get there from Metro Manila:
It would probably take you around 12 hours or less to reach the destination.
Reaching Sagada is easier nowadays. There is a direct bus service in Manila which goes directly to Sagada. (Look up CODA LINES for more information about this trip).
The other option is to ride a bus going to Baguio which will probably take around 6 hours. From there, you take another bus ride to go to Sagada which is another 6 hours ride.
HINT: If the Sagada bus already left and you're itching to ride any bus to reach the destination then I suggest you take the bus going to Bontoc. From there, you can ride a jeepney going to Sagada. The experience will be priceless cause you get to experience the ride with the locals and even ride on top of the jeepney. :'D
When you reach the place, there are a lot of hostels in the area where you can stay. Don't expect too much in the room. It costs pretty cheap and most of the time you'll be outside wandering anyway. Rather Expect a very simple restroom and a room with a bed and no aircon or electric fan (this was in my case but the weather is cool so not much to worry about).
Before you can explore the beauty of Sagada, you first need to register at the Tourism office and pay Php35 to visit its tourist spot. You are given a receipt which you need to show to some personnel when you are asked for it. Much can be explored in Sagada for a day or two and other places are best visited at a particular time of the day. Here are some of the things I did here and places I visit.
PS: I didn't have the chance to go Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave because of the rising water levels. Sagada is best visited in the months of November to February. Also, Orange picking is also available only in certain months and the famous sea of clouds is a hit and miss.
In my short visit in this place I was able to visit the following places:
1.) Sagada Pottery - Pottery is not a mainstream thing in Sagada. As a matter of fact, there are only few Pottery shops in the area. On the way to Lake Danum, It's not bad to drop by and visit this place to witness how they make those beautiful pots. You can even try to make one for a fee.
2.) Lake Danum - This small lake is surrounded by pines and has a relaxing atmosphere. It is a popular camping site. Though it might seem like an ordinary lake. This place has become a must tourist spot because locals claims that it is the best spot for sunset. Unfortunately for me, there was a storm and sunset wasn't really observed at that time of the day. :(
3.) Kiltepan View - If there's a perfect view for sunset, then there's also one for sunrise. This spot is also a famous campsite for all travellers because a lot is itching to witness the famous sea of clouds. Though, it's a hit and miss thing many still take their chances to try their luck for even if there's none the view and sunrise here is still heavenly to see.
4.) Hanging Coffins of Echo Valley - This famous mystery is one of the key attractions of this place that makes tourist want to visit this place. The practice of hanging coffins continues up to this day but the dead needs to pass some certain qualifications. This is practiced because of the belief that moving the dead bodies higher bring them closer to their ancestral spirits. Yet it is still unknown for the locals how their ancestors was able to hang some coffins in some areas.
5.) Sagada Cemetery - Aside from the famous Hanging Coffins, Sagada also has its own cemetery for those who didn't have the privilege to be hanged up in the Echo Valley. Tombstones are everywhere the are. When I was there, I saw a unique tombstone, I later found out that those were the tombstones of some of the soldiers of SAF44. Apparently, 3 of the men are from Sagada.
6.) Church of St. Mary the Virgin - This stone church was built here by the American Missionaries during the early 1900s. This is the only church I saw when I visit Sagada. Majority of the people in Sagada are Protestants.
7.) Sagada Hanging Bridge - On the way down to Bomod-ok Falls is the Hanging Bridge. There's nothing really special about the bridge. It just looks good in the photos.
8.) Bomod-ok Waterfalls - This key attraction site is probably the most exhausting one. The descent along the falls will already take half of your energy. But don't fret, along the way you'll get to see a lot of Sagada's rice terraces and other beautiful landscapes that will ease everything.
Where to EAT:
-Unknown to many, Sagada also has some fairly famous restaurants that are flocked by tourist. Some of the good restaurants to try out here are the following:
1.) Salt and Pepper - The chocolate drink was alright. It wasn't thick which I didn't like. The pork dish was also normal but the chicken curry is the bomb. I love how it tasted!
2.) Sagada Yoghurt House - I don't know why a lot of people like this place but when I tried it out the yoghurt tasted too foul for me.
3.) Sagada Lemon Pie House - Gotta admit. Lemon Pie here tasted great. A perfect pasalubong treat and is usally best to pair it with their coffee.
Exploring this beautiful place for 2 days is definitely not enough. I would recommend you to stay for atleast 3-5 days to fully enjoy the it here. Still I had one of the best vacations of my life when I went here. I learned a lot from the locals and I hope Sagada can retain its beauty. I promise to be back and when I do, I hope I can see more of its wonders.