Ultimate DIY Itinerary: Manila-Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada-Baguio Trip

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It was year 2015 when Sagada had boomed its tourism after numerous TV film and movies featured its beauty, maybe one of which that portrays its scenic view was with the movie entitled “That Thing Called Tadhana”. Aside from its weather and view, I really love to visit the place because of its tribal culture (Ifugao, Ibanag, Igorot, and a lot more) and then that where our Two-Days-One-Night Journey starts.

Since I am a sucker of adventure, I’ve decided to make our visit more compressed, travelling to Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada-Baguio atleast. Three (3) days before our scheduled travel, I’ve already reserved via online our tickets to the Ohayami Bus Transit (cor. Fajardo St., Lacson Ave., Sampaloc, Manila) at around 900pm, going to our first stop which is Banaue, Ifugao.

Day 1

FIRST STOP: BANAUE, IFUGAO

It was around 6-7 hours land travel going to Banaue bus stop. The whole trip just have one stopover where you can eat or use the restroom. We arrived at the bus stop at around 0630 in the morning, one of the locals asked us to take our breakfast on the nearby restaurant (we rode a multicab) going to it, since we have to travel again going to Bontoc-Sagada non-stop. The weather at that time would be around 12 degrees and timing because we can really see the sunrise over the place.

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hearty breakfast in Banaue!

Banaue Rice Terraces

After we had our meal, we rode a van (just waiting outside the restaurant) going to Sagada via Bontoc and he also contracted each one of us to have our road trip (offering his services to let us see the view deck of the Banaue Rice Terraces and Bontoc Rice Terraces and drop point to Sagada) for around P300.00/per person. Though some told us that there is a jeepney going to Bontoc, still we consider to have our meal at Banaue. Further, the travel from the restaurant to Banaue was around 45 minutes. The view deck is free of charge and you can also buy souvenirs in there. You can also watch an Igorot weaving clothes and table centerpiece.

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SECOND STOP: BONTOC, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

This is one of a kind journey as far as I can remember due to the unending zig-zag road and almost cliff pavements. The travel time from Banaue to Bontoc last almost 2 hours but according to the google maps, it will only take around 1 hr and 35 minutes.

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Bontoc Rice Terraces

We also had the chance to enjoy the view of the mountain ranges and its refreshing and cold air. Our driver had drop us off the Bontoc Rice Terraces view deck. You’ll have a close up view of the terraces for around P10.00/per person.

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THIRD STOP: SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

Our journey still continues going to our top destination which is Sagada. Our travel time lasts 1 hour and also a bumpy-zig-zag-kind of ride. The van drop us off near the town proper. We checked-in to our reserved accommodation which is 5-10 minutes walk from the town center named KANIP-AW PINES LODGE (Address: Kinlibed, Sagada, Mountain Province). We had our lunch in our accommodation and just preparation for our next journey which would be the SAGADA DAY TOUR.

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KANIP-AW PINE LODGE (Overlooking Echo Valley)

FOURTH STOP: ECHO VALLEY TOUR

We immediately directed to the SAGGAS (Sagada Guide Association) Headquarters just along the road. We secured our Tour Guide (Kuya Patrick) and our Echo Valley Trip. The guide fee costs P1,000.00 (group of 5-6) and paid P30.00 for the environmental tax in the Sagada Municipal Tourist Office (Tourism Office). The tour lasts around 5 hours and we had a chance to see the following heritage views:

a. Sagada Public Cemetery and Church of St. Mary the Virgin

You might have noticed why would our tour includes a trip to the cemetery? Well, also our question but I guess they wanted us to see how the locals normally pays respect to their late loved-ones and after that we walked to the Episcopal Church. It was said to be a heritage church because according to our guide it was built a long-long time ago (around Japanese Era i guess?) and still be in-use of the people living nearby.

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b. Echo Valley

At the end part of the Church trail, tourists should be required to pay around P10.00/per person for the local taxes for the whole Echo Valley Tour.

From the name itself, it is a Valley where once you shout or make noise, there will be an “echo” duplicating the sound you make. This place is famous for the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana”, it is where Mace Castillo (the main actor) shouts all her heart out to the forest. Well, I think shouting in this place was kind-of therapeutic thing (it’s like playing with your own shadow) haha! And the view was so breathtaking! Aside from the fact that it is Forestry-Cliff hanging destination.

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I suggest that once you go try the Echo Valley Tour, you should be ready for some hiking-river crossing kind of trail. I recommend not to bring so much things and wear rubber/hiking sandals or shoes. A lightweight material kind of clothes should be considered and a flashlight in case you have one.

c. Hanging Coffins

So this is where you can found the infamous coffins in the mountain province. Unlike the usual rituals for sending your deceased loved-ones at their resting place, the locals had a different way of seeing it. Our tour guide told us that once a person dies (this is the will of the local- since they believe in the gods of nature- and the like), the remaining relative will make a wooden chair where their deceased relative will sit all throughout the memorial ritual and after, they will have them laid in the wooden coffin and hang the coffin as high as it goes to the mountain side. Kuya Patrick also told us that the higher the coffin goes, the higher the position of the person (i.e. when they are alive, they are the chief of the tribe and the like).

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d. Bomod-ok Falls

Trekking in a cold climate lessens the difficulty of the trek and I guess seeing just seeing the beautiful views, all your tiredness was paid off. As what I have suggested, you are going river/waterfall crossing and your footwear might get wet on the way.

The trail going to the falls was fun and kinda slippery.

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The cold water from the falls.

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If you have extra clothes, you might want to dip in the waters.

e. Underground Cave

This caving part wasn’t I expected. It was like a final destination kind of seen, haha! I thought I’ll never see the light because we are inside the cave trekking and river crossing for around 30-45 minutes with just one flashlight c/o of our guide. He insisted that we should follow his trail since the place was so dark and we can’t even figure out if there is water or just stones.

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I can see the light!
I can see the light!

 

Our tour finally ended at around 5:00pm. Before we go back to our lodging house, we drop by at the Tourism Office to secure our van ride the next day for the Mt. Kiltepan. We are advised that the van will pick us up and drop us off to our place. They get our information and contact numbers, in case.

We had our dinner in our place and just went out to taste the Rice Wine (flavors: Local Rice/Cherry/Persimmon) that Sagada is popular to at the Sagada Brew (since it is just walking distance to our place) and Lemon Pie House.

Day 2

FIFTH STOP: MT. KILTEPAN VIEW DECK, SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

At around 0500 in the morning, Kuya Allen, our rented van pick-us up in our lodging house. The rental costs us P500.00 (5-10 persons). He will bring us to the view deck of Mt. Kiltepan for the amazing sunrise and sea of clouds. Once we got at the view deck, rain showers starts to fall, to think the weather at that time was 10-11 degrees. Super cooooooolllllddddd!!! There were a lot of mini-stalls selling coffee and food at that time. Indeed it is one of the visited place in Sagada because there were a lot visitors waiting before we get there. Camping is allowed i think but thermals, gloves and jackets is a must if you planned to stay for the night.

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Sadly, no matter how we expected to see something we want, the nature forbid us to see one: The Sunrise i mean. Haha! Yep, no sun, just pure fog and clouds. Then we decided to descent after almost 2 hours of waiting.

We had our breakfast at Happy Haus, just near our place and ate arroz caldo to ease the cold and disappointment. After eating, we packed our bags and checked-out. We also pass by to the souvenir shops nearby. I didn’t get the name of the souvenir shop where I bought homemade blueberry and chocolate cookies (P130/pack) that tasted fantastic! I also bought Arabica Coffee (Sagada made -smells so good),  it is P180/pack. The souvenir shop also sells wine, and other stuffs, you might want to check it out. If you wish to bring home Lemon Pie (Lemon Pie House), they are open at around 9am and taste a slice or a whole pie.

TAKE NOTE:

The bus (GL Bus) going to Baguio City is only scheduled (6am-11am). The fare costs 220/per person. The travel from Sagada to Baguio City is exhausting. I think one of the longest road I take in my life, I even had 5 consecutive naps and still wake up on the road. There are 2 stopovers for lunch and early dinner. We also passed through the highest point in Benguet which is 2,255 metres (7,400 ft) above sea level located at Atok, Benguet. The bus can accommodate around 29-30 passengers (it is fully-loaded). The road was not for the faint-hearted since the travel most of the time is in the steep part and mostly cliffs. The weather is more likely freezing (you don’t need air-conditioned bus here) and please DON’T SIT BESIDE THE WINDOW! (the air will flow just right in front of your face, It feels like i’ll be having belspalsy after that trip). I even froze to death because of the coldness though the view is TOTALLY SPECTACULAR! Since you did come from the highest point, you’ll be passing through almost all the Barangays in Benguet. The locals are very warm and friendly.

JUST BEWARE OF THE TIME (TO CATCH THE BUS), because there are also a lot of passengers waiting in-line. Just to give you an idea, I’ll be posting here the Bus Schedules in case you might want to travel to Buscalan-Bontoc-Banaue way.

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SIXTH STOP: BAGUIO CITY

We arrived at the City at around 530 pm and have our dinner at my favorite Bulalohan, near SM. Bought ticket at Victory Liner going back to Manila.

ITINERARY

Day 0

0900 PM ETD @ Manila (Ohayami Bus Terminal)

Day 1

0630 AM ETA @ Banaue Bus Terminal (ride Jeepney to nearby Restaurant)

0730 AM ETD @ Ride Van going to Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao

0930 AM @ ETA Bontoc Rice Terraces, Mountain Province

1000 AM @ Bontoc Town Proper

1100 AM @ Sagada Town Proper

1130 AM Check-in to our Kanip-Aw Lodge House; Lunch and Tidy Up

0100 PM Secure Guide and Pay necessary Environmental Taxes (SAGGAS/Tourism Office)

0130 PM Start Echo Valley Tour

0530 PM @ Sagada Town Proper; Back to lodging house; dinner and tidy up

(Free Time!)

1000 PM Lights Out

Day 2

0500 AM ETD Van going to Mt. Kiltepan, Sagada, Mountain Province

0530 AM ETA @ Mt. Kiltepan Viewdeck (landmark Gasoline Station Jump-off)

0605 AM Wait for Sunrise

0730 AM Van going back to Lodging House

0800 AM Breakfast at Happy Haus

1000 AM Checkout Lodging House; buy souvenirs

1100 AM ETD Bus from Sagada to Baguio City

0530 PM ETA @ Baguio City Bus Terminal

0645 PM Secure Tickets from Victory Liner, Dinner @ Bulalohan

0840 PM Bus going back to Manila

xx—–xx

0230 AM ETA @ Manila

I didn’t explore much about Baguio since I’ve been there for a lot of time.

Hope you enjoy reading!

XOXO

V.

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