Sagada on a budget: A 48-hour itinerary from ‘Biyahe ni Drew’

This summer, beat the heat with a trip to chilly Sagada! Known as “Mountain Province’s Pride,” Sagada is one of Drew’s favorite travel destinations.

Quick facts

  • Sagada is known as “Mountain Province’s Pride”
  • Sagada is coldest during February, when the average temperature drops to 12 degrees Celsius.
  • With only 5,000 residents and a low crime rate, Sagada is a favorite among foreign tourists.

How to get there

  • If you don’t feel like driving 400 kilometers, take a six-hour provincial bus ride from Cubao, Metro Manila to Baguio (P350-450/head, one way). Large liners, like Victory Liner, have buses that leave every hour and are open 24/7.
  • From there, it’s a six hour ride via local bus to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province.
  • The Bontoc-Sagada jeepneys fill up quickly, so one option is to “topload” or ride on a jeepney’s roof. It’s a bit dangerous but is also a completely normal sight. Here’s what Drew had to say: “It’s not the most comfortable ride, but for the experience? Go!” The fare is P45, one way.
  • Total travel time: 12 hours

How to get around

Walk or bike | Price: 100% Free!
With a land area of only 8,000 hectares, most places can be reached by walking! Bring your own mountain bike for added adventure.

What to see
Lumiang Cave | Tour Fee: P150, to be paid at the municipal office and inclusive of tour guide
A 15 to 20 minute walk from Sagada town proper is a 2000-year old cave and resting place for Igorot tribal elders. The coffins are smaller than usual because of the tradition of being buried in the fetal position, which represents a return to nature. With the spread of Christianity, many locals have opted for Christian burials in a different cemetery. However, the elders’ coffins remain in the cave, protected by the current generation.

Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins | Entrance fee: Free
A 20-minute walk from the Lumiang Cave is Echo Valley, where you can shout and hear the sound bounce around the forest. From there, Sagada’s famous Hanging Coffins are a five minute walk away. The Igorot practice of attaching the coffins to the mountain comes from a belief that underground burials isolate a person from the natural world.

Bokong Falls | Entrance: free
This is where Sagada locals learn to swim! If the water’s too cold for you, it’s still fun to stand at the edge and let the mist wash over you.

St. Mary the Mother Church | Entrance fee: Free
This is the first Anglican church established in Sagada. Check out the architecture!

What to do
Drink at a videoke bar, or try dapay
Sagada has a strong drinking culture thanks to the cold weather. Add that to the Filipino love for singing, and you’ve got videoke bars filled with extra-large bottles of Red Horse beer. If singing your heart out between beers isn’t your style, try dapay, or drinking beer and bugnay (rice wine) under the stars around a bonfire.

Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave | Guide fee: P150/head
Warm up with the 20-minute walk from the town proper. The challenge? The physically demanding, four hour journey through Sumaguing Cave—complete with ice-cold spring waters. Wear rubber shoes and dry fit clothing, and don’t forget to bring a flashlight so you can appreciate the rock formations.

What/where to eat

Pinikpikan | Price range: P200-300 for a whole chicken, definitely good for sharing
This one isn’t for the squeamish. The preparation of pinikpikan, Sagada’s local delicacy, includes beating a live chicken with a stick prior to cooking. The logic here is that as the blood pools in the flesh, so does the flavor. This can be ordered from restaurants all over Sagada.

Lemon Pie House | Price range: P20/slice; P150/whole
If sour food is your thing, you might like the pie at Sagada’s Lemon Pie House. A dense, eye-squintingly sour layer of lemon paste forms the base, and is topped by a soft meringue icing. If you’re not used to sour food, alternate with some egg pie and brewed coffee.

Where to stay
There are no major hotels in Sagada—or major anything, for that matter—but inns and transient homes offer rooms for P150 to P250 a night. The most expensive room you’ll find here is P300 per night.

Tip: Even with a water heater, baths can get uncomfortable. The weather is so cold that hot water cools quickly after touching your skin, and you’ll be shivering in no time. If you’re just staying for the weekend, take a sponge bath or skip it altogether.

What to buy

Fresh vegetables
Compared to Metro Manila, veggies are cheaper by at least 50 percent in Sagada.
Broccoli: P30-45/kilo
Potatoes: P20/kilo
Pechay: P20/kilo
Cauliflower: P45-50/kilo

Woven handicrafts | Budget: P150 to P400 for a bag

Sagada pottery | Budget: P300 to P1500 depending on the item

For more budget-friendly travel adventures, tune in to “Biyahe ni Drew” every Friday at 10:00 PM on GMA News TV Channel 11! Like the program on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to stay updated on the latest tips and destinations. –Cristina Tantengco/PF, GMA News Online


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