Exploring the beautiful Bontoc in Mountain Province, Philippines

May 14, 2019

by Galang Kuripot

Bontoc is sometimes being overlooked by many tourists as it is situated near Sagada. But, little do they know, Bontoc has the richest and well-preserved culture in Mountain Province. And many activities and places that they can offer and deserved to be visited and appreciated.

How to get there:

There are two ways of getting to Bontoc. First is straight from Manila or from Baguio.

Quezon to Bontoc:

The only bus company that I know who offers Manila-Sagada (which will go through Bontoc) bound is Coda Lines, situated in HM Transport terminal in Cubao. They have everyday trips but the first trip is at 8 PM and the last trip is at 10 PM and the estimated time of departure depends on what type of bus you’ll be booking: Semi Deluxe Bus or Super Deluxe Bus. It will take at least 12 hours to get to Bontoc and this includes at least four stops.

If you book online on their website at Coda Lines, the bus fare is Php725.00 for the Semi Deluxe Bus which has no CR and 45 seat capacity and Php935.00 for Super Deluxe Bus which has a CR and has 35 seat capacity. Both have an admin fee of Php35.00.

Baguio to Bontoc:

From Slaughter House, you can catch the Rising Sun bus. I haven’t tried using this route as I actually do not like taking many rides when there’s a bus company that offers direct trips. But, it wouldn’t hurt to have a side trip in Baguio. The bus fare is for Php250.00 and it will take you at least 4 hours to reach Bontoc.

What to do and where to go:

Maligcong Rice Terraces

When we [me and my boyfriend] arrived in Bontoc at 8:30 am, we have immediately invited to join an Italian woman to join a hike up Maligcong Rice Terraces. This is the most well-known rice terraces in Bontoc.

Reaching the starting point of the hike, you have to ride a jeepney that is bound to Maligcong. There are two ways in riding it, on the top, or inside. My boyfriend and I decided to ride on the top because: first, that’s one on our list to experience to as it is rarely not to jeepney drivers to let passenger ride on the top as it is quite dangerous. Second, you will see beautiful nature going to our destination.

It took us roughly 2 hours to get to the campsite as well as the view area of Maligcong. The hiking part might be exhausting but the view from the top will surely take it away.

Our tour guide decided to let us experience walking on the rice terraces firsthand as it will complete our tour. We have visited Bontoc in mid-February just after constant rainfalls a few days back and it is planting season so we had a hard time going around as the soil is not compact enough to support our weights and it also started to rain.

Visit Bontoc Museum

After lunch, we have visited the Bontoc Museum where I have found the things that I thought I’m going to see everywhere once I have alighted our bus. There are varieties of cultural things, models, artifacts that have awesome stories and use. We have also come to know the traditional girl’s and boy’s dormitories and how and what are the things going on in them.

Walk Around

The good thing about being a backpacker is you don’t have to stick with what was scheduled. By walking around, you’ll find hidden gems or sometimes, you see unexpected things. Don’t be afraid to get lost and sometimes, most memorable things happen when you don’t expect them.

Local Bars

Evening came and we have hit up a local bar where there are live performances every night. Who wouldn’t want to chill in cold weather with good music?

What and where to eat:

After a long hike, and being soaked up in the rain, a local breakfast will be the best option to do. Our tour guide went with us to eat breakfast which he led us to the public market and on to the second floor where food kiosks are everywhere. I have tried their local pancakes which smothered with lots of butter and condensed milk. it delicious and I might say a heavy meal as the pancake was made in ground glutinous rice.

The northern part of the Philippines is also known for its coffee so local pancake and their locally made coffee will surely complete your morning stay in Bontoc.

My boyfriend had spaghetti. He always prefers sweet style spaghetti but, he approves the Italian style spaghetti that was served to him. It was also topped with lots of cheese!

The breakfast we had only cost us Php95.00. I forgot the expense breakdown but for two meals, it was surely cheap!

At lunch, we went to a must-try restaurant called Caja. They are famous for their pizzas and pasta. My boyfriend and I ordered Chicken Teriyaki and Overload Meat. I’m not fond of thin-crust pizzas because I’m all pizza crust person but Caja is an exemption. I like how not greasy their pizza is and you can order two flavors in one pizza! Love it so much!

 

And a beautiful view like this is not something you can have every day. Well, of course, not if you’re living here in Bontoc.

Where to stay:

Long travel time from Manila to Bontoc and sudden hike up to Maligcong made us be exhausted so, we have a check-in to the Pines and Kitchenette Inn which is very cheap and has high-speed internet. It’ll only cost you Php350.00 per night; shared-bathroom. They also have a room with own bathroom but it is intended for a large group.

There are lots of Inns and Hotels around Bontoc that offers the same price. You may also check:

  • Maligcong Chen’s Homestay
  • Ridgebrooke Hotel and Restaurant
  • Churya-a Hotel and Restaurant

 

Sometimes, overlooked places have the most to offer because they are not that touched by civilization. So, if you want to really experience the rich culture, these kinds of places you are looking for but remember, leave nothing but only your footprints.

Galang Kuripot is now signing off.

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