Sagada, Philippines - Hidden Gems of the North
January 1, 1970
by Darlene Martinez Tandaan
Located at 275 kilometers north of Manila, Philippines is the tranquil town of Sagada. As a yuppie who became accustomed to the daily buzz of urban living, this mountain valley provided the much needed escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. There are no words to describe the euphoria I felt as soon as white mist appeared above the panoramic landscapes of the rice terraces we passed by during our bus ride. Folks, read on as I recount the nitty gritty of our trip to the place dubbed as the “pride of the Mountain Province”.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fare: Php 720.00
Scheduled trips: Quezon City to Sagada – 9:00 pm | Sagada to Quezon City – 3:00 pm
As luck may have it, one of my friends from college is a local citizen who owns a cozy transient place that we got for a great deal. The best part is having the whole house to ourselves, given that it was off-peak season. She even gave us “Etag” which is a locally smoked pork meat as a gift to bring with us back home.
We highly suggest staying at lodges and homestays; they are the perfect bang for your buck places that ranges from 250-350 Php per person per night.
I found it splendid that the restaurants and cafes I’ve previously read on blogs which have rave reviews are mostly just along the road. You can find a good place to chow on at almost every corner. A bonus is that they serve red rice, a healthier option.
Yoghurt House – This is a pretty safe choice for those who are not so adventurous with their meal choices. The servings are generous and everything is delish.
Pinikpikan House – Home cooked meal at its finest! Authentic pinikpikan is a must try!
Sagada Brew – One cup of the famous Sagada brew is guaranteed to provide that caffeine fix that will jolt you right on your feet.
Strawberry café – I have to say their vegetable omelet and fresh fruit shakes are my favorites. The clubhouse sandwich is also something to rave about.
ACTIVITIES & POINTS OF INTEREST
Lumiang Burial Cave
Echo Valley Trail Tour
In contrast to the cold climate of Sagada is the warm hospitality of its people. As with anywhere in the world, immerse yourself in the local culture during your stay and respect traditions at all times.
One of my favorite quotes goes like this: “Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.”
Chilly weather, the abundance of lush greeneries, amazing local culture, historical sites, gastronomical feast and souvenir shopping. Need I say more? 😉
- If your schedule permits, go during weekdays. Skip weekends / holidays to avoid the unnecessary hassle of looking for places to stay and eat as they tend to be jam packed due to the massive crowd of tourists. Better yet, book your inn / homestay in advance.
- Try spelunking! This activity is exactly what I thought it would be: hardcore and exhilarating. The Sumaguing cave connection is not for the faint of heart but I’m telling you, it’s definitely worth it!
- We shelled out around 7,000 pesos per person. It is relatively cheaper to go with friends as you can all share the tour guide fees, but if you opt to travel solo, do so.
- Create your own itinerary if you prefer to move at your own pace. Seek the help of experienced travelers or someone who lives or frequents the place if you’re a first timer. Take note, though, that some tourist attractions require hiring a tour guide for safety purposes.
- Most of the restaurants and cafes have an outdoor patio where you can eat, sip your tea/coffee while gazing at the surrounding lush greeneries. Take advantage of this; you don’t get to experience it that often in the metro.
- Be prepared for extra fees. Also, always keep a handful of bills and loose change as you may often see trinkets along the way to buy as pasalubong for family and friends.
- Do not be so stingy with the tour guide and environmental fees. The money helps sustain the locals and aids in preserving the wonders of the nature.
To sum it up…
Much to our dismay, 4 days were not enough to try out all the activities this place has to offer. I recommend a minimum of 1 week to fully bask in everything this side of the country has in store. Nonetheless, my boyfriend and I went back to Manila feeling rejuvenated. Our Sagada escapade was short but sweet.
Meeting other travelers, mostly backpacking tourists from other countries was one of the highlights for us. I realized that it really is possible for people to bid farewell to their 9-5 jobs, pack their bags, hop on the next plane and say “Au revoir”. It may not be a practical move for me right now but it is something that I might consider in the future. A girl can dream. 🙂