Sagada via Banaue-Bontoc Itinerary: 2+1 days

Early morning hike in Echo Valley, Sagada
Backpacking, Spelunking, Hiking | Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada City Tour Itinerary
Sagada, Mountain Province
Specs: Scenic bus route, rice terraces, Highest highway, burial cave, hanging coffins, spelunking, waterfalls, food, souvenir shopping.

How to go to Sagada, Mountain Province via Banaue

Private car:
Drive to NLEX then take the Sta. Rita Bulacan exit. Follow the highway to Cabanatuan City. Another option from NLEX is to take SCTEX via Mabalacat Interchange (formerly Clark Logistics) – exit at Tarlac Interchange and then turn left to Sta Rosa then straight to Cabanatuan. From Cabanatuan City, follow the Maharlika highway passing through Talavera – San Jose – Santa Fe – Bayombong – Solano. After Solano, take a left in Bagabag diversion where the road goes up to Mt Province passing by Lamut – Lagawe – Banaue – Bontoc. From Bontoc, take the Halsema highway till you reach Staunton Road junction. This leads to Sagada. This should take about 11 hours with only short stopovers.

Public transportation/Buses going to Banaue (fare is around P650):
Ohayami Trans – 2100H / 2200H - Corner J.Fajardo, A.H. Lacson, Sampaloc Tel +63917-5060817
GV Florida Transport - regular 2110H / deluxe 2245H daily - Earnshaw Sr cor. Loyola, Espana, Manila. Tel +632-7315358
Autobus – 1400H / 2245H daily - 1445 St. Loyola cor. F. Coyco Sts, Sampaloc, Manila Tel +632-4934111
*From Banaue, take a jeepney to Bontoc-Sagada

Public transportation/Buses going to Bontoc (fare is around P650):
Cable Tours – 1230H - E. Rodriguez St., Quezon City Tel
Kasilen Transport – 2100H – E. Rodriguez St., Quezon City Tel. +63917-8629574 or +63916-3603483
KMJ Bus Transport – Trinoma North Triangle? Tel +63928-4546568

You may also take a bus to Solano, Nueva Vizcaya (Victory Liner, Baliwag Transit, etc.) then take a jeepney to Lagawe-Banaue.

. Sagada is a popular backpacker’s destination for its laid back and remote vibe - having no big hotels or commercial facilities. Modest accommodations are available from homestays, inns, to lodges and dorm type hostels.
. This itinerary is made to fit a whole weekend, ideally Friday evening to Monday dawn.
. There are many ways to get to Sagada from Manila. Basically it’s Manila-Solano-Lagawe-Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada, give or take some stops depending on the type of transportation you take.
. If you plan to take a bus to Bontoc or Banaue, be sure to call the bus company to reserve your seats ahead of time since they only have 1-2 trips per day.
. If your bus stops in Banaue, I suggest getting off to cover a little bit of the town. Have your breakfast at one of the restaurants offering a view of the its postcard-picturesque rice terraces.
. From Banaue, you may take a bus or jeepney to Bontoc; travel time is about 2 hours.
. Bontoc is a slightly bigger town, where locals do their business. Here you will find banks (with ATM) and small business offices.
. Before heading to the jeepney terminal, take note of the bus trips back to Manila, or better yet reserve your seats (you may skip this option if you plan to go back via Baguio).
. The jeepney terminal in Bontoc can be found between All Saints Mission elementary school and Walter Clapp Centrum. Travel time from Bontoc to Sagada is about 1 hour.
. Scout for possible accommodation upon arrival in Sagada if you haven’t made any advance reservations. In the two times I’ve been there, I only stayed in St. Joseph’s Inn. I highly recommend it! Cheap rooms don’t have hot shower but you can ‘buy’ hot water by the pail.
. Cozy restaurants are tucked in between residential houses so finding lunch should not be a problem.
. After lunch head over to Log Cabin Restaurant to book your seats for the dinner buffet. This is the only luxury highlight in Sagada, so it’s surely not to miss! If you feel that it is too expensive (above P800 per person), you may opt for another regular restaurant. I recommend Masferre Restaurant (they also have rooms) for plan B.
. Head over to Lumiang Burial Cave, a short 15 minute hike. It features stacked coffins and is the starting point for the “cave connection” spelunking tour.
. On your way to St Mary’s church, make a quick stop at the tourist info center to arrange the next day’s activity: spelunking in Sumaguing Cave.
. There are two official Sagada local guide organizations: SEGA and SAGGAS.
. You may also hire a guide to walk you around Echo Valley and to Bomod-Ok falls. Try to find other weekenders to join your group to save money on guide fees.
. Walk past St Mary’s church and on to the small hill (toward the cemetery) to find the foot trail to Echo valley. There, the famous hanging coffins can be seen up close.
. Sagada weaving is another short hike on a cemented road past St. Theodore’s hospital. It’s located in front of the lone gas station in Sagada.
. When driving to Sagada, do not expect the gas station to be open at all times. Same thing with money, since there is only one ATM machine in the town. Additionally, the two ATMs in Bontoc may not support international ATM withdrawals, so be prepared if you’re a foreigner.
. There is a 9:00PM curfew in Sagada, so make sure you are back in your room by then.
. The best time to go to Sagada is on New Year’s Eve and All Soul's Day.
. Depending on your arrangements your guide may pick you up or meet you somewhere in town for the Sumaguing Cave tour (bring a flashlight and footwear with good traction).
. A more advanced cave tour – the Sumaguing-Lumiang Cave Connection (3 hour spelunking) is recommended for those with caving experience and extra time.
. After the cave tour, have a quick breakfast then drop by the market for some pasalubongs: Sagada oranges, Sagada coffee and other local finds.
. The path to Bomod-ok falls in Banga-an is accessible by jeepney (about 20 minutes + 1 hour hike to the falls/1.5 hour hike back). Walking is also a healthy option if you have the time (about 2 hours total). You may have to hire a jeepney if you missed the regular trip going there or back.
. If you wish to swim in the cold waters of Bomod-Ok falls, be sure to bring an extra set of clothes (no changing rooms though).
. Make sure you are back in the town proper/poblacion by around 12:00-ish so as not to miss the 1300h last trip back to Bontoc or Baguio. Save your seats on the bus and grab some lunch on the go.

. On day 1, you may substitute St Mary’s Church-Cemetery- Echo Valley tour with Sumaguing cave spelunking to give you more time for Bomod-ok falls the next day.
. For a long weekend stay (3 days), you can stay a night in Banaue before heading to Sagada. Or better yet, visit Batad, a more remote town featuring steep rice terraces, very different from those in Banaue.
. To get back to Manila via Baguio, take a bus from Sagada to Baguio (schedule 6am, 7am, 8am, 10am, 1pm last trip). If you missed those trips, take a jeep to Bontoc and hop on a bus to Baguio. From Baguio, there are many buses going back to Manila - most recommended is Victory Liner - with buses leaving every 30 minutes.

FYI: How to Get to Sagada via Baguio City
Drive to Baguio City via NLEX - SCTEX via Mabalacat Interchange (formerly Clark Logistics) – exit at Tarlac Interchange. Turn left and follow the signages going to Baguio (via Gerona). This should take about 6 hours. From Baguio, Take the Baguio-La Trinidad road and then to Halsema Highway (Kabayan Road). After about 5 hours of winding mountainside roads, you will reach the Halsema-Staunton junction. Turn left to Staunton road to reach Sagada. Total travel time is about 12 hours.

Budget: around P3150 per pax
Budget estimate for 4 people:
5200 bus fares
800 jeepney fares
400 entrance fees
1200 room
600 guide fee
4000 food share
400 misc (other fees, tips, etc.)

Banaue scene

THE Banaue Rice Terraces

Rickety bus: Banaue to Bontoc

approaching Bontoc, Mountain Province

NYE mass at St. Mary's church, Sagada

Stacked coffins in Lumiang Cave, Sagada

Sagada weaving - pasalubong!

Probably the most photographed hanging coffins in Echo Valley


*Jeepneys or jeeps are colorful public utility vehicles – truly Filipino.
*Pasalubong - is a gift for friends and family back home.

Itinerary and expenses recorded on January 2009
Updated on July 2011

1 comment:

  1. This is a great guide to Sagada. Thus us helping me currently on my trip here.


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