Oh!!! We’ll be having another long weekend again and you haven’t made any plans yet? How about going North? Time to pack your things and let us go shoestring travel and get out from this busy city.
If you are not fan of sun, sand and sea then put your jacket on and we’ll be heading to 3 of the Philippines coldest places: Banaue, Sagada and Baguio. This a 4Nigths/3 Days Trip and target budget is Php2,600/pax.
The first leg of our trip will be a 9-hr overnight Ohayami Trans Bus to Banaue. It leaves at 10PM (and 9PM during peak season) from the Ohayami station near UST (Lacson Avenue cor. Fajardo Street). The fare each way is PHP 450 and it gets you into Banaue at 7AM the next day. Buses get full, especially during peak season, so be sure to reserve your ticket a week in advance to guarantee yourself a seat. You can visit the Ohayami Trans website for information on how to reserve a ticket.
MANILA BOOKING STATION
Cor. fajardo St., Lacson Ave
If from Manila bus will depart from ( 8PM-10PM)
BANAUE. Stairway to the Skies
After our long journey we are finally here at the town of Banaue, we’ll be having our lunch here and proceed at the view point where the stairs of the gods are waiting. The rice terraces are an unbelievable engineering feet to behold. Once listed as the 8th wonder of the world, this monumental engineering marvel is a testament to the ingenuity of the Ifugao people. Rice fields on steep slopes that have existed for centuries change in color from brown, to green, to golden yellow depending on the season. Transportation has improved from 10 years ago and accommodation options have grown in number just as well. A hike into the inner part of the terraces would reveal breathtaking terraced rice field paddies as far as the eyes could see.
SAGADA. Where do itchy feet goes?
If you love to discover a place by walking, you will definitely love Sagada. This small tranquil town in Mountain Province is located fifteen hundred feet above the sea. It is famous for its beautiful caves, hanging coffins, as well as the serene mountains.
My first impressions upon arriving was that it was a beautiful village up in the mountains. A few guesthouses and restaurants lined one of the main narrow streets,a long with some tourist shops filled with hiking gear and handicrafts. Shops all typical of a town with a tourist drive economy – though the tourist population seem quite low during our visit. There was still a strong sense of novelty in being here.
The air was fresh and you can tell instantly that the main attractions to Sagada lay outside the town’s limit. A self guided tour could easily be accomplished in a few hours.
HOW TO GET HERE. From Banaue, you can take a 2-hr jeep or a bus ride to Bontoc. The jeep leaves around 8:30AM and the fare is Php150, while the bus leaves at 12NN and charges Php120. And from Bontoc, you can take a public jeep to Sagada. A 45-min ride for Php45, jeeps leave every half hour or so from 8:30AM until 5:30PM. For a hustle free ride you may also take a Van that will take you directly to Sagada town which charges Php250
If there are enough people in your group, it’s worth noting that you can hire an entire jeep to take you straight to Sagada from Banaue. A straight 3-hr journey, this is the fastest and most convenient way to go if you can divide the cost between enough people.
WHEN TO GO. The best time to go to Sagada is from November to February. The weather is cool and dry. Late December brings with it the added bonus of the annual bonfire festival (Dec. 28). If you don’t mind a packed town, then this would be a fun time to go. Similarly, the town fiesta is held during the first week of February so that may be another festive time to visit.
March and April gets warm and dusty so skip those months if you want to experience Sagada’s cool mountain climate. The rains begin to fall more regularly from May to July, with typhoon season coming in August until October. Landslides are more frequent at that time so avoid those months at all costs. On top of that, it would be dangerous to enter Sumaguing Cave during rainy season since water levels can rise very quickly during a storm.
BAGUIO. The short sidetrip
Pasalubong shopping is also one of the most awaited part of every Filipino traveler when on a trip or vacation. Every Pinoy wants to share what they seen and experience during their travels, thus they need to buy pasalubong and souvenirs for their families and friends.
No trip to Baguio would be complete if you don’t go to the market to buy products that are typically from Baguio. First on the list would be the fresh vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower. You would see vendors selling them in the middle of the open area of the market. However, they could be pricey, sometimes more expensive than in Manila or supermarkets. The trick is to go farther to the left to an area called the “hangar” where there are vegetable stalls and the prices are cheaper. Next would be the delicacies of Baguio like the ubiquitous peanut brittle. The most popular and tastiest brand is Romana’s. However, unknown to many, Romanas is made in Pangasinan and would be cheaper if bought on the roadside on your way down to Manila. You can also buy ube (yam) jam from Good shepherd convent at almost twice the price. The best place to get the ube ham is still at the Good shepherd convent near Mines view park. Lastly, you will not miss the native brooms (walis) marked with Baguio city being sild in the market. Again, you can get them cheaper on stalls along the road to Kennon road (camp 7) or Marcos highway. Your best move would be to haggle for the price.
*The buses will be coming from Besao and will just be picking up passengers at Sagada approximately at the said time.
0800pm Assembly – Ohayami Bus Sampaloc
0900pm Estimate time of departure
0600am ETA to Banaue
0630am Stop over at Banaue Viewpoint for picture Taking
0900am ETD Banaue to Sagada
1100am ETA to Sagada; Visit Sagada Weaving
1130am Check-in; Lunch*
0130pm Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave Connection
0600pm Back to lodging, Free time
0600am Wake up call and breakfast*
0730am Start of Bomod-Ok Falls Trek(Brgy. Bangaan for PhP 20.00)
0230pm Town Tour: Ganduyan Museum, St. Mary’s Church, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins
0430pm Visit Sagada Pottery
0600pm Back to lodging/ Free time
0500am Wake-up call. Breakfast*
0530am Proceed to Kiltepan
0700am ETD Sagada to Baguio
1230pm ETA La Trinidad, Baguio City, Lunch*
0130pm Souvenir hunting and buy Pasalubong
0300pm ETD Baguio to Manila
0900pm ETA to Manila
Manila – Banaue PHP450.00
Banaue to Town Proper (Tricycle) PHP20.00
Banaue to Bontoc (Immanuel or vonvon Bus), PHP120.00
Bontoc to Sagada (Jeepney) PHP45.00
charter a jeep to take you directly to Sagada for PHP700.00
Sagada – Baguio PHP250.00
Baguio – Manila PHP445.00
Lodging: (George Guesthouse)
PHP300.00x2nights = PHP1400.00
Cave Connection PHP2,400/6 = PHP400pax
Bomod-Ok Falls = PHP600.00/6 = PHP100pax
Eco Valley Tour = PHP200/6 = PHP34.00/pax
Shower Fee (Sumaguing Cave) PHP20.00
Kiltepan Trek PHP200/6 = PHP34.00pax
SAGADA GASTONOMIC ADVENTURE.
One of the joys of traveling is experiencing all the fabulous food on offer. But it’s one thing going out and trying local specialties, it’s another thing doing it the right way!