Time lapse videos in Sagada. Video is mine.
I still couldn't move on to the previous Batad-Banaue-Sagada trip last February that I have to create a new entry before going to the next travel blog. Why can't I just move on when I still have a long list of back logs? Well, it could be that I want to feel a little bit of coldness right now because it is already summer and it's very hot right now in the country, I am located in the Philippines by the way and tomorrow is first of May so before finally saying goodbye to April, I would like to submit one more blog!
James and I went farther and got lost in the middle of this pine tree filled location and we loved it. Photo is mine.
Pine cone in Sagada. Photo is mine.
It is a shame that we take a lot of photos yet we don't get to post all of these since bitLanders only allow ten photos in a blog. I don't usually post on Facebook because I am tired of getting notification of likes and such. Also, Facebook is just becoming boring. I would like to sign up to another site perhaps which will give me the opportunity to sell my photos, I guess that would be better but I am still very busy with work and bitLanders that I couldn't afford to really look into these site. Actually, I feel like I am very busy with life that I have so many things that I would like to do but I have so little time available. Do you feel the same thing too?
Anyways, this blog is intended that I may spill some of the tips in traveling to Sagada. I found this tiny town or city, I am not sure really, a bit of overrated. My husband, James feel the same thing too so let me give some tips when planning your Sagada trip and hopefully this will help you have idea on what to prepare and expect while in town.
1. Buy round trip tickets from/to Manila and Sagada.
Sagada is in the Northern part of the Philippines and perhaps the farthest part of the country that we have been to so the first thing that I had thought about when we had decided that we will be traveling to Sagada is how to get back to Manila and how we can make sure that we won't be missing our plane back to Cebu.
I wasn't able to take a photo of the Coda Bus so I am sharing this instead. Ohayami Bus Liner. Photo is mine.
At first we were still hesitant if we should also travel to Sagada considering we only have around three free full days, that means there's one day spent for traveling to Batad but we figured we can do Sagada as long as we would find someone who can take us to Banaue from Batad at an early time. We traveled from Batad to Banaue via a trike, then from Banaue, a van towards Bontoc and a jeepney going to Sagada. That was really a tough commute but that's the only way we can reach Sagada.
That's actually one of the options in case you'd like to visit Banaue or Batad first before heading to Sagada. However, there's a much more easier way - a direct trip from Manila to Sagada.
Good thing there's a bus line now that travels from Manila to Sagada directly, Coda Bus Lines.
It is the only answer to our need and since we already have planned the travel to Sagada, the only thing we have to secure is the ticket getting back to Manila. I have booked our ticket two weeks before and was glad there was no issues with the process.
How to book a ticket to/from Sagada.
Here's how I did it:
1. Logged into Coda Bus lines website (www.phbus.com/coda-bus-lines/ here). This page shows the schedule as well of the trips so visitors are guided accordingly. They have everyday trips but it can only accommodate limited number of passengers so it is still better that one should reserve online.
2. Click the Book Now button. The booking though doesn't happen on the coda bus lines page but on a separate website - Biyaheroes.
3. Biyaheroes booking then routes and opens on the new page. This will allow you to select your origin and destination, the number of seats as well as the date of travel. Also, they have a twitter feed embedded on the page which gives updates on the tickets and available slots.
4. Follow through the booking process and it will ask you to input the seat preferences and passengers details then payment will be done through the options listed. I had used PayPal for this.
Always have your phone available on the travel date because sometimes, the bus leaves earlier than the time stated just like what happened to us. Our time of departure from Sagada was supposed to be at three in the afternoon but someone from Biyaheroes texted me and advised that the departure will be at two in the afternoon instead, an hour earlier.
We were having lunch at that time and it was already one in the afternoon, we hurriedly got back from lunch, took our bags from the hotel and went directly to the office.
The bus is a deluxe one by the way and it is air conditioned as well. From Bontoc, the bus will stop and we had to walk towards the Bontoc Terminal because buses were not yet allowed to pass by the bridge in Bontoc due to the typhoon which somehow destroyed it. So don't be anxious if you are advised to go out and walk a few minutes towards the next bus terminal.
2. Reserve your room at least a week before your trip.
After securing the bus tickets, the next step is to ensure you have somewhere to stay within Sagada. I always thought that there are always places to stay within the town but I was actually wrong.
My husband James sitting at the apartment's common living room. Photo is mine.
Apartments and hotels in Sagada gets easily fully booked. I was so wrong with booking our room just a week before the trip because my first few preferences were already full at that time. I was forced to find another room but glad that I had finally found one.
There are a lot of hotels however because of the number of visitors and tourists flocking to Sagada, they tend to get fully booked easily. These hotels and apartments aren't that big compared to the hotels in Manila, most of them are former houses which were turned into inns for tourists to rent. While in town, I have noticed that Sagada is getting crowded and congested too! In the main town, you'll find houses built shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors, like it is turning into a squatter area but it doesn't really bother the visitors I guess. It didn't bother me either, it was purely an observation.
I booked our room from Agoda.com and I paid it through PayPal. This is how PayPal had been very helpful with our travels. It is very efficient and hassle free when booking something online and I love the fact that I don't have to go out, stand in the line and wait for my turn to pay at any remittance or bank outlets.
I was thankful that the room we booked was very clean, near to the Tourism office as well as the bus stop which made our stay very easy and accessible to almost all the things we need. Again, Sagada is just a small town, almost everything is within reach but it is still great to find a place which is affordable and easily accessible.
3. Select the tour you want to take.
Sagada offers a lot of tour packages that would need days to finish everything if one has the luxury of time and monetary budget as well. However, note that their tour packages are actually a bit expensive if you are traveling alone or just with a partner. That was a problem for us since we were only two, the expenses will be shared only between the two of us when it comes to the tour packages and I was afraid we won't get back home to Cebu if we'll get these tours.
Look around you, you might see some spots that are IG worthy like this door here. Photo is mine.
What was on our mind was that we will only be seeing the Sagada town and some location with pine trees because we both love pine trees. Our top priority were only the hanging coffins and the Kiltepan viewpoint which was really famous because of the sea of clouds.
All of these tour packages are available at the Tourism office and on can book the tours through the office.
We on the other hand made a different tour, it was a do it yourself tour where we rented a motorbike for Php 400 per four hours. We then roam around the town and realized we can just actually walk towards our first destination. So Google Map was really helpful.
Our first afternoon in Sagada was spent with the Hanging Coffin tour and getting lost finding Danum Lake but were both happy we got lost on our way as we found a really nice spot to take photos of the pine trees.
Check out how our first and second day ended in Sagada:
Going Around Sagada : Echo Valley Hanging Coffins and Lake Danum
Going Around Sagada : GAIA Cafe, Kiltepan Viewpoint, Sagada Weaving and Lemon House
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada. Photo is mine.
So it is indeed important that one has to choose which tour you'd like to take depending on your time and budget. If you are traveling with friends and families, it is indeed good to take the tour packages and hire their service where they'll be taking you to the location with a vehicle, mostly vans. But if you are traveling solo or with a partner, these packages might be very expensive, either you go with a group or you'll pay the huge amount. Or else, you can rent a motorcycle and get to the places you prefer just like what we did.
4. Finding Vegetarian meals is a bit challenging.
Right next to our hotel was a mini market where locals or maybe neighboring people sell their goods, fruits and vegetables, some processed stuffs too. I saw coffee beans too packed, some local rice as well as other delicacies like the Lemon Pie.
Locals selling different kinds of vegetables. Broccoli was very cheap there. Photo is mine.
We were both longing to buy a buko but it got sold out immediately. Photo is mine.
Photo is mine.
On our second day in Sagada was their market day too so while walking around and getting ourselves familiar with the roads and walked towards Sagada Weaving, we found lots of vegetables, fresh ones in fact displayed at the streets of the town.
So it was a puzzle for me as to why the restaurants in Sagada aren't really offering much vegetables. I was trying to avoid meat specially pork but we got only meat options each time we dine in. We tried to dine in on the restaurants which were near our hotel and they usually offer chicken meals and other kinds of meat but the vegetables were only limited to being side dishes of their meals.
It is indeed very hard to travel here if you are a Vegan or Pescetarian! However, I found that there were other restaurants which offers Vegan options but they are far from the main town. It would then require some effort to get there.
Most of the meals there will also cost around 100 - 300 PHP so you'll have to ensure that your budget fits these meals.
5. Expect less.
James still hopeful for the sea of clouds. Photo is mine.
If there's something that I had learned from this trip to Sagada, that's to expect less. This applies not just for this trip but for the rest to come and this is a realization I hope I can instill to every traveler, may it be a tourist or a local backpacker. That not all the places that has been known for as a tourist destination would satisfy your level of beauty. Instead, make it a point to enjoy the place. Less expectation results to less disappointments. And less disappointments result to becoming contented and happy.
The above shows the Hanging Coffins of Sagada. Video is mine.
If you'd like to know more about Sagada, go to places that are not in the list of tourist spots. Drive farther from the intersection going Lake Danum and you'll find yourself in the midst of a pine tree forest which somehow resembles the scenes from these vampire movies.
Make your trip free and shapeless, it will add more adventure and fun. It is good to plan your trip but it should always be open to unexpected events. Like rain.
It would be very helpful that one should research and really try to check each and every destination that you prefer to visit. There's this bad thing about social media right now - expectation versus reality.
Please participate in the Querlo chat survey below as well:
So be journey loving than destination focused traveler.
Hope this blog helps.
bitLanders user since 2015