Going to Sagada was one of the best adventures I have ever done during my one year trip around the world. Our adventure took us on a long 12-hour drive from Manila all the way to Sagada (one of the highest points in the Philippines). And a similarly long journey on the way back down to Manila.
Here are the five reasons why adventure seekers will love Sagada:
Reason 1: Banaue Rice Terraces
We left Manila by 3am in the morning. Leaving early was the only way to reach the world famous Banaue Rice Terraces by noon. Why do we want to see the rice terraces by noon? Because December is the cold season in the Philippines, fog will cover up the view to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, during noon, the sun melts some of the fog away giving you a quick glimpse of the rice terraces.
To be honest, you should visit the Banaue Rice Terraces during April or May when the crops turn to a bright green colour and there is little to no fog covering the terraces. It was still nice seeing the rice terraces in December but their colour was more brownish as oppose to green.
Reason 2: Sumaguing Caving
After a very long journey, our group got a chance to rest up and book our upcoming journey through the Sumaguing Cave. Traditionally, the Sumaguing cave was used as a burial ground by Sagada locals. Nowadays, they bury their dead in cemeteries.
You are given two options to explore the cave. The first is the popular tourist one. Or, you can do the second but much longer and more difficult caving adventure that will take you through a very long and narrow passage way.
We opted in for the more difficult caving adventure. And I’m sure glad we did because it was definitely an adventure of a lifetime!
The advanced caving adventure will really test your strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. Not to mention teamwork with your group. Shoes are no good in the cave because of the rock’s slippery nature. For the vast majority of time, we were actually barefooted to get better traction. So important note: bring flip flops and leave your shoes at home.
You’ll want to wear the flip flops when you are on your way to the exit because there are many sharp rocks and sticks all over the ground. I actually punctured the bottom of my foot. Thankfully, there is an emergency first-aid team nearby that treated my wound.
You’ll need to hire a tour guide to take you through the cave. There is no way you would survive in there without one, it is actually mandatory. It cost us about P900 ($25 CAD) + Tip so about P1,100 Pesos ($30 CAD) for the tour guide to take three of us through the three caves. It was well worth it because the guide was great!
Reason 3: Hanging Coffins
After exploring the Sumaguing cave, it’s time to hike towards the Hanging Coffins! Located fairly close by, your transport will take you to a local cemetery.
Walking through the cemetery and various pathways and stairways will take you down the hill and right in front of the Hanging Coffins!
Locals believe that by putting the dead inside a coffin hanging by the side of the mountain, it would be easier for their soul to reach heaven.
Long time ago, thrill seeking tourists and locals were actually allowed to camp overnight right underneath the hanging coffins. This option is no longer available today.
Reason 4: Waterfalls Hike
After hiking towards the Hanging Coffins, the next part of your adventure is a trek to the waterfalls! There is actually two waterfalls in the Sagada area: the big water falls called Bomod-OK falls and the smaller water falls called Bokong falls.
We didn’t get a chance to hike the Bomod-OK falls because we were dead tired after caving and hiking towards the Hanging Coffins. It’s best to split your trip into two days because the activities can be quite strenuous. Hiking the Bomod-OK falls is estimated to be one hour and 30 minutes long round trip.
Our group decided to end our adventure by completing the small waterfalls hike instead. The small waterfalls is great for swimming and diving and a few locals were taking turns jumping down the falls and into the pool.
Bonus: Amazing Pizza at Misty Lodge and Cafe
After a full day of adventure, treat yourself to the local special! We ate the specialty pizza at the Misty Lodge Cafe. The super long lineups there would indicate how delicious their pizza is, and they were!
We also stayed in the Misty Lodge and Cafe for our accommodation. They provided great service for an affordable price.
Reason 5: Philippines Mountain Province Road Trip
After completing the many activities in Sagada, it’s time for the long drive back down the Philippine mountain province. We wouldn’t be going the same direction we used to get there (it takes longer to drive back down the same way). You instead start driving towards the famous mountain city called Baguio.
The long drive is actually a good thing because you will see some of the most stunning landscapes in Philippines. At every turn, you will see huge rice terraces carved on the side of the mountain. It makes you wonder how the local people did this!
You know you’ve reached Baguio when the insane traffic returns. But that’s okay, the whole trip is worth it for a once in a lifetime adventure into Philippines’ mountain province.
Don’t miss going to Sagada when you visit Philippines! Your inner adventurer will thank you for the opportunity to see one of the most beautiful places Asia has to offer.