Sagada is undoubtedly the most beautiful and mystic place you can ever find in the northern Philippines. It is where I had so much fun, gained peace of mind, and felt immeasurable awe—all at the same time!
Tucked high in the mountains, Sagada is blessed to have eternal spring. That said, it is undoubtedly the unusual side of the Philippines you would want to go to to escape the country’s perpetual summer.
In this blog post, I will explain why you should visit Sagada. Also, you will know the activities & attractions in Sagada and some of the essential things you must know before you come to Sagada. Sagada is a destination you’ll love and won’t regret visiting!
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Perched in a valley within the Philippine Cordillera mountains, Sagada is the face of the Philippines that most tourists from other countries aren’t so familiar with. There are no beaches and coconut trees but breathtaking mountains and pine trees.
If you’re a foreign tourist wanting to discover a hidden gem in the Philippines, Sagada is the best destination I can recommend.
Sagada was my first mountain experience, which changed my life forever. I’m not kidding! And, there are no exaggerations in it.
Awe-filled by breathtaking views of the mountains and scenery in Sagada, I was partly cured of my anxiety from a depressing “dream” job.
In Sagada’s blue soil, while breathing the freshest air in my life, I realized that the world really has beautiful places. And life, like the world, isn’t only about suffering and ugly experiences. Everything has its lovely side. And sometimes, we can only find it if we desire to see it.
Sagada is beautiful in many ways. But, for me, the profound benefits we can get from traveling to Sagada serve the best reasons to visit Sagada.
Let me explain further by answering the question:
Is Sagada Worth Visiting?
For several reasons, yes, Sagada is worth visiting! It is one of the best places to discover a fascinating culture (the Igorots and their hanging coffins), see marvelous works of indigenous Filipinos (rice terraces), and behold rare wonders in the mountains (blue soil).
The pristine nature and spiritual heritage of the Igorot people in Sagada can undoubtedly give you an authentic mountain experience. Because of this, I can personally describe Sagada as a mystical place in the Philippines, a destination best for finding inner peace.
Sagada is pure and sacred.
When I visited Sagada, I learned that the folks in Sagada don’t sell their lands to outsiders. Even big tourism corporations aren’t allowed to alter their surroundings and do business inside Sagada.
Believe me, Sagada is a totally different destination.
Although food prices (and other commodities) are relatively higher in Sagada, I did not feel like it was a tourist trap. This is why when I buy their souvenirs and meals, in my mind, it’s helping their community thrive.
Nonetheless, Sagada offers numerous things to do, which is also why it is worth visiting. There are activities and attractions where you can discover their culture, have an adventure, taste their local food, and relax.
Ultimately, based on my experience, Sagada is a lovely destination for creating wholesome moments with other people.
It is! Whether you’re with acquaintances or your family, friends, or friends that became a family.
You’ll learn them all (what and how) in the next section of this post.
19 Best Things To Do In Sagada
Despite being only a small municipality in the province of Mountain Province, Sagada offers several attractions you can’t all visit within a weekend. We can group them in four categories:
I will discuss each attraction/activity in Sagada after this summary:
Culture. If you want to learn the culture in Sagada, there are four places you must visit:
- Sagada Weaving
- Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
- Sagada Pottery
- Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins
Among the cultural attractions in Sagada, the ones which you should not miss are the Echo valley and the Hanging Coffins. It will give you insights into the Igorot’s unique culture.
You’ll learn more about Hanging Coffins later.
Adventure. Sagada lets you have adventures, too! I think these are the highlights of a memorable trip to Sagada. Don’t miss trying at least one of these:
- Cave Connections / Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave
- Kiltepan Viewpoint
- Marlboro Hills
- Sagada Blue Soil
- Bomod-ok Falls
Among the adventurous attractions in Sagada, the Blue Soil is the one you must not forget to include in your itinerary. It is a gem and a wonder unique to Sagada.
When I saw the Blue Soil, I was incredibly amazed by its appearance. It appears like snow, but when you touch it, you’ll know it’s really soil. Fascinating.
Food. Your wanderlust and taste buds are satisfied on a trip to Sagada. The local meals and dishes in Sagada have a taste enriched by the freshest vegetables and fruits from the Philippine mountains.
Definitely, pigging out in Sagada is an unmissable thing to do! Here are the restaurants I recommend:
- Gaia Cafe and Crafts
- Sagada Cellar Door
- Sagada Brew
- Yoghurt House
- Sagada Lemon Pie House
I’ve tried eating in every one of these restaurants I mentioned. But the restaurant I had the best moment in Sagada was Sagada Cellar Door. I’ll tell you my story about this later!
For the quality of the food, I recommend the Yoghurt House. The serving also is enormous! It’s worth your money.
Lastly, if you’re looking for an Instagrammable restaurant in Sagada, Gaia Cafe & Crafts is the place to go. While you eat, you can see a view of the rice paddies at the foot of the mountains.
Nature. After dining and doing all the adventures, you can relax in these nature-related places in Sagada:
- Rice Terraces viewpoint
- Orange Picking at Sagada Rock Inn and Cafe
- Ambasing Bus Ruin
- Picnic or camping in Lake Danum
- Forest Bathing everywhere
For me, the best place to spend the most time in nature in Sagada is Lake Danum. Lakes in the mountains have a magical appearance, especially during sunrise. (The lake can be extremely crowded during the peak season and sunset)
Before we discuss each, remember that you can use the table of contents to navigate this post. You may skip the parts you want to read.
So without further ado:
1/19 things to do in Sagada (culture)
Let’s kick off the list of things to do in Sagada with Sagada Weaving. It is located northeast of the town center, 7 minutes away by foot.
Let’s say you are coming to Sagada from Manila via Bontoc in a private vehicle. Then, Sagada Weaving is the first attraction you can list in your itinerary. It’s just beside the road connecting Sagada and Bontoc, and you should be able to easily spot it.
In a nutshell, Sagada Weaving is home to good-quality handwoven products designed with traditional patterns. They have been weaving bags, slippers, souvenirs, and apparel since 1968.
When you go inside, you can check not only their merchandise but also how they weave their products. Here, you’ll see the creativity of the locals through the products they’re weaving.
It’s like a mini-museum of local’s traditional art.
Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
2/19 things to do in Sagada (culture)
In the town center, near Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center, you can find an Episcopal church or Anglican church. It is a rare find in the Philippines that’s mainly Catholic.
How did the Episcopal church reach Sagada?
After the Spanish colonizers handed over the Philippines to the United States of America in 1904, the Episcopal Church began sending missionaries to the Philippines. One of the towns they’ve reached is Sagada, where they built the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin looks very western, especially with its masonry construction.
With the mild weather in Sagada and all the pine trees around you, a short stroll in front of this church can make you feel like you’re not in the Philippines at all.
Come inside the church and feel some solemnity. I like the lighting effects made by the windows at the sides of the church, though.
Behind the altar, you can see the kaleidoscopic flower stained-glass window behind the statue of Chris at the Choir.
3/19 things to do in Sagada (culture)
Aside from weaving, the locals of Sagada create pots too. It is a tradition of the Cordilleran people that dates back to ancient times. You can discover it in Sagada Pottery.
Where is Sagada Pottery?
You can walk to Sagada Pottery from the town center if you don’t have a private vehicle. You can find it along Sagada-Besao (west) road, and it should take 30 minutes to get there.
(Remember that Sagada is a mountainous place. So you must expect inclined/high gradient roads even in different parts of the town.)
When you come to Sagada Pottery, you will meet the skilled potters Siegrid Bangyay and Tessie Baldo. They will introduce you to the pot-making process using their rotating platform.
If you want, you can make your own pot! They will teach and guide you to shape a piece of earth with your hands. It can be a fascinating experience, especially for culture seekers.
Sagada Pottery has a gallery of beautifully handcrafted pots in their cute hut in the middle of the pine forest. Some are for sale as souvenirs.
Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
4/19 things to do in Sagada (culture)
Aside from the rice terraces, the Hanging Coffins of Sagada are perhaps the most interesting cultural attraction you can find in the northern Philippines.
You should come here because it is also a unique tradition practiced only in very few places in East and Southeast Asia, including Sagada.
From the perspective of the Igorot people, what are the Hanging Coffins all about?
In a nutshell, Hanging Coffins is a tradition followed by locals believing that the higher the coffin, the closer they are to heaven when they die. It is the testament of a meaningful reverence of Igorots to their ancestors.
To go here, you must have a guide which you must coordinate with. (Get a guide in Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center)
From what I’ve experienced, even if people can visit the Hanging Coffins without a guide, having a guide is necessary. Why? Because the guide will be the one who can explain the Hanging Coffins to you very well.
The guide will let you know every detail of their Hanging Coffins tradition. Like, why their coffins are relatively smaller compared to modern coffins. Also, as to how their ancestors can fit inside the coffins. Etc.
Before you reach the Hanging Coffins, you’ll have to hike for about 30 minutes on a paved, cemented path. In the middle of the trail, you’ll pass through the Echo Valley, where you’ll literally hear your voice come back when you shout.
In popular culture, the Echo Valley is where some Filipinos used to scream words of their pain after a heartbreak.
However, shouting is now prohibited due to disturbances affecting wildlife. Visitors can feel more tranquility while trekking the valley.
Cave Connection (Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave)
5/19 things to do in Sagada (Adventure)
Believe it or not, there are more than 60 caves underneath Sagada! You can have an adventure you won’t forget in two of them.
The names of the caves you can have an adventure into are Lumiang Cave and Sumaguing Cave. In them, eye-opening rock formations await. They will uncover as you do the craziest spelunking activities.
Lumiang cave and Sumaguing cave can be traversed together since a route connects them. The activity in which you will explore both caves is called Cave Connection.
The Cave Connection starts from the mouth of the Lumiang Cave and ends in Sumaguing Cave.
In the beginning, you will be welcomed by hundreds of coffins stacked together based on tradition. The coffins are very similar to the ones you’ll see in the Hanging Coffins. Don’t let them scare you!
Anyhow, to try Cave Connections, you must be physically or mentally prepared. You rappel, crawl, climb, and squeeze yourself between the slippery rocks and boulders. Fun and adventure, it is!
Claustrophobic fellows might not want to try, but it’s a great place to overcome fear.
The whole Cave Connection spelunking adventure lasts for 4 hours. You will need a guide to get and try the Cave Connections. Don’t worry about where you can find the caves, your guide will bring you there.
Kiltepan View Point
6/19 things to do in Sagada (Adventure)
Kiltepan is the attraction in Sagada, which became viral on social media after it was featured in a local movie. It is one of the vantage points in Sagada, where you can witness a heaven-like sunrise view with a sea of clouds.
If it is not foggy, the nearby rice terraces will be visible from Kiltepan.
You can hike to Kiltepan or ride a jeepney departing the town center at 4:30 am. It is that early because you need to catch the spectacular sunrise. The jeepney ride is approximately 15 minutes.
When I visited Sagada, the Kiltepan viewpoint was closed because of a nearby fire incident. If you want to learn how to see Kiltepan, I suggest you check this article from LostAndWonder.
7/19 things to do in Sagada (Adventure)
The Marlboro Hills is another spot in Sagada where you can watch a beautiful sunrise and, at the same time, witness a sea of clouds.
Like Kiltepan, the Marlboro Hills is a viewpoint for watching the sunrise in Sagada. And, it’s best to get to the Marlboro Hills before sunrise. This way, you may have a lot of options for a good vantage point.
During the weekends and the peak season (usually December, January to March), Marlboro Hills and Kiltepan can be badly crowded.
However, unlike Kiltepan, you can’t spot the rice terraces from the Marlboro Hills. Also, going to the Marlboro hills requires a 3-hour hike after a 15-minute jeepney ride from the jump-off location.
Yeah, you really have to get up early to catch the sunrise in the Marlboro Hills.
To get to the Marlboro Hills, all you need to do is to coordinate well with your guide (At least a day before). Your guide shall make all the arrangements (as I have experienced). That includes the vehicle to the jump-off location.
Based on my experience, hiking the Marlboro hills is not that demanding. But I suggest conditioning your body a week or days before you get to Sagada if you plan to hike to the Marlboro Hills.
By the way, Sagada isn’t the only place in the Philippines where you can find absolutely scenic views.
Look at my list of the Most Beautiful Mountains in the Philippines.
Also Read: The 7 Best Things To Do (Best Experiences!)
Sagada Blue Soil
8/19 things to do in Sagada (Adventure)
Do you know what the most awe-inspiring destination in Sagada is? It’s the Blue Soil. Well, at least for me! LOL.
But, honestly, it’s a unique natural wonder you can’t find anywhere else in the Philippines. And you must see it. Maybe, it can change your life as it did to me. (as I mentioned in the introduction)
The thing is, it’s really magical. When I stood on a small hill overlooking the Blue Soil, I literally said “wow” to myself.
I still remember standing in that spot, breathing the freshest air in my life.
I even closed my eyes, stopped taking photos, and put my phone in my pocket. I did not miss the moment to commune with nature (hear the sound of the breeze and the sound they make with the branches of the trees)… and let it take away all the things that trouble me within.
That was deep! But, I think you should also do it. I promise, it heals.
The Blue Soil was also the part of Sagada where I felt immense awe filling me. There’s no word to describe that feeling. For me, to explain that feeling is like for me to answer the question, “how did the Blue Soil come into existence?”
I’ll just say, “I can’t tell.”
Of course, as a curious guy, I did not forget to ask our guide, “how was it possible?”
He wasn’t very clear with his answer, though. What I understood was that there are rich deposits of minerals below the blue soil. They make chemical reactions causing the discoloration of the ground, turning it into blueish white like snow.
Do you now also want to see the Blue Soil?
Again, all that you need to do is to coordinate with your guide. You must know that a hiking trail links the Marlboro hills and the Blue Soil. You can ask your guide to bring you that way so you can save time visiting the best attractions in Sagada.
Leaving the Marlboro Hills immediately after sunrise is a must if that will be your itinerary.
Departing from the Marlboro Hills early will give you much time to appreciate the Blue Soil before the crowd invades it. The Blue Soil’s gonna be full of people, and it will be tough to find a spot where you can meditate or simply take pictures without photobombers.
9/19 things to do in Sagada (Adventure)
Bomod-ok is a 61-meter (200-feet) tall majestic waterfall you won’t miss taking long exposure shots with your camera. It is located near the communities called Pide and Fidelisan in the northern part of Sagada.
It can only be reached through hiking from the jump-off site in Barangay Bangaan, which is approximately a 15-minute drive from the town center. You can book a vehicle ride to Barangay Bangaan from the Municipal Tourist Information Center.
I put Bomod-ok falls on the last part of the adventurous things to do in Sagada because I think it must be the last place you must see when you visit Sagada.
Why is that?
It is because you can be so exhausted after you visit Bomod-Ok falls. And, you may not fully enjoy the rest of your trip to Sagada if you have already used your energy in Bomod-Ok falls hike.
Believe me, we tried. And that’s what we have realized.
Frankly, the hike is not so challenging at all if you’re an experienced hiker. But for beginners, like I was, the hike (at least the return trip to Barangay Bangaan) has strained my hips and legs after the almost-forever-inclining path.
Make sure to bring your hiking poles if you visit Bomod-Ok falls. Usually, your guide will let you borrow a long stick as an alternative to a hiking pole if you do not have one.
If you feel discouraged by the hike, don’t be! The view of Bomod-Ok falls is undoubtedly rewarding.
You’ll love the sound of its thundering cascade!
Then, the cool, moist air coming from Bomod-Ok falls? It will quench the heat in your body—one hundred percent relaxing.
Although the return trip from Bomod-Ok falls can be pretty challenging, the view from the hiking trail is already scenic. And if trekking rice terraces is on your bucket list, the hike to Bomod-Ok falls can be that one experience you’re looking for.
The hiking trail to Bomod-Ok waterfall passes through Fidelisan Rice Terraces. The journey to Bomod-Ok waterfall is a two-in-one experience you can have in Sagada.
You will need at least 4 hours to fully enjoy the hike, rest, and a dip in the plunge pool of Bomod-Ok waterfall.
Indeed, it is an adventure you must have.
But do you know which place has rice terraces, which I think is a glimpse of heaven on earth in the Philippines? Maligcong. You are missing half of your life of travel if you don’t see it with your own eyes.
Here’s my article about Maligcong. Don’t forget to read it!
Gaia Cafe and Crafts
10/19 things to do in Sagada (Food)
Located in the northern mountainous region of the Philippines, crops in Sagada are cultivated in an ideal climate: cool temperature, enough rain, and the sun showing up all year.
If you are looking for tasty, fresh, and nutritious meals, Sagada won’t let you down!
One of the best restaurants in Sagada is Gaia Cafe and Crafts. It is one of the highest-rated restaurants on Tripadvisor that you’ll find in Sagada.
People like dining in Gaia Cafe and Crafts for three reasons:
- The food tastes incredibly delicious,
- The cozy ambiance
- And the beautiful view of the rice terraces seen from its gigantic windows.
The food they prepare is made from locally grown vegetables. So, you must expect what you’ll eat is fresh and delicious!
The menu here varies from sandwiches to rice meals, salad, pasta, and more.
During our visit, I ordered pesto pasta. The way it was prepared was absolutely appetizing. But when I started devouring it, I realized I should have requested the spaghetti my friend ordered.
Gaia Cafe is located in Barangay Ambasing, located south of the town center. If you try walking, it can take 20 to 25 minutes to reach Gaia Cafe from Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center.
Sagada Cellar Door
11/19 things to do in Sagada (Food)
If you are traveling to Sagada in a group and looking for a beautiful place to have dinner, Sagada Cellar Door is the one you’re looking for. Let my story I’ll tell you later be the reason why.
In a nutshell, Sagada Cellar Door is a rustic bar & grill restaurant with an absolutely cozy country vibe.
Inside Sagada Cellar Door’s wooden house is where you will eat your dinner. When we were eating, the crew played songs in the country genre, boosting the we-are-really-in-the-mountain-feels. It was a pleasant experience!
The food that Sagada Cellar Door prepared that night, which our group had chosen, did not match my taste. For me, it was just okay. But to my friends, they are great!
Sagada Cellar Door serves authentic Igorot and Ilonggo dishes, often in a buffet, depending on what they offer you when you reserve for dining.
You can go to Sagada Cellar Door’s Facebook Page to know how you can reserve.
After your dinner, you can proceed to the outdoor bar that has a bonfire in the middle. They sell quality beers—totally unmissable! The ambiance is so perfect for bonding with friends and family.
Actually, the outdoor bar is where I had one of the memorable nights in Sagada.
Touched by the warmth from the bonfire, inspired by the glittering sky, and surrounded by pine trees and people also wanting to enjoy the night—I was stimulated to do something everyone can enjoy.
So, I borrowed the guitar I found in the wooden house and brought it to the outdoor bar.
Nervously, I started strumming the guitar and sang a song… a good thing everyone joined in!
That was my first time performing in front of my friends and people I barely knew. As we sang together, it felt at home.
Other acquaintances and friends also played the guitar and sang.
That time, I realized how beautiful traveling is. Thus, I promised to travel the following year at least once a month.
The thing is, you can also have that perfect moment in Sagada Cellar Door! The last time I checked the Facebook page of Sagada Cellar Door, they are now allowing walk-in for the outdoor bar until 8 in the evening.
12/19 things to do in Sagada (Food)
If you want to drink legit mountaintop coffee and tea, Sagada Brew is the restaurant you should not miss! You can easily find it along the south road, a 10-minute walk from the town center.
Sagada Brew, aside from coffee, offers various desserts and rice meals that I think are great for brunch, lunch, afternoon meals, and dinner. Absolutely, this restaurant is vegetarian-friendly as they sell many vegan options.
I like their chocolate shake and the brown rice meal, which look appetizing.
However, I recommend that you come here only when you’re not that hungry or you’re not in a rush to visit other attractions in Sagada. The service can be really slow, especially during peak hours.
13/19 things to do in Sagada (Food)
I think any trip to Sagada is incomplete if Yoghurt house is not included in your itinerary, especially if you’re a foodie!
As I have mentioned earlier, Sagada has some of the freshest fruits you can find in the Philippines. And the yogurts that Yoghurt House prepares are made from the mountains’ extra nutritious and fresh berries.
It may seem that Yoghurt house only makes yogurts based on their name. But the truth is, they have many on their menu, like pasta, salad, sandwiches, chicken, beef, pork, and hot drinks.
Not only delicious, but you will also be surprised how enormous the food serving size in Yoghurt house is. A meal can already satisfy two people.
Because of this, I think Yoghurt House is the best restaurant to dine at after hiking to Bomod-Ok waterfall.
The dining area has a chalet ambiance; you’ll love it. The floor makes a squeaky sound while you walk. They made me feel like I wasn’t in the Philippines.
Yohgurt House also offers authentic mountaintop coffee.
Go to the second floor and stay on the balcony for a cold breeze of the air while sipping your hot coffee.
Sagada Lemon Pie House
14/19 things to do in Sagada (Food)
Do you plan to stay in Sagada for more than 3 days? Spend some relaxing time in Sagada Lemon Pie. Whether you are a group or a solo traveler looking for a “me time,” Sagada Lemon Pie has got you.
Their restaurant has tables for both group and solo travelers where you can hang out, enjoy the cozy vibe and savor the taste of their special juicy sweet lemon pies. When you come, match the lemon pies with a coffee. It is a perfect snack combination and a foodie experience unique to Sagada.
I also put Sagada Lemon Pie House in the last part of my foodie things to do in Sagada for one reason: their lemon pies are an excellent takeaway and pasalubong for your friends and family at home.
Sagada Lemon Pie’ pies are extremely famous pasalubong. Their pies sell out fast! Make sure you come to their store in the morning.
Rice Terraces of Sagada
15/19 things to do in Sagada (Relax)
A trip to northern Luzon, especially in the Cordillera region, is without a doubt incomplete if you missed seeing the rice terraces. It is one of the few places in Asia where you can find such marvels.
Believe me, they’re really spectacular.
And whenever I see these rice terraces, I can’t help but applaud the ingenuity and hard work of the Filipinos who built them. Can you imagine how they carved the mountains?
If you plan to stay in Sagada for much longer, I suggest you hike, relax, and admire one of the rice terraces surrounding Sagada. The panoramic view and the fresh mountain air should soothe you so well.
I believe they will make you forget all your problems, worries, and negative thoughts.
As far as I know, you can find five rice terraces in Sagada:
- Bangaan Rice Terraces (Northern Sagada)
- Aguid Rice Terraces (Northern Sagada)
- Ankileng Rice Terraces (Southern Sagada)
- Balungan Rice Terraces (Southcentral Sagada)
- Kilong Rice Terraces (Eastern Sagada)
The name of the rice terraces depicts the Barangay they are found in.
You can ask Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center to give you instructions on how you can visit each of these rice terraces.
However, if you want to see the best rice terraces in the Philippines, Maligcong is the best place you must go. Maligcong is one jeepney ride away from Bontoc, which is also one jeepney ride away from Sagada.
Here’s my guide to Maligcong.
Orange Picking at Sagada Rock Inn & Café
16/19 things to do in Sagada (Relax)
Do you want to feel like you have your own estate or the orange plantation? Try the orange picking activity at the Orange Orchard of Sagada Rock Inn and Cafe. You can pick and eat unlimited oranges within 30 minutes for 50 pesos.
They will teach you how to pick oranges from their branches correctly.
By the way, don’t pick and harvest too many oranges. The orchard caretakers will charge 100 pesos per kilo for the oranges harvested but not eaten.
Orange picking is not available all year round. The best time to come here is during the harvest season, typically from November to December. Please inquire first about Rock Inn & Cafe’s Facebook page before going.
Ambasing Bus Ruin
17/19 things to do in Sagada (Relax)
Ambasing Bus Ruin is perhaps one of the most Instagrammable places in Sagada. The artsy bus with a wall of pine trees in the background will definitely capture your attention to take photos.
I suggest not climbing to the top of the bus, but if you want to take a risk for a fantastic photo, it’s all in you. When we were there, the bus was already rusty and would seem to collapse if two or three people climbed the roof simultaneously.
Ambasing Bus Ruin is a 20-minute walk or 6-minute drive from the town center.
It’s an excellent shortstop before and after you eat in Gaia Cafe and Crafts. Ambasing Bus Ruin and Gaia Bus Ruin are only 3 minutes away on foot.
We spent 30 minutes in the Ambasing Bus Ruin. After we took photos, we hung out under trees beside the bus and admired the mountain views from a spot a few steps from the bus.
18/19 things to do in Sagada (Relax)
Another picture-perfect place in Sagada is Lake Danum. If the weather is perfect, you’ll love the mesmerizing reflections that the calm lake shows on its surface. This small lake lies near the Sagada-Besao (West) Road, a 10-minute drive from the town center.
Bring a small chair or a mat where you can lie down while you take long exposure shots of the lake.
Lake Danum is also an excellent place to relax, pitch a tent, and spend time with your friends. As far as I know and according to our guide, you can camp here overnight and make a bonfire.
What makes Lake Danum an exciting place to spend a night at? The folk tales and the legend of Lake Danum. You can ask your guide about it or just read this post from Yzagada (I suggest not reading it until you visit Lake Danum).
I do not recommend visiting Lake Danum to watch the sunset on the weekend.
It is the time when Lake Danum is packed with tourists. You would barely feel the tranquility and see the profound beauty of the lake.
19/19 things to do in Sagada (Relax)
For me, Sagada is a sanctuary for people who seek inner peace and healing. The mystic atmosphere, tranquil path, fresh air, and serene nature won’t forget to cleanse not only your lungs but also your mind.
If you have a lot of time, I suggest you commune with nature like the Japanese people do. They call the activity “shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing.
Basically, forest bathing, according to National Geographic, is a psychological exercise to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with the forests. It’s a simple hike in the forest mixed with meditation to cleanse your mind.
There is no specific place in Sagada where I can recommend forest bathing. You can do it along the hike between Marlboro hills and Blue Soil or wherever there are a lot of trees around you.
How to Go to Sagada?
There are several ways you can go to Sagada; you can use public transportation, drive your own car, or join a travel group. If you plan to commute, you can start from Baguio or Manila, where the bus terminals to Sagada are located.
Below is more information to guide you get to Sagada:
Commute from Manila to Sagada (direct bus)
Coda Lines is the only bus line company with direct bus rides from Manila to Sagada. It is the easiest and most convenient way to come to Sagada from the metro.
Begin your trip by booking a ticket from the website of Coda Lines. Do not forget to book a return trip to the metro if you plan to return to Manila after your trip to Sagada. After your reservation, Make your way to the bus station.
See it from Google Maps. Do not be confused if you see “HM Transport Bus Terminal.” Inside the terminal, you shall find buses in purple and white colors. When you do, you have found your bus to Sagada.
Coda Lines buses going to Sagada pass through Banaue and not Baguio.
The total travel time would be 12 hours, depending on the traffic situation. If you worry that you will need a restroom, these buses will have several stops where you can pee or poop in case you need to.
Another option is to book a more expensive “Super Deluxe” bus. It is a bus with a restroom inside. With that, you won’t have to worry about your bladder when it gets full.
Commute from Manila to Sagada via Baguio
Baguio City is one of the cities nearest to Sagada. It is also a tourist destination you must visit, especially if you want to explore a city with pleasant weather.
If you do, you can follow these steps:
- Book your tickets going to Baguio ahead of time. Victory liner is the biggest and most trusted bus company going to Baguio. They have 5 terminals in Metro Manila; you can book what’s nearest to you.
- Hop on the bus an hour or 30 minutes before your departure time. You shall arrive at Victory Liner Terminal in Baguio about 4.5 hours after leaving Metro Manila.
- When you arrive in Baguio, take a taxi and head to GL Trans terminal in Baguio Dangwa Terminal. Do not forget to tell the driver that you are heading to Sagada. The driver must bring you to a new terminal if the buses are moved into a new location.
- As you arrive at the GL trans terminal, go to the counter immediately to buy tickets heading to Sagada.
Essential notes for Manila-Baguio-Sagada Commute
- The taxi fare should not pass more than 100 pesos.
- The fare should cost 220 pesos.
- The Buses going to Sagada leave the terminal every hour from 5:30 in the morning until lunch. The last bus leaves at 1 in the afternoon.
- You must arrive early in Baguio to buy tickets to Sagada. Tickets are sold starting at 5 am. The buses get full quickly, especially during weekends.
- There are no reservations and advanced booking. Tickets are sold first-come, first-served.
- As you might notice, the buses have a “Besau” signboard. Sagada is not their final destination but only a stop on their route. The travel time to Sagada is about 6 hours. With that long, most of us tend to fall asleep. You must be awake before reaching Sagada, or you’ll end up in Besau instead. So, it’s better to set the alarm on your phone 5 hours after departure from the terminal.
You can take the buses parked near the Church of Saint Mary to return to Baguio from Sagada.
You should be able to spot the buses every day. They depart at 5 am, 10 am, 1 pm, and 5 pm.
If you see these buses parked, I recommend you ask the driver or the bus conductor about the departure time for your last day in Sagada. Sometimes, the schedule changes without prior notice.
Driving your own car to Sagada
You could use Waze to direct you to Sagada. But definitely, it is going to be a long and tiring drive. You should also have experience driving in the Philippines, most importantly, in mountainous regions.
The roads to Sagada are mostly zigzag, and you will encounter enormous trucks along the way. It could be dangerous if you are not extremely careful, especially when driving at night.
Important things to know when bringing your own car to Sagada:
- You could only use your vehicle when going to Sagada. On your arrival to Sagada, you must park your car on a pay parking site or inside the premises of your hotels.
- It is prohibited to park your vehicle along the road.
- You cannot use your vehicle when going to the attractions in Sagada. Only local transport shall be allowed to ferry tourists to tourist sites, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
Important Thing To Do As Soon As You Arrive To Sagada
On your arrival in Sagada, head straight to Sagada Tourism Office and register.
You need to pay a small amount of P50 for the tourism and environmental fee. Then, proceed to the office of Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS) to book your tours.
Always bring the receipt you receive after paying as you need to present them to enter attractions in Sagada.
IMPORTANT: You must get a guide to visit attractions in Sagada.
How do I move around Sagada?
For locals, the most convenient way to explore Sagada is by joining a group tour organized by social media communities.
International tourists who want to try it may find it a great way to meet local travelers. Search for the “DIY Travel Philippines” Facebook group and ask to join. In the group, you can find posts from organizers offering tours to Sagada at a very affordable price!
You may also search for Malaya Travels on Instagram or Facebook. They are one of the best travel groups that organize trips to the northern Philippines, like Sagada, Maligcong, and Mount Pulag.
For DIY travelers, you can explore Sagada by walking, renting motorbikes, or booking tours offered by SAGGAS.
Sagada is only a small town, and you can go around by just walking. Besides, Sagada is a hiking destination, and the weather in Sagada is fantastic! You should not worry about sweating a lot.
You can explore Sagada through motorbikes. Hotels like Yellow House Sagada offer motorbike rentals, so you can explore Sagada at your own pace. However, you must not forget to coordinate with SAGGAS if you decide you want to use the motorbikes.
If there is a town in the Philippines with one of the most organized tourism programs, it’s Sagada. SAGGAS and its guides are the ones who will arrange everything for you, including your transportation.
You can ask your guide for a vehicle if walking isn’t your choice to explore Sagada. However, the vehicle fee is excluded from your guide fee.
When is the Best Time to go to Sagada?
The Philippines has only rainy and dry seasons. But unlike the rest of the country, Sagada enjoys a milder climate thanks to its elevation.
According to the graphs below, you should visit Sagada from November to March for clear skies and cooler temperatures, which are perfect for hiking.
However, December is the holiday month and peak travel season in the Philippines.
Most Filipinos spend 2 weeks of vacation visiting different tourist attractions around the country. With the desire of Filipinos to experience a mild climate, you should not doubt why Sagada is one of our favorite destinations.
You might experience heavy traffic and overcrowding in some attractions in Sagada. Therefore, the ideal months to go here are during November, January, February, and March.
Best Month for Sea of Clouds
Visit Sagada in March for a higher probability of witnessing a sea of clouds in Kiltepan and Marlboro hills. It is when the precipitation is near the lowest level. Thus, a clearing (less fog and rain clouds) is more likely to happen.
March is also the month in the Philippines when very few to no storms enter the country. You can expect a more successful trip (being able to visit all the attractions and see all the spectacular views).
However, before you expect too much that you can witness a sea of clouds, bear in mind some science behind it: Clouds are condensed water in the air. If the environment is dry, clouds are not likely to appear.
This is why seeing a thick sea of clouds in Sagada is more likely if there is rain/drizzle the night before sunrise.
March was also when I went to Mount Pulag—the most beautiful mountain in the Philippines, several kilometers south of Sagada. There I first witnessed the magnificent sea of clouds. Read my hike about Mount Pulag.
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