Sagada is, in one word, heavenly. The first time I visited this remote place was a decade ago–when not many people were familiar with it. Travelers, then, were very few. Lodges and inns were surprisingly only P70/head/night for a room with communal toilet and bath. Sagada’s beauty is a true revelation, totally worth the long, nauseating bus ride over rough roads. Take this trip and find out for yourself why I suggest it as your last stop for the summer. Expect to spend P10,00 for a family of four. It will be well worth it.
Travel time and bus fare
There’s no direct bus ride from Manila to Sagada. From Manila to Baguio, travel time is 6 to 8 hours. Bus terminals to Baguio are found in Quezon City and Pasay areas, such as Victory Liner Bus, with a one-way fare of P460.00. From Baguio to Sagada, bus ride is around 6 to 7 hours, with a one-way fare of P220.00. Then, from Baguio, take a taxi going to Dangwa bus station and go to the Lizardo Transit station. For one member of the family, be sure to allocate P1,400 for roundtrip bus fare. Roundtrip bus fare for a family of four would be about P5,600.00. Remember two things as well: the buses, from Baguio to Sagada, are not air-conditioned; and the roads are rather rough.
Don’t expect 3 or 5 star hotels and resorts in the mountainous Sagada. However, most lodges and inns are affordable, clean, and decent. An example is Residential Lodge that offers P200/head/night for a room with a communal toilet and bath, and P250/head/night for a room with its own toilet and bath. George Guest House offers bigger beds, so a room can accommodate at least four persons, with extra amenities such as TV. Family rooms for four persons are priced at P900 and P1,000. So your accommodation expenses will depend on the number of days you intend to stay in Sagada. A rough approximation for a two-night stay in a family room would be P1,800.
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Sagada Tours and Tour Guides
A tour guide is a must in Sagada, especially when touring caves. Enjoy all the attractions by joining group tours which come out cheaper. A group tour costs around P400 to P600, depending on the type of tour. Attractions include the famous hanging coffins, waterfalls, caves, rice terraces, underground river, and mountain trekking. In short, expect your Sagada to be your family’s communion with nature.
Note: We had a one-of-a-kind tour guide when we first set foot in Sagada. She was on old lady whom we remember well for having a pretty huge, wooden house. Where can you find a capable tour guide who happens to be a Tequila-swigging little old lady? Only in Sagada!
Food and Dining
Food is affordable, too, without sacrificing the quality and quantity of servings. You can check out Shamrock Café, Strawberry Café, Log Cabin Café, Salt and Pepper, Yoghurt House, and Dalikan, among other new dining choices. These cafes and restaurants offer a variety of food, from Filipino budget meals to pasta recipes. Don’t forget to grab a cup of lemon grass tea as well. Or perhaps, if you have become friends with your tour guide, you might even get a free meal from them.
Note: Our tour guide invited us over at her house for our last meal in Sagada. She served us the native chicken dish called Pinikpikan. At first, we thought it was rather rude to beat a live chicken to death before cooking it, but then again, we had no choice but to try it–it was, to our surprise, delicious!
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What to Bring
Bring hats, light and breathable clothes for hiking or trekking, hiker’s shoes or boots, running shoes, sunblock, and sunglasses. Since the weather can be a little bit unpredictable, bring a few clothes for cold weather conditions. Don’t forget to bring your cameras, too.
Of course, there are other destinations that your P10,000 travel budget take you, but Sagada is nothing like the usual beach-and-sand trip that most of us take during the summer. You might even find yourself going back all over again.