It is not a secret that I love Sagada, in fact I have been to the Philippines’ version of Shangri-La six times already since 2008.
This highland town of temperate weather, lovely people and good food, is also one of the best places in the Philippines to experience culture, nature and adventure.
Surprisingly, the place remains unknown to many, so for those who are clueless of Sagada but planning to visit the place soon, it would be best to go there with all the surprises and you will be amazed with all its wonders. But if you are too curious and wondering what sites and activities that should not be missed, Lakwatsero compiled his personal list of things to do in Sagada for first timers.
1. Explore Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves
Sagada is home to one of the most beautiful navigable cave systems in the country. No need to be a professional spelunker, as the caves are open to all capable and willing. The most popular Sumaguing Cave is an easy trek, yet offers the best cave experience with its amazing formations that were given fancy names. Try spotting the “king’s curtain”, “queen’s curtain”, “giant fudge”, “pregnant woman” and other formation with kinky tags.
For the more adventurous types, the cave connection from Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave (or the other way around) is definitely an extreme experience. The three to four hours spelunking is a test of endurance, flexibility, courage and survival instinct while appreciating the beautiful cave system.
Spelunking in Sumaguing cave costs P500 for a group of four. Cave connection is at P400 per person, for a minimum of two person per guide.
2. Dine in Yogurt House
This cozy restaurant offers some of the best food in town. Must try are the Hiker’s Delight – a banana and yogurt wrapped in home made pan cake and topped with strawberry preserved. My other personal favorites are the Vegetable Pasta, Creamy Carbonara, Tuna Spaghetti, Fried Rice with Vegetable and Tuna, and of course the house specialty – Yogurt Complete (with strawberry, banana and granola).
The main dishes servings are quite big which I think can be shared by two persons.
Yogurt House is open from 6AM to 9PM everyday. The place can become full on peak season and they do not accept reservation.
3. Walk Along the Rice Terraces of Sagada
One memorable experience in Sagada is walking along its rice terraces. This millennium old architectural masterpieces are Sagada’s version of carefully hand carved mountainsides that look like giant steps to the sky.
The rice terraces of Sagada may not be as grand as those in Batad but it still offer remarkable views. These rice terraces can be found in Suyo, Balugan, Bangaan (on the way to Bomod-ok Falls) and the most striking Kiltepan.
4. Freeze in the Cold Water of Bomod-ok Falls
The extremely cold water on the natural pool created by the cascading waters of the majestic Bomod-ok falls invites trekkers for a relaxing dip after an hour of trekking to the Big Falls. The water is so cold, that you will surely die of hypothermia if you stay there for long, but for the sake of fun, adventure and experience, it is a must to try dipping in the cold pool.
Trekking Bomod-ok falls now requires a guide. Rate is P600 for a group of 1 to 10 persons. A P10.00 registration fee is collected by the locals for every person at midpoint. Vans can be rented to take you to the jump-off point of the trek (Aguid or Bangaan) and back to Sagada Poblacion, rental is P600 round trip per van.
5. Try the Saturday Night Buffet in Log Cabin
French Chef Aklay who settled in Sagada prepares sumptuous dinner buffet made of fresh and organic produce and other locally available ingredients every market day, Saturday. The buffet can accommodate only at most 30 persons, and requires at least ten confirmed guests to push through, so advance reservation is required, text or call +639205273885. The dinner starts at 6PM, rate is P350.00 per person exclusive of drinks.
6. Enjoy the Lemon Flavored Pie and Tea at Sagada Lemon Pie House
Some say that the pie is oddly sour. Yes, because it is made of lemon!
Each box costs P150 or P20 per slice, a perfect ‘pasalubong‘ because the pie can last up to three days after baking. The best way to appreciate it is by taking time to dine in their cozy shop, partner it with the equally good hot lemon tea (P15.00) while coping to the latest buzz in the world wide web with their free WiFi.
7. See the Hanging Coffins Up Close
Another famous landmark of Sagada are the hanging coffins, an old traditional way of burying the dead. These coffins are found on cliffs and hard to reach areas. Not all Sagadians have the privilege to be buried this way when they die, they have very strict criteria and requirements known only to the locals.
Tourists can see the hanging coffins up close by trekking down from the Echo Valley. You need a guide if you have no idea where it is. It can be part of the sightseeing tour at P400 per guide for a group of 1 to 10 persons.
8. Visit the Cemetery and Calvary Hill
The Cemetery and Calvary Hill are just stone throw away from the Echo Valley, and just a short walk from the town center and the Episcopalian Church of St. Mary. The Calvary Hill could have been better without the satellite tower of a mobile network.
A festival of fire is being held here every first day of November, where the entire cemetery looks like burning as the thick smoke from the bonfires on the tomb of the departed envelope the ground.
9. Shout to the World at Echo Valley
Echo Valley is really a must for every first timer, it is located near the cemetery. From the name of the site itself, shouting there will produce echoing sounds. The valley is decorated with lots of pine trees and lush green grasses. Trekking down the Echo Valley will lead you to the hanging coffins, but another thing that should not be missed there is the small hidden burial site for few coffins.
Echo Valley is also a good site for rock climbing. Rock climbing costs P400 per person.
10. Walk Around the Town
To better appreciate Sagada, just walk aimlessly around the town on your own. Take time to see other Sagada’s famous landmarks – the St. Mary Episcopalian Church, the old bell tower, the hospital, the shops that offer various locally weaved products, native tea and coffee, wines and other novelty and souvenir items.
If you have plenty of time, walk towards Besao and see the pottery and even Lake Danum.
Sagada is more than the list above, there are so much to do and experience in this small town. But for first timers, I believe that the list is enough to appreciate and love Sagada.
Have you been there before? What’s your things to do in Sagada?