Sagada has been one of my dream Philippine spots. It’s my happy spot, my future getaway, a home away from home.
This highland town with its temperate weather, lovely people and good cuisine are also one of the best places to experience culture, nature, and adventure in the Philippines.
Also, more and more people are getting to experience this paradise over the years. For those who are ignorant about Sagada but are planning to visit the place shortly, it would be best to go there with all the surprises and you will be amazed at all its wonders.
Do you feel that way too? Read along and get ready to explore Sagada!
All about Sagada
Sagada is one of the filming locations of the romantic comedy The Thing Called Tadhana for younger travelers. But the truth is, even before the movie hit the theaters Sagada was already pretty popular among backpackers.
As access became simpler, tours became more coordinated, and as a new generation of travelers looked for more places to explore, Sagada was already on the road to being mainstreamed.
LOCATION OF SAGADA
Situated in the province of Mountain, as of 2015, Sagada is a municipality of fifth class with just 11,000 inhabitants. Besides that, find it a remote, slightly developed village in the heart of the Cordillera. Most importantly, life is easy here. Also, Agriculture is the key engine of the economy but it has made a major contribution to tourism.
Moreover, the town’s three main roads are lined by tourist-catering inns, guest houses, and restaurants. It has a generally cold climate throughout the year, far colder than Baguio, something which attracts domestic tourists. Beyond the cooler weather, there’s still a lot to be sold to explorers, sightseers and history buffs alike.
Also, it is well known for its hanging coffins, waterfalls, and cave network. The good news is that the city authority and the people themselves are aware of the climate and have implemented those regulations.
PLACES TO STAY IN SAGADA
First and foremost, there are no luxury hotels in Sagada. If you’re searching for a well-appointed suite with a tiny number of facilities, you won’t find one here. Nearly all available Sagada residences are inns, guesthouses, and homestays. Sharing the toilet and toilets with other visitors or with the residents is very popular for visitors. If the room is fitted with a private toilet and bath, this is typically very small.
There are plenty of inns and guesthouses flanking one of these paths. But I prefer to stay along the South Route, as most of my favorite Sagada restaurants are here. Here are the hotels and inns that I found that you can book online.
Gina Homes – Boston
It located in Sagada, in the Luzon region, Gina Homes-Boston has a terrace and mountain views. The average price is P2, 177.76 per night. Also, the apartment is furnished with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a flat-screen cable TV, a dining area, a fully fitted kitchen, and a balcony with garden views. I also find the landowners are hospitable. It is perfect for the family, community, or friends. Furthermore, the house is great, super clean, you can cook, and it has the complete kitchen utensils. The place is soothing and I recommend this place.
Shamrock Tavern Inn
It doesn’t have to be difficult to find an ideal budget-friendly inn in Sagada. Welcome to Shamrock Tavern Inn, a great choice for such travelers as you. Also, the average price is P1, 600 per night. Guest rooms provide facilities such as a desk, and visitors can go online with free internet access at the inn. Shamrock Tavern Inn offers a concierge, room service, and sun terrace to make your stay more enjoyable. A lounge also features at the house.
Free parking is available if you’re driving to Shamrock Tavern Inn. If you’re looking for a cafe, consider visiting Gaia Cafe & Crafts, Sagada Brew or The Sagada Lemon Pie Restaurant, all conveniently located a short distance from Shamrock Tavern Inn. As for me, Shamrock tavern was all in one hotel, a wonderful place for friends and loved ones traveling in Sagada with full tour packages and a comfortable stay.
Just in the middle of all the restaurants and tourist locations, they also deliver a menu that you love and appreciate with your family members and friends.
Gina’s Hilltop House
Offering a patio and mountain views, Gina’s Hilltop House is located in Sagada in the Luzon region. This apartment has a balcony and provides accommodation. The average price per night is P1,823.24.
Also, the apartment is composed of 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom with a bath or shower, a sitting area and a kitchen with a fridge. Moreover, the guests will enjoy hiking nearby at Gina’s Hilltop Home or make the most of the garden.
The apartment was stunning and beautifully well furnished with a fireplace living room and large kitchen. I find the view so breathtaking and the place is so peaceful and calming, away from the main street.
Also, the shower is hot and the pressure is good. Besides that, the apartment catches the diffused morning light that makes the mornings super cozy. If you have a car, parking is available at the start of the route.
Sagada Lodging Home
A Lodging house with a shared lounge and a terrace. There is free WiFi and private parking can be provided at a surcharge. The private bathroom has a tub, and free toiletries are provided.
Families like the location particularly and they scored it to 8.4 for a two-person ride. Also, the average price per night is P2,076.47. This is an amazing place on the main road but still a very quiet brand new very clean hotel with spacious rooms and very friendly workers.
Coffee Heritage House and Hostel
Coffee Heritage House and Hostel is surrounded by lush greenery and provides quiet accommodation in Sagada. Public parking is free at the building. Also, both the rooms come with shared bathroom and toilet access. They have towels and bed linen. Besides that, the property has a communal dining area and a sun terrace. The average price is P1,620.98.
2018 Certificate of Excellence
Coffee Heritage House and Hostel has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The award, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to hotels and other establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for staying with us and for ultimately choosing to support Sagada coffee and the farmers behind it.
I love to recommend this town. The workers are a friendly and open plus, their Coffee is delicious because I drank it many times and you can have it free during breakfast and any time you order food from them. SGD’s the Finest Coffee. Most importantly, their foods are worth to try!
How to go to Tadian Mt. Province
Tadian in Mountain Province remains lesser known when it comes to tourism. Unknown to many, however, Tadian hosts fascinating tourist spots such as cascading waterfalls, scenic mountain views, healing springs, serene lakes, and mystic caves.
“Tadian” is derived from the Ilocano word, “Tadi,” which is a horn-like growth at the hind of a matured cock. Cockfighting was a popular game in Tadian during the olden days. Thus, Tadian could mean “a place for arming cocks with a tadi.”
There is no direct shuttle from Manila to Tadian. The prime jump-off points are Baguio City and Bontoc. That means you need to get to these areas before accessing Tadian trips.
From Baguio to Tadian, you have 2 choices. First, ride the stationed Rising Sun Bus at Slaughter House Compound, lower Magsaysay. There is just one journey and it leaves at 10:30 am. The second choice will be to take A Trans Bus. This is stationed at Dangwa Station, Center Mall back station. It has four journeys, each leaving at 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 1:00 pm. All busses proceed straight to Poblacion, Tadian. Poblacion is the nucleus of the township.
From Bontoc to Tadian, van departures from Bontoc to Tadian are routine. Also, these are stationed beside the Lower Loc-ong Walter Clapp Centrum. Departure time starts from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm. When it is packed to full, a van leaves.
The local authority allows tours subject to set and standard rates and needs tourists to have a guide while traveling. You MUST have a guide if you want to see Kiltepan, Lake Danum, Sumaguing Cave, Bomod-ok Falls or even Echo Valley.
Therefore, the first thing you should do before you start exploring is dropped by Sagada Tourism Office to register, pay the P50 tourism / environmental fee and make some arrangements. If your inn is close to South Lane, you can also book your tours straight to SAGGAS (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) office. They can also arrange for you to register and pay the tourism fee.
You should be given a receipt after registration and you must keep it with you throughout your stay at all times. Upon entering those attractions you’ll be asked to show it.
Remember also that the vehicle fee is different from the entrance fees and guide fees and enjoy your travel.
Exploring the Caves in Sagada
For more enthusiastic travelers looking for excitement and more demanding activities, a four-hour cave link hike is feasible, during which a guide will take you from the Sumaguing Cave to the Lumiang Cave. This is an ultimate experience not for heart travelers who are poor-be prepared for harsh conditions and walk on a slippery field.
Sagada is known for the underground cave systems, and one of the most common things you can do in the city is to book a spelunking tour that will take you safely to the cave labyrinth. Furthermore, many tourists usually go to the Sumaguing Cave, also known as the Major Cave, which provides spectacular views of stalagmites and stalactites that have various shapes.
Also, you should always employ a guide (500 PHP for up to four people) for your protection, and never go inside the cave when it rains or shortly after rain as the cave system may get flooded (guide should always assess the situation).
Explore Rice Terraces
Sagada can’t match completely wonderful rice terraces in Banaue and Batad, but we were very pleased with what we saw as we had visited this place before we went to Ifugao province.
Naturally, the region has a lot of rice terraces and rice fields because local people still work in agriculture, so you will see many real opportunities for rural photography as you walk around Sagada.
Often make sure it’s possible to walk across the rice terraces (usually), but to stop water bulls, we have had to take a detour several times. If you want to visit rice fields in greater detail, hire a local guide who grew up in Sagada.
Go inside Burial Cave in Sagada
For one particular explanation, Lumiang Cave, the one that is connected to Sumaguing Cave, is also known as Burial Cave. Moreover, you will find several coffins inside the cave here, either simply standing alone on the ground, or many of them are stacked upon each other as well.
Also, the cave and coffins are centuries-old, and you’ll find it at the city’s southern end when a set of steep steps carry you to the cave. Additionally, you can explore the cave as long as you can (it’s a good idea to bring headtorch with you), but don’t go too far.
Climb Up Kiltepan Peak
Some of you who like to start the day early can watch the spectacular sunrise over the clouds head to Kiltepan Peak, the highest mountain in the state. Besides, the perspective was featured in a famous local movie, so the place got very crowded, so don’t expect to be there alone and escape disappointment.
Noteworthy, the viewpoint was briefly closed in 2018 due to significant fires but we could read online while researching for this article that some travelers have already reached the peak this year (2019). Anyway, it’s certainly easier to inquire in Sagada’s tourism office how the current situation is. One day before (500 PHP) you can arrange a van that you want to get to Kiltepan Peak.
Waterfalls in Sagada
There are many impressive waterfalls near Sagada but the most awe-inspiring one is the 200-meter high Bomod-ok waterfall (alias Big Falls). It is not possible to get to the falls on your own as you need to take a guide (600 PHP for a party of up to ten people and 10 PHP tourist fee), but on the other hand, you will have a chance to explore the rural scenery of the Philippines more thoroughly as the trail leads through rice paddies, small villages and you will even cross a swing bridge.
Depending on your group’s speed, the trek will take you 1 or 1.5 hours in one direction. Swimming in the pool formed by the waterfall is possible but remember that the water is cold.
Orange-Picking at Sagada Rock Inn & Café
The harvest of fresh oranges at Rock Inn and Cafe is one of the most special things you can do in Sagada. You will be given garden sears after paying the entrance fee so that you can easily cut the stem of the orange trees. Pay will depend on how many oranges you’ve harvested. Mostly, you should head over to their Café Bodega to try their dishes after getting your fill of fresh-off-the-tree oranges. Try their chilly chicken curry or sinigang pork.
Savor the Lemon Flavored Pie and Tea at Sagada Lemon Pie House
Some claim the tar is strangely acidic. Yeah, as it’s made from the lemon!
Joseph Daoas is the proprietor of the Lemon Pie Building. It was from his mother, a native of Ilocos Sur, who married a native of Sagadan, where the recipe for lemon pie originated and passed on. Established in 2008, the Lemon Pie House serves freshly brewed coffees, egg pies, and even pastries along with their famous lemon pies.
Also located along the southbound route, The Lemon Pie House offers a unique dining experience that becomes a favorite for residents of Sagada as well as tourists. They are drawn not just for the pastry but also for a sense of ease and warmth and the place’s coziness. Bright, well polished wooden floors, old pinewood walls and a show of native crafts and woodworks add charm to the place. Their top dishes and prices are PHP35 per slice of Lemon Pie (I highly recommend), P250 per pan, and P120 – 160 for rice meals.
Each box costs P150 or P20 per slice, a great ‘pasalubong’ because, after baking, the pie will last for up to three days. Also, the best way to enjoy it is to take time to dine in their cozy store, pair it with the equally nice hot lemon tea (P15) while sharing stories with friends and new ones discovered.
Saturday Night Buffet in Log Cabin
French Chef Aklay, who has settled in Sagada, prepares a sumptuous buffet dinner made of fresh and organic produce and other ingredients available on the market every day, Saturday. The buffet can only handle a maximum of 30 people and needs at least 10 confirmed guests to pass through, so booking is required.
You may call / text 639205273885 for more information. Dinner starts at 6 PM, the rate is P350 per guest, with drinks exclusive.
Trek across Echo Valley
Echo Valley is another common location for the hanging coffins at Sagada. It is called as such because of the way you yell when you hear echoes in the valley.
To get there, you must go past the Anglican Church of St. Mary and the cemetery and make your way down the valley; it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk to the hanging coffins.
Also, you can start with a trek through Echo Valley after visiting the hanging coffins; a walk deeper into the valley will lead you to a subterranean waterfall, and you can discover the Bokong Falls before heading back.
Walk Around the Town
To enjoy Sagada more, just wander around the city on your own, aimlessly. Take time to see the famous landmarks of other Sagada like St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the old bell tower, the hospital, shops selling a range of local fabrics, native tea and coffee, wines and other novelty and souvenir products.
You may walk towards Besao and see the pottery and even Lake Danum if you have plenty of time.
Places to eat in Sagada
Sagada is well known for its climate, charming people, spectacular natural geological features, outdoor activities and of course places to eat. On your next visit to this location, and be sure to check this great food stops.
Hidden away from the main street is the Strawberry Cafe. They have their organic strawberries on their backyard and you know you’re getting fresh strawberries in your yogurt.
Two yogurt bowls with fruit toppings and tea at Strawberry Cafe Sagada. Also, they are well-known for their breakfast while they also serve lunch and menu items. I recommend you come to Strawberry Cafe to try out their homemade yogurt for a less crowded alternative.
Also, indoor and outdoor seating is available but be prepared to wait in peak hours as the cafe has only small staff. Their prices are P130 – 150 for rice meals, P30 for hot drinks, and P80 for a fruit shake.
Salt & Pepper Diner
Tucked away in Salt & Pepper Inn’s 2nd floor, their in-house diner provides not only local fare like Inutom and Etag but also menu items for international guests. I also urge you to try Etag, a dried and cured pork in the Cordillera style and also Inutom , the pan-roasted chicken. Also, pass by here on non-peak hours if you don’t want to wait for your lunch.
Also, seek with Dinakiw and Sinarabasab. They do have balcony seating, like the Yoghurt House, which is perfect if you want people to watch. Their dishes and prices are P100 – 180 for breakfast meals and P195 – 225 for specialties.
MASFERRE COUNTRY INN AND RESTAURANT IN SAGADA
Situated right in the heart of the proper town of Sagada, Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant is a full-service restaurant with accommodation, a souvenir shop and a bakery. For me, the place is one if not the most famous dining spot in Sagada as it houses on its walls the world-renowned series of monochrome images of Father of Philippine Photography – Eduardo Masferre, after whom the place was named.
Over the years, the site has grown in size and now has a separate souvenir shop and a bakery selling organic rice, local fruit wines, coffee, wild tea, natural food items, and preserves.
Although Sagada Brew is a restaurant serving delicious savory food and coffee, for their delicious desserts most people flock to the place. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, that’s the way to go to Sagada. Forme, their lava cake is a must-try while others listed their salted caramel cake as well.
As we receive this Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, we would like to say “Thank you very much!” to all our clients who loves our cafe and rated us with sincere appreciation. Remembering your smiles, gestures of delight, and receiving kind words during the busiest weeks and the loveliest of days melted our hearts like the chocolate coming out from our Lava Cakes. Everyone who enters Sagada Brew is a family to us; Sagada Brew became a wonderful place because of you. With much love, Sagada Brew Management
Furthermore, it seems everybody knows that Sagada Brew rocks as they won TripAdvisor’s 2015 Certificate of Excellence for the consistently great reviews offered by TripAdvisor travelers.
Have fun exploring Sagad guys!