So whilst I was in Taiwan, I had met so many fellow travellers who’ve already been around the Philippines. Their stories made me really jealous and a bit embarrassed that I haven’t really seen much of what my wonderful archipelago has to offer. So as soon as I landed in Manila, I planned my trip to the Mountain Province in Northern Philippines.
A selfie of me and my youngest brother, Rojan, when we finally reached our destination after almost driving around for 20 hours!
Also, I know I’m not the most fit person so meh.
I travelled with my cousin, Kris, and my brother, Rojan. That’s them on the photo, hehehe.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t really have much photos from this trip because it was my first hiking escapade and wanted to take more of nature instead of my phone, but I will tell you the step-by-step guide on how to get here by commuting.
We took the night bus by Victory Liner from Manila to Baguio City. It was about PHP 450.00 for the Regular Air Conditioned Bus, and PHP 750.00 for a Deluxe Bus. I don’t know what the difference was but the regular bus but it was fine because it had comfortable seats and WiFi.
When we made it to Baguio just in time for breakfast, we immediately hailed a cab and asked the driver to take us to the Bus Terminal where we can ride a bus that’ll take us to Sagada. The taxi fare was no more than PHP 100.00. Oh, and I’d like to commend taxi drivers in Baguio City for always giving the passenger’s exact change kahit na piso na lang. Unlike in Manila, UGH!
Then when we got to the terminal, we bough tickets for the bus that’ll take us to Sagada. It’s less than PHP 500.00. I forgot the exact amount, huhuhu.
Photo was our lunch from Sagada Heritage Village.
We arrived in Sagada just in time for lunch. The buses will drop you off at the Town Proper and you’ll have to go to the Sagada Visitor’s Information Center because you need to pay a fee of (more or less) PHP 150.00. This was the nature’s fee. Well, that’s what I remembered.
When you pay the fee, they’ll give you a receipt and you can show this receipt to anywhere you want to go to in Sagada and you wouldn’t have to pay for any entrance fees anymore.
We booked at Sagada Heritage Village because their cute kubos (nipa hut) really attracted me, hahaha! We paid PHP 1,600.00 (for three people) so that we could stay for one night. I think it’s a pretty decent price for a nice village inn on the mountains.
Also, you can ask them to cook your lunch, and they can organise guides and tours for you. You just have to ask the caretaker.
Oh, did I mention that they have free unlimited coffee?! So if you want to know more about Sagada Heritage Village, just click HERE to be redirected to their website.
Since I’m a fan of the film, That Thing Called Tadhana, I had to visit a vegan restaurant called Gaia’s Cafe and Craft.
It did not disappoint because what’s better than a vegan restaurant? A vegan restaurant with a mountainous view! Heh!
They also sell craft beer, and Kris ordered this Violet Ale which tasted surprisingly good and refreshing!
I ordered this Banana Brown Ale to take into Buscalan Village, some pesto pasta and hot chocolate!
You can get their craft beers from PHP 180.00, and you have to pay for an additional of PHP 10.00 if you want to take home the bottle. It was a reasonable price, I think.
I really liked Gaia’s marbled table top. It had a very artsy vibe to it! Plus, all their ingredients are organic!
Gaia’s also had a mini library + bookstore and I immediately had to buy this. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t for sale. Huhuhu!
If you want to know more about Gaia’s Cafe and Crafts, just click HERE to be redirected to their Facebook Page.
On our first day, we went to Sumaguing Cave. The place we’re staying in was approximately a 7-minute walk to this cave so it was very accessible.
The Sumaguing Cave was a cave filled with limestone, and it was ridiculously slippery when wet. I fell on my bum myself and it hurts, huhuhu! But your guide will help you and he will lead the way so you won’t fall and slip.
Oh, I recommend that you bring your own head light because it was really dark inside the cave and the light brought by the tour guide wasn’t really enough. Good thing Kris brought her head light and I had a flash light with me, hehehe.
Then we went to another tourist spot in Sagada, the Hanging Coffins.
The Hanging Coffins was located at a place called Eco (echo) Valley, and it got that name because when you shout, echoes follow.
I shouted a couple of times just for the thrill of it. Also, because the echoes were really amusing, hahaha!
The Eco Valley was about a 30-minute drive from the place we’re staying in, and we had to hire our own driver and van just to get around the area because there aren’t any jeepney or tricycle to take you around.
I didn’t really take photographs of the Hanging Coffins because I didn’t think it was appropriate to exploit the resting place of our natives. So I just simply hiked and took the view in and then left.
The next day, before we left Sagada to go to Bontoc, we drove up to Kiltepan Peak to view the famous ‘sea of clouds’. Okay, now I have to admit that I had high expectations on this. I thought we were going to be hiking to get to the peak, but instead, we just drove up. Also, don’t be deceived by this photograph because people were flocking everywhere to get their photographs taken. We actually encountered an older lady who was really rude and asked us to leave the place we’re taking photographs on because she said that she was there first. Oh, and lastly, there wasn’t any sea of clouds.
However, I do like beautiful sunrise so I just deleted (in my mind) every person loud and flocking and just appreciated the view.
After our trip to the Kiltepan Peak, we went to Sagada Weaving to buy some locally made stuff and to take a look at the town one last time before we moved onto Bontoc.
SAGADA HERITAGE VILLAGE: If you want to book a kubo, you can simply text this number, +6392121983385. They also have free shuttle service from when you arrive and when you want to leave.
TOUR GUIDE: Our guide’s name was Kuya Peter, and he simply was the best! I really recommend that you hire him on your trip. You can contact him via +639101180004.
DRIVER: If you want to go around Sagada but don’t have the car to do so, you may contact our driver, Kuya Arthur, and he’ll gladly drive you around. You may text him at +639392878491.
The jeepney ride from Sagada to Buscalan was less than PHP 150.00, and you can ride on top of the jeep! Though it’s illegal and there were some policemen who were patrolling to see if people still ride on top of the jeepney, hehehe.
We didn’t stay for long in Bontoc because it was getting late and we had to catch the last jeepney that’ll take us to Buscalan Village.
Earlier, I said that it wasn’t really legal to ride on top of the jeep, but I didn’t say I didn’t try, hehehe. Kris and I rode on top of the jeepney whilst Rojan stayed inside because we didn’t want to risk it.
Oh, the fare was no more than PHP 150.00. Very cheap considering it was a 2-hour drive.
Friendly tip, you have to contact a tour guide before they let you inside Buscalan Village. You cannot roam around, or even get inside the village, without a tour guide.
I didn’t get to ask for my tour guide’s name and number because *reasons, lol*. So just make sure that you have a tour guide when you arrive.
This was at the entrance of the village. My, it was about a 1-2 hour hike depending on how fast you are. I almost stopped at every end of the way because I’m so not fit, huhuhu! However, I do like hiking now. All thanks to this Mountain Province Trip, mehehe.
Oh, you also need to pay an amount of PHP 75.00 per person when you arrive. They’ll give you a receipt when you pay and you’ll need that receipt to show at every entrance so you wouldn’t have to pay the fee. Also, that payment is needed so you could get in line to have your tattoo made my the famous, Apo Whang-Od.
Buscalan Village is a tiny village on top of the mountains. It was small, yes, but it was clean and it had the friendliest people.
There aren’t any hostels/inns, but they have home stays. You have to pay PHP 250.00 per person to stay in one of the houses. It was a very cheap price because you get to stay at a really clean house with free coffee and free food. Plus, the hosts are all very friendly and they speak Tagalog and English.
Here’s a photo of Kris by the rice terraces when we went exploring the next morning.
This is called Baybayin (not Alibata), and this used to be our alphabet. I don’t really know why we don’t use this alphabet anymore because it would be really cool and patriotic if we still did.
The house we stayed in was actually made (by hand) by Apo Whang-Od’s late father. Now, the Apo’s nephew and his family is currently the one staying in this house.
We shared the house with another Filipina named Sheira who is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
It also fascinates me how someone is capable of building a home entirely out of their own hands. Like, WOW!
A photograph of me and Rojan climbing up the mountain, hahaha. I mean, look at that view!
A selfie of me, Kris, Rojan (where he at, lol) and Sheira whilst we were out exploring the rice terraces.
Rojan actually came because our Mum told him he needed to lose weight, and we thought that bringing him to this hiking trip would be a good idea, hahaha. It was a good idea, indeed, since he lost quite a few KGs, lol.
We really wanted to see the Banaue Rice Terraces but seeing the Buscalan Rice Terraces, we were like, “Oh wow, this is just as good as the one in Banaue!”
A photo of me making pa-cute whilst exploring the Buscalan Rice Terraces, lol. You can see Sheira in the background, hahaha.
Namaste from the mountains, hehehe! Also, how amazing is this view though?!
Just more photographs of us (me in particular lol, thanks, kris) just exploring the Buscalan Rice Terraces.
This was probably my most favourite photograph from the trip, hahaha! Look at Kris and how she managed to do the jump shot whilst taking a selfie using an iPhone 6S+.
That moment, I felt like I was really one with nature. I don’t really go out on hikes and/or treks, but I’m so glad that I did go out of my usual travel routine and went up to Cordillera Administrative Region because it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Maybe next year or the year after that, I’ll go back so I could see how much the village has changed. It amazes me to see the beauty of my Philippines. Also, in my opinion, people should visit this place, at least, once in their lifetime. Such a beautiful place!
A guy being tattooed by the one and only, Apo Whang-Od.
I’m not really a fan of tattooes and I don’t really want to get one, ever. But of course, I wanted to meet this very amazing and powerful lady.
When I went to meet her, she was doing a tattoo to one of the tourists. I didn’t get to talk to her or whatsoever, but I feel grateful to even get that close to her! Like, how many people can say they’ve met Apo Whang-Od?!
One thing that annoyed me during this trip was the people flocking over her so they could get a “selfie”. Well, you can see in this photograph that everyone was putting their phones on Apo’s face and just trying to get a snap of her. Like come on, people! Give the lady some space! It’s annoying how other people can be so disrespectful of someone’s own space.
DISCLAIMER: I didn’t take a photo or selfie with her because I didn’t think it was an appropriate thing to do, but I had to take this one photo to show how she’s being photographed on a daily basis.
I guess Julie Andrews was right when she said that the hills are alive, hahaha! Look at those clouds!
I certainly won’t forget this trip. It had been one of my most memorable and challenging trips to date!
We only stayed in Buscalan Village for a night so we had to take the last bus from Buscalan Village and back to Bontoc at around 12NN. The fare was no more than PHP 150.00.
Then from Bontoc, we rode a van that took us to Banaue. The van costs PHP 100.00 per person, and it was about a 3-hour drive.
When we arrived in Banaue, it was really raining and we were shocked at how dirty it was compared to other towns like Buscalan, Sagada or Baguio City. We were supposed to stay for a night but we just opted to come back to Manila.
The night buses from Banaue to Manila was PHP 450.00 per person and it’s about a 13-hour drive. It was fine because we were all asleep the whole trip, hehehe.
I’m really glad I went on this trip! It’s a life changing experience and it made me appreciate more things in my life. Like, wow, I am so blessed by God.
I hope this post could help other travellers who want to go to the Cordillera Administrative Region. It’s a trip you surely wouldn’t want to miss!
If you have questions, just shoot them at the comment section below and I’ll do my best to answer them, hehehe!
Always stay grateful and blessed!
***All photographs were taken using an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6+.
“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”
Hebrews 9:28 NIV