2019/2020 Travel Guide: Trip to Sagada and Meeting Apo Whang Od for Just 3 Days

Sagada, Mountain Province is one of the places in the famous Filipino movie "That Thing Called Tadhana".  The movie shows the different tourist spots in town and one of them is the Kiltepan View.  Kiltepan view is the best place to watch the sun rising above the sea of clouds.

While Apo Whang-od is considered the last Mambabatok from Butbut tribe in Buscalan, Kalinga. She is famous for doing the traditional way of tattooing, using charcoal and calamansi thorn in creating tattoo.

What to expect on this post?

And I was able to visit Sagada and meet Apo Whang-od for just 3 days and 2 nights. You heard it right, you can do it for just 3 days.  With proper planning and praying that Tadhana (fate) be upon you.

There are several ways to go to Sagada but I'll be emphasizing just the two, via Travel Van or Bus thru Coda Lines.  Those two are being patronized by most of the visitors of Sagada. 

A. Travel Van
There are different travel vans that offer Sagada tour.  Usually ranges from 2000 - 3000 pesos depending on the inclusion of the tour. Some offers 2 Days and 1 night, others are 3 Days and 2 nights with side trip to the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City.  You'll be mixed with other joiners in the van and hotel accommodation. The itinerary is already predefined.  If you are not a fan of Do It Yourself, in tight budget, and a friendly person then the travel van is ideal for you. 

Where to avail this?  I am in the FB group: DIY TRAVEL PH EVENTS, TOURS, VANS where different traval vans offer their tour.  You may ask them personally.

B. Bus

Coda Lines provides direct route to Sagada via Banaue.  The travel time is 11-12 hours from Quezon City.  It has 3 stops for your toilet break and meal.  The stops are in Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, and Ifugao.  The latter is my favorite stop because it is in  Dyannara Viewpoint.  It is the best place to see the famous Banaue Rice Terraces.

Below are the recent fares of Coda Lines

Bus Types

seating capacity: 45 seaters
seat type : reclining Vega Seats
Amenities : DVD/TV/Stereo/WiFi
Fare:  Sagada: 760.00
       Bontoc: 725.00
Banaue: 555.00
seating capacity : 35 seaters
seat type : reclining Vega Seats with foot rest
with CR
Amenities : DVD/TV/Stereo/WiFi
Food: free light snacks and water 
Fare:  Sagada: 980.00
Bontoc: 935.00
Banue: 650.00

The station is located in Cubao and at the same station with HM transport. Buses leave Cubao at 8 pm, 9pm, 10pm & 10:30pm to Sagada.

I highly suggest to book in advance so you can choose your seat. Also book your trip going back to Manila from Bontoc as your pick up point if you are going to visit Apo Whang-od.  

Below are the daily schedules and seat plan of Semi Deluxe and Super Deluxe Buses. You can book your seat in the booking site of this page to direct you to their official booking site.
Daily Schedule
Semi Deluxe

Super Deluxe 

There are no hotels in Sagada but mostly lodges and inns.  Here are the top 5 accommodations I highly recommend.

1. Kanip Aw Pines View Lodge

View from room
Check In: From 1 PM, reception is open until 11 PM
WI-FI: Available in Public Area
Cheapest Room Cost: PHP 649, USD 13, YEN 1357

I personally stayed here and it was 10-minute walk to the city center.  The place was really quite and peaceful.  The view was stunning.

2. Masferre Country Inn and Restaurant

Check In: From 2 PM, reception is open until 8 PM
WI-FI: Available in Public Area
Cheapest Room Cost: PHP 1655, USD 32, YEN 3561
Book Here
This one offers free breakfast.
3. Grandma's Yellow House

Check In: From 2 PM
WI-FI: Wifi in all rooms
Cheapest Room Cost: PHP 1012, USD 20, YEN 2117
Book Here
Walking distance to Tourist Information Center.

4. Isabelo's Inn and Cafe

Check In: from 2 PM, reception is open until 9 PM
WI-FI: Wifi in public area
Cheapest Room Cost: PHP 408, USD 8, YEN 853

This is the cheapest accommodation with breakfast included.
5. Kenlibed Inn

Check In: From 12 PM until 2 PM
WI-FI: Wifi in all rooms and public area
Cheapest Room Cost: PHP 734, USD 14, YEN 1535
There is free coffee all day.

The above accommodations are just my recommendation.  Room rate may vary, so click the book here to check the current rate on your chosen date.  You can check as well the Agoda and search for Sagada if you want to check for more inns. Click the badge below.

Upon arriving at SAGADA, go directly to Municipal Tourism Office to register, and pay the 35 pesos environmental fee.  They offer different tour packages that will suit your schedule. We recommend the Echo Valley Trail Adventure, which I chose when we went there.  This includes the hanging coffins, underground river, different rock formations, rice terraces, and Bokong Fall. Sumaguing cave and Kiltepan View packages are also available in the office.  Below are the breakdown of expenses and what to expect in Echo valley Trail.

Echo Valley Adventure Trail: Php 1000 
Sumaguing Cave: Php 500 
Kiltepan View: Php 500 
Shuttle for Sumaguing Cave AND Kiltepan: Php 350 

Echo Valley Adventure Trail
This trail is the easiest and you can do after arriving from long journey. You can do this after lunch as well as this will take you 2 to 3 hours only. 

The trail begins by passing by Campo Santo Cemetary, their local cemetery. You'll notice that most of the tombs have remnants of charcoals on top.  They don't use candle here but instead they burn woods during All Souls Day.

When you reach the top, the journey to the hidden valley begins.  As you slowly going down, the path appears mysteriously in your front and  be surprised along the way.
Rock Climbing
A real rock climbing area is available. It costs PHP 400/ USD 8 / YEN  837.  A little walk from the climbing area is the famous hanging coffins.
According to our tour guide, 10% of locals are still choosing this kind of burial.  The coffins are placed above the earth so the deads won't carry the burden of the earth.  All of them are in fatal position as they believe that they will be returned to mother earth's womb.

You can see hanging coffins everywhere so keep your voice down as sign of respect.
Hanging Coffin
On your way to Underground River, you'll pass first to this rock formation that you need to climb.

The river is not really a river but a rivulet with ankle deep water. Don't expect that this will be like the famous underground river but be prepared to get your shoes soak.
As you go inside the cave, the temperature is getting colder with a breeze touching your face. It's darker inside so keep your phone flash light on. You'll just hear the bats screech and call. Most of the time you'll be walking on the water.
Dark Inside.
After 15 minutes of walking and feet soaking, you'll see the exit of the cave that will lead you to other fascinating world of Echo Valley.
On the way to Bokong Falls,  bed of rocks will be your pathway then all the way to the race terraces.

After 20 minutes of walking under the heat of the sun, you'll reach the Bokong falls.  Feel free to dip your feet to refresh your whole body.

Bokong Falls
Sumaguing Cave
It is known as the deepest cave in the Philippines. The cave believes to be home of different spirits. It is darker inside and the lights you can only see are from the gas lamps of the tour guides.  As you go deeper, the temperature is getting colder. Just always follow your tour guide instructions.

Things to Remember:
1. Wear comfortable slippers, preferably a slip-resistant.
2. Bring resealable plastic bag for your phones or gadgets as the area is moist and wet.
3. Don't bring too much cause you need to have enough balance during climbing down and up.

Kiltepan View
Hilltop lookout point that will give you a good view of sun rising above the sea of clouds.  The place is started to be crowded as early as 4 AM as everyone is trying to find the best spot to witness this event.

Sagada Municipality released a public advisory for all the tourists who will visit Sagada.  The guidelines aim to preserve the beauty of the location, and promote responsible tourism.

1. Tours in and around Sagada must only be run by the local guides' organizations: SEGA, SAGGAS,SETGO, KIGA, ASSETG and BFTAMPGA for Northern Sagada.
2.  Travel agencies, groups, and individuals must register for the tours at the Tourist Information Office.
3. There will be a limited number of tourists allowed per site per day, so make sure you book your tours earlier.
4. All tours require a guide. All tourist who do not have a guide will not be able to enter the site.

1. Only local transport shall be allowed to ferry tours to tourist sites so as not to create traffic in tourist destinations.
2. All tourist vehicles are required to park their vehicles all throughout the duration of their stay in their hotel parking area or in pay parking areas and avail of the local transport to visit the different sites. 

1. Bring your own refillable water tumblers. Disposable water bottles are not allowed.
2. Throw your garbage at designated disposal areas.
3. Travel agencies/tour groups must bring out their garbage upon leaving Sagada.

If you are planning to visit Buscalan the last trip going to Bontoc is 11 AM.  The jeep to Buscalan  departs at 2:30 PM at Bontoc.  The travel time is 45 minutes to Bontoc and 1.5 hours going to Buscalan.  Please get in touch first with Mr. Johnny Tiggangay 0915 283 7885, tourism officer of Tinglayan, for guide and reservation of your stay.

Buscalan is on top of the mountain that requires great stamina. The climb will take you 30 minutes.

The community is on top

Cooking for our dinner
Meeting Apo-Whang Od and Other Tattoo Artists

Summary of Expenses
Jeep to Bontoc, last trip 11 am: P45 
Jeep to Buscalan – Bugnay junction; only trip 2:30pm : P100 
2 motorcycle rides: P100 (bridge is not yet completed)
Ecotourism fee: P75 
Overnight stay: P250 
Tour fee: P1000 for group of 3.

Going Back to Manila From Buscalan
You should leave Buscalan around 12 noon in order to reach Bontoc by 2PM  if your schedule is 3:30PM.  Buses from Sagada to Manila depart around 2PM and 3PM. Always reconfirm the pick up point in Bontoc to the Coda Lines.

Pick Up Point in Bontoc

Summary of Activities

1st Day 
  • Arrival at Sagada
  • Your Pick Tour Packages e.g. Echo Valley Trail Adventure, Sumaguing Cave
2nd Day
  • Kiltepan View
  • Travel to Buscalan via Bontoc
  • Overnight Stay
3rd Day
  • Early Morning tattoo Session
  • Back to Bontoc in the afternoon
  • Travel from Bontoc to Manila.

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