Sunday, March 25, 2012

Birthday Weekend at Sagada

It was my birthday and I decided to celebrate it differently this year. Most of my birthdays are celebrated at home, even if sometimes I only got an hour for it, still, I'm always at home. This year, I wanted to be away. Somewhere far. Somewhere with limited access to everything. A place serene and calm. And that perfect place is Sagada in Mountain Province.

Getting to Sagada is not that easy. You need to endure a 5-6 hour bus ride going to Baguio and another 6 hours from there to Sagada Town Proper. A whooping half day only for travelling. There are other routes to get there, but this is the easiest and most popular among tourists. The long bus ride is nothing when you see the magnificent view of the mountains and cliffs. We were in clouds most of the time. A nice and calm feeling that you are one with the heavens. A nice way to celebrate your birth anniversary!

I went there with a friend, who by the way was also celebrating her birthday too. We planned the trip days before, researching on transportation and itinerary. It was just a simple plan, and it turned out pretty well. We went to Pasay Thursday night after work at the Victory Liner Bus Terminal. We got a 1am ticket but got in the 12am and paid extra since it wasn't our scheduled trip. We slept on the way and as we awoke, we're already in Baguio. At 6:30 am in the morning, we went to the bus Terminal (GL Trans) for the buses going to Sagada. We were just in time to catch the first bus trip going there and so, we arrived at Sagada at around 12:30 noon.

Leaving Victory Liner Terminal, Pasay at 12 midnight

Here are some info on buses and their schedule:

Victory Liner,  EDSA, Pasay City
+632-833-5019 to 20
Destination: Baguio
Departure Time: every hour, daily
Fare: PHP455.00 + PHP46 (if you ride a different time schedule other than the one you booked

From Baguio, take cab to Center Mall, Dangwa Station (~P60.00). There's a Lizardo Bus or GL Trans terminal (304-5994 or 309-2096) to Sagada (~P220.00) with the following trip schedule:
6:30 am - Sagada (Ambasing)
8:30 am - Sagada (Besao)
9:30 am - Sagada (Ambasing)
10:30 am - Sagada (Besao)
11:30 am - Sagada (Ambasing)
1:00 pm - Sagada (Besao)

*Best to arrive 45 minutes early (or call) because if there are many buses, they can leave 30 minutes earlier. After 7 hours, you'll be in Sagada poblacion.

clouds at eye level

the rice fields below

the river

As we arrived at Sagada, we went to Municipal hall to register. All guests must register here first thing. There is a PHP35 fee for this though, for the maintenance of this small town. You can also check on the activities you can have for that afternoon. I recommend you get your tours here because they give the best guides in Town. Based from our experience, they are really friendly and nice, and you can make sure you are safe in all your activities there.

Tourist Registration area at the Municipal Hall

In Sagada, you can find two sets of guides, the more popular is the Sagada Genuine Guide Association (SAGGAS) because they have a website that can easily be searched by tourists, and also, they have this big sign in their office down town. The other one is the Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA). These folks are the one who trained the SAGGAS. They are the one being called at the Municipal Hall whenever the tourists avail of the tour packages there. I think being with the true masters is more safe, and also, they really know what to tell the tourists, all the information on culture and the environment around you and how you can preserve it, they all teach these to the people they guide. If ever you visit Sagada, go to the Municipal Hall immediately and arrange your tours there. I am sure a SEGA guide will make your adventure there worth while.

After registering, we went to find the place where we booked for our accommodation. We stayed at Sagada Homestay. It is few minutes walk from the Municipal Hall. It was a bit tiring since it is an uphill walk going there. The place is small with rooms for guests. They offer rooms for two to four persons. It all depends on what you book. We recommend you book early since our reservations were not listed because we called just a few days before arriving. God thing they have vacant rooms and we still had some place to stay there.

We booked most of our tours at the Municiapal Hall but on the remaining half of our first day there, we went to explore the town on our own. It wasn't that hard but there are some sites that are quite difficult to look for. Here is our itinerary:

Day 1 16-Mar-12 Fri
12:00 AM ETD Manila (to Baguio)
6:30 AM ETA Baguio/ETD Sagada
12:00 PM ETA Sagada
12:15 AM Register and Check in at Sagda Homestay
1:00 PM Eat Cakes at Coop
1:30 PM Lunch
2:00 PM St. Mary's Church
2:15 PM Echo Valley
3:00 PM Hanging Coffins
3:30 PM Sagada Weaving
4:30 PM Bokong Falls
7:00 PM Dinner at Lemon Pie House
Day 2 17-Mar-12 Sat
7:00 AM Wakeup Call/Breakfast
8:30 AM Lumiang - Sumaging Cave Connection
1:00 PM Clean up  and Quick Lunch
2:30 PM Walk at Demang Old Village
3:00 PM Start Trek at Mt. Ampacao
5:00 PM Lake Danum (sunset viewing)
7:30 PM Dinner at Yoghurt House
Day 3 18-Mar-11 Sun
4:00 AM Wake up
5:00 AM Kiltepan Sunrise Trek
7:00 AM Return to Echo Valley
8:00 AM Souvenir Hunting
9:00 AM Brunch at Salt & Pepper
10:30 AM Check out at Sagada Homestay
1:00 PM Departure Back to Baguio
7:00 PM ETA Baguio/Dinner at Baguio
8:00 PM Pasalubong shopping at Baguio
9:00 PM Buy Ticket at Victory Liner Terminal
11:55 PM ETD Baguio / Homebound
We didn't have any guides on our tour for the first day. It was an adventure for us! Most of those sites are just within the town and you can get to it easily. You can find other tourists there too on their own that is why I guarantee it is okay to go alone. On the second day though, it was all extreme activities that you really need someone to guide you. We has a guide from SEGA and he toured us for the whole day. On our third day, we wanted to view the sunrise, and so, we rented a van to get us there. There is nothing much to do there but to watch the sun rise in the freezing morning. After that, we were on our own again walking around town.

Here is a visual tour of our trip there. I'll be posting separate articles for each of the sights:

Walking around Echo Valley

Sagada Weaving

Bokong Falls

Echo Valley Cliffs

Formations in Lumiang/Sumaguing Cave

Getting out of the caves

Entrance of Sumaguing Cave

Going up Mt. Amapacao

View at Mt.Ampacao

Mt. Kitelpan Sunrise

Going back to manila was just the reverse of going there you ride the bus going to Baguio and Baguio to Manila bus. It is a 12 hour bus ride all in all. It was tiring but it was all worth it.

How to get back to Manila:
  • The bus to Baguio leaves Poblacion every hour, on the hour, from 5am to 1pm everyday. There is no 11 and 12 noon bus (lunch break).
  • From Baguio, there is Victory Lines leaving for Manila every hour. 

This is to my birthday! Thanks for all the friends and adventures I had, the new learning and new beginnings. To new friends and for the old. I will always cherish everything. Kudos for another year!

Happy Birthday to the three of us, Claire and Denise! :)

Here is a nice website about Sagada:

Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA)

Sagada Homestay
Tel. No. 0919 702 8380

More on my Sagada Adventure:


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