Visiting the sleepy town of Sagada in the Mountain Province of the Philippines is not a snoozy experience at all to anyone who chooses to give this tranquil mountain town a chance and appreciate its distinct appeal and unique culture. With only a little over 11,000 people, this remote town is rich in indigenous culture, breathtaking sceneries, captivating sunrise, and adventure activities. Just like Baguio, Sagada is definitely a world away from what most people would imagine when picturing the Philippines. Its cool temperature along with its lush mountains and valleys are not usual to a tropical country, which makes a visit to Sagada a remarkable experience with nature and culture.
People usually endure the long bus ride from Manila to Sagada (8-12 hours) in order to hike the picturesque rice terraces of Banaue; globally known as the Philippines’ ancient wonder of the world. However, Sagada has so much to offer than its lofty rice terraces. It is also home to limestone mountains, forested valleys (Echo Valley), wondrous caves and cliffs, and majestic waterfalls. It is also rich in heritage wherein I admire the people of Sagada who have fought hard to keep their traditions intact. One example is their unusual method of burial which involves hanging coffins from the side of cliffs. That is why when visiting the iconic hanging coffins or the local community, please be mindful all times. Many of these sites are sacred to the locals so always be respectful. Also, try to converse water as much as you can since water is often scarce in Sagada, especially during dry and peak seasons.
Hiking the rice terraces and witnessing the breathtaking sunset definitely were the highlights of my trip to Sagada. Imagine waking up to a place where sunrise radiates above the sea of clouds and then reveals a gorgeous view of the rice terraces below. It’s no surprise why people endure waking up so early just to witness sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint despite the very cold weather. The rice terraces hike to Bomod-ok falls was truly an exhausting one but the incredible view and the fact that I was walking along the edge of the terraces made it worthwhile.
Food is incredibly good here too. For such a small town, there is a ridiculously high number of eateries and almost all of them serve incredible food. For starters, the addictive local Sagada coffee is a perfect way to start the day. Food here is moderately priced, decent, and often served in big portions to satisfy hungry trekkers. Some of my favorite places to eat are Yoghurt House (for yoghurt lassis), Sagada Brew (for local coffee and desserts), Gaia Cafe (for healthy lunch with a nice view of the rice terraces) and Sagada Lemon House (for the signature lemon pie Sagada is known for). If you also want to try the infamous civet coffee (the most expensive coffee in the world), be sure to visit one of the local cafes. It’s definitely a lot cheaper here than getting it back home. Despite the long journey, a trip to Sagada is a memorable one for its charming mountain town culture, good food, and incredible views of the Mountain Province’s prized rice terraces.