Have you ever heard about the Rice Terraces in the Philippines? These stunning ancient rice terraces is found in the Mountain Province, Philippines. If ever you are considering visiting the site there’s an alternative place to go instead of going to Banaue, go see it in Sagada Philippines. Here’s some of my travel hacks around Sagada, follow my photographic adventure.
Years ago the lack of transportation has prevented people from setting foot in this area. The remoteness of the area has done good things that’s has preserved it’s indigenous culture and customs, from being exploited from the outsiders.
With the improvement of roads and transportation, now a days it’s much easier to visit the place. The only downside the journey from the nearest city is 5 to 6 hours drive. But if you are up for a fun and exhilarating road trip come and tag along.
Sagada has many natural wonders has to offer to many tourist. What ever your interest either walking, hiking, and swimming. Or just sit back and watch the Sunset or Sunrise by the distance and let the wind blows those worries away.
How to get there:
There are two routes getting to Sagada. From the Northern Route known The Cervantes way or the more popular route which is from Bagiuo City, we opted for the later. We headed towards the Dangwa Terminal at the back of Centre mall, and look for the Bus/Coach To Besao via Sagada.
The earliest departure time is 5:55 but the bus will set off before the departure time whenever the bus is full. So go early to avoid disappointment, but do check out with the bus company timetables a day before your travel dates.
The journey will take 5 – 6 hours bus ride, with a couple of food and toilet breaks. ( When using public toilet be prepared to pay a small fee for cleaning maintenance, and for ladies bring a wet wipes/tissue paper with you all the time.)
With my blurry eye we hailed a taxi from our hotel to the Dangwa Bus station, to catch the first trip to Sagada. Together with my sister, with our light backpack and packed breakfast we were both eager for our Sagada trip. As soon as we reached the bus station the bus was filling up fast, and in no time the bus was slowly moving away from the station.
It was still dark so I decide to catch up some snooze, and after and hour or so I was woken up with the zigzag motion of the bus. As I opened my eyes I saw the breathtaking views of the mountain on one side and a deep cliff on the other.
While on the far horizon the sunrise starting to peak out and giving a yellow glow to the clouds. Completed with the dramatic effect of the low clouds suspended along the mountain range is so picturesque.
With a couple of stops that helped breaks the 6 hour journey. The day was so tiring but the magnificent view makes up the whole journey.
Upon arrival in Sagada make sure you register and pay for Environmental Fee costing 35.00 pesos at the Tourist information Centre. But make sure to keep it with you, they will check it. (Exchange rate £1 = 64 pesos at the time of visit) And don’t forget to ask for a map. It’s easier to navigate around the area.
Sagada is very touristy place for local Filipinos as well you’ll find some adventurous foreigners around. When visiting most of the tourist spot, they always require to have a tour guide. If your watching your budget, try to look for group of tourist and share the cost. But there are places that doesn’t really need a guide.
If you want to visit and see a rice field up close, I suggest go early in the morning and walk towards the Weaving Showroom. Continue walking and passing by the showroom on your left there will be footpath with steps and railing leading to the farm. Just follow the footpath passing through a fine tree forest in top of hill and you will eventually see the rice field on the bottom. Just continue walking following the provided concrete trails with couple of steps.
If you still have the energy after the trek towards the rice fields. There’s also a waterfalls nearby, the Bokong Waterfalls towards the end of the trail. You will cross a stream flowing from the falls or use the bridge. ( This trail need a guide but because we went early, the locals just point us the way.)
On your way back to the centre, why not visit the Weaving Showroom. You will have a chance to watch the weavers at work. As well as you can buy your local souvenirs here from T-shirts to bags and others.
We also visited the Lumiang Burial Cave without a guide, but we did’nt go inside the cave. You can see the stucks of coffins just by the entrance of the cave. If you want to go inside the cave it requires a guide, which they also provides gas lamp. The tour will take more than 4 hours. We were a bit cautious going inside the cave because it has rained the previous night and during the day of visit.
There’s another nearby cave called Sumaguing Cave, it has unusual limestone formations. This place requires a local guide to get inside. When visiting the place it’s advisable to wear a rubber shoes or non slip footwear, as some places are slippery or you will be walking in the water.
A visit to the Echo Valley is not to be missed! Join the other tourist to share the cost for a guide. Following the trail passing through a local cemetery, and a couple of steps with railing.
Half way through the trail, you will be welcomed with a narrow gorge with steep side.
Take the chance for a photography session at this point. There’s a rock formation on a cliff with the stunning backdrop of the low clouds suspended just above the mountain from afar. (Would you dare to face your fears of heights? )
At the end of the trail you will see the infamous Hanging Coffins. The local ancestral tribe use to believed that by placing the bodies of their dead higher up, brings them closer to their spirit or heaven. When approaching the site, you will noticed the small wooden coffins hanging on the cliffs and they looks so small. They believe that a person shall depart the world the same way they came into this world ( the dead bodies are in fetal position).
Alternatively there’s a free viewing point for the hanging coffins by the roadside, you will see it along the way to the Sumaguing Cave.
Bring a camera to capture every moment in Sagada. A stunning place to explore, all nature lovers should put it on their list.
When visiting the caves, wear proper footwear and clothes as well as bring extra clothing, there are chances it gets muddy and wet in the cave along the trails.
There are good hiking routes around that doesn’t require a guide. Be friendly with the locals and they’ll be happy to show you around.
Always bring bottled water with you to keep you hydrated. Distances of the tourist spots from the Tourist information office requires a lot of walking. Alternatively you can hire a van at the Tourist information office.