For the yuppies of today’s generation, Baguio City has been a quick respite out of the hustle of Metro Manila primarily due to its refreshing and cool climate althroughout the year. The “City Of Pines” which is a melting pot of different ethnicity and culture has always captivated the interest of those looking for an easy break out of the city jungle without breaking the bank or flying long hours. Going there is a minimum of 6 hours but has been made more convenient in the recent years due to many options made available by transport operators such as Victory Liner which offer top of the line facilities for a more comfortable trip.
Baguio City is not just a much-coveted destination but what’s even more lovely about it is that it is a gateway to unknown treasures hidden in the Cordilleras and other places up North. Two hiking favorites, Mt. Pulag and Mt. Ulap are just stone’s throw away from the city center, making a sidetrip to the city a must after every hike. Over the years, more and more communities further North have opened their doors to tourism and Baguio City has also been the go-to place to access them. Two of these places are Sagada of the Mountain Province made more famous by the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana” and Batad which is home to one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites Of The World, the amphitheater rice terraces of the Ifugaos. These places may not be that easy to access but certainly worth those seemingly endless and precarious bus rides and we happened to be blessed to be able to see them.
Before the end of 2016, on the last week of November, I, together with my bestie ventured into a 5-Day journey to Sagada and Batad kicking off our adventure in Baguio City. We planned to cap off our adventure with an ink to our skin from Apo Whang Od but as what we all know, everything doesn’t turn out the way we wanted to most of the time. It was still one heck of an epic adventure though and I am happy to share it with you. So here it goes!
DAY 1 – BAGUIO CITY: Food Hunt, Mountains & Pine Trees
I have been to Baguio several times but in almost all occasions, I always find myself falling in love again and again. There’s just something about the pine scented air of the city that makes it so irresistible. For our recent visit, we didn’t have a specific itinerary but one thing we were certain of doing is getting to taste more the flavors of Baguio. Yes! Food was the priority. Touring to places we haven’t seen yet was the far second.
We took the Victory Liner bus at midnight and we arrived in Baguio at 5AM. We felt beaten up during the trip so we decided first to rest at our hostel (AJ’s Pension House). At 8AM, we woke up to an empty stomach and thought it was about time we get started with our food hunt. One of the many restaurants on our list was the Choco-Late De Batirol. We were both craving for a cup of hot chocolate so we figured a trip to Camp John Hay was just what we needed.
Soon after we have eaten brunch, off we went to tour the city. BenCab Museum and La Trinidad Mural were on top of our list. I, as you may know is a cheap ass chick but at that time, I was not in the mood for jeepneys and uncomfy rides so we decided to hire a cab instead. The cab cost P200 an hour and it took us to PMA, Lion’s Head, Lourdes Grotto and La Trinidad Mural, dropping us off in 50’s Diner for an early dinner and taking us back to our hotel to rest a bit. The night was young and cold so we decided to heat it up with a visit to Baguio Brewery to get a taste of their crafted beers.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Bus to Baguio - P455
Cab to AJ's Pension House - P50
Room @ AJ's Pension 900/2 - 450
Brunch @ Choco-Late De Batirol - P400
Dinner @50's Diner - P350
Baguio Brewery - P525
Rented Cab @ 200/hr X 4 hrs / 2pax - P400
Cab Baguio Brewery @ P100/way/2 - P100
Total <<>> P2730/pax
|ITINERARY||0000 ETD Baguio
0500 ETA Baguio
0530 AJ's Pension House. Rest.
0800 Breakfast. Choco-Late De Batirol
1000 Tour. Camp John Hay, PMA, Lion's Head, Lourdes Grotto, La Trinidad Mural Houses
1500 End Tour. Snacks 50's Diner
1700 Back to hotel. Rest
1900 Drinks @ Baguio Brewery
2300 Back to hotel. Lights Out.
|ACCOMMODATION||AJ's Pension House
Address: 18, Jungletown Road, Salud Mitra, Baguio, 2600 Benguet
Phone: (074) 442 2206
DAY 2 – Artsy Fartsy Tour In BenCab Museum And The Long Journey To Sagada
Supposedly, we were to take the first bus at 5AM to Sagada but decided to take the 1AM sched instead to see BenCab Museum before heading out and so we could also continue with our Baguio Food Hunt. Breakfast was over our favorite sandwiches and a glass of hot minted chocolate at Cafe By The Ruins which was a perfect starter to our day. Soon after we finished our meals, at 9AM, we hailed a cab to take us to BenCab Museum.
BenCab Museum was surprisingly impressive. Art pieces displayed were a collection of some of the masterpieces by known local artists and of course Ben Cab himself. There was also a collection of Ben Cab from known foreign artists displayed in one of the sections of the museum. The museum also features an ecopark and a cafe that we would have loved to try if only our time wasn’t limited. Overall I would say a visit to BenCab is certainly a must at least once when you go to the “City Of Pines”.
Soon after our visit to BenCab was finished, we dropped by shortly at our hostel to get our bags and headed to Dangwa Market to catch our 1PM trip to Sagada. The old rusty bus that we rode departed exactly as schedule which we were happy about. The bus ride was uncomfortable but it was a scenic one with the views of the mountains keeping us occupied until dark. At exactly 7PM, we arrived in Sagada, checked-in at Ganduyan Inn, grab a quick dinner and off we went to bed before 9.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Brunch @ Cafe By The Ruins - P350
Taxi to-fro BenCab @ P120/way/2 - P120
Entrance Fee BenCab - P200
Bus to Sagada - P250
Snacks - P100
Dinner - P120
Sleep for 2 Nights - P700
Total <<>> P1870/pax
|ITINERARY||0700 Wake Up Call. Freshen Up
0800 Breakfast @ Cafe By The Ruins
0900 BenCab Museum
1130 Back to hotel. Pack Up
1230 Dangwa Market, Sagada Bus Station
1300 ETD Sagada
1900 ETA Sagada. Hotel Check-In
2100 Lights Out
|ACCOMMODATION||Grandma's Yellow House & Cafe
Address: South Road, Sagada, Mountain Province
Phone: 0919 411 6289
DAY 3 – Orange Picking, Hanging Coffins, Caves, Waterfalls & Sunsets
On our first day in Sagada, the plan was to see the sunrise first thing in the morning but it rained the entire dawn so we decided to stay in bed until 7AM. The gloomy skies didn’t help to set us in the mood either that we still felt lost in our dreams while we walked to get us breakfast. Restaurants nearby our hostel were still closed so off we went to find luck at Rock Inn Cafe riding ourselves the bus and getting off in a ghostly alley that leads to it. We walked for about 20 minutes unsure where the road leads to until we finally found what we were searching for. Soon after we had a filling breakfast, off we went orange picking where we might have eaten too many oranges.
We met a couple in Rock Inn Cafe whom we agreed to tour with in the afternoon. We took the Echo-Valley Tour which started off in St. Joseph’s Church, continuing to the town’s cemetery, then to Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, Underground River capping off the tour with a trek along rice paddies which led to Bokong Falls. We thought it was just going to be a chill hiking tour but the muddy trail made it extra challenging which I wasn’t really prepared for.
We finished the Echo-Valley Tour at 4:30PM allowing us time to still grab dirty ice cream on our way back to the tourism office where we arranged our Lake Danum Sunset Tour. As soon as the arrangements were made, off we went to Lake Danum, dropping by the pottery shop shortly and spending the rest of the afternoon basking at the glorious sunset. Soon after the sun had finally bid us goodbye, back were we at our hostel where we unexpectedly dozed off for couple of hours until we woke at 8PM hungry and craving for a bottle of beer. We would have wanted to join in a bonfire session but didn’t have any idea where to find it that we didn’t have a choice but to content ourselves with a sumptuous dinner at Log Cabin.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Bus to Rock Inn Cafe - P10
Breakfast - P300
Orange Picking - P50
Echo Valley Tour @500/4pax - P125
Potter Fee - P30
Sunset Tour @ P500/4pax - P125
Dinner @ Log Cabin Bar & Cafe - P340
Total <<>> P980/Pax
|ITINERARY||0700 Wake Up Call
0800 Breakfast. Orange Inn & Cafe
0900 Orange Picking
1000 Free Time. Played basketball with the local kids
1200 Light Snacks
1300 Echo Valley Tour
1700 Lake Danum Sunset Tour
1800 Back to hotel. Rest.
2000 Dinner & Drinks @ Log Cabin
2200 Lights Out
Address: Sagada - Besao Rd, Sagada, Mountain Province
Phone: 0918 965 9192
DAY 4 – Sunrise And Dreamy Clouds In KILTEPAN PEAK & The Rice Terraces Of BANAUE And BATAD
Ask if there is one thing Sagada is famously known for, I think many people would agree that it’s the sea of clouds in Kiltepan Peak during every wonderful sunrise. That even when temperature drops to 0, there will always be a pack full of hopeful souls waiting to marvel at its splendor and so were we. On our 2nd day, we happened to be lucky to witness it despite the chilling breeze of the dawn. Me and my bestie along with the couple we met the day before at Rock Inn Cafe happened to be the first ones to arrive at the scene letting us secure the perfect spot to view the sunrise. This isn’t my first sea of louds but it always is a treasure to see one in every place I visit. It was also a surreal moment for my bestie as it was her first that I was just glad the heavens permitted a wonderful weather that day. The transitioning of the sky from purple grey dotted with the million stars to the firy red orange as it battles the blue was simply breathtaking.
As soon as the sun was up the morning sky, we headed back to town to have breakfast in Salt & Pepper Diner but they were still closed along with Yogurt House that we ended up in Lemon Pie House. The place was cozy and simple that it easily was one of my favorite spots to chill but their lemon pies appealed less to my liking. I love their omelet though and their prices were also reasonable. After a sumptuous breakfast, at 8AM, we walked back to town to arrange our Sumaguing Cave Tour however we felt so beaten by yesterday’s activities that we decided to give our bodies some rest and headed back to our hostel instead. We dozed of the remaining hours of our stay and headed for Bontoc at 11AM.
Travel to Bontoc was a swift 45 minutes and the jeepney driver dropped us off in a spot where a van bound for Banaue was parked. We were a little famish but we didn’t see any decent place to have lunch so we decided to leave it for later when we arrive in Banaue. The journey to Banaue offered some of the most awe-inspiring views that we didn’t mind it taking more than 3 hours due to the van’s engine failure which happened for a few times during our travel. Upon reaching Banaue at 2PM, we immediately rode the passenger jeep to Batad, afraid of paying more if we are to hire another van going there.
Batad is now more accessible to travelers due to the newly constructed roads. Nowadays reaching Batad is just a quick 15-minute walk from the drop off point unlike before when travelers have to get off the saddle point and walk for almost an hour just to reach the entrance to the village. It was 4PM when we had our first glimpse of the captivating rice terraces. It was such a great experience to discover a jewel abound by towering mountains we never really knew existed. The view was totally out of this world that it kept our minds away from our empty stomach. Dinner was served early at 5:30PM in Mang Ramon Homestay while we were entertained by the colorful sunset.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Kiltepan sunrise @ P500/4Pax - P125
Brunch - P150
Jeep to Bontoc - P40
Van to Banaue - P150
Jeep to Batad - P150
Native Hut Ramon Homestay @800/2 - P400 (1 Night Only)
Dinner - P200
Massage - P150
Environmental Fee - P50
Total <<>> P1415/Pax
|ITINERARY||0400 Wake up
0500 Kiltepan Peak. Wait For Sunrise
0700 Breakfast @ Lemon Pie House
0800 Back to hotel. Rest
1000 Check Out
1100 ETA Bontoc. Lunch.
1500 Jeep to Batad
1600 Batad Drop Off. Trek
1630 Batad. Register
1800 Dinner & Bonfire Sesh
2100 Lights Out
|ACCOMMODATION||Ramon's Homestay & Restaurant
09975615541 | 09975683317
DAY 5 – TAPPIYA FALLS: A Jewel Beneath The Mountains
We were a little pressed with time while we near the end of our adventure that we planned to just explore Batad quickly early in the morning of our 5th day and leave at 9AM to catch the passenger jeep back to Banaue since other mode of transportation there is just insanely steep. We knew that it was too short of a time to get to know the exquisite Batad but we didn’t want to miss the visit to the legendary Apo Whang Od either. However, our guide didn’t arrive until 7AM instead of the initial plan of 5AM that we were left with no choice but to pack up but Mang Ramon persuaded us to stay. Out of courtesy, we finally decided to stay and cancel our planned perfect ender. Afterall this humble old man did us a huge favor that we thought why not give ourselves the chance to get to know his homeland.
We took off to see Tappiya Falls at 6:30AM after quickly speaking with the jeep driver to wait for us until 10AM. Trek to Tappiya Falls from our homestay may take a little over an hour per way so if we manage to finish it in that given span of time then we still have plenty of time to catch the passenger jeep bound to Banaue. However, the trail leading to Tappiya Falls was insanely difficult that we didn’t make it back to the homestay until 10:30AM. We could be wallowing into our missed chance of meeting with Apo Whang Od that we consider the epic ending to our adventure but the food we were served for brunch was just too good to take our minds off it.
We planned to explore the village and go to the viewing deck after brunch but the drizzle which lasted for over 2 hours limited our adventure to talking about all our mishaps during the past 5 days. At 3PM, we headed back to the jeepney drop off point which took us 45 minutes. Yes! Going back is another pain in the ass kind of uphill walk. Another dilemma we were faced was haggling for a transfer back to Banaue. Offers started off as steep as P1500 just for the 2 of us until we were lucky to have closed the deal to just P500. An hour passed, we arrived in Banaue where we let the hours past over coffee. At 8PM, my bestie headed for Manila whereas I was headed to Sta. Ana Cagayan Valley.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Guide Tappiya Falls 500/2 - P250
Brunch - P200
Van back to Banaue @ 500/2 - P250
Early Dinner - P200
Bus Manila - P470
Total <<>> P1370/Pax
|ITINERARY ||0500 Wake Up Call. Breakfast
0600 Trek to Tappiya Falls
0800 Tappiya Falls. Photo Ops. Bathe
1200 Batad Village. Lunch.
1400 Back to hotel. Snacks
1500 Pack Up
1600 Trek to drop off point
1700 Jeep to Banaue
1800 Banaue. Dinner
2000 Bus back to Manila
|ACCOMMODATION (In case, you are not yet headed back to Manila)||Uyami's Green View Lodge
Address: Ifugao Poblacion Village, Banaue
Phone: (074) 386 4021
- Bus bound for Sagada in Dangwa Market has an hourly schedule from 5AM until 1PM. For a hassle free travel, drop by the terminal and buy your tickets before you go on with your tour in Baguio to avoid running out of seats especially in high seasons. Make sure to make it on time for your schedule to avoid penalties of rescheduling your trip or worse forfeiture of your paid tickets.
- Touring Baguio can be done through commuting but if you’re not into uncomfy rides then you can hire a cab to tour you around. Rate is at P150-250 per hour and can seat 4 people which is ideal for those travelling in groups.
- Touring in Sagada is mostly done on foot. There are no tricycles or pedicabs in town that you can hire to take you to places so prepare to shed those extra pounds when you’re there.
- Jeep bound for Bontoc has an hourly schedule from 7AM to 1PM and fare is 40 with travel time taking about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Buses plying Bontoc-Banaue route has an hourly schedule from 7AM to 2PM.
- Passenger jeep plying Banaue-Batad only has one schedule and that is at 3PM. The jeep leaves Batad at 9AM. Fare is P50 but they charge P150 for non-locals/tourists. Other mode of transportation is available but they can be pretty steep. One is tricycle for P1000 which can fit 4. Another is van usually priced at P2500 or more which is ideal for bigger groups. Be warned that some locals can be really mean with their prices. To avoid getting ripped off, drop by the local tourism office and let them arrange you transfer for you.
MEMORIES OF AN EPIC ADVENTURE
ALL THESE FOR P8365!! Quite steep? Yes! But you’ll never get anything better than that. Anything less is less the thrills too.
There you have it folks. If you love our adventure, feel free to share it with your friends on your favorite social media platforms! If you wanna keep up with me, like my Facebook page to be first to know about my budget travel updates. Leave your comments if you have any questions. Until next time. Ciao. 🙂