Sagada 101: A Practical Guide on What to Do, What to EAT and Where to STAY!

 

 Sagada 101

 Travelling is really addicting! We can’t seem to get enough of it! Do you also feel that deep sense of wanderlust quite often like us? Allow us to share with you our latest backpacking adventure! This time, we’ll take you way up north roughly 12 hours away from Manila.. to the very beautiful Sagada where you can witness and experience nature at its best!

Roughly just a week before our trip, I member Frank and I were just hanging out late at night talking about the destination we wanted to journey next. We knew that a 12 hour trip was a serious one which needed a LOT of preparation and all (for most people)…. but what the heck?!  Without any second thoughts and hesitations, “ok fine… Sagada na! Bahala na!”  We’re so bad at planning so we usually follow our gut feelings most of the time! lols

The next day, it was our mission to find a place to stay when we get there. Good thing I was able to get in-touch with our friend Rson who owns a travel agency so I asked for recommendations and quotes as for the budget we must prepare! It pays to have a trusted and reliable travel agent. Fortunately, our friend Rson used to travel a lot in Sagada so he was able to give us a lot of useful tips! He provided us with a sample itinerary as well as introduced us to the place which we were to stay.. The Rock Inn & Cafe aka The Rock Farm Inn – the place that is said to be the BEST place to stay in when in Sagada!

It is actually both our first time to journey to Sagada and we had no idea on what to do there… all we knew was, errrr…. hhmmmm…..uuhmmmm ….. no matter where our feet would take us, we will always manage to be happy as long we we’re together! =)

Come journey with us once again and let our photos take you there to the majestic and mystical Sagada!

Our story starts with a juicy stick of hotdog somewhere in La Union…..

 

 OMG, I can’t believe I’m actually doing this! It’s 4am and I know it’ll be freezing in Baguio by the time we get there and I’m wearing shorts! Bahala na!

Btw, going to Baguio costs 450php one way!

 

 once you arrive in Baguio, take a cab and go to the Center Mall old bus terminal  and book yourself tickets bound to Sagada at Lizardo Trans

 

 We were fortunate to be the 1st in line for the 6:30am first trip to Sagada. The tickets costs 220 php each.

The buses are non-aircon

 

 while waiting for our bus to depart, Frank and I decided to have breakfast at the famous Good Taste Eatery in Baguio. We highly recommend having breakfast in preparation for the long trip!

 

This is it! Sagada here we come!

 

 here are your 2 crazy nut heads all excited  before the trip…..

 

 the same 2 crazy nut heads during the bumpy non-stop swerving 6-hour ride!

I remember feeling sorry for the kid holding his “puke/vomit bag” seated next to us looking all pale and dizzy…  =( we did give him some chocolates but we’re not sure if it helped.

Better bring loads of Bonamine to be sure!

As for Frank and I, we managed to just laugh it all out and enjoy the ride!

 

Probably one of the best bus drivers in the world!  Imagine driving on a swerving highway beside a cliff for 6 hours and still manages to stay awake! Phew!  Wooooooo idol!

 

 imagine 6 hours of this…. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!

 

but as soon as you view the jaw-dropping spectacular sights, it’s all gonna be worth it!

 

 our jaws literally dropped upon witnessing these views

 

 Looking at these apparitions definitely made us fall in-love with our country more.  I can say that our travels

have definitely molded us into more creative and appreciative beings. Sharing experiences with Frank is one of the best things that ever happened to me <3

 

 for a while we actually thought we were at the Banaue Rice Terraces… nah, we weren’t of course!

We found out that it’s 2 more hours away from Sagada

 

 And so after 6hours, we finally arrived in mystical Sagada! All tourists MUST register at the Sagada Tourist Center right at the Municipal Hall!

 

So now that we are finally here, let us tell you about the essentials…

 

WHERE TO STAY?       ROCK FARM INN aka Rock Inn & Cafe

First of course, you have to find yourself a place to stay!  Best Advice: When going to Sagada, be sure to stay for at least 4 days because you have to reserve 2 whole days only for travel! Anyway, when you get to the town center, you can find a lot of transient houses and inns BUT we recommend you stay at the Rock Inn & Cafe a.k.a Rock Farm Inn for it is the safest most peaceful place which offers really good food as well! The guys are the Rock Farm  can definitely give you a lift if you need it! Their manager/owner  Bang is one of the nicest dudes we’ve ever met!

 meet Bang: the guy you should look for at the very homey Rock Farm Inn

 

 our room

there’s an abundance of wood around so all interiors and furnishings are wooden  which gives it a very homey and country feel 

Expect nothing very lavish here. The place is very simple yet nice. They will provide you with clean dry towels, toilet papers as well as a bar of bath soap.. all the rest of toiletries are for you to bring. 

 

 you get to hang-out by the bonfire at night with your companion/s: one of the nicest things about Rock Farm Inn

 

 the living room at the Rock Farm Inn, Sagada

The lowest temperature we experienced there was around 13 degrees so be sure to bring a good jacket with you. During the day, it tends to be really sunny though but the breeze is still quite cool and nice! The air is super fresh and clean!

 

 

WHAT TO DO?

Our stay there was really quick though (3d/2n) so we weren’t able to do much hiking and all, but here are some of the MUST GO Places when going to Sagada the 1st time.

 

1. A visit to Sagada WEAVING

To witness the creation of this art form is truly a MUST see when in Sagada. Your guide will surely take you there when you tour around town. The weavers refused for their photos be taken but luckily they allowed me to pose like this…..

 

 these fine cloths are woven manually everyday by locals. I’m sure this ain’t easy to make, no wonder the weavers take pride in their work 

 

 we must admit of having only very limited budget that time, but when we saw the craftsmanship  in  their products, Frank and I just had to buy bags for ourselves not only to support their shop but mainly because we found them to be really attractive. This bag I bought (487php)  is actually one of their rarest designs, so it would be a shame not to have it! I’m really proud of my new bag, I’ve become a lover of Filipino-made stuff now!

 

2.  A trip to ECHO Valley to catch a glimpse of the hanging coffins 

It’ll only take you a 20 minute short hike to reach the Echo Valley to view the hanging coffins from afar. It’s a must to visit this in order to educate yourself more about their culture. I really admire the pride which the locals have in them. They pride their roots and heritage a lot and they intend to preserve it for future generations. Unlike most tourist destinations, Sagada is one of the few places which has preserved its heritage and traditions. No huge companies nor commercial establishments there. Sagada is all about supporting  local products and making use of the abundance around. When you reach Sagada, you’d definitely see its big difference with Baguio City which is now overly crowded and polluted – something which the people in Sagada are trying to avoid. Sagada I may say would be like the “old” Baguio before commercialism arrived.

 whoever added these extra letters to ECHO Valley is insanely funny! It is now spelled as ECHOsera Valley! lols Perfect for me!

 

 it only takes a quick 20-min leisurely hike to go there

 

 Frank totally “in the zone” with his “explorer” look! I love this guy a lot… every bit of his being! He never fails to make me laugh!

So proud of him of course!

 

 right at the bottom of these rocks are the hanging coffins. We weren’t able to get closer  though

 

When going to Echo Valley you’ll surely pass by the St. Mary The Virgin Church. It’s an Anglican church which was established by the American missionaries who inhabited the place a looooooong time ago (probably around early 1900’s)

 

3. Orange Picking at the Rock Farm

When travelling, be sure to do something out of the ordinary! Remember, it’s all about experiences whether pleasant or not. You don’t get to pick oranges often so we suggest to try this! The Rock Farm Inn has this huge property and they have this orange orchard which you definitely MUST see! Another great reason why you should check-in at the Rock Farm Inn!

 Frank as he picks oranges

 

 it’s all about the experience

 

4. Spelunking at Sumaging Cave

There are actually a lot of caves to explore in Sagada. Sagada is actually known for its magnificent cave wonders and every Sagada goer MUST go spelunking before he/she can truly say he/she has been to Sagada! Our guide Jeff said that you’ll miss 1/4 of your life if you don’t experience this! I totally agree (said with shaky kness)! So even though I was dead scared and all, I really did my best to conquer my fear of heights just to have no regrets! Also, Frank was there so I felt very safe. =)

For 1st timers like us, it’s a MUST to conquer the Sumaging Cave according to our guide. This was like.. errr level 1 he said! huhuhuhu It takes about 1.5-2 hours to complete the exploration. The trails are moist, rocky and slippery with water crossings and cold humid atmosphere! huhuhuhuh

 

WARNING: NOT AN IDEAL PLACE FOR KIKAYs!

 

 I’m not really that adventurous nor extreme when it comes to experiences but I felt I just had to do it! I know I won’t do this for a while… probably never again! hihihihi

No regrets!

  

Frank and sir Jeff:  felt safe knowing these guys were with me!

 

 inside the Sumaging Cave

 

 the Sumaging cave is filled with majestic rock formations. As you can see here, this is what they call the “ZOO” and this huge rock formation resembles 2 elephants head to head

 

 the trail was really challenging! We had to pass by slippery stones and even huge amounts of bat droppings. I remember crawling most of the time for the rocks were very slippery. huhuhuhu I’m sooo bad at this I swear! Good thing I’m not really afraid of getting myself dirty and all… I’m pretty much “cowboy”  with everything. Definitely the worst place for “kikays!” By the time we reached these flow stones, it was like magic! They weren’t slippery at all so you can be like “Spiderman” for a while!

  

 Frank at the King’s Curtain

  

The Sumaging Cave is also known for having rock formations which look like male and female sex organs. They call it the King and Queen of the Cave. 

 The King of the Cave

 

 the Queen 

 

 at the end of our exploration, our guide made us rest  a while and showed us some sea shells attached to the stones : proof that Sagada was once underwater! ooooohhhh

 

sea shells attached to the rocks

 

 Frank really took lots of shots here! Never missed a thing!

 

 as we were about to journey back, Frank told me we should both take a dip in its icy cold waters even just once since we knew we will never do this again! hihihi The water was  truly ice cold and we were really brave to do it! I remember we both counted to 3 as we both went underwater for a few seconds! I’m soooo glad we did it!

 

at least we tried and I’m really proud of us! 

 

I was really happy to come out alive! I was very worried about us the whole time! It was said to be the easiest cave to explore and that we should try the other caves next time…. hmmm I think I would have to pass! lols

  

WHAT TO EAT? 

In any vacation, the food you’ll eat is really a HUGE factor! As for our experiences, it’ll really make or break any trip specially if you’re a foodie. If your hotel/inn fails to serve you with decent tasting food, it’ll really ruin your over-all impression on that place! When traveling, be sure to do some research on the dishes and delicacies that are worthy of trying! It also pays to ask the locals. Also, be more daring with your food choices. Don’t go after the usual stuff! Look for the ones which are locally eaten or the local produce which are abundant in that area.

 

Here are the dishes you must try!

 

1. “Etag” or salted smoked meat is known as a traditional delicacy in the highlands. It goes well with the traditional Pinikpikan and on practically any dish. It’s very savory and flavorful! You definitely should try dishes with Etag when in Mt Province. I believe these should be ordered before hand. As for this meal, the Etag was mixed with our local favorite “Monggo Guisado.” I say it was the best Monggo Guisado I’ve tasted in my life! I used to claim to have the best recipe until I tasted this! Comfort food indeed!

 Monggo Guisado with Etag, fresh Vegetable Salad with Eggplant yogurt dressing and lots of hot rice!

  

 The best Monggo Guisado I’ve had!

  

comfort food talaga! The Rock Farm Inn really serves great dishes! I heard many tourists really make an effort to come to this place to dine!  

 

 The Rock Farm Inn is also well known for their breakfast omelettes!

 

2. the best Yogurt in Sagada

It seems that Sagada is also famous for  yogurts topped with fresh fruit preserves. There is this particular place right in town which is popular for yogurts however, based on people’s experience as well as our own, we found that the Yogurt here at the Rock Farm  serves the BEST!  Their yogurt is more “taste bud friendly” as opposed to the very sour tasting yogurt found in town. The preserves and marmalades here at the Rock Farm Inn are also great tasting! It’s where we tasted the BEST Orange Marmalade! 

 

 with all due fairness, we did try the popular yogurt found in town however it was was too sour!  Also, sad to say but it’s the place where we experienced the worst service of all as the waiter was kinda “discriminating” that we felt very unwelcome.  Again, customer service is really a huge factor in making people go back and patronize products/establishments. We found out that they are actually known for giving bad service. I hope they do something about it.. seriously!

  

3. The Lemon Pies at the Lemon Pie House

Sir Joseph, the owner of the Lemon Pie House opened the shop formally in 2007  because many people were really patronizing his luscious Lemon Pies! He got his recipe from his mother who learned it from the American missionaries who inhabited Sagada since 1907. Due to the abundance of lemons in the area, it was quite obvious to use lemons for the pies of course and Sir Joseph we believe, is the one and only respected maker of Lemon Pies in Sagada, making his Lemon Pie House a tourist destination and a foodie haven as well!  Surprisingly, our guide during our stay was actually his son Jeff!

 for only 25 php, you can get to taste Sir Joseph’s Lemon Pie.

A whole pie costs around 180php!

  

 they also got Egg Pies and Fruit Pies when in season

  

 they also serve meals here. This is where we actually had our breakfast before our tour

  

Meet the Locals

Traveling isn’t just about seeing places, taking photos or eating….. much of it is about interacting with people. When you journey no matter where, be sure to make connections. Gain new friends. Ask questions. Hear tales and stories. We promise they will all be worth it!. Frank and I always look forward to the new faces which we cross paths with and personally, I think it’s the real essence of it all…. it’s the interactions and connections you make that educates you, turns you into a better person…. and you end up coming back to your hometown never the same. 

One thing I noticed with the locals is their fluency in English! Aside from their local dialect, they all speak fluent English complete with American accent! Bonggga! I suggest you practice your English speaking skills when going there!

meet our guide Jeff. When I met him at first, he said, “ay Maam, driver lang po ako!” (which was uttered along with a genuine American accent far better than other Manilenos I’ve heard)  inside my head I went like, “yeah right!”  lols 

One valuable thing which I learned is that you never should underestimate people for you’ll never know who they really are or where they come from. No matter what the status is, we should all treat people with kindness and we should always extend friendship to all. Later on, we found out that Jeff was the son of the owner of the Lemon Pie House as well as one of the former heads of the SAGGAS or the Sagada Genuine Guides Association.  As you can see here, he even made us breakfast! 

Frank with Sir Joseph, maker of Sagada’s famous Lemon Pies 

  

 at the Rock Farm, we also got to meet a lot of wonderful people like Adam, Weyma and Ken who were very warm and friendly!

I remember seeing  Weyma and Ken a bit teary-eyed when I told them we were going home. It was sooo nice to meet them!

  

Frank and I were also very fortunate to meet Reno, the head cook at the Rock Farm.

He came all the way from Iloilo and he prides himself of his Sisig and other recipes. I liked his homemade hot sauce a lot as well! 

 

 meet Reno, definitely one of the BEST Cooks in the country!

 

 when we say meeting new friends, it also includes the cuddly fluffy friends which you get to meet! For our Sagada trip, we were very fortunate to meet 3 sweet cuties namely Bart, Jamaica and Butch.

  

  1. Bart – one of the resident dogs at the Rock Farm who loves getting himself dirty and all! lols If you’re lucky enough, he’ll even show you to your room like a Bell Boy in exchange for a good tummy rub! Be sure to look for him when you visit!
  2. Jamaica – she’s actually the “baby” of one of the newly wed couples who frequently visit the Rock Farm. The most chubby Pug I’ve seen actually! She’s very pampered and really heavy! Frank liked her a lot!
  3. Butch – another resident pooch at the Rock Farm. Equally sweet and loves tummy rubs like Bart! He even followed us and ran about 2kms from the Rock Farm to the bus terminal! When we got to the terminal, we were surprised to see him there, wagging his tail and all. Good thing his master Bang saw him and took him home! Dogs are really loyal! 
 
 
“In LIFE, it’s not where you go – it’s WHO you travel with!” ~ Schulz
 
 
we’ve been to many places Frank & I. May it be on top of a high mountain, a strange place somewhere where people speak a different language, in the middle of the sea, in a remote island or even in an unfamiliar cave like this, I know that together, we will always manage to make the most of what’s there and be happy. =)
 
 
 
Experiencing new things, seeing those breathtaking sights, tasting legendary flavors and meeting new friends made us forget that long difficult journey. IT WAS ALL WORTH IT and we’re not afraid to do it again (except the spelunking lol)! There are certainly a lot more places to do and explore in Sagada so we’ll definitely be back sometime soon and hopefully we can stay a bit longer to enjoy and take more photos! 
 
 
So when in Manila, especially if you’re Filipino, it is a MUST to experience the natural wonders of Sagada! Plan a trip with your buddies, use your VLs wisely! If you go to Sagada, expect an adventure of a lifetime!

 

 

For very affordable Sagada Tours, we recommend….

 

Parana Tours

 

contact Rson Parana! He’ll gladly hook you up with the people and places we featured! 

you may also contact Bang at 0920. 909.58.99 for the Rock Farm Inn

 

To know more about our adventures and misadventures, visit us on EATS A DATE!

 

To read more of our WHEN IN MANILA adventures, click HERE

 

 

 

Sagada 101: A Practical Guide on What to Do, What to EAT and Where to STAY!






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