Traveling to Sagada is almost hassle-free since lots of literature and blogs are available in the web that can help you design your own itinerary. No need to reiterate the natural wonders of Sagada.
However, what can i share are some personal observations and tips that might be useful in your visit in this wonderful town within the mountains.
Home: Sagada is home to the Kankana-ey tribe of the North. It's also an Angelican town because of the heavy influence of American missionaries during the occupation. Sagada means “lake water” so do visit the place where the town got its name - Lake Danum.
Walking: Sagada is synonymous to walking. With mountainous terrain, only two types of road exists in this town- uphill and downhill :-) so stretch those leg muscles.
Sagada Tourist Map
Explore: Get a map (you can even download it) and explore Sagada on your own. All areas, except the burial caves, can be explored without a guide. However, if you are not confident with your orienteering skills or on a tight schedule, it's advisable to get a guide. Most trails are a little bit confusing and it’s easy to get lost. If you're alone or traveling with a small group, talk to other tourists to form a bigger group. This will minimize your costs for the guide and also a good opportunity to meet new friends.
Guides: There are two guide associations in Sagada. The original group Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA) is composed of older but more experienced guides and their office is located at the 1st floor of the old municipal hall. The other one, Sagada Genuine Guide Association (SAGGAs), is composed of younger guides and their office is located near the Yogurt House. Both associations are accredited by the local government and offer almost the same rate. Still I will prefer the older guides for their stories.
Commute: if you want to pass long-distance hike and conserve your energy but has no budget to rent a private van or vehicle, then take a public utility vehicle. Ride the jeep going to Besao (if you're heading west), Suyo (south), Banga-an/Aguid (north) and Bontoc (east). Inquire in the local tourism office the schedule of the PUVs.
Accommodation: Sagada is still a backpacker’s haven with lots of low-rate hotels and inns. however, book a reservation at least a week before your visit since lots of tourists visit Sagada. contact details can be found in the Internet.
Food: Decent meals are a bit expensive, starting at P100. Early breakfast is a major headache since all restaurants and diners only offer SiLog dishes. To minimize your expenses, you can buy fresh vegetables and cook your own food. Most inns and hotels allow guests to use their kitchens for a minimum fee. Or you can bring your own stove and cookset.
If you want to indulge yourself, great food in Yogurt House and Log Cabin. great lemon meringue pie in Lemon Pie House and good but cheap brewed coffee in Sagada Community Consumer Cooperative.Grab also the seasoned fruits. orange during September to May, wild blueberries during the summer, etc.
Respect: The Katutubos have high respect with their indigenous culture and belief. DO NOT engage the locals in some moral, politically-correct debate whatsoever questioning their practices, belief, etc. Observe silence when visiting burial sites and caves.
Hanging Coffins at Echo Valley
Pasalubong: Weave bags, wallets and hats are all-time favorite pasalubong. Take home clay pots, mugs from the Sagada Pottery. Something different? Grab a tapuy, a locally-made rice wine, or maybe wines from wild fruits such as bugnay. Also take home an etag, a naturally preserved, one week-smoked pork meat.
Enjoy: The nice cold weather, food trip and great outdoor trips. Sagada is a gateway to experience the grace of our Mother Earth.
*photos by Anne Larracas*
Also visit related article: underneath Sagada
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