We survived Sagada!

Our Sagada experience in a nutshell:

masferre’s. yoghurt house. lemon pie house. strawberry rest. hanging coffins. underground river. kiltepan. shanghai hauz. log cabin. st joe’s cafe rest. banaue rice terraces, sagada rice terraces. ba-yo rice terraces. hidden valley lodge and restaurant. florida. jumping shots. sunrise. blueberry pie. lemon pie. big luches and breakfast. hearty meal. sumptous dish. yummy! love all the food in Sagada. FOOD TRIP. LAugh trip. achy butt. long travel.

Our travel to this northern part of the country was really not carefully planned at all. We just wanted to make the most of our vacation so we thought of heading north and endured 12 hours of bus ride. Since I’ve heard good things about Sagada, I immediately search for infos in the internet and found good website on Sagada adventures, so there…~ Sagada it is!


kiltepan sunrise. Speechless. Awestruck.

There are travel agencies which offer Sagada travel packages but we opted for a do-it-yourself Sagada getaway ‘cos I find DIY traveling as cost-efficient and affordable 😉 More so, you can customize the travel according to your whim and preferences.

Options going to Sagada:

1) To have more schedule flexibility: Take the Baguio route. Go to any Victory Liner terminal (the major ones are in Pasay and Cubao) and catch one of the buses that leave for Baguio almost every hour.  Lizardo Bus leaves Baguio at around 6AM. The earliest you’ll arrive in Sagada is around 1130 AM

2) To get to Sagada earlier/ see Banaue rice Terraces: Take the Bontoc route. Call Cable Tours at 09185216790 to reserve tickets. The terminal is located near Trinity College in E. Rodriguez Avenue (Quezon City).

3) Or reserve tickets at Florida Bus near UST and pay 400 PhP (Manila-Banaue Bontoc). From Banaue you may call Blair (van~non aircon) at 0926-1901235 and pay him 300Php/pax to go to Sagada. (We opted for this route) Going through this route will allow you to get to Sagada relatively earlier~ before 9AM rather than opting for baguio route Banaue Stop:

took this photo from a wall in one of the resto near banaue. Pretty informative if you'll explore Banaue.

L: A restaurant near the Florida bus banaue stop, we ate our breakfast here. R: a scenic view from the resto window

After the hearty breakfast, haven’t got any photos of the food ‘cos we were so famished haha we met Blair, he said that he can bring us to Banaue Rice Terraces viewing deck and made sure that will have a clear, sharp and panoramic view of the stunning Rice Terraces. And yes!!! Wow! It was an amazing view. All of us were awestruck to see the famous terraces, who wouldn’t?! We’re all Banaue first timers here! Jaw dropping experience for us 😉 Here’s the photo I took:

While traveling Banaue to Sagada we managed to take some shots of some rice terraces near the road.

at Banaue, a view from the road going to Sagada

We’re happy that we hired kuya Blair, I think renting a van or a jeepney is the best way to go to Sagada and explore a bit of Banaue. There are so many places/views in banaue that can WOW you and would want to click your camera right away whilst traveling by van or jeepney. You can’t do this if you’re traveling on a bus, right?! It was a nice decision to get Kuya Blair’s van service~ hiring a van was our best option ‘cos you can go anywhere you want, stop for a while and embrace the beauty of Banaue. Ooopps did i mention that if you want to go back to Banaue from Sagada you can also ask kuya Blair to fetch you at your Sagada’s hotel/inn/homestay/guesthouse. So there.

Finally, we arrived at Sagada! We had a 2.5 hours of travel from Banaue to Sagada, butts were all aching because of the bumpy ride. Some of the roads weren’t paved so a good company of friends can make the travel fun. Glad I was with my brothers. Hehe. They’re all funny!

Once you arrived in Sagada, you have to list all your names at the Tourism Office for record purpose. By the way, the best time to go to Sagada is on the month of January since it isn’t a peak season you can have the whole town for yourselves, the weather is cold and its quite an experience! It rarely rains during this month. But we went there around May last year. During our stay there it rained just once and it was in the afternoon. I like the feeling of walking in the rain though as if I’m like a kid again! So, no harm done. 😉

George Guesthouse

Right after checking-in our bags at George Guesthouse, we headed for Masferres – “A large restaurant in the center of town. The Masferres’ photographs on the wall are a must to see even if you don’t eat at the restaurant”.

George Guesthouse website: http://sagadageorgeinn.bravehost.com

George Guesthouse rooms and bathroom and some scenic views from the balcony

L: Masferre's Inn and Restaurant. R: View from the window inside the resto

Other important infos in and around Sagada:

Cell Phone Smart and Globe (also SmartBro Wi-Fi)
Internet Cafe/Wi-Fi Internet cafe’s everywhere – typically P40 per hour – many cafe’s and guest houses have free or low cost Wi-Fi. There’s also a free Wi-Fi in George Guesthouse.
Electricity 24 hours – sometimes power is lost during typhoons and may be out for many days. Except for Masferres and the hospital, there is no backup power anywhere.
Banks or money changers Only one small bank, the “Rural Bank of Sagada” – will change US$ but the rate will not be good. Best to do it in Manila or elsewhere. There is a lone MEGALINK automated teller machine inside the Rural Bank of Sagada with access during banking hours only – open Tuesday to Saturday. It dispenses a maximum of P5000 per transaction at a cost of P35 or P55. Note that it will not accept any foreign credit cards.

Where to go and what to explore

You may purchase Sagada map at any store there.

Hiring Guides:

“The original guides’ association is at the municipal hall in the center of town and the newer one is just down the road past the Yogurt House. Their prices are about the same and all have only certified and registered guides. Part of their training involves rescue and first aid training.  So take your pick. The guides work on a rotation system that assures all of them equal work.

It is easy to lose your way, so if your schedule is tight, best take a guide. They are not expensive”.

Contact Nos:
Sagada Tourist information: 0908-7576444
Kuya Alfred: 0919-4408222
Randy Deligen: 0910-6346855
Kuya Jun: 0921-6469630
Kuya Marc: 0908-3900295

Kiltepan Sunrise with guide and van @ 450Php. Be prepared to wake up around 4am! The guide will go to your place and fetch you around that time.

There is a road going up to Kiltepan which can be found on the left, a couple of km from Sagada on the way to Bontoc.  Early mornings are gorgeous, as are sunsets and the ‘golden hour’”.

“Kiltepan – On your way into town you will have passed the sign to Mapiya-aw Guest House. From that side road there is a path on the right (that I haven’t taken) leading to the top of the hill called Kiltepan. Locals can show you this, or ask at the guest house further up the road if you have missed it. When you reach the top, pass over the grassy open space, heading to your left. There you will find a path to follow for just 20 meters or so. To your left are little paths leading down to some rocks, where you can sit and ooo-ahhh at the spectacular scenery and endless mountain” panorama.

kiltepan sunrise. A camera heaven.

Limestone cavesMany people come to Sagada to visit the caves. You cannot go to the limestone caves without a guide. All the guides are equipped with hurricane lamps, so that the cave is well lit while you are underground. The prices are fixed, as are the number of tourists per guide.

The Burial Cave is accessible to most people and can be visited without a guide during off-peak times. The climb down is steep towards the end and probably difficult for the elderly or very young children. This is a fascinating place, eerie and dramatic. Please keep in mind that this place is sacred to the locals, so leave no garbage, cigarette butts etc and do not touch the coffins or try to open them. The cave is marked on the local tourist map (available in guest houses and souvenir shops in town). The walk down the hill is gorgeous. Don’t hesitate to ask directions from the locals if you are unsure of the way.

hanging coffins

our unofficial guides 😉

There’s a story behind our unofficial guides, you see they are so young to be the real guides right?! but they were so helpful. We chose not to hire guides as we would want to explore Echo valley and Hanging coffins by ourselves. So to cut the story short, we found ourselves lost while traversing the road going to Echo Valley! hehe. What a relief seeing these kids tagging along and unknowingly following us behind. Since they were Sagada natives and know the ins and outs of Sagada, we finally said yes to what they were offering us ~a talent free guides! After the exploration and some major muscle pains in my legs, I gave them generous amount of money for their free service haha. Glad we met them. 🙂

Echo Valley It is best to take a guide although not necessary. Go in the morning before it gets too hot. Give yourself a few hours to wander, look at hanging coffins, sit by the river, get sort-of lost, walk through the tunnel of the underground river (Take a big torch with good batteries – the caverns are vast). There are lots of paths in echo valley and easy to take the wrong turn. Just remember there are 3 caves – one is dry, the second is where the river enters the underground caverns and can be entered only for a short distance, the third is where the river flows under Sagada to the other side of the hill . I found a way back into town by retracing our steps from the last cave for about 50 meters, then followed a track leading up the hill on our right. We came out behind the Caltex gas station on the main road. You can pass through the underground river and find a path on the other side which takes you back to town, but be prepared to wade through quite deep water at the far end and be careful of the very slippery rocks you have to climb to get out – it is not easy, but we have done it. DO NOT attempt to follow the underground river after heavy rains. Two people drowned in this cave in 2004 during a typhoon.

trail going to echo valley

These are very slippery rock which needed to be climbed for us to get out of Echo valley. We also passed by the underground river and the hanging coffins.

Small FallsNot far from town, this attraction is a disappointment to many as it is small. Leaping from the top of the falls is a favorite pastime for many of the local children. Not difficult to find, just ask for directions.

The Big waterfall – Bomod-oktake the morning jeepney to Banga-an (pronounced Bunga –un) and ask to be let off at the big falls. The jeep leaves from the center of Sagada and the guides association can tell you the times. Find out about the times for return trips too as you will not want to be walking back to Sagada. The walk down the endless stairs is fabulous, the scenery divine. The falls themselves, once you reach them (1 – 1 ½ hours) are predictably thunderous and dramatic. Swim in the freezing waters if you like that sort of thing, but get advice about the conditions from a guide first. Note that a 17 year old girl from Manila drowned there in 2008. Although there were family and other people around, some who jumped in to rescue her, they were not able to save her in time. We have been given two accounts of the story, one that she got her foot wedged between rocks, and the other was that she was caught in a whirlpool.
The climb back to the road is strenuous. The steps seem to never end. Allow a couple of hours – if unfit, add another hour.

Ganduyan MuseumFormerly opened in 1984 to 86, the treasures gathered over many years are once again on display in a newly opened small museum just beside Ganduyan Inn. Since the early 70’s, Christina Aben has been collecting antiques, trade beads and artifacts from the Cordillera region of the Philippines. Antique basketry, weapons, farm tools, beads, jars, wooden items and textiles can be seen here. Each display offers an insight into the rich culture of the Cordillera Igorots. Ask if Christina can show you around. Her stories will enrich your experience of the place. If not Christina, then one of her children will always be there to explain the history and significance of the items on display. Entrance fee is P25 each.

The pathways and Dap-aysbehind the main roads are a network of narrow pathways, mostly cemented, that connect the houses and villages that make up the municipality of Sagada. To get a real sense of the place you can follow these and discover the various dap-ays (meeting places and sites for rituals, such as the bugnas) as well as the ambiance of suburban life. The dogs will bark like hell because you will be a stranger in their midst and some may look fierce, but these animals will not attack. A dog that attacks a human is dead meat. You cannot get lost following the paths as the main roads are never far away. These walks are pretty, accessible and easy. You will be out in the sun so take your umbrella for shade.

Pathway to Datil On the road behind Saint Joseph Rest House car park there is a pathway leading off to the right which will take you through the gardens and rice fields behind the town. This is a lovely walk. A couple of hours at most would be required for a casual stroll, depending on how far you want to follow the path (which eventually does run out)

Mt Ampacao – Lake Danum – Banga-an ridge walk

Rice terraces in Sagada

Sagada rice terraces. 15-30 minutes walk from George Guesthouse

Walking in Sagada

Walking is one of the great pleasures here. There are no tricycles in Sagada so just strolling around town can be relaxing and picturesque.

Mount Ampacao – You need a 4 wheel drive and experienced driver to get up there, but if you can make it is well worth the trip. The peak of Mt Ampacao is the site of a cell phone tower, eerily lit at night, clearly visible in Sagada. To reach the road you drive downhill toward Ambasing. Drive cautiously in Sagada – children playing, dogs, chickens, jeeps could be around any bend. When you reach the Ambasing Elementary School on your right, take the road that runs alongside it and head uphill. Keep going up, closing gates behind you, until you reach the grassy clearing at the top. The actual peak and tower are higher still – not accessible by car. Find a good spot to park where you can see the view back towards Sagada. You may need to walk a little around the hillside to get the full impact of the view, in which case you should turn on the car alarm. On one of my visits mischievous boys were playing around the car and fortunately set off the alarm. Your other choice is to take someone who is prepared to stay with the car, like a lad from the guest house or a guide.

Where and what to eat

Photo collage of some food we ate during our stay in Sagada.

Restaurant food is reasonably priced in Sagada and a typical breakfast or main course will cost you about P130, but there are cheaper cafes. There is no restaurant that has their act completely together though, meaning, the right combination of value for money, ambience, good/friendly service and quality of the meal, but, in comparison to most other places in the Philippines, Sagada will feel like food heaven. If you are a Filipino from Manila, don’t expect Manila standard service.

Log Cabin Buffet – The buffet on Saturday night at the log cabin is not to be missed. For P350 you get a buffet of many courses prepared by a local French chef. Some of the best meals I have ever had in the Philippines were eaten here. The service suffers a bit during the peak season so you may need to be patient, but there is hope that young Jeffery will be up to speed before the next peak season. It is virtually impossible to get a seat for the buffet without booking early, which sometimes means days ahead. You must pay a P100 deposit per person with your booking. If you don’t, you should assume that you are not booked in, regardless of arrangements made over the phone.

Log Cabin

Log Cabin interior

Log Cabin – It is open every night during the peak season and some nights during the rest of the year, depending on the number of guests. Meals should be booked and ordered before 2 in the afternoon during the low season. The menu is broad and offers European influenced meals, vegetables and salads, as well as the usual ‘adobo’ choices. If you want to make sure you get the best of possible meals, discuss your preferences with Janice if she is around. Wine is available. During the cold months there is always a nice fire to sit by and the ambience is that of a log cabin.

Our dinner at Log Cabin! Wuhooo! Price around 300 PHp up per order. Serving is good for sharing. 🙂

Yoghurt House – is a short walk down the hill from the town center. The restaurant has two stories and the top story has a narrow verandah with seating where one can enjoy the view and one’s meal at the same time. The food is consistently good and it is especially popular with foreigners. Yoghurt dishes are, of course, a specialty, served with fruits, granola, pancakes, or mixed as a salad dressing for fresh local vegetables. Pasta, salads, vegetarian meals are all available here.

Empake photos: Our breakfast at Yoghurt house

Co-op Canteen – is just inside the mission gates as you walk towards the Episcopalian Church. They serve fabulous lemon meringue pie, banana cake or carrot cake. The coffee is good too, or you can have mountain tea. Meals are not served here. Almost all of the customers are locals so the prices are very low.

Strawberry Fast Food – Opposite the Log Cabin – A tiny no-frills restaurant which serves two of the simple but classic Filipino dishes, Arozcaldo, a chicken and rice stew which is a breakfast dish, and Mami, which is a chicken or pork noodle soup. Both dishes are about P45.

Empake photos: Breakfast at Strawberry house. Blueberry pie (whole) @ 220PhP

Masferres – A large restaurant in the center of town .  The Masferres’ photographs on the wall are a must to see even if you don’t eat at the restaurant.

Cafe Saint Joe – is in the same grounds as Saint Joseph Rest House – beautiful setting, lovely verandah upstairs, outdoor seating, recently refurbished. The menu on offer is extensive, Filipino, and generally agreed to be good. Generous servings of fresh vegetables can be expected. Bread, sweet and savory, is baked by the local chef and can be bought by the loaf. This cafe is open all day.

EMPAKE photos: Lunch at St. Joe Restaurant. I forgot to take some photo of their highly cholesterol but yummy Sinigang. I like it even though the pork fat was huge. Also, try their Bangus! Sarap. Busog! 🙂

Shamrock – It is in the center of town, downstairs at the market, next to the Rural Bank. This was once the life of Sagada until it was transferred to its new position because of the development of the market building. Recent improvements to the place have brightened up the atmosphere and this may have the tourists going back there again. Basic meals can be prepared or you can just have a cold beer.

Ganduyan Inn – is in the heart of town and makes a good cup of brewed coffee. Bacon and eggs, bacon sandwiches, longanisa etc (breakfast food generally) is available here. No lunches or dinners are served, but breakfast is available all day.

Lemon Pie House

Lemon Pie House. Visit this site for more info on lemon pie house: http://sagadalemonpiehouse.blogspot.com/

Hoping to have a Lemon Pie House branch in Manila….hayyyy but naaaaaaaa. Only in Sagada! Hmmm now I’m craving for their fruity and soft tart pies, if only they have a branch here in Manila, for sure il be buying dozens hehe.  It’s only 18 PhP for a slice though, how cheap but it’s soooo yummy! Love it, Love it!

Bana’s Cafe – and Restaurant is situated under Traveler’s Inn, just down the hill from the Yoghurt house. It is a pleasant cafe/coffee shop with both indoor and outdoor seating. If you are tired of Nescafe and 3 in 1, this place is a welcome relief – it is the only place in town serving espresso coffee. A variety of coffee styles are available, brewed, espresso or iced. Try one of their famous civet coffees, made from coffee beans excreted by a civet.

Persimoon Cafe – popular at night as the hangout for locals and backpacking tourists.

Cuisina Igorota – is almost unknown by tourists and serves typical Igorot food. It is best at lunchtime. You will find it behind St Theodore’s Hospital. Just go inside the hospital and ask. A meal costs P70 and could be pork stew, bones soup, pork chop, sinigang, adobo, chicken etc, all served with generous quantities of local vegetables. Coffee or tea isP10. There is no glamour here.

Cooking Your Own Meals – With the abundance of guest houses and home stays with kitchens for the use of the guests, consider cooking some of your own meals, especially if you are staying for a while.

source: http://www.travel-philippines.com/locations/central-luzon/4-sagada.htm



Residential Lodge
Mrs. Mary Daoas +639296257419/+639196728744
@ 250/ pax/ night
About 400m from the town hall

George Guest House
Teodora:            +639185480405
Ireneus:            +639206070994
george.guesthouse@ yahoo.com
@300 – 1000 per room per night. 4 pax max per room
About 400m from the town hall. With Wifi and heater.


Other affordable accommodations:

Alapo’s – 0921 327 9055
Alfredo’s Inn – 0918 588 3535
Ganduyan – 0921 273 8097
Sagada Homestay – 0919 702 8380
A-7 House 0921 287 6093
Billy’s House 0921 603 2745
Churya-a 0906 430 0853
Mapiyaaw Pension 0921 390 0560
Rocky Valley Inn 0918 643 2784
Rock Inn 0920 909 5899
Yabami Lodge 0920 411 9976
Gecko Inn 0920 289 5471
Igorot Inn 0928 630 5479
Olahbinan 0928 406 7647
Travelers’ Inn 0920 799 2960

Pocket Damage

Budget Breakdown
Transportation Philippine Peso
Florida Bus
Manila-Banaue 400
Banaue-Manila 400
Banaue-Sagada 300
Sagada-Banaue 300
George Guesthouse
2N&3D (600PhP/room/nyt) 1200
Guide Fee
DIY free
Kiltepan (450/van w/guide) / 4pax (split into 4) = 112PhP 112
Food 1500
Total 4212
Note: Computation is per person. Contingency money is not included in the budget. Bring some extra money or ATM cards in case of emergency.

I know that this travel started out on a whim but we found ourselves in love with the place and with the FOOD, no question about that! So, we ended our Sagada experience by buying same”I SURVIVED SAGADA” t-shirts!

We survived Sagada! 🙂


*P.S. More sharing on food tripping, try to visit Makamkamlis Bakeshop near Sagada weaving. Their huge cinnamon bread (15PhP) is a must eat! They also offer other breads for a cheap price.

Also, try Lucky’s Shanghai Hauz, my fave dish there is their fried Shanghai Rolls for P90 per 20 pieces, really cheap but delicious!



Happy travels! 🙂

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22 Responses to We survived Sagada!

  1. gelaikuting says:

    i miz SAGADA! 🙂

  2. rj says:

    love to eat at lucky’s shanghai hauz…good food, good service and their warm hospitality

  3. rj says:

    wow grabee sarap sa lucky’s shanghai hauz

  4. rafh morelos says:

    try lucky’s shanghai hauz, excellent ang foods don

  5. chie says:

    thumbs up at lucky’s shanghai hauz

  6. grace says:

    wow lutong bahay talaga at lucky’s shanghai hauz! perfect…

  7. bon says:

    kain kau sa lucky’s shanghai hauz, masarap lahat food doon

  8. jom says:

    grabee sarap shanghai rolls s lucky’s shanghai hauz try it!

  9. chie says:

    just eat only at lucky’s shanghai hauz aside from lumpiang shanghai wow sarap lutong bahay foods nla mabubusog kau at mura p

  10. topher says:

    lucky’s shanghai hauz lng mga pards

  11. rj says:

    wg kau aalis sagada kun d nyo mtry food at lucky’s shanghai hauz

  12. EMPAKE says:

    Hi everyone, thanks for all the comments. Next time, I’ll taste their other dishes. 🙂 When will I go back?!!! Hmmmm.

  13. yeeez all your comments about lucky’s shanghai hauz are true friends, try it and you’ll be satisfied like me

  14. i also taste the food at LUCKY’S SHANGHAI HAUZ, to my surprised i was shocked….true pala SARAAAAP NG FOOD DOON, puno nga ng kumain kmi grabee although the place was too small but its COZY

  15. the best foods talaga….LUCKY’S SHANGHAI HAUZ

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