First up on our 14-day adventure is the Banaue-Sagada-Buscalan trip. Banaue for the rice terraces, Sagada for caving and cool weather and Buscalan for the traditional “batok” tattoo. There are two ways on how to go up north in the Mountain Province, either via Banaue or Baguio. We took the Banaue route and made online seat reservation via Ohayami night bus. The terminal for Ohayami is in Sampaloc, Manila.
If you plan to take the Baguio route and stay a few nights first at the Summer Capital of the Philippines, you can take the Victory Liner bus at either Cubao or Pasay station which operates 24/7.
We left Manila at 9pm and arrived 7am the following day. Supposedly, we were just to do a quick side trip at Banaue to see Batad rice terraces and go to Sagada afterwards. But we learned that last trip from Banaue to Sagada is at 2pm. So we stayed overnight.
I recommend the tricycle tour if you are on a budget. During the day, we maximized the tour from straddle point of Batad all the way down to Tappia waterfalls. This, for me, is the only highlight of Banaue.
However, you can still take a full tour for a week or so around the majestic rice terraces in Banaue such as the Bay-Yo Terraces, Poitan and Vocos Village, Hapao Rice Terraces and Hot Spring, and a whole lot more.
From Banaue, we took the 9am van going to Bontoc at 150php per head (2 hours) and top load jeep from Bontoc to Sagada at 80php each (1 hour). We need to make sure we can make it to the last Bontoc-Sagada trip. Trips are scheduled and may sometime vary, so make sure to always ask around with drivers.
Upon arrival in Sagada, we looked for an accommodation first before we went on our spelunking adventure. Most rooms are at 250php to 400php each person with own toilet and bath. We stayed at Ganduyann Inn for 350/person per night as it is relatively close to the meet up point, bus station, municipal hall and tourist center.
When it comes to breakfast with a view, Yoghurt House is the most popular. After breakfast, we had a quick trek down to Sagada Hanging coffins. They have a “no guide, no tour” policy. During that time, all the guides have a seminar until 1pm and we need to make it before the last trip going to Bontoc by 12nn. So, we risked and sneaked our way down without a tour guide (as I have already been there few months ago). As much as we’d want to go for a Kiltepan sea of clouds tour and a trek to Bomod-ok, our appointment was set today with Whang Od.
There are several activities you can do at Sagada, like the viewing at Kiltepan Sea of Clouds, trek at the Hanging Coffins, visit at the Orange farm, full caving at Lumiang to Sumaguing, swimming at Bomodok Falls at 12degC and a visit at Sagada Weaving Center. Below are the contacts you can reach:
It is highly recommended to set an appointment with a guide from Buscalan as you will do an hour trek to the tribe and network signal is almost negative. Your guide can also arrange an accommodation for you at 250php each with unlimited free coffee. There are sari-sari stores up on the hill but you may opt to do a grocery as your host can also cook for you.
There are only two bus rides from Buscalan to Bontoc. We don’t want to take the risk of missing either of the trips so we just hired a van at 1,800 good for 4 pax. From Bontoc, we took an ordinary bus going to Baguio instead of going back to Sagada for a straight Manila trip via Coda lines. Bontoc to Baguio is 6 hours and Baguio to Manila is another 6 hours. This trip was challenging due to a number of trekking but overall, it was a worthy trek up at the Mountain Province!
SUMMARY: Itinerary, Expense and Contact Information.
Day 1: MNL to BNUE
9pm: Manila to Banaue via Ohayami, 510php
Contact: ohayamitrans.com – 09276493055
Day 2: BNUE
8am: Trike to Batad rice terraces and Tappia falls good for 2 pax vice versa, 250php
Room Accommodation at Half Way Inn, 250
Banaue Environment Fee, 50
We did not hire a tour guide.
Fee: 800 down to 500 each if you want the convenience of riding in a van.
Contact: Halfway Inn Lodge and Restaurant – 0915-465-8921 or 0928-521-4522
Day 3: BNUE – SAG
9am: Banaue to Bontoc van, 150php
Trips at 7am, 8am, 9am and 2pm
11am: Bontoc to Sagada Jeep top load, 80php
1pm: Check in at Ganduyann Inn with own T/B, 350php
2pm: Spelunking from Lumiang to Sumaguing, 500
Tour Guide: Erid, 0927-986-6100, pick up from hotel roundtrip included
Sagada Environment Fee, 35
Contact: Ganduyann Inn – 0918-965-9192
Day 4: SAG – BUSC
9am: Sagada Hanging Coffins entrance walking distance from Ganduyann Inn, 50
12pm: Sagada to Bontoc jeep, 50php
2pm: Bontoc to Buscalan Turning Point jeep, 100php
5pm: Buscalan Trek with Tour Guide, 250php
7pm: Stay Inn with free paluto and unlimited coffee and rice, 250php
Buscalan Environment Fee, 75php
Contact: Benjie Pasion from Buscalan 09480774818 for appointment.
Fee: 1000 good for 5 pax
Day 5: BUSC – MNL
10am: Tattoo from Emily Oggay (grand daughter), 2 designs; Moon at 800 and Traveler at 500.
11am: Tattoo from Whang Od; 3 dots, 100. If buying a present, Apo Whang Od prefers organic food. Refrain from buying canned goods as she might just give it away to dogs of the tribe.
1pm: Van from Buscalan to Bontoc, 450php. You can also take the bus but since we are on a tight timeline, we opt for the faster one.
2pm: Bontoc to Baguio (Ordinary) bus, 176php
9pm: Baguio to Manila via Victory Liner AC, 445php
Total damage with tattoo and food: 7,263php or $150
Total damage with tattoo w/o food: 5,421php or $110
Total damage without tattoo and food: 4,021php or $80
If one of your main goals is to get the traditional tattoo, might as well get one then!
Watch our video and more photos here. Next is our Palawan trip.