The mountain town of Sagada nestled in a valley in the Mountain Province is one of the most ideal places in the Philippines to enjoy the outdoors. This scenic town in the Cordillera region offers the most spectacular view of mountains, cooler climate due to its high elevation and well-preserved culture.
In recent years, Sagada has become increasingly popular with local and international tourists. It’s no surprise, because Sagada offers many adventurous outdoor activities and the cool mountain breeze that will make you just want to laze around all day as well as lots of great eats. For those who haven’t been to Sagada yet, here are ten activities you can do there.
1. Trek to the Hanging Coffins
One of the most recognizable landmarks of Sagada are its hanging coffins. These coffins made from hollowed-out logs hanging from limestone cliffs and cave walls, are part of Igorot burial ritual of pre-colonial Philippines. The Lumiang Burial Cave offers a glimpse of ancient traditions as the placement of the coffins was believed to put the departed closer to heaven.
- Trek to Sugong Hanging Coffins & Lumiang Burial Cave Opening or Echo Valley Hanging Coffins. Cost: P200 for up to 10 visitors.
If you’re visiting Sagada this break, you can also witness the Panag-apoy, a ritual and the traditional practice of burning “sa-eng” (fatwood) held every eve of November 1 at the cemetery.
2. Cave Connection
First-time visitors to Sagada usually make it a point to go spelunking and try the Cave Connection, which involves spelunking through the Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves. This involves traversing through slippery rocks and the icy cold water for roughly 3-4 hours.
- Cave Connection. Time: 3-4 hours. Fee: P800 for 1-2 visitors, P400 for every additional visitor, P400 for transport (back and forth).
- Short Course Caving. Time: 1-1.5 hours. Feet: P500 for up to 4 visitors
3. Watch the Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak
Kiltepean Peak is the highest point in the area, situated on the eastern side of Sagada, around three and a half kilometers from the town center. This spot has become famous for its scenic view of the sunrise. Visitors usually wake up early in the morning to trek from town to catch the sunrise at this spot.
- Kiltepan Sunrise. Time: 15 mins drive from town center, Start at 4:30 am. Fee: P450 for transport (back and forth). You can also walk (allot 1 hour) or camp out in the area the night before.
4. Hike to Waterfalls
If chasing waterfalls is your thing, then you’re in luck because Sagada has three waterfall destinations you can hike to. The most popular waterfall destination is Bomod-ok (Big Falls) which involves traversing through slippery rice paddies, a hanging bridge and quaint villages. The hike takes 2-3 hours (back and forth), or longer especially if you’re in a slow group, if you stop a lot to take photos, or linger at the falls to take a dip in the freezing cold water.
Other waterfall destinations in Sagada include Tape-ew (twin falls), which is said to also take 2-3 hours of hiking (back and forth) depending on your ability walk on trails, and Pongas–which involves a more challenging trail to get to.
- Inquire at the Sagada Tourist Center for a guide. Transportation can be arranged to nearer jump-off points for the trek.
- Rates: Bomod-ok Falls. Cost: P600 for up to 10 visitors + P650 for transport (via Aguid) or +P500 for tranport (via (Bangaan). Tap-ew Falls. Cost: P600 for up to 10 visitors + P650 for transport (back and forth). Pongas Falls. P600 for up to 10 visitors + P650 for transport (back and forth)
- What to bring/wear: Camera, clothes for swimming if you plan to take a dip, comfortable shoes for hiking (sandals/wet shoes)
5. Go Mountain Biking
If you’re a biker into dirt trails and challenging uphills, you’ll love mountain biking in Sagada. The high elevation and sloping terrain can be a real thrill for experts in technical riding. You can try biking all the way to Marlboro Country in about 2 hours. The refreshing breeze, view of the pine-covered slopes and mountains beyond the cliffs, makes biking here a visual treat.
- Rent bikes from Sagada Mountain Bikes (same place as Sagada Pine Cafe, beside Kimchi Restaurant). The operators there have 6 units available – 5 mountain bikes and 1 BMX. Helmets are provided. Reserve the day before and start early to ensure you can get a bike.
- Rates: Bicycle rentals cost P100/hour from Sagada Mountain Bikes. Contact no: 09293269092. The bikes are kept at Olahbinan Inn.
- What to bring: Water, handy camera or phone cam
6. Go Rock Climbing
Sagada’s cliffs aren’t just picturesque. They’re great for rock climbing too. Echo Valley has a natural rock wall that you can try scaling. The wall has an easy, medium and hard route. Compared to indoor wall climbing at the gym, the natural crags and rocks are a real challenge to climb, but the view all around and from the top is spectacular.
- Inquire at the Sagada Tourist Information Center for a climbing guide who will bring all the equipment, ropes, helmet, climbing shoes & chalkbags needed.
- Rates: Rock Climbing costs P800/pax, for 1-2 persons.
- What to bring: Water, trail mix or light snacks like bananas or bread & your own climbing shoes (if you have)
7. Explore by motorbike
For motorcycle riders coming from Manila, Sagada is one of the top riding destinations, as it passes spectacular mountain scenery and twisties. For tourists who aren’t riding all the way, but still want to explore sights nearby, you can rent motorbikes for use around Sagada town proper and even further.
We rented a couple of motorbikes and rode from the Sagada town proper to the Banaue Rice Terraces and back via Bontoc on a day ride the last time we visited. I really hope to be able to ride all the way to Sagada from Manila soon.
- For motorbike rental inquiries, visit the SaGGAS Office or contact them at 0938-2511996. Look out for all the laminated flyers in hotels and around town.
- Rate: Motorbike rental costs P800/day. The motorbikes are delivered to your hotel/guesthouse. The motorbike units are XRM-125 Underbones. Helmets are provided. If you can afford it, ATVs are also available for rent with a rate of P1,000/hour
- What to bring: Drinking water, camera, shades, plastic bag for gadgets in case it rains, enough money for gas, food and souvenirs
8. Try Whitewater Rafting
While walking around town, I noticed signs advertising whitewater rafting in Chico River in Upper Sagada. I haven’t tried this yet, but I can imagine that it would be as thrilling as our whitewater rafting in Chico River in Kalinga. If you’re in a large group, this can be a great option.
All organized tours for whitewater rafting in the Sagada area are done on the upper Chico, which is said to be different from most commercially rafted rivers in the country because of its high elevation. According to Rafting Philippines, the uppermost section of Chico river “tends to be constricted and technically demanding” which makes rafting here all the more exciting. There are six sections of Upper Chico which are accessible from Sagada or Bontoc (located in the municipalities of Sabangan, Bontoc, and Sadanga).
- Inquire at Sagada Outdoors, Second Floor. 0908-7216200. Email: email@example.com. www.luzonoutdoors.com. White water season is said to run from late June to early January, with different sections being rafted in different water conditions.
- Rate: Whitewater rafting costs P2,500/person for 8-10 people, P3,000 for 6-8, P3,500 for 3-5. For couples, singles, or small groups it’s best to join with others.
8. Go Orange-Picking
If you’re looking for something less extreme to do in Sagada, there are lots of family-friendly activities. Sagada is known for its delicious oranges, and a lot of people who visit this mountain town make sure to take home bags of oranges as souvenirs. In Rock Inn and Cafe, a top restaurant in Sagada, there’s an orange plantation where you can go around and pick the oranges yourself.
After walking through the lush orange orchard, nothing beats sitting down at their lovely Cafe Bodega, where you can enjoy a glass of fresh orange juice or pancakes with orange marmalade along with savory meals. Orange picking season is from November to February.
9. Go on a Food Trip
The cool crisp mountain air and all that walking in Sagada surely works up an appetite. Thankfully, there are lots of great restaurants to try out. The most famous homegrown restaurants in Sagada include Masferre Country Inn & Restaurant, Misty Lodge & Cafe, Salt & Pepper Diner, Log Cabin and Rock Inn & Cafe.
Must-tries include coffee from Sagada Brew, yoghurt from Yoghurt House and desserts from Lemon Pie House. Etag or salted smoked meat is a traditional delicacy in the Cordillera region, often paired with the traditional Pinikpikan chicken dish.
READ MORE: Food Trip: Sagada
10. Drink Cerveza Sagada
Cerveza Sagada is Sagada’s first home-made craft beer available in Sagada Cellar Door, which sells imported wine and beer brands aside from the homemade craft beer. The beers use local ingredients from the Cordillera region.
There’s Kapi, a cofee stout that uses Sagada coffee; Gusi Violet Ale with balantinao uses Mountain Province black rice while Alig Wheat Ale is flavored with wild sunflower honey and orange zest, to name a few.
Other things to do in Sagada:
Your best bet would be to go directly and inquire at Saggas, the Tourist Information Center. Please note that rates may have changed since I last visited.
- Zip Line (seasonal). Cost: P100/visitor/zip
- Lake Danum/Sunset. Time: 20 mins drive from town center, Start at 4:30 pm. Fee: P500 for the transport (back and forth) Additional fee if you stay for a bonfire at the site.
- Mt. Ampacao Traverse. Time: 3 hrs. Fee: P800 for up to 10 visitors.
- Mt. Ampacao. Time: 2-3 hrs. Fee: P600 for up to 10 visitors
- Marlboro Country. 2-3 hours of back trekking. Fee: P600 for up to 10 visitors
- Langsayan Danum Traverse. Time: 3 hrs. Fee: P1,000 for up to 3 visitors
- Sagada to Mainit Hotspring (Bontoc). Fee: P2,500/visitor
- Mt. Sisipitan. Around 1 day of back trekking at the highest mountain in Sagada (2,200 meters). Fee: P2,000/visitor
- Misty Lodge & Cafe. Poblacion, Staunton Road, Sagada
- Rock Inn & Cafe. Rock Farm, Orange Drive, Batalao, Sagada
- Coffee Heritage House & Hostel. Sitio Nadatngan, Brgy. Madongo, Sagada
- Sagada Guesthouse & Resto. Segada Besao Road, Sagada
- Sagada Homestay. Poblacion, Sagada