Sagada is perhaps the most well known and visited place in the Mountain Province in the Philippines. A haven for spelunking enthusiasts and those interested in learning about ancient tribal burial practices, it is the home of a number of caves and the famous hanging coffins.
Sagada is also one of the destinations where we enjoyed food the most. It boasts a number of very cozy places where one can indulge in tasty treats and a great diversity of dishes, both local and foreign.
If you are on your way to explore the underground world of its caves, you are in luck. Sumaguing cave is a short 1 hour treck that descends under a rocky tunnel of slippery limestone and bat excrements. On the way down, one can enjoy a number of rock formations that say much about the geological history of the area. As Sumaguing is the shortest and easiest cave exploration route in Sagada, it is also the most popular and the busiest, so expect having to make stops and wait for visitors to take selfies and pictures as the guides explain the different formations in a very friendly and humorous manner.
If you are up for a longer underground experience, Lumiang cave or the Lumiang cave connection, may be your more suitable option. This cave starts closer to the Sagada town proper and descends into a similar rocky cave where Sagada elders used to be buried. Note that a combination of earthquakes and tomb thieves have left the cave with very few of the coffins and you may come across bones and skulls that were left scattered due to seismic activity. The Lumiang cave connection is however, not for everybody, as you will have to crouch and slide through very tight openings and rappel and climb through areas where a fall may complicate things and even be a certain death. Having said that, do not let this information be a deterrant, and if you do have a special interest I n the cave, following the guides instructions should suffice to complete the exploration in a safely manner. Our guide’s name was Apiit and not only he has been guiding the caves for a long time and knows them well, but as a local full blooded Igurot, he used to play in them as a child. A well informed and experienced guide will be able to tell you if you can do this or not. The Lumiang cave connection costs php800 (per guide) and the groups can be of up to 3 visitors per guide.
It would be important to point out that the guide carries a kerosene lamp and Filipino safety standards may defer from those in other countries, so it may help to bring your own head torch and a helmet, as these are not provided and we had moments where the presence of only one light in the group, left the ones behind in the dark.
There are other caves and other cave connections in the area (we heard of the Chrystal cave connection) which are even longer and harder than the ones aforementioned, but they are also a little more dangerous and suitable only for experts in the field.
Sagada offers innumerable hiking trails of durations varying from a few hours and up to 10 to 15 days. It’s environment and surroundings are the perfect place for birdwatchers and nature lovers. As well as the hanging coffins, some of which can be seen from the road, it has a number of waterfalls and it is also a good place from which to visit the village of Buscalan.
Where to eat in Sagada?
Our first choice is usually the Coffee Heritage House. A very cozy cottage close to Bomod-ok falls. They grow their own award winning coffee and have a delicious food menu that will leave you wanting to go back for more. This place is a must when you visit Sagada!
The Misty Lodge, also just outside the town proper, has the best burgers in Sagada and we dare say some of the best in the Philippines. They only have one dessert (Ice Cream Yoghurt) but it is also a must if you dine there.