My family has been planning to visit Sagada for a long while now. After years of postponing and allowing ourselves to be intimidated by its distance, we finally took the courage to make the trip in December 2018. From our home outside Manila, it took us about 14 hours to get there. We arrived exhausted but excited to explore this place known for its hanging coffins and rice terraces.
Dubbed as the Shangri-la of the Philippines, Sagada has become a very popular tourist destination. The town is nestled in a valley in the Central Cordillera mountains and carries a unique charm and coziness that you cannot find elsewhere. It is cold especially in December, but the landscape is welcoming and its people warm. The land is colorful and enthralling, and by Steph’s account “the sunrise creeps softly over the mountain slopes, the sunset even softer, envelopes the open sky”.
Walking around town is pleasant. There are many little souvenir shops and cultural markers in the area. Visitors have a variety of food options. If you rely on web-based reviews, you won’t be disappointed. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of fare and service. Just don’t look for anything uniquely local or indigenous; this after all, is a tourist town that has adapted well to the needs of travelers.
There are many places of interest; we just couldn’t do them all in this short stay. We took the Adventure Trail through Echo Valley to visit the hanging coffins. Along the way we received lessons on culture and tradition. It was cold and windy; weather was a bit erratic with on-and-off drizzles. The scenery was captivating and the vibrant green landscape more than compensated for the uncooperative weather.
We meant to do our first cave exploration in what is believed to be the deepest underground chamber in the country: Sumaguing cave. The cave looked mysterious, but its entrance quite inviting. Local guides are available. Because of physical limitations, we had to be content at staying at the mouth of the cave and postpone this adventure to our next visit.
The rice terraces around Sagada were always a sight to behold. We had to make unplanned stops to marvel at their beauty and grandeur. We never cease to be amazed at how indigenous people carved the terraces on mountain slopes largely by hand using basic tools.
After a full day of moving around town, we set out for Lake Danum. The sunset was so relaxing and the landscape so serene. As we watched the sun descend behind the mountains, we marveled once again at the majesty of our Father’s creation.
There’s a lot more places to explore in Sagada, so we promised to return. Hopefully with better weather, we shall take the Eco Trail to Bokong Falls and Sagada underground river, explore Sumaguing and Lumiang caves, hike to Marlboro Country for a spectacular sunrise.