Sagada in the northern part of Luzon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines especially among adventurous backpackers. Nestled in a valley about one and a half kilometers above sea level, Sagada is known for its cool climate (temperatures can drop as low as 4°C during December to February), spectacular natural attractions and the colorful traditions of the native Sagadans.
From Manila, it takes around 12–15 hours to reach Sagada and there are several routes to choose from:
Via Banaue: Take a bus bound for Banaue (about 9 hours) and then take a jeepney to Sagada (around 3 and a half hours with several stops).
Via Baguio: Take a bus bound for Baguio (about 6 hours) and then go to Dangwa Bus Terminal and look for the Lizardo bus bound for Sagada. Travel time is around 5 hours.
Via Bontoc: Take a bus bound for Bontoc (about 8 hours). You can either continue traveling via bus or transfer to a jeepney. The jeepney ride to Sagada is an adventure in itself and a lot of tourists take this option.
Sagada offers many natural and cultural attractions that can be reached by foot from the town proper. There are many tour guides who can accompany you to these locations. These include Sugong Hanging Coffins, one of the most visited attractions in Sagada. The ancient tradition of hanging the coffin of a dearly departed is still practiced by the Sagadans up to this day. Being laid to rest in such manner is considered the highest form of honor and not all Sagandans are entitled for such a burial.
Caves are another popular burial places in Sagada since time immemorial. Lumiang Cave, for instance, has at least 200 coffins that have been entombed there, some dating back to more than 500 years!
Another popular cave in the area is the Sumaguing Cave. This is not a burial cave and can be freely explored. Also known as "Big Cave", the Sumaguing Cave is known for its spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations. According to local lore, the cave served as a refuge for Filipino soldiers from the Japanese guerrillas during World War II.
On the way to Sumaguing Cave is the picturesque Kapay-aw Rice Terraces, verdant rice paddies formed on sides of the mountain.
Ganduyan Museum is a great place to learn more about Sagadan culture and traditions. The museum features Kankanaey artefacts, sculptures, accessories, furniture, utensils, traditional clothes and items. There is no admission fee but visitors can make a donation for the upkeep of the museum.
Other places of interest in Sagada are:
- Bokong and Bomod-ok Falls
- Echo Valley
- Kiltepan Tower
- Underground River
- Lake Danum
- Pongas Falls
- Mt. Ampacao
- Marlboro Mountain