Sagada with kids: Take 2
We came back a second time because we love it so much, and because there is so much to do- didn't hit everything we wanted to do the first time we came. What we love about it: being in the mountains, the tall pine trees, the influence of Igorot culture, the hippie vibe, the fresh food, the pedestrian city center, the way the municipality runs tourism to be eco-friendly, the breathtaking views, and the VARIETY of things to do. It's a choose-your-own adventure place. Here's a copy of the map that shows all the possible walks, hikes, caving, hanging coffin-viewing, sunrise/sunset seeing and native crafts to see. Just go to the tourist office at Municipal Building and arrange the adventure you'd like to do there.
WHAT TO DO:
To add to my list from our last post:
1) Bomod-Ok falls is a must-do but not easy for everyone, particularly little kids and the elderly. It is 6000 stairs/trail to get down to the falls and 6000 stairs back UP. The rice fields on the trail are just gorgeous, you walk through a small village and see what local, everyday life is like, and the falls are beautiful as well (you can swim in the water below it, as well as climb on the rocks around it). It is 3-4 hours round-trip. You get a guide at the start of the hike in Barangay Bangaan (5km of Sagada town center), it's 500 pesos for a group of up to ten people.
2) The sunrise at Kiltepan peak was also a highlight! Leave for it around 4:45am and it's a 20 min drive from the cottage (or 25 min from Sagada town center). I didn't take kids but surprisingly there were a lot of (not grumpy!) kids there, even little babies in carriers. When you first arrive it is pitch dark. There are stands selling hot chocolate/coffee, instant noodles, arroz caldo, pan de sal. The sunrise comes slowly but surely- around 5:45 you'll be done. To get to Kiltepan peak, if you are coming from Sagada town center, drive about 2 km out of the town towards Halsema Highway and just before the Petron gas station is where you will turn left onto a dirt road. Follow this road and eventually you will see signs for Kiltepan peak to follow to the top.
3) Marlboro Country and Blue Soil Hills. You can do Marlboro Country only (2 hours round trip), or Blue Soils only (2 hours roundtrip). Or link them and hike to Marlboro Country, then to Blue Soils, then to the end (3-4 hours total). In Marlboro country we saw a wild horse from far which made the hike very memorable. Blue Soils is just fun. Blue limestone hills out of nowhere to marvel at. You can get a guide at the municipal center. Note that this hike is more expensive- 1600 pesos for 3 adults. As the hike doesn't start and end the same place, you can also hire transport or a driver to drop you off and pick you up in your own car at the municipal center too.
4) Watch the sunset at Lake Danum. This was a great place with a wide open area for the kids to run around at. It's hard to find. You drive 3.5 km out of Sagada town center and turn left on a road that's not very obvious except for a landmark silver plaque on a white stone beside it. You don't actually watch the sunset standing right next to the lake, but a little bit away from it at a view point that has areas to have a bonfire if you'd like.
5) Hike Mount Ampacao, it's the highest mountain in Sagada at 1889 metres. You start past Sumaguing Cave and end up at Lake Danum (3-4 hours). While we saw some people doing this hike without a guide, I would recommend one bc it's easy to get lost.
On this hike, look out for pitcher plants which catch water. The ones that are still closed have water in them that is safe to drink. Survival tip we learned.
6) Take time to walk along the main street in Sagada town and peek into the public market, souvenir shops, sari-sari stores, and restaurants. Check out the the weaving going on, and the local delicacies to buy (berry jams!). Snack on some ice candy :)
Factory where they make bags from woven fabric (across the main street from Strawberry Cafe)
WHERE TO STAY:
Before I rave about a great rental cottage in Sagada, in case you'd rather do a hotel, a friend told me about
, and it looks like an ideal place to stay (there's nothing fancy in Sagada). The bonus is that from November to December, you can pick Sagada oranges at Rock Inn. More info from Our Awesome Planet's
We found the cutest cottage to stay at in Sagada that was clean, comfortable, cozy and so charming! It felt straight out of Belle's provincial life or Snow White and the 7 Dwarves. It sleeps 4 in two queen beds in a bedroom that has sloping ceilings. And then two more on mattresses in the den upstairs right next to the bedroom. 1 bathroom, and a kitchen with stove and fridge. Price is 2500 pesos/night. We loved it so much we ended up staying in Sagada 3 nights instead of the planned 1 night.
It is a 5 min drive to Sagada town center. It is on the same compound as Biag Restaurant (Italian food as well as meat with rice dishes), which was really convenient as we could have meals right next door. Their spaghetti bolognese is authentic Italian and the best we've had in the Phil. Pizza is also yummy.
To reserve, contact Gina Tambiac at 09081128430 or 09175938732. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Den/landing upstairs (adj. to bedroom) where there's a fold-out mattress, and a second mattress
WHERE TO EAT:
As mentioned above that the Italian food at Biag restaurant near the cottage was really good:
I mentioned Strawberry Cafe, Yogurt House and Lemon Pie House in my
. Those are all still great options. Strawberry Cafe is particularly great for breakfast, and Yogurt House is the most dependable for being open at all times of the day and for having available tables.
Vegetables with yoghurt dressing at Yoghurt House (there are also delicious meat dishes).
We found a new place that is a three min drive from the cottage, called Caja. It is out of the town center, so very quiet. Pastas and Pizzas were yummy. Particularly this local flavors pizza which was half Etag (the local speciality of smoked and salted pork), and half Sagada red beans.
Considering Sagada is so remote, the food here is delicious because of all the fresh produce grown nearby, and friendly to international (particularly European) visitors. I noticed that a Creperie has even opened on the main pedestrian road in town.