Find out what makes Sagada a must-visit destination in the Philippines. Discover its must-see tourist spots aside from the hanging coffins and caves in the mountains.
Tucked in the Cordillera Mountains and almost always shrouded in mist and fog, Sagada in Mountain Province is a tiny, peaceful town famous for retaining much of its indigenous culture.
Located about 5,000 feet above sea level, Sagada is famous for its cooler climate compared to most parts of the Philippines. The average yearly temperatures in the town range from around 17 to 20 degrees Celsius.
As part of the Northern Philippines such as Baguio and Banaue, some attractions in Sagada can be reached through hiking. You can go up a mountain, make your way down to waterfalls, or try to keep your balance on rice paddies and go rappelling inside caves.
Whether you’re looking for a break from the hot and humid climate of the lowlands, or craving for an exhilarating outdoor adventure, this list of the must-do activities in Sagada will help you create the perfect highlands trip.
Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism
High up on limestone cliffs are the Sugong Hanging Coffins. This burial practice is an ancient tradition still practiced by some of the people of Sagada.
Suspending their deceased loved ones’ coffins up on mountain cliffs are said to bring their souls closer to heaven. The hanging coffins in Sagada can be seen on the road leading to the Sumaguing Cave entrance.
If you want to see them up close, the hanging coffins can be reached by a half-hour hike down a valley.
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure that will test your limits, Sumaguing Cave has got you covered. It has the largest chamber built over the years, with natural rock formations spread within.
You will be getting wet and muddy, so make sure you wear comfortable clothing. At certain points of the trek, you will need to go barefoot so you can get a better grip of the rock.
Going inside the cave will lead you to the impressive rock formations such as “The Curtain,” “King and Queen,” “The Serpent,” and more. Exploring the Sumaguing Cave will take about 2 hours.
The cave connection, which will have you crawling through tiny tunnels, swimming through underground pools, and rappelling on underground rock faces, will last for approximately 4 hours.
The best way to enjoy Sumaguing Cave is to join a day trip in Sagada that will let you visit other attractions too.
Right by the entrance of this cave are also coffins that have been there for as long as 500 years. The tiny coffins are stacked on top of one another and blend with the surrounding rock.
The Lumiang Cave is also at the other end of the challenging Sumaguing-Lumiang cave connection, so you can see the stacked coffins as you end your caving tour.
Another popular spot for the hanging coffins in Sagada is in Echo Valley. It is named as such because of the way echoes are heard throughout the valley when you shout.
After visiting the hanging coffins, you can continue with a trek of Echo Valley; a walk deeper into the valley will lead you to a subterranean river, and the Bokong Falls you can explore before heading back.
Seeing the sun peek out from behind the Cordillera mountains and low-lying clouds is a surreal experience. To get to the mountain, you can book a round trip transport from the town proper.
Before reaching the falls, you will be passing through picturesque rice terraces and down a valley. To get to the falls, you can hire a van to go to Banga-an Information Center to register and hire a guide to take you to Bomod-ok.
If caving isn’t your style, then maybe a hike up the rolling hills is more up your alley. A few hours of hiking will reward you with a 360-degree view of the seemingly endless Cordillera mountains and low-lying clouds interspersed with the grassy hills.
Sagada weather can be very chilly, especially in the early morning, so make sure you don’t forget your jacket when you hike up Marlboro Hills.
The Kapay-aw Rice Terraces is the nearest rice terraces from the Sagada town proper; it can also be seen from the road leading to the Sumaguing cave entrance.
At the end of the rice terraces is Pongas Falls or the “Small Falls,” where you can take a refreshing dip before heading back.
Photo from Sagada Brew
Sagada is the perfect place to take things slow. Linger over a cup of freshly brewed coffee at Sagada Brew. You can try their brewed coffee, Café Americano, Cappuccino, and other coffee drinks.
Try their Sagada Orange Chicken made with Sagada oranges. They also serve mountain tea.
On display in the Ganduyan museum are a collection of traditional sculpture, weapons, tools, jewelry, and more. The tour will feature a brief discussion of local culture and history by the museum’s owner.
It’s smaller than Bomod-ok, but it is just as impressive. Fees to the Pongas Falls are included in the Kapay-aw Rice Terraces tour.
Photo from Salt & Pepper Diner
This small, homey diner is tucked away on the second floor, above the offices of the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS). They serve hefty meals, so this is the perfect place to load up before you go on your hikes—or to recover from them.
Try their bestsellers such as pepper steak or their rosemary chicken for a delicious experience. You can choose if you want your dishes to be served with rice, potatoes, or pasta.
It’s a smaller, less crowded site, so you can go for a dip and take lots of photos of the scenery without getting fellow hikers in your shots.
Photo from Log Cabin Sagada
Fight off Sagada’s chilly nights with a meal at this cozy restaurant, famous for its weekend buffet specials. Its menu is primarily a fusion of European and Filipino, and you have a selection of roast meats, salads, pasta, vegetables, and wine to choose from.
The restaurant is a bit on the small side, so reservations at least a day before is a must. It is also open for dinner only. They also host dinner buffets during weekends.
They also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals that are budget-friendly. The restaurant is open daily so you can try their delicacies whenever you want to.
One of the most unique experiences you can do in Sagada is to harvest fresh oranges at Rock Inn and Cafe. After paying the entrance fee, you’ll be given garden sears so you can cut the stem of the oranges trees easily. Your payment will depend on how much oranges you harvested.
After getting your fill of fresh-off-the-tree oranges, you can head over to their Café Bodega to sample their dishes. Try their pork sinigang or their chilly chicken curry.
If you are into traditional weaving, head to Sagada Weaving Center to see their beautiful and intricate patterns. It’s located near the Main Sagada Municipal Building and is well-recognized for selling good quality items.
You can buy different products made with their weaved fabrics like coin purse, shoulder bags, to traveling bags. Product prices are comparatively cheap to those offered in the other weaving centers outside the province.
Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism
Whether you’re looking for a break from the hot and humid climate of the lowlands, or craving for an exhilarating outdoor adventure, this list of the must-do activities in Sagada will help you create the perfect highlands trip!
Because of the influx of people, the local government has mandated that all tourists register at the tourist information center and book their professional guides from there for the guests’ safety and security.
Be a responsible tourist and respect the Sagadans’ sacred sites. A trip to Sagada will give you a greater appreciation of the Philippines’ pre-colonial culture; soothe your senses with cooler, fresher, cleaner air; and renew your love for the outdoors.
Are you planning to visit Sagada, Mountain Province this year? Make sure to check Sagada tours and activities so you can make the most of your vacation in the Philippine highlands.