Sagada Travel Guide: 5 Must-Do Activities

The first time I visited Sagada, Philippines, in 2012, I fell in love with it. Last year, I was lucky to have visited the place again and I stayed longer to the point that some locals would already recognise me on the streets.

Sagada is a quiet, picturesque small town  that sits in the Mountain Province. It attracts quite a number of visitors especially in summer and the last quarter of the year. It’s really popular that in some days, hotels and inns get booked out.

Sagada Travel Guide: Houses in Sagada
Houses in Sagada

The town’s major attractions are its outdoor activities. It offers some really good spots for hiking, caving, and camping. I’ve done a few of these during my first visit, so last year, I decided to take it slow and easy. Here’s my Sagada travel guide.

Sagada Travel Guide: 5 Must-Do Activities

1. Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak

This activity is quite popular but it’s in my top 5 and I’ll show you why.

Sagada Travel Guide: Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak
Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak

Kiltepan is short for Kilong, Tetep-an, and Antadao. These three towns meet at Kiltepan peak, their highest point. You have to wake up early to get the best viewing spot because the area can get really crowded. It’s also a popular camping location.

Sagada Travel Guide: People at the peak
People at the peak

2. Wait for the fog to clear

Sagada has valleys filled with sunflowers, pines, rice fields, and pretty houses. There’s a spot that I have discovered by accident when I was walking around the town early in the morning. Past a vegetarian restaurant called Gaia, there’s a spot beside the road where you can get a good view of the valley below. It was still foggy when I got there and I was curious to see how it would look once the fog clears.

It was one of the best moments I had in Sagada.

Sagada Travel Guide: View of Kapay-aw Rice Terraces and some houses
View of Kapay-aw Rice Terraces and some houses

3. Hike to Lake Danum

This also is a popular activity. Most visitors prefer to hire a guide (in a car) because it’s quite far from the town centre and the walk is mostly uphill. Best time to go is before sunset. A short hike will take you to a hill where you can watch the sun set over some mountains in the distance.

Sagada Travel Guide: Sunset over Tirad Pass
Sunset over Tirad Pass

We also hiked to the lake around 10 am. Lake Danum doesn’t look as stunning at noon but we enjoyed the view along the way and watched school kids play soccer across the lake.

Sagada Travel Guide: Lake Danum in late afternoon
Lake Danum in late afternoon

4. Learn about Sagada’s culture and history

I love learning about the history and culture of every place I visit. One of the most convenient ways to do this is to visit a museum. There’s a tiny privately owned museum in Sagada called Ganduyan, that offers a wealth of information about the town’s history and its people.

Another way to learn is through photographs. A lot of restaurants in Sagada display pictures of the town back in the old days.

Or you can talk to the locals. The guides can talk to you about Sagada’s geography and history that no book can ever provide. Hear stories from the person who runs your hostel, from farmers and children.

Sagada Travel Guide: Children playing soccer on a Sunday
Children playing soccer on a Sunday

5. Walk aimlessly

And take pictures! I know this sounds pretty ordinary but you really need to explore the area by foot. Ditch your plans. Take sudden turns and follow tiny trails leading to the mountains and valleys.

Sagada Travel Guide: Sunflowers are everywhere in Sagada
Sunflowers are everywhere in Sagada

Every turn offers a breathtaking view. I got lost a couple of times and came across vegetable fields and houses slightly obscured by weeds and sunflowers.

Sagada Travel Guide: Open field near St. Mary's school
Open field near St. Mary’s School

Sagada is about 13 hours away from Metro Manila. Travelling by bus is the most popular way to get there but you can also rent a car from Manila. Just be careful – the roads going to Sagada can be challenging and dangerous!

About jenobenza

Jennifer is a free-spirited Filipina who likes getting lost in new cities. She can't stay at home for too long because she has a humongous list of places to explore before she dies. She draws and paints when she's not on the road.

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