Nestled between the Cordillera and Ilocos Mountain Ranges, Sagada is pure heaven for anyone who loves jaw-dropping scenery (who doesn’t?). After making my way to the bucolic paradise that is Sagada, my only regret was not having visited any sooner.
I grabbed my luggage and took a bus from Baguio at the crack of dawn with the intention of sleeping on the road. As the sun began casting its golden morning glow on the mountainsides and farmlands we passed, I could no longer sleep nor hold my excitement. Throughout the 5-hour bus journey, we passed emerald rice terraces, curvy mountainside ridges, and stunning forest scenery.
Upon arrival to Sagada, I could understand why so many travelers have fallen in love with this place… some of which have never left.
If you’ve never visited Sagada, here’s why you should:
The Magnificent Rice Terraces
The rice terraces of Sagada are a sight to behold. Carefully and painstakingly built by the local tribes, the rice terraces are a testament to hard work and sheer Filipino talent. The beautiful landscapes have been around for thousands of years, and continue to be a trademark of ingenuity.
A Place to Disconnect
If you’re looking for nightlife, Sagada isn’t the place to go. But for the rest of us who seek out tranquility, this is a good thing! In Sagada, most establishments close by 9pm and the rest of the town sleeps early. This is an excellent place to visit if you’re looking to truly disconnect from the chaos of urban life, catch up with sleep, and relax. The cool weather will lull you to sleep; many accommodations don’t have air-conditioning but there’s absolutely no need for it. Trust me when I say that I’ve had some of the most restful sleep of my life in Sagada – there’s the refreshing mountain breeze to thank for that.
Watching the sunrise from Kiltepan Peak was definitely the highlight of my trip. While I’ve been lucky enough to witness many sunrises from mountaintops, thankfully I didn’t have to climb one to experience Kiltepan Peak. A van we rented picked us up at our accommodations at 4:30 am, and in just a few minutes we found ourselves standing at the edge of a forest overlooking a spectacular celestial show. The sunrise was sandwiched between two layers of clouds; the sun lent a fiery pink glow to the upper layer while the lower layer thinned out over the course of a few minutes. It revealed a valley of rice terraces beneath. In Kiltepan Peak, I witnessed what was easily the most beautiful sunrise of my life.
The Bohemian Culture
One visit to Sagada will tell you why it’s such a hot spot for free spirits, gypsies, and Bohemians. There’s just something about this beautiful place that attracts artists of all kinds; perhaps its because it’s a place that can inspire. If you’re a fan of alternative culture and all things New Age, you’d fall in love with Sagada the way I did. The Bohemian spirit is found in everything: the people you meet, the reggae bars, the vegan cafes, and even in the graffiti found throughout town.
Sagada is known for its amazing Arabica coffee. Be prepared to savor some of the most delicious cups you’ve ever had in your life! The best cup of coffee I had in my entire stay only cost $1 and came with a breathtaking view of the forest. Coffee in this region is abundant and inexpensive, yet of the highest quality.
The Friendly People
It’s not uncommon to meet solo travelers in Sagada, so it’s fairly easy to meet people and make new friends. Our homestay was located in a compound with other accommodations, and we were lucky enough to have a communal camp fire area. Campfires are a great place to share stories and make friends while you share a bottle of the local rum, all while warming your bones.
Sagada is abundant with excellent, fresh produce that’s grown locally on the rice terraces and mountainsides. Produce, such as oranges and fresh vegetables are easy to find and at much lower prices than in the city. This is the best place to hoard produce! The yogurt is also made locally, and available at the famous Yogurt House café.
I hope my trip has inspired you to make your way to Sagada!
Author Bio: Diane is the co-writer of The Luggage List and currently lives in the Philippines. Equally, in love with both tropical and mountain life, her travel plans are fueled by the obsession of finding the best possible views at sea or on mountaintops.