M Hotel Tabuk
Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park
Currently, there are around 1 hotels that you can book in Kalinga
The province of Kalinga may not boast sunny shores or white sand beaches, but it wows visitors instead with its lush forests and majestic mountaintop views from some of the best climbing spots in the country. Kalinga is also known for its friendly indigenous people and for its colorful, hand-woven cloths. Moreover, it is also home to the legendary Kalinga tattoo artist, Whang-Od.
Kalinga is a popular spot for mountaineers, for the province is surrounded with mountains wherever you look. Ask any avid mountain climber about Kalinga, and they will probably say that they have been there. Kalinga’s cold climate is also quite inviting during the Philippine’s summer months. Hence, if you plan to visit this province in the future, remember to choose your ideal date to avoid the big crowds and bad weather.
There are numerous ways to get to Kalinga, but each route will have you travel mostly by land. If you want to see more of the Cordillera Administrative Region, you can incorporate Baguio and Sagada in your itinerary, as you will pass through these places along the way. However, for convenience’s sake, taking a bus from Manila to Banaue should be your first move. Once in Banaue, hop on another bus bound for Bontoc, and from there, take another bus heading to Tinglayan, Kalinga. You can also to go Kalinga if you find yourself in Tuguegarao. You can hire a tricycle to bring you to the van terminal in Tabuk, which is Kalinga’s capital. First trip is at 6:00am while the last trip is at 4:00pm. Total travel time for both methods is more than 10 hours from Manila.
Kalinga has eight municipalities: Balban, Lubugan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, Rizal, Tabuk, Tanudan, and Tinglayan. To get to each municipality, you have to travel by van or by jeep. Riding these vehicles around Kalinga can be fun, especially when you are given the opportunity to sit on the roof of the vehicle. You may also bring your own vehicle along, but it must be able to handle Kalinga’s rough, mountainous terrains.
Kalinga may be an attractive destination for people who love the mountains, but the province has still a lot more to offer. You can walk around the city of Tabuk for example, or trek along the rice paddies in Tinglayan and visit the famous Tinglayan Rice Terraces. If you are up to meet and greet the locals, you can drop by the villages of LupLupa, Old Tinglayan, and Ambato Legleg. You can also swim in the Chico River, or cross the hanging bridge that connects Barangay Luplupa and the Tinglayan town proper. Crossing this bridge will also provide you with fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
While in Kalinga, make sure to visit the locals and spend some time in their homes. This interaction will give you a glimpse of local living while getting the chance to observe the province’s natural surroundings. You might even see something odd during your stay, like a native pig roaming freely or tombs located near their homes.
You also should not miss out on scaling the heights of Mt. Mating-oy Dinayao. This mountain is large enough to straddle the municipalities of Tinglayan and Tanudan, making it a challenging but worthy mountain to climb. This mountain is known to the locals as the Sleeping Beauty Mountain, as its profile from vantage points in Sungao and Basao looks like a sleeping lady lying on her back.
Lastly, you can’t leave Kalinga without a permanent souvenir. And what is more permanent than getting a tattoo from the legendary Whang-Od? Whang-Od is a nonagenarian tattoo artist in Buscalan, who is known to be Kalinga’s last mambabatok. Her tattooing methods are traditional, employing a mixture of charcoal and water as her ink and a thorn end of a calamansi or pomelo tree as her needle. Feeling her tap the tattoo design on your skin might not feel pleasant, but the mark she’ll leave you is certain to be unique and one of a kind.
Since Kalinga is not yet as urbanized as the other provinces, it doesn’t have a lot of big-named restaurants. Most of the food you’ll find are served in homestays and modest inns. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find a hot meal waiting for you in a couple of carinderias (small eateries). Don’t miss out on local favorites like inihaw na baboy ramo (grilled wild boar) and binungor (spicy pot of vegetables and freshwater shells). And if you need a quick pick-me-up to start your day, have a nice freshly-brewed cup of Kalinga coffee.
There aren’t any clubs or late-night venues around the province, so Kalinga’s nightlife is simple and quiet. However, if you are looking for something to cap your night, you can order local beers in some carinderias or share a pint with your homestay host.
Majority of the lodgings you’ll find in Kalinga are homestays or inns. They are all simple and humble, yet the accommodations are warm and charming. You’ll be sharing your lodgings with other tourists who have also been hit by the Kalinga fever. Most of these venues are inexpensive like the Ma-K Homestay in Lubuagan or the Luplupa Riverside Inn in Tinglayan. Although not necessarily luxurious, they offer impressive views of Kalinga’s everyday sceneries.
Renting a jeep in Kalinga can be expensive, so it is better that you travel with a big group to save some cash.
Try to visit Kalinga during its off-peak season. There are less people, which means a quieter atmosphere. It even shortens the lines when you are visiting tourist attractions.
Ilokano is the dominant dialect used by the Kalingas. If you know how to speak a little bit of Ilokano, don’t be afraid to use it. It’ll help you get to know the locals better and score amazing bargains.
When traveling in Kalinga, always look for a local guide. The locals know where to find the best places to go for that authentic provincial experience.