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Mabbay, Patay, Staunton Road, Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines, 2619
Sitio Nadatngan, Barangay Madongo, Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines, 2619
Blessed with breathtaking natural wonders and rich culture, the Mountain Province is the very definition of a unique and enriching tourist destination. A getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, this province will give visitors a time to be one with nature. Here, enthralling landscapes, exotic food, and exciting fiestas await travelers.
Located in the heart of the Cordillera Mountain Ranges, the Mountain Province was called La Montañosa by the Spanish colonizers in the past because of its mountainous terrain. It is one of the few areas in the Philippines that the conquistadors failed to subjugate despite having the country under their rule for three centuries. As such, many indigenous peoples managed to preserve their cultures and traditions.
Today, the province has ten municipalities, with Bontoc being the capital. With its rice terraces deemed as engineering marvels, caves and mountains that hold sacred mummified dead, and a variety of other natural attractions, Mountain Province is sure to capture and hold the interest and imagination of many.
Visitors have the option of booking a plane going to Baguio City for shorter travel time. Once in Baguio, take a bus heading to Sagada.
There are no direct flights to this landlocked province, so buses are a popular mode of transportation for travelers who have no private vehicles. If you’re coming from Metro Manila, take a Victory Liner or a Genesis Transport bu bound for Baguio. Upon arriving in Baguio, board a bus heading for Sagada, a municipality within Mountain Province.
There are tricycles and jeepneys that can take visitors to different destinations across the province. Travelers can even go “toploading” (ride on the roofs of jeepneys) to breathe in the fresh air and take in views of the stunning surroundings. For the adventurous ones who have the time, hiking to a few tourist hotspots is also possible.
Endowed with majestic waterfalls, massive cave systems, high mountains, and several astounding rice terraces, the Mountain Province is a nature lover’s paradise. The most popular attractions in the province are its rice terraces, of which it has more than a dozen. Travelers can visit seven of ten towns to see these awe-inspiring structures. The Barlig Rice Terraces in Barlig, Bucas Rice Terraces in Besao, Natonin Rice Terraces in Natonin, and Bangen Rice Terraces in Bauko are but a few that visitors can marvel at.
One can also find a number of splendid waterfalls near the elevated rice paddies. Sagada, in particular, is teeming with waterfalls. Notable cascades include the small and quaint Bokong Falls near Barangay Bangaan, the beautiful but hard-to-reach Pongas Falls of Ankileng, and Sagada’s most popular waterfall, the impressive and high-rising Bomod-ok Falls in Barangay Fidelisan.
After taking in the breathtaking sceneries of the province, visitors can visit heritage sites to learn more about the area’s rich culture and history. The 3,000-years old ancient Alab Petroglyphs carved into massive rocks on Mt. Data contain depictions of daily life and sacred rites of early inhabitants. A trip to see Sagada’s Hanging Coffins will also give tourists the opportunity to know more about the fascinating burial customs of the Igorot’s ancestors.
Tourists can also take a trip back in time inside Bontoc Museum. Several paintings and pictures that show the unique culture of the Kankanaey and Bontoc peoples are on display here. In addition, there is also an outdoor museum section that exhibits traditional farming implements and structures like the ulog (sleeping area for young ladies), which the natives used to build hundreds of years ago.
Those with an adventurous spirit will love exploring the many natural marvels this province has to offer. As for the more laid-back visitors, there are also a number of places that will relax and invigorate the senses.
Mountaineers can climb the summits of Mt. Calawitan in Sabangan, Mt. Pagturao in Bontoc, Mt. Amoyao in Barlig, and other imposing but spectacular peaks. Alternatively, the Mountain Province also has wondrous caves for spelunking. These include the Lumiang Cave, Lapitan Cave, and the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada.
After going through tiring hikes and treks, travelers can soothe their tired muscles in the Mainit Hotsprings in Mainit, the Mornang Hotspring and Sadanga Hotspring in Sadanga, and the Maatong Hotspring in Poblacion.
Of course, a vacation wouldn’t be complete without you taking home some souvenirs. Head to the backstrap and loom weaving houses in Sabangan, Sagada, and Samoki. In these areas, one can watch the difficult process of hand-weaving cloth textiles. Handcrafted products like bags, placemats, baskets, and purses are also available for purchase.
The food in Mountain Province is just as exotic as its culture. Various small eateries in different villages serve unique dishes such as the tengba, a fermented rice paste with freshwater crab and etag, sun-dried salted pork that is often cooked with legumes. Also, the highly sought-after Arabica coffee, a highland variant that has a strong wine-like taste, is a common beverage in the province.
There are also great restaurants that offer hearty local favorites in Sagada. One of which is the Rock Inn and Cafe, a huge dining hall that used to be a humble barn. Its generous servings and homey ambiance are not the only noteworthy draws of the place. The establishment has an orange orchard where guests can pick and eat sweet citrus fruits while waiting for their meals.
Bontoc’s Caja Pizza, Cupcakes and More Restaurant is another amazing dining option where travelers can enjoy comfort food items like pizza and sweets that use exotic and local ingredients. Their etag pizza with watercress, bignay (Queensland cherry) cupcake, and banana choconut pie are must-tries. In addition, they have all-you-can-drink coffee.
In Mountain Province, places to spend an evening in are limited, as most villages don’t have bars. However, Sagada is the go-to option when it comes to enjoying the nightlife. The Persimon is a small but fun pub where friends can sing and drink beers. Another good alternative is the Sagada Pines Restaurant, where backpackers can drink rice wine, listen to great music, and interact with locals and fellow travelers.
There many affordable and cozy lodging options that can be a traveler’s home away from home while in the Mountain Province. Plenty of comfortable inns and guest houses are available in Sagada. The Residential Lodge in Dagdag, the George Guest House in Dao-angan, and the Canaway Resthouse in South Road all have accommodating staff, simple but good amenities, and clean and comfy rooms that have good views of the beautiful landscape of the province.
Since many backpackers travel to the province for trekking or mountain climbing, homestays have increased in number in the area. Lodgings such as Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay in Bontoc and Sagada Homestay in Sagada offer cheap and clean rooms. Guests also have the option of cooking their own meals in a shared kitchen.
Join in the spirited and exciting festivals of the province. During the summer months of April and May, vibrant and colorful festivities take place in different villages, like the Lang-ay Festival in Bontoc.
Buy a bottle of Tapuy. Tapuy is a Philippine traditional rice wine made by naturally fermenting pure glutinous rice with onuad roots, ginger extracts, and bubod, a powdered starter.
Check bus schedules and available tour packages. The province is a distant destination from major cities, and travel time is long.