Sagada is described as the peaceful mountain backpacker mecca of North Luzon. There aren’t that many foreigner backpackers in North Luzon, so it’s not much of a mecca for them. It is a mecca for Filipino travelers. My visit corresponded with the pope’s visit to Manila, which was declared a public holiday. The town was overrun with groups of Filipinos, each equipped with a selfie stick.
It’s pretty easy to get to Sagada from Banaue. The jeepney leaves early from the public market, and it only takes about six hours. Upon arrival, I had a heck of a time finding a place to stay, because everywhere was full of Filipinos. Luckily, after a lot of walking around, I found a room for my entire four night stay.
Sagada is a small, one-street town. The reason to come here is go on nature hikes. All the tours are booked from a central location, and all prices are fixed, so it’s really easy to organize trips. I was by myself, but costs could be kept down by sharing a guide.
My first day in town was a half day, because of travel and having to find a place to stay. I had enough time for a tour of Echo Valley. My guide led me down into the little valley, past the hanging coffins. This is an old tradition of the local people, but only the wealthy can afford to do it. The higher the coffin is hung on the cliffs, the better. My guide explained that many people prefer to be placed in the fetal position, because this is how they were born. The tour led through some rice fields past a little waterfall. In retrospect I could have done this one without a guide.
Being a small town, there’s not much to do at night. It was actually difficult to find food, because most of the small restaurants were full of Filipinos. The kitchens consist of just one or two people cooking for dozens of guests. I think any other time of year, besides Holy Week and Christmas, this would be a very relaxing place to chill out.
This was just more first day. More adventure awaited.