EXPLORING CORDILLERA: Maligcong, Sagada and Batad in 4 Days

 

Atop Mt. Kupapey
I could just be singing “Ale, nasa langit na ba ako?” in my head while being astounded by the sea of clouds atop Mt. Maligcong while the sun was rising.

I have been to Mountain Province and Ifugao before (I’ve also blogged about them: click each province to read about them in detail) but there are always good reasons to go back. From wonderful sunsets and sunrises atop the mountains of Maligcong to the cold, dark caves of Sagada (both of which I was not able to do before) up to the impressive terraces and amazing falls of Batad, it’s always great to go to these Cordillera travel destinations. This is a travel guide on how to enjoy these places in 4 days with tips, suggestions and recommendations.

Top view of Batad as shot by a drone

I have prepared this itinerary in particular to utilize each day of travel well, aiming to go to the most sought for places in Mt. Province and Ifugao in the shortest amount of time. Prepare to get tired if you’re going to do what my good explorer friend, Jam (Instagram: @calijam), and I have done in our amazing travel in Cordillera.

Toploading in Mountain Province!
Here’s me and my friend, Jam (!nstagram: @calijam), while toploading on the jeepney that is bound for Maligcong in Bontoc.

Read along, guys. 🙂

MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

Jam as he was looking over Mt. Kupapey in Maligcong, Bontoc.
Jam as he was looking over Mt. Kupapey in Maligcong, Bontoc.

As I’ve mentioned before in my previous blog about Mt. Province, it is a province in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with Bontoc as its capital. Eighty-three percent (83%) of the province is characterized as mountainous while 17% is made up of hills and valleys.

Two of the must visit places in Mountain Province are the barangay of Maligcong in Bontoc and the town of Sagada.

MALIGCONG

WHAT TO EXPLORE IN MALIGCONG

MALIGCONG RICE TERRACES

Walking in the golden rice terraces of Maligcong
Walking in the golden rice terraces of Maligcong

The stone-walled terraces of Maligcong are the pride of Maligcong people. Residents of Maligcong plant their rice crops here and harvest for their own consumption. The beauty of the rice terraces match the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Batad Rice Terraces.

Top view of Maligcong Rice Terraces!
Top view of Maligcong Rice Terraces!

Maligcong Rice Terraces show a different color during different times of the year. For this year, as the crops were planted from March to April, the terraces then were color brown and green. The terraces were green during the months of June and July and they are now golden as harvesting time is done during the months of August and September.

MT. PARUTAN (MT. FATO)

Atop Mt. Parutan (Mt. Fato)
Atop Mt. Parutan (Mt. Fato)

According to Pinoy Mountaineer, Mt. Parutan is estimated to be 1647 meters above sea level (MASL). Trail difficulty is 3/9 while trail class is 1-2, which means ranging from easy stroll to hiking along a path/rugged terrain with occasional rock scrambling to get to some spot on the summit.

The view atop Mt. Parutan is astounding. Even though we were aiming to view the sunset here, we witnessed a cloudy/foggy view of Maligcong because it rained during the afternoon of our hike.

MT. KUPAPEY (NOT MT. KUFAFEY)

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Standing at 1438 MASL, Mt. Kupapey offers the best view of Maligcong Rice Terraces. Like Mt. Parutan, Mt. Kupapey has a trail difficulty of 3/9 and trail class of 1-2. I personally found climbing Kupapey easier than hiking Parutan, though it must have something to do with the weather when we were going up and down Parutan.

Sunrise in Maligcong is best seen atop this mountain, so make sure you make an arrangement with your guide to go up this mountain early in the morning. Aside from the stunning view of Maligcong Rice Terraces, you might be surprised by an amazing blanket of clouds hovering above Maligcong! We were blessed to witness one of the best sunrises we’ve seen in our lives!

Stunned by that beautiful sunrise in Mt. Kupapey!
Stunned by that beautiful sunrise in Mt. Kupapey!

WHERE TO STAY IN MALIGCONG

Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay and Coffee Shop

Contact number: 09155463557 (Ate Suzette)

Room rate: P350 per pax

This rate includes a room with two comfortable beds with pillows and blankets. Two public bathrooms (with hot showers) are available near the rooms. Ate Suzette has a mini store where you can buy mineral water and beverages (Coke, Gatorade, etc.) as well as snacks and other products. Ate Suzette offers free coffee for visitors. 🙂

Home cooked meals: priced at P120 per meal

Guide fee: P400 per group, per travel destination

WHAT TO EXPLORE IN SAGADA

HANGING COFFINS IN ECHO VALLEY

Placing the dead in hanging coffins has been an old tradition of the Igorot people. While it’s not often done anymore, others still choose to undergo this tradition when they die. The last coffin that was placed in this area was during the year 2010. The hanging coffins were suspended from the limestone cliff via ropes and wires (scaffolding).

Guide fee: P200

SUMAGUING CAVE

Sagada’s popular cave that features stalactites, stalagmites and other beautiful rock formations, Sumaguing Cave has huge chambers (said to be the largest among Sagada’s caves) that can accommodate many spelunkers all at once. The deepest part of its chamber is the one used for the short course in exploring Sumaguing. We ventured the short course of the cave as we were already pressed with time.

Guide fee: P500 (short course, max of 4 people; rate is higher for 5 or more)

Transportation fee: P350 (shuttle)

KILTEPAN PEAK

Sunrise in Sagada!
Sunrise in Sagada!

The best place to witness the sunrise in Sagada is in Kiltepan Peak where you can also have an awesome view of the Sagada valley along with its terraces. Who knows, you might also chance a sea of clouds when you visit here just like what happened to us. J

Transportation fee: P550

WHERE TO STAY IN SAGADA

Residential Lodge

Contact number: 09196728744

Room rate: P350 per pax

This rate includes a comfortable bed with pillows and blanket. The room has a bathroom with hot shower. The lodge also offers free coffee in the reception area.

IFUGAO

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Awed by Batad’s beautiful rice terraces

Landlocked by the provinces of Isabela (in the east), Mountain Province (in the north), Benguet (in the west) and Nueva Vizcaya (in the south), Ifugao is one of the Cordillera provinces. It is famous for its terraces, which include the Banaue Rice Terraces and Batad Rice Terraces. Its capital is Lagawe.

Fun fact: Ifugao’s name is derived from the word Ipugo, which means “from the hill.”

I was excited to see Batad for the second time!
I was excited to see Batad for the second time!

WHAT TO EXPLORE IN BATAD

BATAD RICE TERRACES

Jam as he was marveling at the beauty of Batad Rice Terraces.
Jam as he was marveling at the beauty of Batad Rice Terraces.

One of the five clusters o rice terraces in Ifugao that are inscrived in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) World Heritage Sites, Batad Rice Terraces is a testament of the human creative genius and cultural significance as shown by the Ifugao people. These terraces were said to be built about 2,000 years ago, and even though they were already built for quite a long time, its complex stone and mud walls coupled with intricate irrigation systems (as they harvest water from the forests of the mountain tops) and elaborate farming system are still used.

The beautiful Batad Rice Terraces
The beautiful Batad Rice Terraces!

Like Maligcong Rice Terraces, the rice terraces of Batad offer a different color during different times of the year. Planting time of crops happen during the months of January and February, and it can be expected that the terraces are brown during this time. The crops grow during summer time, so we can expect the terraces to be green during April and May. Meanwhile, they are a mesh of gold and green during harvest time, which covers the months of July and August.

My turn to be awed by Batad's magnificent rice terraces
My turn to be awed by Batad’s magnificent rice terraces!

TAPPIYA FALLS

Batad's Tappiya Falls!
Batad’s Tappiya Falls!

Standing at 70 meters, Tappiya Falls is one of the most astounding falls I’ve seen. It usually takes about an hour going to this hidden waterfalls of Batad.

Where to stay in Batad

This is the view that you get to see while eating in Ramon's Native Homestay!
This is the view that you get to see while eating in Ramon’s Native Homestay!

Ramon’s Native Homestay

Contact numbers: +639756155542/ 09975683317

Room rate: P350 per pax

This includes a comfortable bed with pillows and blanket. Two public bathrooms with hot showers are available. Ask for the rooms that offer a magnificent view of the terraces. There are also rooms with a lower rate (P250 per pax) but these rooms do not have a good view of the terraces and their bathroom doesn’t have a hot shower.

***

Now, here’s our itinerary:

MALIGCONG- SAGADA- BATAD ITINERARY
DAY/TIME ITINERARY TIPS, COMMENTS &SUGGESTIONS
Night before Day 1
9 pm Ride the Coda Lines bus in HM bus terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Their Super Deluxe costs P950. This bus has a comfort room so you won’t have to wait for a stopover to relieve yourself. Moreover, there’s only one stopover during the entire ride. Their deluxe bus leaves at 8 in the evening and a ride in one costs about P750. It doesn’t have its own CR but it has 3 stopovers along the way.
Day 1: EXPLORING MALIGCONG
6 am Arrive in Bontoc You may explore the marketplace of Bontoc and eat your breakfast. Most stores, though, are still closed at 6 am. The store of Ate Labfas, which is near the jeepney bound for Maligcong, is the place-to-be if you want to have a taste of Mountain Province’s superb coffee. She also serves breakfast items like bread and eggs.
8 am Ride the jeepney bound for Maligcong Travel time usually takes 45 minutes.
9 am Arrive in Maligcong

Check in Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay and Coffee Shop

Eat breakfast

Rest for a while

You can choose to eat breakfast in Ate Suzette’s homestay in Maligcong. You can tell her when you arrive or you can message her in advance. Here’s her number again: 09155463557.
11 am Explore Maligcong’s beautiful terraces The rice terraces have different colors in different times of the year. Crops are planted during the months of March to May so expect the terraces to be green. Crops are then harvested from the months of June to August so expect a mesh of gold and green when you go here during these times. Believe me, that’s what we’ve witnessed!

 

It’s the middle of the day so prepare to have a scorching trip to the terraces. Prepare a cap, hat or even an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. Also, use sun blocks and sun screens.

2 pm Go back to homestay

Eat lunch

Rest for a while

It is said that it usually rains during the month of August in the afternoon or evening. And it really did! We were able to rest while waiting for the rain to stop so we could go to Mt. Parutan (Mt. Fato) in the late afternoon.
4 pm Hike Mt. Parutan (Mt. Fato) and witness the sunset We were really aiming to see the sunset atop Mt. Parutan (Mt. Fato) but nature had other plans. Because it rained in the afternoon and it was still actually drizzling when we were hiking, what we witnessed was a foggy and cloudy view of Maligcong! Definitely still a beaut!
6:30 pm Arrive safely in homestay

Freshen up

Eat dinner

You can actually bring food when you go here in Maligcong but I’d say indulge yourself with Ate Suzette’s home cooked meals! Priced at P120, these meals may include one meat viand, one vegetable dish and rice. You can ask for more rice and they’d give you more for free!
9 pm Lights off This is the policy in Ate Suzette’s homestay. Lights off doesn’t mean that they don’t have electricity, though. They have! You can charge your phones/power banks/batteries during this time.
Day 2: EXPLORING SAGADA
4 am Wake up at 3:30 am and start hiking Mt. Kupapey to see the magnificent sunrise on its top If it rained the night before, the chances of having a sea of clouds in Maligcong are big. And we were blessed to witness a magnificent sunrise atop Mt. Kupapey with the sea of clouds hovering Maligcong’s rice terraces!
7:30 am Eat breakfast in homestay

Freshen up

Prepare for the next trip

Check out

Eat your breakfast with the beautiful terraces of Maligcong as your view. Indulge in the moment.
8:30 am Ride the jeepney bound for Bontoc Travel time usually takes about 45 minutes.
10 am Ride the jeepney bound for Sagada Travel time usually takes about 1 hour.
11 am Arrive in Sagada

Register in Sagada Tourism Office

Pay the necessary fees in Sagada Tourism Office. It is a couple of meters away from the place where jeepneys stop in the town center. Tourism/ Registration fee is P35. This is also the place where you can see a list of the places you can visit while here in Sagada, plus their guide and transportation fees. We chose to visit the hanging coffins in Echo Valley (guide: P200; no transportation needed as it is only a couple of meters away from town center), Sumaguing Cave (short course – P500, transportation – P350) and Kiltepan Peak (no guide needed; transportation (P550).
11:30 am Check in Residential Lodge Residential Lodge is one of the most popular lodges here in Sagada. With just a price of P350 per person, you can enjoy a comfortable bed and hot shower. Plus, there’s also free coffee in their reception area!
1 pm Lunch While the price of an overnight stay in Sagada’s lodges is relatively cheap, it isn’t the case with their food. Most meals are around P100 per person. Some even go at P120 or more. You can find cheaper but still good ones, though, near the town center.
2 pm Explore the hanging coffins found in Echo Valley It’s called Echo Valley for a reason. Try to shout your hearts out and expect an echo of what you said in return! Shout “Ayayaten kaaa!” and wait not just for an echo, but also for a response. Hehe.
4 pm Explore Sumaguing Cave This one I really enjoyed! You have 2 options when you decide to explore Sumaguing Cave: short course (guide fee: P500) and cave connection (guide fee: P800).
6 pm Go back to lodge

Freshen up

7 pm Dinner time There are lots of choices to dine in Sagada. Choose according to your craving and budget. After dinner, we were hoping to visit Lemon Pie House. However, they close early and so we opted to have our post-dinner fix in Sagada Brew. Their cakes are yummy and their coffee a must-try!
DAY 3: EXPLORING BATAD
4:30 am Wake up at 4 am and ride the van towards Kiltepan Peak Better set your alarm clock! Sleeping in a cold place like Sagada can really make your sleep extra comfortable, making you feel lazy to wake up at a very early time.
5:30 am Witness the sunrise in Kiltepan Peak Believe me, this is a must visit when you go to Sagada! The sunrise here is spectacular, more so when there’s a sea of clouds! Thankfully, we were able to see both again in this side of Mountain Province!
6:30 am Head back to town center

Breakfast

Lemon Pie House opens early and we grabbed the chance eat our breakfast here. Try their omelet, coffee and especially lemon pie, which is what they are famous for!
7:30 am Freshen up

Prepare things for another trip

Check out

Residential Lodge’s contact number is 09196728744. Don’t forget to make a reservation especially during peak season!
8 am Ride the jeepney bound for Bontoc Travel time usually takes 1 hour.
9 am Ride the Immanuel bus bound for Banawe. While there are other means of transportation going to Banawe (vans and jeepneys), buses are said to be the earliest and fastest way to go there. The last trips of Immanuel buses bound for Banawe are clocked at 9 am.
11 am Arrive in Banawe

Eat lunch

There are a handful of carinderias in Banawe’s town center. They serve various beef, chicken, pork and seafood dishes. Don’t forget to try their native dishes like pinikpikan!
12 nn Travel to Batad We were able to talk to a tricycle driver in Banawe to give us a ride towards Batad. We could have waited for the public jeepney at 2 pm but then we’d miss doing our activities for the day if we wouldn’t go there still. The driver asked for a fee of P150, which is the same rate for the jeepney ride.
1 pm Arrive in Batad You’re gonna walk for some time going down the “hidden” barangay of Batad. This barangay in Banawe is bounded by mountains, which make it a bit hard for anyone to go in here.

There is no signal here in Batad so prepare for a whole day of not having any connection to the outside world, okay? 🙂

1:30 pm Check in Ramon’s Native Homestay Probably the best lodge here in Batad, Ramon’s Native Homestay offer a magnificent view of Batad Rice Terraces while dining or even standing from the window of your room. With a fee of P350 per pax (there are also rooms with a fee of P250), the homestay also offers home cooked meals that are understandably more expensive than the meals in the town center of Banawe. Believe me, these meals are delicious!
2 pm Explore Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiya Falls You can opt to choose or not to choose a guide when exploring the rice terraces of Batad and Tappiya Falls. While there is a guided pathway towards the view deck of the terraces and the falls, it would be best to hire a guide if it’s your first time to explore Batad.
5:30 pm Rest/ freshen up while waiting for dinner in homestay We opted to rest first and eat dinner before freshening up.
6 pm Dinner time While you can bring your own food to save up money here in Batad, you can choose to try their home cooked meals. Kuya Jeff Roman, who cooked our meals while we were there, served superb meals worthy of their relatively high price (P150 and up).
7:30 pm Massage time After freshening up, we had our Batad’s native massage. Our masseurs said it’s a combination of different massages done in the body. What I remember, though, is that their massage took ample time in the joints. It was good, but I remember that after having this massage, our ailments seem to manifest themselves throughout the night. Colds and cough, that is. Haha.
DAY 4: This part is a suggestion should you decide to go home on the fourth day. After reaching Banawe, we opted to go to Santiago, Isabela to visit a good friend.
5 am Go hike Batad’s mountains and reach Awwa View Deck I encourage you to go to Awwa View Deck, the highest point where you can witness the magnificence of Batad’s rice terraces, if you still have the energy and resources to go there especially if it’s your first time in Batad. But of course, you can just choose to rest in the homestay, enjoy Batad by drinking their coffee, eating breakfast and just relaxing with the terraces in view just like what we did. 🙂
8 am Freshen up, prepare things and check out Check out at this time if you want to go and ride by the public transportation bound to Banawe. As we were not in a hurry (and we’ve already talked to a jeepney driver who will be accommodating us back in Banawe), we opted to check out at 11 am. Not after trying the drone, though, as seen at the start of this blog post. 🙂
9 am Hike towards the road going back and ride the jeepney bound for Banawe Fare is P150.
10 am Eat early lunch or ride the buses bound for Manila

Note: Travel time can take up 8 hours or more depending on the traffic situation, speed of the bus and its route.

In Banawe, buses bound for Manila are already available. Coda Lines, for one, goes by this route from Sagada. Other buses you can ride in include Ohayami, which has a terminal in Banawe.

Here are Ohayami’s contact numbers: 0927-6493055, 09175617344, (02) 516-0501

*** 

Traveling to the Cordillera Region to witness its beautiful terraces, steep mountains and numerous valleys is a great decision when you’re aiming to explore some of the best travel destinations in the Philippines. So what are you waiting for? Plan for your trip here now! I hope this Cordillera travel guide has helped you decide to travel here.

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