Weekend Getaway in Banaue – Bontoc – Sagada

Hi! I was invited to a twin hike to Mt. Fato and Mt. Kupapey last weekend, October 15-16. Unfortunately, due to the typhoon (Karen) that hit North Luzon over the weekend as well, we were only able to climb Mt. Fato – my 42nd mountain.

Mountain Stats

Elevation: 1400+ MASL

Location: Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain Province

Difficulty: 2/9 (This is just my rating. The trail is wide and beautiful with a lot of pine trees)

Trek to Summit: 1 hour

Because we were unable to do the main activity of this trip, climbing Mt. Kupapey, we found ourselves exploring different sites in Sagada instead. This came as a surprise because going here was not part of our itinerary but because of bus and jeep schedules, we decided to take the bus from Sagada back to Manila.

Read on below for the full story.

Again, I will start with the transportation details and cost breakdown of this trip:

Transportation Details

VEHICLE FROM TO FARE ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME
Bus (Florida Lines) Kamias Banaue Php 530 8hrs 30min
Jeep/Van Banaue Bontoc Php 200 2 hrs
Jeep Bontoc Maligcong Php 20 20 min
TOTAL Php 750 10hrs 50min
VEHICLE FROM TO FARE ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME
Jeep Maligcong Bontoc Php 30 30 min
Jeep Bontoc Sagada Php 40 40 min
Bus (Coda Lines) Sagada Manila Php 720 11 hrs
TOTAL Php 790 12hrs 10min

Other Expenses

DESCRIPTION AMOUNT TOTAL PER PERSON (5pax)
Barangay Entrance Fee Php 100 Php 20
Homestay Room Fee Php 1,750 Php 350
Food Php 600 Php 600
TOTAL   Php 970

*Contact Number of ate Suzette: 0915-546-3557 (She can coordinate with the guides for Mts. Fato and Kupapey)

SAFE BUDGET: Php 3,000


DAY 0 – Manila to Banaue

The group met up at Florida Bus Line terminal along Kamias around 9:00PM. Because the bus schedule going to Banaue was still at 10:00PM, we killed time at a nearby Jollibee. It was my first time to ride a Florida bus and I got all giddy because it was pink all over – pink seats, pink curtains, pink everything.

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#TeamPink!

As per usual, I tried to get some sleep in moments after the bus left.

Day 1 – Banaue to Bontoc

I woke up when the bus had its first stopover in Tarlac. While my other friends went down to eat, I chose to stay in the bus to get more sleep. All of us went down; however, when the bus made another stopover in Nueva Vizcaya.

At around 6:40AM, we finally arrived in Banaue where we had our quick breakfast in People’s Restaurant. And aside from the fact that they have good food and a good view, they also have a good bathroom! While we were eating, a guy offered to take us to Bontoc via van for a fee of Php200 per person which already includes stopovers in different tourist destinations and Php150 per person without stopovers. We chose the trip with stopovers because we wanted to make the most out of our trip and we still had a lot of time to spare.

First Stopover – Banaue Rice Terraces View Deck

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It was my first time to see Banaue Rice Terraces because we were not able pass here after our climb to Mt. Amuyao the last time. Our eyes feasted on the beautiful man-made terraces which is also known as the, correct me if I am wrong, Eighth Wonder of the World. True to its name, the view left me in awe even though we were told that harvesting season just finished so the terraces were not as lush and green. And even though it started to drizzle, it did not stop us from taking ample photos before heading to the next stopover.

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Banaue Rice Terraces behind me

Second Stopover – Banaue Rice Terraces Main View Deck

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The second and main view deck took us closer to Banaue Rice Terraces and this made me admire the 2000-year old terraces even more. After taking some photos, we headed back to the van for the last stopover before Bontoc.

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A closer view of the terraces

Third Stopover – Bay-yo Rice Terraces View Deck

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It took us about an hour to get to the third stopover so I was able to take some more rest. With sleep in my eyes, I went down the van with my friends and took photos at the view deck of Bay-yo Rice Terraces. Noticeably, there are already lot of houses built along the side of the terraces but the view was still great, nonetheless.

After a few minutes, a friendly Igorot, who introduced himself as tatay Lotno, approached us for a photo. It was also tatay Lotno who directed our poses for every photo so it was evident that he has already encountered a lot of tourists. After taking photos, we bid farewell to tatay Lotno and returned to the van.

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The view of Bay-yo Rice Terraces as seen from the view deck and our photos with Tatay Lotno!

And finally we were en route to Bontoc! While on transit, one of the guys in the van shared a couple of neat fun facts about Ifugao and Mountain Province.

  1. If there is one showbiz personality that the locals will swoon over, it is Robin Padilla.
  2. The reason why the Marcos family has a strong influence in these provinces stems back to an incident back in World War II when an Igorot hid him from the soldiers. To return the favor, the then-President Marcos constructed roads and built hospitals in these provinces.
  3. In Banaue, harvesting only happens once a year while in Mountain Province, it happens once or twice a year

We got to Bontoc around 10:00AM and because the jeep going to Maligcong was scheduled to leave at 12:00PM, we decided to eat lunch at a nearby canteen. The ride going to ate Suzette’s homestay is just twenty minutes away but just to be sure, remember to tell the jeep driver to drop you off at Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay.

When we got off the jeep, we were welcomed by a (surprisingly) very friendly dog who accompanied us to where the homestay is (we had to walk a couple of meters from where we were dropped off). It was as if the dog knew we were coming and he waited for us on purpose just so he can show us the way. Later on we found out that the dog’s name is Tiny.

As soon as we entered the homestay, we were welcomed by ate Suzette and her other friendly dogs: Misty and Kunig. While waiting for ate Suzette to give us our room key, we drank coffee and enjoyed the view of Maligcong Rice Terraces from afar.

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The homestay signage (left) and the sweet dog, Tiny, and my friend, Rayford (right)

The room we got was good for five and it did not disappoint as it looked really cozy. It was also a plus that we had our own bathroom with a hot shower at our disposal. Because we still had to climb a mountain that day, we immediately prepared our assault packs and waited for our guide for the day, kuya Gideon.

At 3:10PM, we began our trek to Mt. Fato and much to our surprise and amusement, Misty and Kunig appeared out of nowhere and joined in on the fun.

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Mt. Fato’s trail ft. Misty and Kunig

The trail starts with relatively steep assaults along a forest with no winds. But after about twenty minutes of trekking, we moved to the part of the trail that is surrounded by a lot of pine trees that blew cool winds. Here we also had a better view of Maligcong Rice Terraces.

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View of Maligcong Terraces (upper left), kuya Gideon and Misty (lower left) and the second part of the trail going to the summit of Mt. Fato (right)

After about an hour since we started trekking, we arrived at the summit of Mt. Fato where we saw several locals who were already preparing to descend. And so after they did, we had the summit all to ourselves. Aside from the view, what surprised us at the summit was how we could see our breaths turn to fog/cloud when we talked despite the summit not being that cold. We did not stay at the top for a long time because it started to rain a couple of minutes after we got there. The descent proved to be a bit of a challenge with the slippery terrain that we had to pass. It also took us about an hour to get back to the homestay and as soon as we did, the rain intensified. Whew it was a good thing we got back on time.

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Goofing around at the summit of Mt. Fato. It was already raining then thus the raincoats
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My 42nd mountain!

Ate Suzette cooked Tinolang Manok for our dinner which tasted really good and because the serving was hefty, we all had our stomachs full. After dinner, we enjoyed a little “socials” before the lights off at 9:00PM.

Day 2 – Bontoc to Sagada

The original plan was to push through with Mt. Kupapey only if the rain stops or weakens coming from the previous night. We woke up at 4:30AM, disappointed to find out that not only was the rain still pouring hard, the wind was also blowing strongly so we had no choice but to cancel the hike and just sleep in. Added to our dismay was the fact that there was no electricity and our gadgets were running low on battery and we were still half a day away from home. Yikes!

We got up at 7:00AM and started planning how we were supposed to go back to Manila. We were supposed to take the bus from Baguio but because the storm signal was raised to 3 at that area, we hesitated because of possible landslides along the road. Our Plan B was to take the bus from Banaue back to Manila, the only downside was the bus schedule – departure was still at 8:00PM. It was Ate Suzette who suggested our Plan C which was to take the bus from Sagada back to Manila (there are schedules in the afternoon). This was the best option, we thought, because aside from being able to travel back to Manila earlier, we could also explore Sagada while waiting for the bus.

And so we chose to do Plan C for the day! Ate Suzette told us that the jeep from Maligcong back to Bontoc leaves at 9:00AM after eating the yummy breakfast (longganisa and egg) that she prepared for us, we started packing our things before heading out.

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Breakfast!

By this time, the rain has already weakened to a tolerable drizzle so we were able to walk around without umbrellas. We bid farewell to the other hikers and all the dogs at the homestay and went to a shed to wait for the jeep. Tiny (the dog who fetched us on our first day) was kind enough to wait with us at the shed. The jeep was already full when it got to the shed but the locals inside were so generous that they gave us their seats and proceeded to squat on the jeep’s floor (that is a rare gesture in Manila). It also broke my heart to see Tiny chasing after the jeep when it started moving. Bye Tiny, see you next year! 

When we got to Bontoc at around 9:20AM, we looked for the jeep that is bound for Sagada. Unfortunately, it was scheduled to leave at 11:00AM so we still had to wait for about an hour and a half. Good thing the jeep got filled immediately so we were able to leave twenty minutes earlier than the scheduled trip.

We got to Sagada after forty minutes and the first thing we did was to look for the bus terminal to secure our tickets back to Manila. However, because the one in charge of the tickets was on lunch break, we decided to go back after eating our lunch as well. Because it was raining and only one of us had an umbrella, we had no choice but to eat at the first establishment that we saw – Salt and Pepper. I was especially fond of their sweet and sour chicken. Yum!

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Us at Salt and Pepper – Sagada!

We then went back to the terminal and bought the 3:30PM ticket back to Manila because the 2:30PM was already full. We had a couple of hours to spare so we spent this by visiting some tourist spots like the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and the Echo Valley where the hanging coffins are. The trail going here reminded me a bit of Mt. Pulag’s Akiki trail because of the railings and pine trees. Even though we did not go down to where the hanging coffins are, we were able to see them from the part of the trail where we stayed. After snapping some photos and shouting a few phrases (because duh ECHO Valley, lol), we headed to the market to buy goodies to take home.

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Outside and inside the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
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Trekking to Echo Valley
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Hanging Coffins as seen from where we stopped trekking (upper left) and some photos along Echo Valley

And finally, when our bus arrived, we immediately went inside and settled down. And while the bus from the first day had pinks all over, this one had purples. Lol. What was nice about this was the comfortable seats and relatively wide leg room – after all, the trip back to Manila from Sagada is about 10-12 hours.


Thank you to my friends for a really fun weekend!

Rayford, for organizing and taking the lead throughout the trip!

Bianca, for inviting me and for taking really nice photos and videos! See you next time, Bunny B!

Robin, for being our guide in Sagada and for being patient with all the bullying. #Robinatics

Jepoy, for holding my camera and taking most of the photos and for joining me on my cray-cray moments!

Looking forward to going back to Maligcong next year to climb Mt. Kupapey!

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From L-R: Jepoy, Robin, Camae, tatay Lotno, Rayford and Bianca

Reminders

  1. Florida Bus Line’s last trip going to Banaue is at 10:00PM
  2. The last trip of jeeps from Bontoc to Banaue is at 2:00PM and the last trip of buses from Banaue to Manila is at 8:00PM
  3. Contact ate Suzette in advance for accommodations. I highly recommend her homestay because aside from the really friendly dogs, the rooms are also clean and ate Suzette is very kind and hospitable!
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I cannot believe we do not have a photo with ate Suzette aside from this one (which is actually just a screen capture from the video below).

I made a video that summarizes our trip over the weekend. I must say that I enjoyed making this one because I had to make sure that it shows the fun we had despite the storm. Enjoy watching!


Itinerary

Day 0

10:05PM – ETD Manila to Banaue via Florida Bus Line (Php530)

Day 1

12:00AM – Stopover in Tarlac

12:30AM – ETD Tarlac

3:40AM – Stopoverin Nueva Vizcaya

4:10AM – ETD Nueva Vizcaya

6:40AM – ETA Banaue. Quick breakfast at People’s Restaurant

8:05AM – ETD People’s Restaurant via chartered van (Php200 per person)

8:15AM – ETA Banaue Rice Terraces first view point

8:30AM – ETA Banaue Rice Terraces main view point

9:30AM – ETA Bay-Yo Rice Terraces view point

10:00AM – ETA Bontoc. Eat early lunch

12:00PM – ETD Bontoc to Maligcong via public jeep (Php30 per person)

12:20PM – ETA Ate Suzette’s Homestay

3:10PM – Start trek to Mt. Fato (Guide at Php75 per person)

4:05PM – ETA summit of Mt. Fato

4:20PM – ETD summit

5:20PM – ETA homestay

9:00PM – Lights out

Day 2

8:50AM – ETD homestay to Bontoc via public jeep (Php30 per person)

9:20AM – ETA Bontoc

10:40AM – ETD Bontoc to Sagada via public jeep (Php40 per person)

11:20PM – ETA Sagada. Lunch at Salt and Pepper. Secure bus tickets back to Manila.

1:15PM – ETA Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

1:30PM – ETA Echo Valley viewpoint of Hanging Coffins

3:30PM – ETD Bus (Coda Bus Lines) from Sagada to Manila (Php720)

Day 3

2:30AM – Back in Manila


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Even though we were not able to climb Mt. Kupapey because of typhoon Karen, I still enjoyed the sites that we visited and the rich culture and history that I learned. It is always a pleasure traveling with good friends!

Grateful to the Lord for keeping us safe all throughout the trip!

Thanks for reading!

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3 thoughts on “Weekend Getaway in Banaue – Bontoc – Sagada

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