Heading to Sagada and looking for the perfect itinerary for Sagada? Perfect! We can help in this Sagada itinerary blog post.
Come spend a few days in crisp mountain air, surrounded by pine trees and scenic views, dining on fresh produce and enjoying excursions led by friendly guides. Not to mention some fantastic adrenalin activities, epic mountain treks, rice fields, waterfalls, plus the early morning world-famous “sea-of-clouds”… and those weird and wonderful Hanging Coffins of Echo Valley!
Sagada is a unique Philippines destination, away from the coast and far from crowded cities. Similar to Sapa in Vietnam, you’re transported high above sea level to lush covered mountains, to small villages where local people still tend their rice fields by hand, and fully immersed in nature. Every waking moment is spent savouring the healthy fresh air and peaceful views.
Often paired with a trip to Banaue, you’re sure to fall in love with the beauty of Sagada.
Below, you will find the ultimate itinerary: Sagada! We walk you through options whether you have just a day in Sagada or are looking for a full Sagada itinerary 3 days 2 nights. You can simply stop following our itinerary in Sagada if your trip finishes in less than 3 days when you hit the number of days you have or pick the days that sound best from the itinerary below.
We also have a complete list of what to do in Sagada, Philippines so you can decide if the stops in our itinerary are perfect for you. You will find all the options for Sagada activities below.
Finally, we also recommend some top places to stay in Sagada depending on your budget and some tips for visiting Sagada with kids.
Full Sagada Itinerary 2020
Remember, this is a full Sagada 3 days 2 nights itinerary. If you have less days, simply pick the days that most appeal.
This can be either a Sagada budget itinerary or a more expensive one – you can pick the quality of accommodation and activities to suit your budget.
Sagada Itinerary 1 Day: Historic Sagada, with the Hanging Coffins
Wondering what to do in Sagada 2020? Well, here we go with your Sagada tour itinerary, and there’s a lot to fit into your first day. Don’t dally on breakfast as this itinerary makes the most of your stay and you’re ticking off some prime Sagada attractions today!
- First stop is the Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Centre to book guides, where needed or mandatory, for your excursions to the Sagada tourist attractions
- Spend an hour at the Ganduyan Museum
- Take a short stroll to explore the cemetery at Calvary Hill
- On to Echo Valley – one of our favourite Sagada places to visit -and through to the viewing point for the Hanging Coffins
- Back in town and refresh
- Mid-afternoon stroll to Danum Lake, possibly with a picnic, and await the sunset or hang around longer for the stunning starlit sky – definitely one of our favourite places to go in Sagada
Sagada Itinerary 2 Days: Sagada Sea-of-Clouds, Treks and Caves
If time is short and you’re enjoying a Sagada Itinerary 2 days 1 night, this is your last day. However, if you’re staying for the full three days… lucky you! Either way, it’s a pre-dawn start today.
- Join your jeep and guide at 4 am to start your journey to perhaps the best place in Sagada, the Marlboro Hills
- Catch the first rays of sunrise and photograph – weather permitting – the gorgeous sea-of-clouds before taking the 2-3 hour Trek to the Blue Soil Hills (a highlight of any Sagada 2 days, 1 night itinerary)
- Return to town, grabbing a locally-made coffee and early lunch
- Next up, Spelunking adventure at Sumaguing Caves
- …and drop by nearby Lumiang Cave on your return to Sagada
- Early evening, visit Demang for a glimpse of old Sagada and local life – a great way to end your Sagada 2 days itinerary
Sagada Itinerary 3 Days: Sagada Full On: Waterfalls or Rafting
Following our full 3 days itinerary? Great, as there are still lots of beautiful places in Sagada to discover. We’re giving you two options today, dependent on the season and/or your preference… but both promise an exhilarating final day!
- Option 1
- Full day trek, with picnic lunch, to the beautiful Bomod-ok Falls
- Option 2
- An early morning start again, this time heading to another of our favourite places to see in Sagada, Mt Kiltepan for your second Sagada-famous sunrise!
- Back to town for a late breakfast and refresh
- Join a tour for rafting or kayaking experience at the Upper Chico River
Complete List Of Best Things To Do In Sagada, Philippines
Don’t forget that for many activities within our Sagada trip itinerary it is mandatory to have a guide. Thus the best start to your stay is to head directly to the Tourist Office, planning out your days and tours.
Hanging Coffins In Echo Valley
Locals believe that the higher coffins are placed, the nearer to heaven they are… hence the unique Hanging Coffins at Echo Valley, perched halfway up a cliff.
This old-world burial site (supposedly dating back almost 2000 years) of the Igorot indigenous people, is just a short walk from Sagada’s main road. You’ll soon come across a view of sharp cliffs with coffins suspended along one edge – making this Sagada’s most popular attraction.
The majority of the coffins – hollowed from logs and usually carved by the elderly Igorot themselves before they die – are centuries old, whilst others have only been there a few years, with the last placed around 2008.
They are actually so high up that it almost defies logic how they were erected!
Echo Valley Lookout
You’ll find the Hanging Coffins in the magnificent Echo Valley, which offers splendid views of Sagada’s rocky village and the coffins. A small ravine along the highlands – near to the town’s centre – it’s apparently one of the few places in the world where shouting is allowed. Echoes reverberate around the valley, shaped like a large megaphone.
Visitors flock here to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings that lead the way to the coffin’s viewing point… and, perhaps more importantly, to scream out their names waiting on the fun echo!
On your way to Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins, you’ll also pass by the town cemetery, known as “Calvary Hill”. This is the newer version of the Sagadan’s burial site, replacing the cliffside coffins with a more traditional style of burial.
At first glance, this seems a typical cemetery, until you learn that burials are planned not on a lot or family plot basis, but by the type of death. This comes about due to the Sagadan’s believing that the spirits of their deceased are the highest forms of supernatural beings. Therefore, they are particular about where they are buried. Macabre as it is, there are areas for deaths such as childbirth, suicide, dying unmarried (!), etc. For example, suicides are buried within the deepest parts of Echo Valley to stop them returning to haunt those left behind…
There are many interesting rituals surrounding the burials in Sagada and it’s well worth discussing this with a local or joining with a tour guide.
Also, take time to search out one tomb of note – that being of Sagada’s adopted son, Dr William Henry Scott. An anthropologist/historian, Dr Scott spent most of his life studying the people of the Cordillera and wrote many books about the prehispanic Philippines.
Marlboro Hill to Blue Soil Trek
There are many hikes on offer in the mountains around Sagada (and you should be aware that the majority need a guide, easily arranged from within the village). One of the top treks is this highly rated trail that leads from the splendid Marlboro Hills, along a rugged terrain to the Blue Soil Hills.
Most visitors choose to experience sunrise and the renowned sea-of-clouds at Marlboro Hills (see more below), before tackling this two-to-three hour trek (from where you’ll need a transfer truck (approx 700php) back to the town centre.
Arrange a mandatory guide – from any of the operators within Sagada town – and take a jeep ride 30 minutes up to the drop off point, and a further twenty minutes trek to the Marlboro Hill lookout point.
Clean air, crisp weather (sometimes very cold, so pack well) and silent countryside abounds, with rice paddies in the upper valleys, pine trees covering the mountainsides, and wild strawberries underfoot with a sea of white clouds usually hiding the lower valleys. This is some seriously beautiful countryside.
Set off on the trail through colourful mountain wildflowers, passing unusual rock formations, all set to the splendid mountain backdrop. Tall, proud pine trees reach to the sky, emitting a fresh, fragrant scent. Your senses feel alive!
Not a difficult trail, even suitable for children (just ensure sensible footwear and clothing), this is a lovely trek through the colourful countryside with unique plant life. Your final destination doesn’t disappoint either, with the Blue Soil Hills (or Kaman-utek Hills as they are locally known) delighting with their bluish-green colour – due to the high copper sulphate content of the soil. A quite unique natural wonder!
With over 60 caves discovered underneath the town of Sagada, Sumaguing Cave is perhaps the most famous. Noted as “The Big Cave”, it has the largest chamber of all the caves and is filled with countless rock formations, slowly shaped by nature over thousands of years.
Some of the formations call to mind animals and have been nicknamed such: elephants, turtlehead, bear and, the non-animal but equally unique, Chocolate Cake. These unusual formations, along with dramatic stalagmites and stalactites, are some of the highlights of spelunking adventures on offer at the cave.
A man-made staircase from the roadside leads you into the interior of the cave, an initial easy walk down. However, it soon becomes apparent at the challenges that lay ahead!
Divided into three areas, spelunkers enjoy a great “Descent”, the rock formations, and then The Tunnel, where it’s time to get wet as you squeeze into narrow openings and soak in cold waters! There is also a 10ft boulder to climb up (with the help of ropes) to find your way out of the cave.
Guided throughout your 2-hour exploration, this is a thrilling activity and a firm favourite for tourists visiting the area. Wear sturdy shoes, with a good grip, and ideally bring a flashlight. Wear lightweight clothing, as you’re going to get wet, but there’s a shower area at the end of the tour if you need to change. Have fun!
Lumiang Burial Cave
South of the main village, only 10-15 minutes walk toward Ambasing, you’ll find the well signposted Lumiang Burial Cave. Steep steps lead you down to a massive cave where more than 100 coffins are stacked high at the entrance.
With pinewood coffins dating back almost 500 years, this is yet another ancient burial site. Elaborate designs are carved into the coffins, including images of lizards (symbols of long life and eternity). Buried in the fetal position – as Sagadan’s believe that we came out of our mothers in this position and thus should leave the world in the same position – the coffins are surprisingly small.
If you’re up for a real adventure and have more time – perhaps following your own Sagada DIY Itinerary 2020 – check out the 4-5 hour Cave Connection course, starting here at Lumiang and ending at Sumaguing. Epic.
A guide is mandatory but is well worth the cost, so is the hassle of reaching this rather offbeat location. An alternative to the more well-known sunrise spot of Kiltepan (more on that later), Marlboro Hills promises a similar unobstructed 360-degree view of sunrise across a sea-of-clouds… Totally mesmerizing!
You’ll need to head out around 4 am, taking a jeep/4×4 with your guide up to the viewing point, walking the last 20-30 minutes to the rocky outcrop. And then… wait for the sun to aim its rays over the mountains, seeming to wash the world with a golden glow. As the sun rises, your surroundings take shape, coming into view – plants, flowers, rice fields, pine forests and the ever-present mountains. What a great start to your day!
It’s also a lesser known fact that the sunsets are equally dramatic from this viewpoint and stick around for stunning milky-way views. If you have the time, camping overnight is highly recommended.
Located to the west of town, near the town of Besao, Danum Lake is a peaceful at-one-with-nature setting, surrounded by the Ampacao mountains.
Trek 4km from Sagada town centre – approx 1h10m walk – along Sagada’s West Road, aiming to arrive about an hour before sunset to capture the setting at its best.
A small lake (more of a pond, in fact), the beauty is in the surrounding pine trees reflected in the still waters, and the relaxing atmosphere. A lovely end to any day, this is a firm favourite camping location for Sagada visitors.
If you’re staying longer in Sagada, walk just 200 metres to the smaller Lake Banao, the jumping off point for the long trek to the summit of Mt Ampacao, the highest peak in the area.
Your visit to Sagada is not complete unless you drop by here. A privately owned museum, maintained by family members, it’s almost directly opposite the Tourist Information Centre in the middle of town and offers a fantastic overview of the beginning of Sagada.
Listen as the curator tells stories of Sagada’s history, culture, art and its people, especially their beliefs and traditions. The small museum is packed with an anthropologist’s dream of sculptures, jewellery and other Kankanay (including Sagada Igorot) artefacts.
To the south of Sagada you’ll find an old village called Demang. Once the original “Sagada”, the village is today still the true cultural heart of the area. You might be lucky enough to witness celebrations or fiestas – always a loud and fun affair!
This is the Philippines countryside at its best: an impressively high waterfall (200m), surrounded by rice terraces and breath-taking views. Instagram-worthy pictures guaranteed!
The falls can be reached by a challenging 3-hour trek from Sagada, passing through communities, down and up a mountain, and through rice fields with steep steps at almost 70-degrees. Not for the faint of heart, with 3 hours there and back, it’s fair to say that the exciting part is the journey itself, not the final destination.
Take it slow, pack well, and pencil out a full day to really enjoy the experience. Pack water and a picnic lunch too, though you will find a few local stores along the route selling drinks and basic snacks.
An hour or so into your trek, at the “staging area”, you’ll need to register and take a tour guide through to the Bomod-ok Falls. This is actually great, as the guides have a fountain of knowledge about the area and the places that you pass through.
Once at the falls, it’s time to cool off with a well-earned swim before, alas, facing the return trek. There are a couple of routes back, both taking the same time but one slightly easier so ensure to discuss this with your guide.
Though tiring this is a wonderful trek, totally worth it in our opinion!
Best explored in the early hours, you’ll need to leave Sagada before the crack of dawn to reach here as it’s again all about catching the dramatic sunrise!
Another popular spot to view the famous Sagada sunrise, with the sea-of-clouds laid out below, you’ll also have panoramic views of the Kilong Rice Terraces.
Located around 40-minutes walk (or 10 minutes drive) from the town, don’t be surprised to find throngs of fellow tourists heading up here at 4.30 am. Fog-allowing, it’s all worth it… As the first rays of the sun breakthrough in a blaze of light and colour!
Probably the most popular viewing spot for the famous Sagada sunrise, if you’re lucky with the weather this is a unique experience and well worth the early start. Wrap up warm as this will be a chilly trip, with your breath smoking from your mouth in the cold mountain climate.
Kapay-Aw Rice Terraces
Sagada’s own version of the rice terraces of Banaue, with variations of greens and patterns spread out over the valley. Take an easy stroll here to see the lush agriculture cultivated by the locals and capture some stunning photos.
Climb up through the rice-terrace levels for a majestic view across the valleys of the Sagada province.
Rafting And Kayaking On The Chico River
Time to get wet and have some fun at the Upper Chico River, high in the mountains. Rated as some of the best white water rafting in the Philippines, six sections of the Upper Chico are accessible from Sagada giving different water conditions, with the season usually running from late June to early January. Experienced kayakers also have a choice of scenic challenging runs, some almost 9km long.
Try The Local Coffee
Fair to say that the Philippines is not renowned for its cuisine or drinks, yet Sagada is definitely an exception when it comes to coffee. Thanks to the high altitude and cooler mountain temperatures, coffee grows very well here. Cafes offer the premium local coffee, with some even roasting the beans themselves.
What To Do In Sagada Map
On this Sagada map, tourist attractions available in this area are all noted.
Best Places To Stay In Sagada
When it comes to the best hotels in Sagada, there isn’t a huge range. The good news is that the accommodation in Sagada is generally good value and budget hunters will feel at home. However, people that prefer more upper midrange and luxury accommodation may be disappointed.
Below I’ve listed a few different places to consider.
Looking for peaceful accommodation, surrounded by lush greenery? The Coffee Heritage House & Hostel ticks the boxes.
The first coffee-themed accommodation, aiming to share their passion about Philippine artisanal coffee whilst aiding the local farmers, it’s located on a hill approx 6km outside of town. A family welcome awaits you here, with tasty local and western food cooked to order. And as much fresh coffee as you want!
Views are spectacular, pine-tree scents fill the air, dogs and chickens entertain you, and the dramatic mountain weather of Sagada presents changing views. Oh, and the night sky… You should be easily spotting the milky-way from this remote, rural area.
Beds are comfortable and clean, and the common shared area is spacious – with an open fire for those mountain-crisp evenings. Rooms are varied: 5-bed mixed dorm with Queen, 5-bed mixed dorm with Single, 3-bed mixed dorm Single, Deluxe Queen and Deluxe Triple rooms. Do note that washroom facilities are all shared.
A favourite of visitors enjoying a Sagada backpacking itinerary 2020 offers, the inconvenient location is not ideal for everyone. However, if you’re looking for tranquillity, scenic views and a relaxed atmosphere, this is the spot for you.
Known for its family-friendly welcome and proximity to some good restaurants within the village, this is a great mid-market accommodation option.
Free internet access, on-site coffee shop and complimentary breakfast are offered. Less than half a mile from the Hanging Coffins, this is a great base for exploring the area.
With two floors, you’ll find the reception on the 1st floor, along with a small living room (with cable tv) and the breakfast-dining area. Upstairs there are 10 various room choices: standard double with private bathroom, twin room with shower, double queen with shared bathroom, triple and family rooms.
The convenient location, friendly welcome and comfortable facilities make this an ideal place to stay for families and couples, or anyone looking to maximise their time for excursions and activities.
Approx 8-minutes walk from the centre of the village, Kanip Aw Pines View Lodge is another ideally located accommodation option.
Various room options include 2 double beds, 1 single, 1 double, family and queen standard. Most have mountain views and a couple have a small balcony/terrace area. WiFi is available in the public areas, a vending machine and a shared lounge/TV area.
A popular choice for backpackers or those looking for a cheap base, not planning on spending too much time in their accommodation.
Find our full list of the best places to stay in Sagada here.
Visiting Sagada With Kids
With its cooler climate and out-doors lifestyle, caves, rock formations, forests and mountain views, children love Sagada! Rough-and-tumble younger children do well here, with lots of space and few vehicles around, climbing rocks, collecting flowers, and basically revelling in the outdoors lifestyle.
Older children appreciate the scenic views and thrill at the early morning jeep rides up to mountain viewing points for those pre-sunrise excursions. Needless to say, the hanging coffins are a winner too, and when you add in rafting, kayaking and spelunking… The kids might not be ready to leave after only 3 days!
Thus, all this makes Sagada a favourite for families with unique cultures and traditions helping to make a stay here not just great fun, but educational too. Don’t forget, that you’re guided by the welcoming and caring Filipinos, who especially enjoy sharing the sights and thrills of their home country with enthusiastic families.
With many things to do in Sagada with kids, this is one destination the whole family will enjoy.
How To Get To Sagada
Reaching Sagada is a fairly lengthy journey, whichever route you take.
Most visitors fly into Manila and take the new Coda Lines bus from Cubao, Quezon City, Manila, straight to Sagada in 12 hours (with a few stops for the restroom along the way). You’ll find a couple of choices – Super Deluxe with 35-seats and restroom, or a more reasonably priced Semi Deluxe 45-seater. This overnight service helps you avoid wasting a full day whilst travelling to Sagada.
Nearer still is Baguio, with a domestic airport 5km outside the city: Loakan Airport. From Baguio, Sagada is only 6 hours by road and there are a couple of bus companies that operate this route.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort…”. Reaching Sagada might seem like a lot of effort, but we assure you there will be no regrets!
One of the most relaxing travel spots in the archipelago, the beautiful town, indigenous culture and unbelievable scenery will blow you away. Hire a guide and explore, explore, explore!
We hope you enjoyed this Sagada sample itinerary and the complete list of places to visit in Sagada Philippines. You can find more information in our complete guide to Luzon here.