From Manila, the key point here is to calculate the bus ETA to Baguio, this should coincide with GL Trans’ / Lizardo Bus Line’s earliest travel time of around 6 in the morning. The Manila-Baguio bus ride will take around 6 hours while the Baguio-Sagada part will take another 6 hours and will ply the Halsema Highway. (Do not go googling this highway 🙂 )
A good bus line of choice from Manila is of course Victory Liner. Once in their Baguio terminal, better buy the ticket for your return trip. (Do not worry being late on the return trip, you will just need to pay a surcharge for not arriving on time as indicated in your ticket.) From this terminal, grab a taxi and tell the driver to drop you off at Dangwa Terminal just behind the Baguio Center Mall.
Buy your ticket at a makeshift ticket booth at GL Trans. Make sure you specifically tell the cashier the time of the bus departure you have chosen. Passengers can be too many and the queue can be long. Unfortunately, you cannot buy the return ticket.
The route to Sagada was scenic and the cold temperature was perfect for the long bus ride. There were bus stops along the way for that needed toilet breaks.
Homey at Misty Lodge and Cafe
Misty Lodge and Cafe was the perfect lodge for those on a budget. This lodge was not on the town proper of Sagada. It takes around 15 minutes or so of walking to reach the downtown. For me, this was not a major issue. Walking along the main road was an experience itself. This area was not well-lit though so better be back at the lodge before the sun sets in.
The lodge is a family-run business. The food choices were above average with ingredients sourced directly from the fresh produce of Sagada. You need to order it in advance though and mention the time you plan to eat. It was an added bonus to the dining experience and ambiance to eat dinner beside their fireplace.
There was a small library upstairs with quite a good selection of books. The veranda as well was open for those who wish to stargaze.
My only concern maybe was the shared bathroom. It can be crowded at times and guests were lining up to have their turn. The hot shower as well was too weak but considering our location this was really understandable.
Along the way to the town proper, you will pass by Navales Bakeshop and Sagada Weaving.
Where to eat in Sagada
There are plenty of food choices in Sagada. Probably one reason why people from Manila flock to this small town. If you are a local, you will definitely not eat to these food joints. They are mostly catered for the hungry tourists of Sagada.
Yoghurt House Restaurant
You will probably visit the place once and hopefully by this time the staff will treat you differently by then. Order the yogurt for the experience but do not wish to be seated in the veranda since they will not let you. There were just too many contradictions and superficiality to this place.
The Sagada Lemon Pie House Restaurant
The lemon pie can taste too strong for the Filipino palate but that will not be your major concern here. Prepare to order what was left and available in the restaurant. This place is usually crowded for a good reason. And yes with better staff!
Salt and Pepper Restaurant
A bit pricey and food over-all was just average. You can buy your souvenirs at the ground floor shops.
Sagada Pinikpikan Haus
A good idea is to eat here after the spelunking activity. Just have some patience as service can be slow. It seems to be the standard waiting time of the establishments along this road in Sagada.
The Pinikpikan was heaven and this was something I have eaten for the first time.
Sumaguing Cave Connection
If I am not mistaken this was a recent caving trail that connects the major Sumaguing Cave to Lumiang Cave.
Since I have done the Sumaguing Cave spelunking, I have decided to try this activity.
We have no prior arrangement for this. We just walked in and got a tour guide. Their office was near their municipal hall. A permit fee should be paid as well but this was handled by our guide. A standard equipment he was carrying was an old-fashioned gas lamp.
Be prepared to get wet on this activity. You can use a hiking shoes but personally would prefer to use a flip-flop, which you can slip off easily. Our feet can provide more natural balance when dealing with those wet limestone. You can also just slip those tsinelas to your arms when needed.
Listen well to your tour guide. Be observant of your center of gravity. There were rope works/rappelling here and there. There will be a section of this caving activity that you need to wade in a very cold water. This water level was around mid-torso depending on your height.
There is a steep stone-stair after the Lumaing-Sumaging Cave Connection. A restaurant offering their washroom for a fee is located across the Sumaging Cave entrance.
We decided to check out early from Misty Lodge and Cafe. We walked along the main road and saw the terminal for GL Trans / Lizardo Bus Line. However, the queue was already long. We had no choice but to get the ticket for the 3rd bus for that day. We decided to go to the downtown area and eat an early lunch. We got out of Sagada around 2PM in the afternoon and arrived in Baguio around 8PM.
Since we were late, we were chance passengers to Victory Liner bus queue to Manila. We just paid an extra surcharge fee. We arrived in Pasay around 2 in the morning.