a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Banaue-Batad-Sagada Itinerary

I’ve compiled some travel information on Banaue-Batad-Sagada since I get asked about this a lot. Here’s the IT which was prepared by one of my friends Erwin. I just edited and updated some expenses based from our most recent trip to Sagada.

Feel free to mix and match your route. I understand that not a lot of people have the same preferences or have tons of time to travel.

January 14, 2009 – Wednesday

10 :00 PM - Departure from Autobus Transport Systems Inc. (Sampaloc, Manila)
Address: 1455 S.H. Loyola Corner Cayco Street, Sampaloc Manila
Telephone Number: (2)493-4111 (tried and working), (2)740-7959, Mobile Number : +63 916-490-9328
Fare: 425 pesos (one way); aircon bus; Bus Signboard : Banaue

You may reserve tickets two days in advance; buy your tickets early because they only have one trip per day.
If you miss this bus, you may opt to ride the Florida buses – walking distance from Autobus terminal – about 8 minutes or less on foot. I’m not sure about their trip schedules but they have better looking buses.

January 15, 2009 – Thursday
9:00 AM - ETA – Banaue town proper
9:15 AM - /Registration at the Tourism Office/ Buy additional supplies and stuff/Breakfast; You can also buy a map of Banaue here. It costs around 20 pesos a piece.

From the tourism office, you can walk your way towards some stalls where you can buy gloves, beanies, souvenirs. Just a tip, the wood carvings sold in Batad are way cheaper. About 40 pesos – 5-7 inch statue.

Note: We were lucky because the bus went straight to the Banaue town proper and we just walked towards the tourism office. We were told that the bus rarely heads straight to the town proper. Normally, the bus stop at its terminal where you’re going to have to take another jeep (about 10 minutes away) towards the banaue town proper.

From Banaue town proper, you have two options on how to get to Batad saddle:
A. Rent a jeep - around P1,500 per jeep that goes straight to the saddle (1 hour bumpy ride) where we have to trek for 45 mins to reach Mang Ramon's/ Simon's Inn . Better if you look for other travelers who are willing to share the jeepney ride with you so you can split the cost

B. Take a trike for 150-250 per head na. They’ll let us off at the junction where we have to walk for 1 1/2 to 2 hours going to the saddle. Plus another 45minute trek down the town of Batad. Not recommended for people with heavy loads. The trail can get so muddy! But if you enjoy getting sweaty and dirty then this is the best option for you. Hehehe!

11:00 AM – Check in at Ramon’s Homestay (Owner: Ramon Binalit – 0929-612-4423 – latest number as of Jan 2009.) Rate : 250 per head; common toilet and bath; beddings are comfortable; What’s special about this is that the huts are authentic native huts. I forgot the local term for it.

He has three huts. One can accommodate two people while the other hut can accommodate 4 or 6 max, plus the other one can accommodate 6 or more.

Trivia: This is where the indie film, Batad sa Paang Palay was shot. You can see a poster of it hanging on his wall.

There is no cellphone signal in Batad. The last spot where I was able to send a text was in the saddle area – 45 minutes trek from Batad community. Mang Ramon told us that there is a cellphone signal (Touch mobile) somewhere along the slopes of Batad but you’d have to be really desperate to trek and search for it.

To save money, you can just bring your own food and have them cook it for you. They also sell organic rice which are far better tasting from the ones I’ve tried here in Manila. You can order food from them but their stock are limited. Don’t worry about the food though, there are tons of places to buy food – you just have to find them along the slopes.

2:25 PM – Start trek to Tappiyah Falls , from Mang Ramon, it's a 45minutes -1 Hour trek along the terraces. You’ll be walking up and down the terraces so wear something comfortable. You may also want to bring drinking water.

6:00 PM - Arrival at Simon's Organic Pizza. We can check out their make your own paper/notebooks.
Pizza is at 80 pesos – good for two – it’s a bit small (smaller than a 10inch pizza) so if you’re hungry, you can just order one for yourself.  The dough is soft and delicious. If you’re an Italian pizza fan, don’t expect too much.

8:00 PM - free time - tapoy time!
*Tapoy = rice wine. It’s wine for people who don’t even like wines. You can request it from Mang Ramon who can send someone to buy it for you. It’s at 170 pesos per bottle (I’m not sure what the weight is. I’m guessing there was about one Liter of wine in one bottle)

January 16, 2009 –Friday
8:00 AM – Start Trek from Batad to Saddle to catch the public jeep going to Banaue;The only trip is at 9:00AM. Do not expect to pay the same fee as the locals as they usually charge travelers 3x more. It’s not so bad because you can send someone ahead and ask them to wait for you rather than hiring another private jeep which can cost more. This is also another way of contributing to their livelihood. Fare is at 150 pesos/head and ride will last upto 45minutes to the town proper.

- Jeeps in Banaue Market going to Bontoc leaves at 8:30 AM fare: (150 per pax)
- Buses from Banaue main road going to Bontoc have schedules: 10-12 PM (BonBon Bus) and 12-1 PM (Emmanuel Bus)
- buses from Manila (Cable Tours) pass-by Banaue but I think we have to pay more extra since they’re limousine transpo. Bus sched is 5:30- 7 AM.

Once you reach Bontoc, take the jeeps bound for Sagada:

Schedule of Trips  here (45 minutes travel time)
Fare: 45php (fare as of January 2010)

*Once in Sagada town proper, you can go to the tourist information center. Here you can check out the rates – caving, rock climbing, etc. You can also buy a map of Sagada here. It’s cheaper if buy from the souveneir shops. Make sure you buy the latest one. It costs 20 pesos.

2:00 PM: Check in sa Olahbinan Inn (200 per head/night) ; We can cook here!
*Olahbinan Inn is near the caves, restaurants, Yoghurt house, souveneir shops.
How to Find It: Exiting from the tourist information Center, turn to your left and walk straight for less than a minute. Olahbinan comes after the Igorot Inn and Restaurant. Or if you’re really bad with directions, just ask someone and they would be willing to help you out.

Here are the other optional places to check in the afternoon:

Hanging Coffins
Echo Valley
Sagada Weaving
Masferre Restauant
Yoghurt House
Dozens of Souvenir Shops
Dozens of Carinderia (*serving American breakfasts hehe)
Persimoon Café –drink and chat with the local guides

January 17, 2009 –Saturday

9 :00 AM: The Lumiang - Sumaging 5 hour cave connection tour. Register at the Tourist Office, pay and get guides and gears.
*Fee is at 400 pesos per head which includes guides

2:00-3:00 PM onwards: Check some other places we've missed.
January 18, 2009 –Sunday


8:00 AM: Breakfast
9:00 AM: Check out more places we’ve missed.
11:00 AM: Pack-up
12:00 PM: Take jeeps or Lizardo Bus going back to Bontoc. Last jeepney trip to Bontoc is at 1:00PM.
3:00 PM: Take Cable Tours Bus from Bontoc going back to Manila

Jan 19, 2009 - 3-4 AM - ETA Manila

SUMMARY OF INFORMATION:

IDEAL POCKET MONEY: 5000 pesos for four days – this amount includes all transportation, food and accommodation, caving, assuming you are traveling with a group of four people; assuming that you will spend 150 pesos per meal and eat 3x in a day for four days. Souveneir shopping money not included. This money is good to take you from Manila-Banaue-Batad –Sagada and back to Manila.

How to get to Banaue from Manila:
Autobus Transport Systems Incorporated
Address: 1455 S.H. Loyola Corner Cayco Street, Sampaloc Manila
Telephone Number: (2)493-4111 (tried and working), (2)740-7959, Mobile Number : +63 916-490-9328

How to get to Manila to Bontoc:
Cable Tours
Location: E. Rodriguez Sr. Q.C in Front of the Trinity University of AsiaBontoc - Manila reservation: 09185215790
Manila - Bontoc reservation: 09298194688

Where to Stay in Batad:
Mang Ramon's Homestay
Ramon Binalit - 0929-612-4423
Email Address: ramon_binalit@yahoo.com
*HE told us he checks his email about 2-3 times a week

You can also go to the Our Awesome Planet website for more information on where to stay in Batad:

By the way, I just need to tell you that I love the food in Sagada. Their meals sizes are huge and is averaging at 100 pesos/meal (drinks not included).

Here are my favorite food joints in Sagada.

Where to Eat in Sagada:
1. Yoghurt House –Meal averages 100pesos above; Try their yogurt – sold at about 60 pesos each;
2. Strawberry Café – home of my favorite carrot cake with white icing. It’s 3x as thick as the one sold in Starbucks and just as good! It’s only 25 pesos! It's in the area near Ganduyan Inn and Sagada Guesthouse.
3. Masferre - nice ambiance and great food
4. Lemon Pie House - also for the ambiance and the food ; it's a great place to read a book, surf the net (free wifi here!), chat with friends or do nothing
5. Shamrock Cafe - specifically for the vegetable fried rice with tuna

Some more tips:
• There isn’t a lot going on in Batad but if you enjoy nature and chatting with locals about their culture, then this is the place for you. The rice terraces are amazing here! I highly encourage that you chat with Mang Ramon of Ramon’s homestay because he can share a lot of information about the culture of the Batad people. He’s actually one of the consultants for the indie film – Batad.

• The Sumaguing and Lumiang caves in Sagada are amazing but if you are not a cave person like me, then you’re going to love trekking and checking out the mountains, underground river and more! They also have their own rice terraces which are also beautiful!

• Food in Sagada is great! I think I already mentioned that. I am willing to travel another day just for the food. I noticed that their specialties include pastries and yogurt.

• It’s more convenient to bring your own drinking water. We were told that the bottled water in these areas is about 60 pesos/liter. If you want to save more on costs, you can bring your own canned goods as most homestays will allow you to cook using their facilities.

EXPECTATION SETTING AND WHAT TO BRING FOR THIS TYPE OF TRIP:
Put everything in a backpack! As much as possible, travel light but do not forget to bring clothes to make you warm. There isn’t a lot of mosquitos in this area but bring a repellant as extra precaution. Bring gloves for caving in Sagada. You wouldn’t want to touch bat poop. You may also want to bring your own water and snacks in case of emergencies.

You’re going to be doing a lot of walking so bring comfortable footwear. When caving in Sagada, expect to get dirty and wet. Better check the weather forecast before your trip so that you don’t get shock on how cold the weather is especially if you’ve been living in humid Manila for quite some time.

Extra Information:
If you just want to check out Sagada and skip Batad, what you can do is ride an aircon bus from Manila to Bontoc (Via Cable tours – that’s 650 pesos/head; location: E. Rodriguez Sr. Q.C in Front of the Trinity University of Asia). They depart at 8:30PM and ride usually lasts 10-12 hours. You can buy tickets in advance. From Bontoc, ask around where the jeepney terminal is and ride 45 minutes to Sagada (45 pesos/head). What would be more exciting is to ride on top of the jeep from Bontoc. The road is half bumpy, dusty and half-paved. It’s not so bad. It gives you an opportunity to take great shots of the Bay-yo rice terraces along Mountain Province.

Another alternative is to travel from Manila to Baguio, then ride an ordinary bus headed straight to Sagada. More information here.

Wheeew..That's basically everything I can share with everyone. Feel free to share any travel info which I might have missed.



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