(Updated June 26, 2011) Once in a while, I miss long road trips. Riding at the bus for hours on the road. Come night you rest comfortably at your seat and let the rocking motion of the bus cradle you to sleep. That may also be one reason what drew me back in Sagada last I went there. It’s the road journey itself. And the highlands is the perfect destination for it. Even if the bus doesn’t have air conditioning, most times packed on their crammed little seats, the cool mountain air blowing from the window, the bucolic back country panoramas sliding in front of your eyes is enough to satiate my crave to hit the road and travel.
For anyone who wants to try to travel on their own (or with friends) Sagada is the perfect destination to test your mettle. Sagada was the first destination I ventured on my own, curiosity piqued by by a brief travel article on an NU 107 newsletter handout way back in 2000. The thought of finding a shangri-la up in the mountains were poets, artist and vagabonds enjoy a bohemian life was such a lure that it took me more than a couple of years to be captured. I kept that article in my stash until finally I took the first step to go there. I can say that that first solo trip truly awakened in me the adventurous spirit of travel. That’s why I love the place so much that I’ve been there for the 4th time already since then.
It is fortunate for people now that there are a lot more resources available on how to visit Sagada. Unlike before, when a search in the internet will not yield the info you needed. Right now, there are actually 3 ways to go to Sagada:
The most common route is the Baguio – Sagada Route. From Manila it’s a 5-6 hours ride, then from Baguio it’s another 6-7 hours bus ride to Sagada. GL Lizardo bus at Dangwa Station in Baguio leaves as early as 5am and will have one every hour or 2hours scheduled departure until 11am. On peak seasons even up to 1pm. In case you missed the Dangwa Buses you could try the D Rising Sun Buses heading to Bontoc from the Slaughterhouse then just take a 45minutes ride to Sagada from there.
This was the route we used on this recent trip. The advantage of this route is the more flexible time schedule in taking transportation. Victory Liner from Pasay have Baguio buses leaving every hour at night so it isn’t hard to find a ride. The GL Lizardo Buses also have a number of buses leaving a few hours from each other. From this route you also get to pass the highest highway in the Philippines, the Halsema Highway. The only disadvantage I see here is that personally I feel this route is more tiring since two travels are cut into two more even travel hours.
The second route is via Banaue – Sagada Route. It’s a 9 hour bus journey from Manila to Banaue and from Banaue it’s a 2-3 hour jeep ride to Sagada. AutoBus which has a station in España and Cubao has daily buses leaving at 10pm. Florida Bus also at España leaves at 10:45pm daily, When you reach Banaue there’s the Emmanuel Bus and Bonbon Bus going to Bontoc and from Bontoc there’s the Jeep to Sagada leaving until 3pm (or until it’s filled up). If you have a good number of companions, you can hire a jeep to take you straight to Sagada from Banaue.
The advantage of taking this route is you can do a short stop over at the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, Ba-yo Terraces and the Bontoc Museum. I also find that the travel here is less strenuous since the second trip is much shorter. The disadvantage here though is the inflexibility of schedules on this route. You have to be real early to catch those buses when going back to Manila because from Banaue there is only 1 bus that leaves daily at 5:30pm. If you miss that bus, you have to stay there for the next day or find an alternative route.
The third is somewhat a short cut, the Manila – Bontoc Route via Cable Tours Bus. The bus located near Trinity College, QC have a 12 hours bus ride heading straight to Bontoc. In Sagada last time, we even saw a bus that heads straight to Sagada from Manila. This one I have yet to try.
Just so you’ll be aware on the transportation schedules of Buses and Jeeps in Sagada, here are their Schedules:
SCHEDULE OF BUSES
(sagada – baguio) 6am • 7am • 8am • 9am • 10am • last trip – 1pm • (baguio – sagada) 6.30am • 8.30am • 9.30am • 10.30am • 11.30am • last trip – 1pm • (banaue – manila) auto bus – 6pm • florida – 8pm • (banaue – baguio) 1st bus – 4pm • 2nd bus – 5pm • 3rd bus – 6.30pm •
SCHEDULE OF JEEPNEYS
(sagada – bontoc) 6.30am • 7am • 7.30am • 8am • 8.30am • 9am • 9.30am • 10am • 11am • 12nn • last trip – 1pm • (bontoc – sagada) 8.30am • 9.30am • 10.15am • 11am • 11.45am • 12.30pm • 1.15pm • 2pm • 2.45pm • 3.30pm • 4.15pm • 5pm • last trip – 5.30pm
TRIPS TO BANAUE:
(JEEPNEY) (bontoc – banaue) 7am • 10am • last trip – 1pm • (BUS) 7am • 7.30am • last trip – 8.30am
Cable Tours Bus
0928.6267293 (Sagada) • 0918.5216790 / 0928.2305330 (Manila)
Florida Bus Line
Tel No. +632.516-05-01/ Mobile 0917.5060817
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.