Tips and information for those planning to go to Sagada and/or Banaue.
(based on my humble 6 days experience only)
ROAD and TRANSPORTATION
1. There are two major routes going to Sagada - Via Baguio thru the Halsema Highway (Baguio Bontoc Road); and via Nueva Vizcaya - Dalton Pass / Banawe Bontoc Road.
2. Halsema Highway was once tagged as one of the scariest highways in the world. But the highway now is 99% paved and widened, and maintenance is quite good. It may still be a little bit scary to some, but to others, it may be one of the most scenic road in the world.
3. The highest point in Philippine Highway system is in Atok along Halsema Highway at 7400ft (over 2 KM) elevation.
4. Nueva Vizcaya / Banaue route is "not scary" but not as scenic as the Halsema Highway. The roads are also wide and in very good condition. Even the Dalton Pass is no longer scary.
6. The roads inside Banaue and Sagada are very narrow. some are even 1 way and unpaved. I Think these are the scary roads.
7. There are no taxi or tricycles in Sagada, so one will have to walk a lot.
8.There are public utility vehicles from Baguio to Sagada (via Bontoc)
9.There are public utility vehicles from Manila to Banaue (via Bontoc)
10. There are public utility vehicles from Banaue to Sagada and vice versa
11. Vans / travel packages are also available (from some Metro Manila Travel agencies)
12. Accomodations in Sagada and Banaue are just Basic to make your stay comfortable but not luxurious. asimple room with toilet and bed, with hot shower. No aircon / some have no electric fan. Many have no window screen (like the one we stayed at Sagada).
Most have free wifi. Some with TV
13. Bring your own toiletries - Soap, Shampoo, Toothbrush, Toothpaste and toilet paper. And for some, mosquito repellant.
14. Exception is the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel (in Banaue). It is an old hotel (1973) but still nice. The hotel is very clean, rooms with screened windows. And they have a pool with very clean water.
No TV or wifi in room though. Paid wifi at the lobby
15. Food is inexpensive P130 to P180 for a set meal of meat, rice and vegetable.
16. Best food in Sagada (in our experience) is in Log Cabin. During off-peak, they are open only for dinner. Occassionally they are also open for lunch. Saturday night is buffet night.
17. Good food also in Yoghurt House and Bana'S Cafe (they even serve Civet Coffee for P200/cup), both in Sagada. Breakfast at Masferre a little better than that of Ganduyan, but both simple.
18. We were not able to try many restaurants in Banaue because our hotel is not in the town center. and Also our room comes with buffet breakfast. Their buffet breakfast is quite simple - corned beef,
sausage or meatloaf, eggs, rice, bread and spreads, some seasonal fruits. Banaue Hotel serves good and affordable barbeques and rice near their pool for lunch and dinner.
19. Food in (Banaue) Sanafe Lodge is just okay and the service was very poor. But the view is beautiful from their outdoor dining area.
20. Banaue and Sagada are for nature exploration and enjoyment. There are no "happy hours". There are no bars or drinking spots there.
21. Sagada has a curfew from 9:00Pm to 4:00am
22. To enjoy Banaue and Sagada more, one has to walk a lot (10 minutes to 30minutes, others up to 2hours).
23. I think that non-slippery sandals or shoes are the best. And do not bring non-essential items while trekking.
24. Attractions in Sagada are more accessible - near to the town proper, than in Banaue. (A lot of walking still). In Banaue attractions may be reach by a combination of a ride in Jeepney (rented for P2000 to P4000) and trekking. For example, to reach Batad Rice terraces (the most beautiful, they say), one has to rent a jeepney from the town proper to Saddle Point (over 1 hour of rough road) then walk from Saddle Point to the town of Batad then to the terraces (around 2 hours). Many opt to stay for a night in Batad.
We did not go to Batad, though and instead settled to view Bangaan Rice Terraces which has less trekking.
(we were not prepared, our shoes were slippery)
24. Always be prepared to get wet. Some attractions are waterfalls and rivers, where one can swim.
25. Attractions in Banaue are primarily the diferrent Rice Terraces, while in Sagada, the attractions are Caves, underground rivers, hanging coffins. I believe both have great viewing points for sunrise and sunsets.
26. Sagada is located a few kilometers away from Halsema highway. The roads are being concreted but many are still unpaved.
27. Banaue is more easily accessible from the highway (than Sagada).
28. There are jeepneys and buses plying Banaue to Sagada and vice versa (about 3 hours ride).
29. It's not very cold in the morning or afternoon (April 2012). I wore cotton Shirts, and occassionaly jacket at late afternoon.
NOTE: The above information is largely incomplete.
I do not claim the above information to be 100% accurate.
Use at your own risk :)