This laid back town has been popular with backpackers for years and is seen as a bit of an adventure capital with various activities available including trekking, caving, zip-lining and rock climbing.
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Sagada is situated in the Mountain Province of Cordillera Administrative Region on North Luzon, around 415 kilometers from Manila. The city offers a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
There are several tourist attractions in Sagada known for their historically and mysteriously hanging coffins. They are testaments to 2,000 years of Igorot burial traditions still practiced today.
There are many scenic and peaceful sights in Sagada, such as calming mountain valleys, rice fields, limestone caves, and waterfalls with a sea of clouds.
The friendly people of Igorot are also a plus. They serve fresh food, offer coffee, and make lemon pies. The place is a perfect sanctuary for those seeking peace and quiet.
Best Time to Go to Sagada
Sagada weather is similar to Baguio - chilly on both dry and wet seasons. Being in a mountainous region, it’s a haven away from the humidity in other Philippine cities, and where agriculture is a booming business of bountiful fresh vegetables and fruits.
What to See and Do in Sagada
While the peace and quiet is an enchanting quality, Sagada offers a multitude of activities for the young at heart, adventurous at heart, and wanderers at heart.
Spelunking at Sumaguing Cave
Known as ‘The Big Cave’, Sumaguing Cave has the largest enclosure from the 60 caves found underneath Sagada. Discovering Sumaguing Cave is a popular activity when in Sagada as you will see countless rock formations - animals, food, and people shapes.
The entire trail is divided into three levels:
Level 1 - Going down the cliffs (caution: it’s slippery and full of bat wastes)
Level 2 - Rock formations (reminder: shoes and slippers will be removed)
Level 3 - Get wet in the tunnel (prepare: move through narrow openings and wash in stone-cold waters
See the View at Kiltepan Peak and Marlboro Hills
Sagada is famous for its sea of clouds sighting at Kiltepan Peak and Marlboro Hills. You can either camp out to wake up to this majestic view or wake up before dawn breaks to rise in time with the sun and clouds.
Plan early, the sea of clouds viewing is one of the most popular things to do at Sagada and there will be lots of people waiting for the morning to rise. This is where people with broken or complete hearts go to.
Tip: ride the jeepney en route to Kiltepan or Marlboro Hills, topload version. It’s fun, thrilling, and you get to see marvelous sights as you breeze through!
Lumiang Burial Cave
A 30-minute walk from town will take you to Sagada’s ancient sites. This is where the oldest coffin is said to be 500 years old.
You know you’ve reached the cave when you see hundreds of stacked coffins at the entrance, with symbolic markings of life and fertility. The ‘Cave Connection’ challenge starts with the Lumiang Burial Cave.
Kapay-Aw Rice Terraces
Kapay-Aw rice terraces is Sagada’s own version of the rice terraces in Banaue. It’s not just a simple walk in the terraces, you can see the lush agriculture life cultivated by the locals to make time for harvest. As you climb and rise through the stairs you will see a majestic view that only the sunshine-y valleys of Sagada can provide.
Take a hike at Blue Soil Hills
This is an awe-inspiring natural wonder. Best viewed after the Marlboro Hills sunrise viewing or just before sunset, let yourself be transported to a fantasy land once you caught sight of Blue Soil Hills and the towering trees surrounding it.
While the trek to Blue Soil Hills is achievable even for beginners, wear appropriate trekking equipment to avoid injuries.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada
The people of Sagada follow a unique burial ritual. The elderly carve their own coffins out of hollowed logs. If they are too weak or ill, their families prepare their coffins instead. The dead are placed inside their coffins (sometimes breaking their bones in the process of fitting them in), and the coffins are brought to a cave for burial.
Instead of being placed into the ground, the coffins are hung either inside the caves or on the face of the cliffs, near the hanging coffins of their ancestors. The Sagada people have been practicing such burials for over 2,000 years, and some of the coffins are well over a century old. Eventually the coffins deteriorate and fall from their precarious positions.
The reason the coffins were hung was due to the belief that the higher the dead were placed, the greater chance of their spirits reaching a higher nature in the afterlife. Many of the locations of the coffins are difficult to reach (and obviously should be left alone out of respect), but can be appreciated from afar.
Source: Rick McCharles
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