In this article, you find out how to get to Sagada and Banaue Rice Terraces and what to do around these areas.
The Philippines don’t only consist of paradise beaches, but some spectacular world wonders too way up in the North! One of the most magnificent things I have ever seen, the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, is located on the biggest and main Philippines island, Luzon, up in the Northern province. This area is much suggested by locals and usually not very visited by tourists as the journey up there is not that easy and is not on the Philippines travel guide hotlists, but believe me, it’s so worth it to travel there and experience all the amazing views for yourself! To prepare you and make sure you have the best trip, take a read below.
Everything you need to know about Sagada and Banaue Rice Terraces!
How to get to Sagada & Banaue
How to get to Sagada & Banaue
Banaue is on the way to Sagada, so you can plan the best way around, either to stop there on your way to Sagada or when you are coming back. The distance between both cities by bus is around 3 hours.
There are two main ways to get there – by bus or by plane. Going by plane obviously is more expensive and it doesn’t really fly to Sagada or Banaue. You will still need to take a bus, taxi or Jeepney to Sagada or Banaue, for approx. 3 hours. So that’s why I chose to go by bus because it takes you directly to the destinations and of course is much cheaper. The ticket to Banaue cost 540 PHP per person (around 9 EUR), then the shuttle from Banaue to Sagada cost 300 PHP per person (around 5 EUR), but you could find a Jeepney, that probably would be even cheaper. If you choose to go by bus, be prepared for an uncomfortable 9-hour or 12-hour ride. I love road trips and driving long distances so for me this was no brainer, but if you don’t like long bus rides and especially if you tend to get sick on buses then this ride might be too much for you, as the last 3 hours or 6 hours of the ride goes up into the mountains and the road becomes very winding.
There is an option to go there through Baguio, it is quite a big city and a lot of buses go through there, so you can get there and then from there take a bus to Banaue or Sagada.
The Bus lines that operate to these 3 places are: Coda Lines (the one I used), Florida, Victory Line and I am sure you can find more on the internet, but basically these are the 3 main ones.
Note: Once you will get out of the bus in Banaue you will be asked to pay a registration fee of 50 PHP (85 Cents) per person, but this is completely normal in the Philippines in general. In many places, the locals create their own system in touristic places and charge tourists just to be there, but the fees are always very small and are really just to support local communities.
Be ready, it is colder there than in the rest of the Philippines, especially in the evenings, so make sure you have a warm jacket with you. Me, of course, didn’t think about it and I ended up freezing on the bus, so at my first chance, I bought a warm poncho!
Once you make it to Sagada the first thing you need to do is to go to the city tourist centre and register. Again you will be asked to pay a 50 PHP registration and then you will see all the tours the city offers. You are not allowed to enter any places without a guide, so you will need to sign up for the local tours.
This time I won’t offer my top places or tours to do, because Sagada Tourist Center really has it all on the table, very clearly described, and they have many tours to choose from. You literally just need to get to Sagada, go to the tourist centre and choose what you want to do!
The most significant tours are regarding the caves, Echo Valley Tour and a hike up to the highest peak – Mount Mogao.
This is the actual brochure I got at Sagada offering all the tours
I did the Eco Valley Tour that included the famous hanging coffins and a walk through the underground river. I really wanted to do the 4 am morning hike up to the Mount Mogao to catch the sunrise, but unfortunately that weekend the tour/hike was closed for the tourists :( Sagada town is nice but very small, so not much to see or do there really.
Banaue is famous for its spectacular rice terraces. It is widely known as the site of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces. I didn’t stay there but the shuttle that took me to Sagada was very good in a way that it stopped at the 3 main viewpoints and we could catch the spectacular views of the rice terraces on my way to Sagada without the need to stay in Banaue! Two birds killed with one stone!
Note: This is an amazing blog, very detailed, that helped me to prepare better for my trip: https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/the-ultimate-sagada-travel-guide/