From Banaue: The Winding Beauty to Sagada

roadside views from Banaue to Sagada

After more than 11 hours on the road, we finally arrived in Banaue. Onboard the Ohayami Bus from Manila, we met Hanz, a fellow passenger who offered us to drive to Sagada for Php300/pax. We agreed to meet him after we take a quick breakfast while he gets his jeep. Our group of 9 will be sharing the jeep with 3 backpackers from Barcelona, Spain. This starts our weekend Sagada adventure.

We were 3 hours late of our scheduled itinerary due to road traffic and that at 9am we were really hungry for good local food. From the terminal, we walked the first steep staircase and scouted for the nearest restaurant. I was leading the group and saw the 3 Europeans following us too. We settled at People's Lodge which happens to have a good commanding view of the rice terraces and its community.
view from People's Lodge

Our first local meal, Banaue's version of Tapsilog

Right after the quick breakfast we boarded Hanz's jeep. It's another 3-4 hour journey from there to Sagada. I specifically planned for this route for us to see the famed Banaue Rice Terraces. Another destination ticked off from my schoolbook inspired category. We have several stops along the way, but this one tops my favorite...

Banaue Rice Terraces

Our first stop was at Banaue main viewpoint. This isn't exactly the spot where you can see the rice terraces stamped on our Php1,000 bill was shot. Still within the area and gorgeous, of course.

There, I whispered my day's first thank you message to God. This thousand year old landscape view in front of me speaks of the magnitude left behind by those who crafted this man-made ancient wonder. I always loved rice fields as I have been introduced to farms when I was still a kid, and to see a stair like rice field made me wonder in awe, just how did the Ifugao people manage to think beyond their time? Hats off, our ancestors surely can spell "megastructure" right^_^

most scenic outdoor amphitheater

Tourists can also mingle with  native Ifugao elders chanting "Ohei! Ohai! and wacky wacky!" during photo ops! A clear evidence as to how many globe trotters visit them. The smile on their faces was such a welcome gift, seems to be the picture-perfect happy people to settle in this mountainous region.

so far the coolest native elders I've seen - wacky wacky!

elder male

Probably in their 80s and 90s, the Ifugao elders are such an amazing feat of individuals that one should not get out of Banaue without having a photo with them. They still wear their native dresses with no footwear, can manage to squat for hours, models betelnut stained teeth on their cheerful faces. Hanz was game to take all our digital cameras and snap those group shots. The humming sound from the flute of elder male was soothing, it definitely made us feel welcome in the Cordilleras.

Prior to this trip, I was told of the scary route to Sagada. I pictured steep one lane bumpy road path that would make its passenger grip for his life. I can still remember my scary road trip experience when I was just 7 years old going to Davao where I can literally see the ravine from my seat inside a rusty old bus. I brushed off that scary thought because I wanted to see and experience Sagada that bad. Surprisingly, the road from Banaue to Sagada is well paved and accommodates 2 lane street. Sure it's steep, always winding with occasional rough roads, but it's tolerable Local drivers are skillful and careful making me feel safe all throughout the journey.

The road leading to Sagada is already a rare road trip adventure, driving along roadside cliffs and vomit inducing turns. But traversing the mountains and enjoying the scenic views that is beyond beautiful should be in every Filipino's bucket list.  It's just so hard to feel a tinge of fear especially when you catch sight of beautiful green terraces filled with yellow hues from bountiful sunflower blooms with towering pine trees as backdrop.

Sagada here we come!

Need to hire a jeep from Banaue to Sagada? Call Hanzel Rufino at 09293721279 or email him at He also offers Batad Tours.


Check out the Sagada series:

From Banaue: The Winding Beauty to Sagada
Travel Video: Sagada
Sagada: Morning Trek to Marlboro Country
Sagada: Residential Lodge
Sagada: Afternoon Trek to Bomod-ok Falls
Sagada Newbies, No More!
Banaue-Sagada-Baguio Route: Itinerary and Budget Tips


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