This trip was planned with my partner way back January which incidentally became my first solo travel. Why? 3 weeks before the target date my partner decided not to join and broke up with me. Yes! I went to the place where they say the broken hearted goes. But I would like to stress out that before “that thing called tadhana” movie becomes a hit. I already planned this trip. It was a mixed emotion of excitement and fear. Definitely, backing out was not included in my options and I’m glad that I didn’t and it ended up as one of the best days of my travel life yet.
Reading blogs, tips and joining travel forum was indeed very helpful. Being well informed was very important especially for solo travelers. As suggested, the best way to reach Sagada is via Manila to Banaue to Sagada. The cheapest bus that I’ve searched was with Ohayami in Sampaloc Manila. Its 470php one way ticket via text reservation and I paid via BPI. Check their website here. Its 450php if you will buy directly at their bus station. Its 2 streets away from Florida bus line near UST. They currently have 1 schedule during off peak season which is at 10:00PM. Note: the coldest provincial bus I ever rode even colder than my ex heart so prepare your thickest sweater.
I’m with Christine the girl I met at Two Monkeys travel forum who was also doing her first solo travel. She was the first stranger I met on this trip. I was seated beside a solo French traveler who seems very quiet but when I started to shoot a conversation with him it was amazing; sharing of travel stories and life experiences. He is currently on his 10th months of journey and will stay for almost a month here in the Philippines.
After 9 hours’ drive. (It comes with 2 stopovers) We reached Banaue town proper at around 7AM. TIP #1 Number of local drivers will approach you offering transport to Sagada. A local jeep from Banaue to Bontoc will costs you 150php then Bontoc to Sagada 40php, total of 190php. But I highly recommend taking a van that offers 200php. It was direct, less hassle and faster.
Most vans leave at 8:30AM. You can have a breakfast in town proper while waiting. We stayed at Uyami restaurant to have our breakfast. Since we still have an extra time, we walked down to cross the hanging bridge of Banaue then after, Christine and I said goodbye since she had a different itinerary.
Inside a van was me, a group of Israeli and a guy from Italy. (Felt like I’m the foreigner in my country) It was a 2 hours’ exciting drive from Banaue to Bontoc. TIP#2 there is no ATM in Banaue town proper. Ask your driver to stop at the nearest ATM machine in Bontoc in case you need extra cash. From Bontoc it’s another 1hr drive to Sagada. The road from Banaue-Bontoc-Sagada was the best road trip I ever had. The view was spectacular; mountains, zigzag roads, clouds, rivers and rice terraces. I really enjoyed it. TIP# 3 unreliable, weak to no signal along the road. The road was at least 90% paved and only few parts were still bumpy. Expect few moments of death defying experiences like when the driver drives too fast and the feeling that we are only inches away from the cliff.
TIP #4 Ask your driver to have a stopover at some view point along Banaue and Bontoc Rice terraces. If possible have a picture with the big Mary statue along the highway. That’s the boundary of Mountain Province and Ifugao region