Our Visit at Hanging Coffins of Sagada Mountain Province, Philippines
Ever since my husband and I became a couple, Sagada is already on our bucket list of places to visit in the Philippines, our kids came along and cannot pursue yet and were still very young. We feel that Sagada demands visitors for a long walk and that we are afraid that our kids will not endure it. Now that our kids are in 6 and 3.11 years old and were showing so much energy every single day, we decided to give it a go in visiting Sagada mountain province. This August 2019 we finally made it and saw the hanging coffins of Sagada with the whole family.
Sagada is a town in Mountain Province, Philippines famous for its hanging coffins. Visitors can do activities such as trekking, exploring caves and waterfalls and many more. Find out in this blog what my family did in this
Just before we leave for Sagada, Manila’s weather seems not cooperating for the past few days. So we anticipated for the worst weather in Sagada too and prepared for the incoming rainy trek experience. We plan to see the hanging coffins in the mountains, which requires a long walk. We have small kids so we make sure to buy them raincoats just in case heavy rains come along while in the middle of our trek. We purchased other hiking accessories as well. We made sure to bring extra jackets as the temperature in the Mountain Province is lower than in the city. Below are the following clothes and outdoor necessities we bought in preparation for our Sagada trip;
How To Go Sagada
There is one bus company which we think famous for offering a trip to Sagada from Manila that can give passengers a VIP kind of bus experience. Its name is Codalines. Their main terminal is in Cubao nearby other bus terminals. We booked online, and after that, they sent our bus ticket via e-mail. Make sure to be at the bus terminal 30 minutes before your departure time. Codalines will not wait for the late passenger as the bus leaves the terminal true to their schedule. Subject to penalty or fees if you want to reschedule your trip to Sagada. Our family booked a ride at Codalines, which left the manila bus terminal at 10:30 PM and arrived at Sagada at precisely 9:45 AM on the next day. One way fare for four persons is Php 4,704 for a deluxe bus. Codalines mode of payment options can be cash, credit cards, coinsph, PayPal, and many more. Travel time is 12 hours from Manila. Yes, 12 hours, so make sure to prepare for a long ride. If you booked a bus with VIP options, then this bus is extra roomy for your feet with only 36 seats inside, cubicle comfort room, and nonstop drive to Sagada. If you booked the bus with 46 seats without a comfort room then this bus will stop to a designated bus station to give way for the passengers to use comfort rooms, stretch, eat and anything that the passengers wish to do while the driver is resting. Bus stops usually take 15 minutes before continuing the drive to Sagada with a total of 3 stops. Prepare 5 peso coins as the comfort rooms on all the bus stops require the passengers to pay before entering the toilet.
Where to Stay in Sagada
The hotel that we chose for our stay in Sagada for 3 days and 2 nights is the Saint Joseph Resthouse. This rest-house is just located at the center of Sagada. Just a few steps away from the Coda lines loading and dropping station. We book via phone calls to Saint Joseph Warehouse to make sure that they will get the full details of our arrival. We are four persons and we paid Php 4000 for 2 nights and 3 days stay at Saint Joseph Sagada. We chose to stay in one cottage that can accommodate up to 3 persons. The Saint Joseph Rest-house is operated by the church in Sagada. We ask the caretaker of the rest house to hire a tour guide for us and a service car that we can use for our tour during our stay in Sagada. We paid a total amount of Php 1,950 for the tour guide and car.
The rain is pouring right after we arrive at Saint Joseph rest house. Mountain Views from our balcony is hidden by the thick clouds.
The Saint Joseph
What To Do in Sagada
- Sumaguing Cave
Right after we settle all our luggage, we left the rest house to visit Sumaguing Cave. It was at 1 pm at that time. Tourist is required to hire a tour guide to enter the cave. Just ask your hotel staff for assistance in booking a tour guide and a service car. The tour guide will be the one to register the guest to the tourist information center, and guests can pay the tour guide later. Sumaguing cave is famous for its beautiful stalagmites formation inside with steep descents. Bats are inside the deep of the cave. We tried our best to go to the cave, but for safety purposes, we ended up checking the bats at the entrance of the cave only. We have two kids, and we are afraid of what might happen inside the dark cave. Floors are wet, and the cave is too dark.
The tour guide provided the lights for the tourist, but it is an excellent help if guests will bring their headlight. We tried to carry our youngest child by a carrier as much as we can, but she is too heavy. The way to the center of the cave was way too steep and not advisable for a person with a child at the back. But according to our tour guide, he had a guest before with a child about 1-year-old and was able to get inside the inner cave while the father is carrying the child. But for us, I guess it’s a different story and situation as our child is already too heavy to carry yet too young to walk on her own, so we decided to stop getting inside the cave. While our son, who is six years old is also eager to get inside the cave but still too clumsy walking the way to the cave and gets afraid once he can’t see the lights. The Lights brought by the tour guide seems not enough for us. When the tour guide distances from us, we can’t see the rocky slippery floor properly. So the best decision we could is to halt the tour to the cave. One way walks to the center of the cave takes 45 minutes. We, advice all the guests to wear rubber shoes for protection and for better sole suction to the floor if you are visiting the Sumaguing cave. Still, a good experience seeing bats hanging at the ceiling of the cave.
The long stairs descending to Samaguing Cave, Sagada.
- Lumiang Burial Cave
The second cave we visit is the Lumiang Cave, known for having a burial coffin from its underground chambers. We did not get inside the cave as the rain is pouring so hard by that time and we are already exhausted from the walks we did at Sumaguing Cave.
- Sugong Cliffs Coffins
The view we took from the road, the coffins are hung as the unique way of burial. Serve as the cemetery of traditional Igorot of the mountain province. We only watch it from a far as the rain is too strong by that time. This is the last place we visit on our first day in Sagada. After this, we went back to the rest house and had our late afternoon lunch. The rain was so heavy at that time due to the low-pressure area affecting the Sagada.
- The Hanging Coffins
On our second day at Sagada, we make sure to visit the hanging coffins. As the rain’s still so heavy, we stayed at the hotel for the rest of the morning. Fortunately by 11 AM the rain stop. By 12NN we are out to see the hanging coffins. This is the main reason why we are here at Sagada. We wanted to see in person the famous hanging coffins that were practiced by the Igorot tribe a long time ago. These coffins are hung on the cliffs via rope and strong wires. The higher the position of the coffins quantify how loved ones value the deceased and said to be the closest to heaven. Our tour guide explains to us the process of their burial rights way back from the Igorot in Sagada. First, they will prepare the empty coffins in the cliff, then the body will be brought by the locals to the coffins. People are gushing in carrying the dead body as they believe it will bring an excellent fate to those who can carry the dead. When the blood from the dead drops to the person carrying the coffins believes the luckiest and will receive a good fortune. When the dead body arrives at the cliff, they will put the dead body first on the chair putting it in a sitting position while facing the people attending the burial ceremony. After the burial ceremony, the dead body is wrapped by the cloth or blanket of the dead before putting inside the coffin. Those who died as infants are forbidden to hang in the cliffs as it brings bad luck. Only those who died in natural causes and those who produced a grandchild are said to be permitted to hang on the cliffs. Year 2018 when they did the last hanging coffins ceremony according to our tour guide. Nowadays burying at hanging coffins is rarely practice for health reasons. If they do a burial by hanging the coffins, they are making sure that it is away from the people of the town.
Along the way to the hanging coffins are the different kinds of flowers. Even strawberry is spotted on the way to the hanging coffins. There is a normal cemetery on the way to the hanging coffins which they recently practice nowadays.
The hike to the hanging coffins is not easy, but our children were able to make it. There is part of the stairs that are too high, but we did pass it safely. It takes 30 minutes hike going to the coffins and another 30 minutes going back to the town of Sagada. Because of this hike, we now know that our kids are capable and can walk for a long hike that can last up to two hours.
- Bokong Falls
The Bokong falls is the nearest water fall from the town. This is also the smallest waterfall at Sagada. We decided to go here just because our son wants to see natural waterfalls. It requires 30 minutes of walks going to the falls from the center of Sagada. A total of 1 hour for the return to the center of Sagada. We pass the rice-fields, and the road is wet by that time, but we managed despite the wet slippery path to the falls. We did not go near the water as the current of the falls are too strong by that time due to the heavy rains. We had a total of two hours straight walks fro the hanging falls to the falls, and the kids were able to make it. Now we knew how far they could go. We head to the rest house directly after seeing the falls. It was 3 PM when we arrived at the rest house. And precisely the rain starts again once we arrived at the rest house.
- Sagada Weaving House
On our return from the waterfalls, we pass-by the weaving house of Sagada where they do their indigenous products such as clothes, bags, and many more. Taking of
Where to Eat at Sagada
- Saint Joseph Restaurant
The hotel where we stayed at has a restaurant, this is why we chose this resthouse so we can order anytime we want without going out too far. They do have a friendly staff that assisted us. Prices are okay too. Below are the following foods that we ordered while we are at Saint Joseph Resthouse. Here we found the delicious yogurt of Sagada.
- Yogurt House in Sagada ( Yoghurt House )
Visitors at Sagada never miss eating at Yoghurt’s house. The most famous yogurt house in Sagada that serves delicious yogurt with a good price. Their Yogurt is Made of goat milk. Topped honey makes the taste so delicioes.
- Masferry Country Inn and Restaurant
This is another option we had if we did not chose the Saint Joseph Resthouse. They do accept guest in their available rooms. The restaurant is just near their rooms. Foods are delicious too. We tried a few of their foods and it doesn’t disappoint. They do have a bakery too that sells broad choices of bread and cookies. Coffee and tea that are made from Sagada are in their store too.
Our Overall Sagada Experience
Our kids love all the animals and insects that they saw in this Sagada trip. They anticipate and prepare every day that we do. There are problems that we encounter in this Sagada experience but we are accepting it as a challenge and we promise to improve on our next travel. Sagada tells us the unique story of
At 10 AM on our third day in Sagada, we are already inside this Codalines bus that will bring us to Banaue. I will also share our Banaue experience on my separate blog. It takes 3 hours of travel from Sagada to Banaue. We swear to return here when our kids get bigger and stronger than what they are on this Sagada trip.