It’s a personal tradition. Go somewhere I’ve never been for my birthday or at least on my birthday month. I used to do it alone. But this year was different. I was with my love and we went to Sagada.
It’s not true that Sagada is a place where broken hearts go, non-heart broken hearted people like us can go there too. Although you can get broken wallet because of he non-full disclosure travel organizers do to get booked and then ask you pay for every place you wanna visit in Sagada.
Anyway, it was still a great adventure plus I get to see the 3 places I want to see in Sagada
- BLUE SOIL HILL. It is a small portion on top of a mountain. It’s a hill of “blueish” dirt that actually looks like snow except it doesn’t melt. From the looks of it , it appears to be ashes or powder from the stones that actually formed the hill. What kind of stone they are? I have no idea. We were told it used to be bigger than what we saw but since people came visiting it a lot of the blue stuff started to fade and fall out. So not they are trying to preserve the area. They’re not really trying hard though from what we seen.
- SPELUNKING AT SUMAGING CAVE . It was definitely an adventure. We got deep into the wet dark cave barefooted !
- SEA OF ClOUDS Unfortunately it was a rainy day. We went there to witness the sunrise but there’s too much rain clouds . The sun did not peek or did we see an awesome mountain view. There are hundreds of people in there. They said it’s better on a summer.
There are more places to see and do in Sagada but these were the 3 places we went to and prioritize because we only had 2 days and 1 night there. We could have gone longer, actually the original plan was 3 days and go to some falls and do some orange picking too.
Our group mates went to the Eco Valley Hanging Coffins but I opted not to go. I didn’t want to visit a graveyard for my birthday . Just a personal choice.
Going back to Manila we stopped by at La Trinidad Benguet for Strawberry picking.
Unfortunately , we were too late for the best time to do the picking! According to one of the farm owners , it’s best to go early morning than late in the day so we can get the first harvest.
Where to Eat?
There are a lot of restaurants in Sagada but we ate mostly at the Sagada Hub as recommended by our driver and at the Happy House just across it. Most restaurant there has a Php150 price per meal with rice but no drinks included yet Then we also tried the Lemon Pie at the Lemon Pie House which is delicious.
Lemon Pie is one of Sagada’s famous treats that you have to order in advanced if you want to buy a whole pie. It’s Php280 per box and Php60 per slice.
How to get there?
We got there via van with some strangers we’ve never met or talked to before. I found this DIY travel group on Facebook and found some posting about joiners to a Sagada trip. For a 2 days 1 night trip , we were charged Php1,990 each. This includes a private room for two and the roundtrip transportation to and from Sagada.
A tip on joining travel packages/groups . Some are misleading.
One of the lessons I learned from finding travel groups to join from Facebook is that most of them are misleading and most of them know each other.
In the group of 12 we were in, which three had couples and two groups of friends , all of us booked from a different “travel/tour agent” and was charged differently. One group was charged 200 less, one was charged 700 more than what we paid.
One thing we got in common was we were all misinformed in the deal we signed in. Just like me, everyone thought the charge included the pay for the places we were going to visit. But we were all tricked.
How? First they will give you the price for a package , let’s say for our 2D/1N Sagada Tour they will also give you a “Sample Itenerary” like this:
This was the actual Sample Itenerary I was sent by my travel / tour agent. I assumed this is all inclusive in the payment she charged us. Unfortunately, to my surprise. It was not!
As soon as we got to our transient house / accommodation, that’s when our driver would informed us that a different travel guide will talk to us about our itenerary . This guide was the one who asked us where we would like to go. From there he will come up with a fee on how much we need to pay again from going to those venues.
Yup! You read that right, we have to pay more! Our travel group mates were also surprised. They did not expect to shell out extra for going to the places detailed on our “sample Itenerary”. No wonder it’s a sample Itenerary because it’s just that a sample .
So it means the Php1,990 you pay is just for the roundtrip fare and for a one night accommodation for each person. There were 12 of us in the van.
The van who brought you to Sagada will also not be your service to the places you want to visit in Sagada . We had to shell out an extra Php1,000 plus each to see the 3 places we want to visit in Sagada. This fee covers the vehicle, tour guide and entrances fee.
Luckily, we were with a fun bunch of young ones. Two others were celebrating their birthday too so it was a triple celebration for us.
Recommendations for your operators and for joiners of such tours:
- For joiners be very inquisitive. Tour operators won’t say everything unless you squeeze the information out of them. All they want is to get booked and earn they really don’t care if you get a full disclosure unless you ask for it.
- For your operators don’t give a sample Itenerary if it’s not really included in the tour, just say you are providing a roundtrip service van to Sagada and back to Manila plus accommodation. Do not say tours or show sample Itenerary , it’s misleading. Also disclose that the van who takes you to Sagada is not the van you will use for touring destinations in Sagada. We were in a 4×4 on a rainy day poor girls on the back ! They didn’t sign up to get sick !
- Tour operators should fully disclose that picking the itenerary of the trip is up to your group. Also disclose before hand not when they’re already there waiting on what happens next. Also tell them the price for each destination and where the money is going to before leaving Manila. I don’t know why the three destinations we choose cost us an extra Php2,160 .
- Tour operators please tell your joiners what to bring when they go to Sagada. With “sample Itenerary” as Spelunking and Hiking everyone should be well equipped. We needed flashlights and raincoats. Don’t just say bring clothes that you can get wet on when going to the cave.. It’s not a swimming event.
- I’m also unhappy with our driver who had more personal errands than actually do his job.
Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed our trip inspite of all these major disappoitment. I’m glad I was able to see what I wanted to see and was able to do it with a awesome travel partner.
Thanks Marcus for my Sagada Birthday trip. Looking to more travels with you.
Stay gorgeous everyone!