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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Baguio, Sagada, Banaue: Transportation Options - Part 1

Visiting the provinces of the Cordillera Region may be a challenge as only few commuter bus lines offer regular trips going here. Well, with the exception of Baguio City which has long been dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, traveling to other less known destinations such as Mt. Province and Ifugao must be carefully plotted out.

Rice Terraces, Cordillera Region, Philippines

Cordillera Region offers mountainous terrains and zigzag roads, and crossing province after province will give you a scary feeling because of the steep road slopes, however, the reward of picturesque views will definitely satisfy your eyes.

So what basically are the transportation options available to circumnavigate the Cordillera region? There are several ways available; depends on how you plan your itinerary. Perhaps below travel schedule of mine may help you in plotting your itinerary.

This should be the least of your travel worry as there are lots of buses traveling regularly to and from Baguio City from Manila. There are bus terminals in Cubao, Pasay, and Sampaloc which you can choose, depending on your proximity to those areas. The popular bus line is Victory Liner which serves several trips per day, to Baguio, Travel in the evening though so you'll arrive Baguio early in the morning.

Fare is roughly PHP 455 and travel time is around 4 - 5 hours.

TRAVEL TIP: During vacations and peak seasons, there are a lot, like seriously a lot, of passengers going to Baguio City so be sure to book yourself a ticket beforehand as walk-in queues may pose hopelessness. There's an 11 PM trip from Manila which you may reserve.

GL Trans bus line, located at Baguio Dangwa Terminal, has daily trips going to Sagada. The earliest trip is at 5:30 AM and the trip may take around 6 hours. It's an economy so don't expect much comfort as you may want. There are even aisle seats available to accommodate more passengers. Again, during sunny and peak seasons, there are a lot of travelers going to Sagada and the GL bus terminal may become very unorganized and chaotic. Next trip is at 6:30 AM and leaves every hour until 1 PM.

Bus fare is around PHP 220.

GL Trans, Sagada, Philippines
GL Trans going to Sagada

From Sagada to Bontoc, there are jeepneys available until 1 PM. The first trip is at 6:30 AM and the ninth trip is at 12 NN. There's one afternoon trip which is the last one, at 1 PM. What I love most about this journey is that you can ride on top of the jeepney, top-loading as they say, and enjoy the sceneries in the best view. The jeepney terminal is just in front of Sagada Municipal Hall so it's relatively accessible from all pension houses and inns in Sagada.

Travel time is 1 hour and costs PHP 45.

Sagada to Bontoc Transportation, Philippines
Toploading to Bontoc

The journey from Bontoc to Banaue takes around 2 hours. From Bontoc, you may ride a local bus which costs PHP 150, or you may rent a van, good for 6-8 persons, which costs PHP 200 per person. There are several transportation options near Bontoc Municipal Hall. Though I only stopped in Bontoc for roughly 30 minutes, the peaceful way of life of the people are so engaging.

Bontoc Bus, Sagada, Banaue
Local Bus in Bontoc

First bus trip from Bontoc to Banaue is at 7 AM and the next one is at 9 AM. On the other hand, jeepney schedules are 8:30 AM and 10 AM for the morning trips, and 1 PM on the afternoon trip.

If you are traveling on a tight schedule, you can rent a jeep going to Batad and as what I heard, renting a jeep costs roughly PHP 500 - PHP 1,000. Anyhow, if time is on your side, there's one jeepney trip going to Batad Saddle. You may go to Banaue Public Market and fronting the market are jeep terminals and find the jeep with "Batad Saddle" sign.

Fare is PHP 150 and travel time of about 1 hour.

Jeep to Batad Saddle, Banaue
Jeep with the Batad Saddle signboard

Going out of Batad, there's a passenger jeep that leaves at 9 AM. The jeep is just small and can fit around 12 people so be sure to be early to secure your spot. It is actually the same jeep that travels from Banaue to Batad.

Arriving Banaue, bus trips going to Manila are all during night time through Ohayami Bus. To my knowledge, this is the only commercial bus travel to and from Banaue. There are 4 bus schedules that leave Banaue and the earliest leave at 6:30 PM, however, during super peak seasons, Ohayami adds another 1-2 trips.

Bus fare is PHP 450 and a travel time of more or less 10 hours.

TRAVEL TIP: Upon arriving Banaue on your first day, head to Ohayami ticketing booth and buy your return trip tickets. There are lots of tourists going in and out of Banaue and there is only one bus line that accommodate the traffic of travelers.

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