Where to Stay, Chill and Eat in Scenic Sagada - Sa-Ganda ng Sagada!

Sagada in Brief:

  • Marvel at the abundance of timber - both growing in the pine forests and used to build the most quirky, seemingly structurally impossible buildings

  • Enjoy the cool climate, a contrast to the rest of the Philippines. 

  • Eat and drink at cool places only seen in Sagada, including: Moon House, The Yoghurt House, Lemon Pie House and Gaia Cafe and Crafts

  • See the famous Hanging Coffins and get inked using an ancient tattoo method.  

Sagada Bus



Need to escape the city? Come up where the air is clean and the air-conditioning unnecessary, where your breath will be taken away by unimaginably gorgeous views, not by the smog of traffic, where your taste buds will tingle from sweet lemon pie and the freshest fruits in Luzon, where you can get a permanent memento of your journey tattooed on your skin and hang out with ancestors long passed. Come sa-ganda ng Sagada!

There’s definitely something different about Sagada. Although it is located on the same island as the Philippine capital, Manila, it seems like a world apart. Up here, the urban jungle is replaced by the natural forests of pine trees that cover the mountainous terrain. Even the man-made structures are built mostly from this material, and similar to the natural growing trees, they cling to the cliff sides, defying gravity like a butiki on a wall.


The quirky houses of Sagada

Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph 

The natural beauty of Sagada alone is enough to entice around 180,000 tourists a year, however there’s even more to experience in this place that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.

Where to Stay

One thing that you will notice instantly in Sagada is the frequent and basically exclusive use of wood. Seeing as they are surrounded by it, it’s a viable product (not extremely expensive like in other parts of the country) to use. We stayed at Agape Log Cabin. Inside there is a large communal wooden table, polished wooden floors and a large wooden staircase that leads to the guest rooms. Due to the natural wood walls, our room had a rustic, cozy feel. Downstairs we chatted with the care taker and were quickly made to feel part of the family. She had a few of her friends staying there and they left extra pancakes from their breakfast on the table for us the next morning. One evening after we had visited a few establishments, we returned to head straight to our room when we saw them seated at the table. They invited us over and we shared in a few glasses of local wine while having a good laugh.   

Where to Chill

The locals seem to vibrate on a different level, one that is considerably less tightly wound than most other places. In fact, they are so laid back, you might have to pour your own drinks at Moon House if the bartender needs to sort other things before his shift. Not only did we have the honour of minding the House due to the fact that we came early, but we were trusted enough to be left to our own devices behind the bar. We were just asked to leave our money on the table and the rest was up to us.

Moon Bar
Getting served at Moon Bar
Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph

In this tiny, eclectic bar, they don’t mind if you leave your mark on the walls, in fact it’s encouraged! The contents of previous patron’s backpacks, such as bus tickets, bank notes from around the world, even old IDs, are pinned to the walls with messages scribbled in the nearest pen. If the eye catching, reggae style décor or the banter of the bartender when he shows up isn’t enough to keep you entertained, there’s karaoke in the basement and games that can be played at your table. Moon House is definitely a must for anyone visiting Sagada.  

The covered walls of Moon Bar

Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph

Where to Eat

The hotels, restaurants and cafes are all constructed in the unique Sagada style, some built like a haphazard treehouse, all completed with bright paintwork and all are as distinctive as a fingerprint. There’s The Yoghurt House, Gaia Café and Crafts, Lemon Pie House, Wine Bar, Strawberry Café and Woodhouse Restaurant to name a few well known ones. In The Yoghurt House we sat on the balcony located on the top floor at the front of the building to overlook the casual traffic of the main street. There, we had the best pasta dish and simple grilled vegetables drizzled in tahini sauce; to this day we try to replicate them at home, but nothing beats having ingredients grown and cooked from the source.

Food at Yoghurt House
View from Yoghurt House

Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph

Gaia Café and Crafts isn’t just a restaurant cooking delicious vegetarian meals, inside are rows of books to be browsed and locally made crafts to be purchased. The building itself is a work of art, with hand sculpted wooden doors, colourful accents from mosaics and clever reuse of things normally thrown away – like gumboot pots and a jumpsuit sprouting a plant. To top it off, Gaia has one of the best views in Sagada, whether you choose to sit inside or out.

View from Gaia Cafe
Food at Gaia Cafe
Front of Gaia Cafe
Balcony of Gaia Cafe

Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph

Late Night Eats

Try any one of these for lunch, dinner or dessert before heading to Moon House to continue the party. If you’re in search of a midnight snack after a few beers, Kimchi Ramyun will welcome you with open arms and a huge image of Bob Marley on the wall. A bit worse for wear after pouring our own drinks at Moon House for half the night, they were very obliging when we repeatedly asked for extra kimchi.


Kimchi Ramyun

Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph

A Unique Way to Bury the Dead - The Hanging Coffins 

Even the way in which the deceased are laid to rest is completely unique and a world-famous site to be seen. If you’re as swerte as us, you’ll get a tour guide dressed in ripped denim shorts who speaks Spanish better than Tagalog. You’ll be guided down a dirt track through the ancient trees, passed Campo Santo cemetery and to the cliff where the coffins hang. Even though our tour guide took it upon himself to become our personal photographer and insisted that we take a number of shots to get the perfect one, it felt kind of awkward to be posing in front of someone’s resting place. The attraction most certainly is as sombre as it is fascinating and should command a high level of reverence.

The Hanging Coffins

Photo by: China D @projectgoals.ph

A Lasting Souvenir - Get Tattooed by Whang-od

From Sagada, you can also visit Buscalan village, home of the world-famous and last remaining mambabatok (Kalinga tattooist) of the Butbut people, Whang-od. Years ago, tattoos were earned by fighting and killing those who threatened the tribe in battle. Now, in a reflection of our times, tourists can have them for a fee. Whang-od, who is around 100 years old, has passed the tradition of inking skin in traditional tribal tattoos using a thorn, charcoal and hammer to her young relatives. Those wanting to experience being tattooed in the ancient traditional way should consider using their expertise. Whang-od has been extraordinarily gracious for over 50 years in welcoming and tattooing tourists from all around the world in her quiet village. At 100 plus, she has most definitely earned a rest.

Whang-od tattooing a tourist


Project Goals Recommends:

Buses depart Baguio for Sagada daily and at regular times. Tickets can be purchased on site.    

Accommodation: Agape Log Cabin

Food: Gaia Café and Crafts, The Yoghurt House, Kimchi Ramyun.
Do: Drink at Moon House, walk through the small town and soak in the natural surrounds. You will even find a colourful bus that has become the subject of many a social media post!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.