Attractions Central Cordillera
Caves of Sagada. Sagada is located at an altitude of 1500 meters and belongs to the Mountainous Province (Moipiaip Provipse). This place has become famous due to the nearby traditional burial places of the Igorot tribes. The elaborate burial rituals of the aborigines are practiced only occasionally today. Traces of these rites have been preserved at Sagada: sarcophagi made of pine wood, the place for which the dead chose during their lifetime, lie near sheer walls and burial caves. Especially noteworthy are the limestone grottoes of Sugong and Lumiang. In addition to those interested in local culture, Sagada will also be of interest to nature lovers. So, for example, Sumaging Cave does not hide coffins in itself, but it has many beautiful stalactite formations. However, you can go there only with an experienced guide.
Bontoc, the capital of the Mountain Province, is located in the heart of the Central Cordillera, at an altitude of 900 meters. The trip itself from Banaue to Bontoc is already an adventure: romantic valleys and magnificent mountain ranges, covered with pine and moss-covered foggy forests, define the landscape here. Just before reaching Bontoc, it gives way to an amazing cultural landscape: on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the city, lovingly cultivated rice terraces and vegetable gardens are located, and to the east, the Chico River snakes through the valley. Walking distance from here are the Malekong Rice Terraces, whose marvelous location and craftsmanship rivals those of Bonaue. On the way from Bontoc to Baguio rises 2310-meter Mount Data, at the foot of which there is a cozy hotel of the same name, loved by travelers.
Baguio is the summer capital of the Philippines. This title is given to the city for its pleasant climate during the summer months, when many residents of Manila, 250 kilometers away, flee to the much cooler city in the mountains of Benguet due to the heat prevailing on the coast. In addition, there are many attractions here, such as the Botanical Gardens and Burnham Park – a lovely expanse of green spaces with a lake, a
boats and orchidarium, as well as the John Hay Club, where on the territory of the former US military base today there are sports facilities – swimming pools, a golf course and tennis courts, as well as two restaurants. An opportunity to get acquainted with the life of the tribes of the Central Cordillera gives the Museum of the Mountainous Province of Banguio-Benguet. Take a leisurely walk and shop at the City Market, which offers primarily local products from this province.
World Cultural Heritage Vigan
The appearance of this city was determined by more than three hundred years of domination of the Spaniards in the Philippines. In 1999, UNESCO included this city in the list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, because here, in a completely unique way, ancient Asian architecture intertwined with European colonial architecture. A visit to this coastal town in the west of the island is not only memorable for luxurious villas, but also for traditional crafts in the Old City,
markets and historic churches, including St. Paul’s Cathedral built in 1641.
Walk to Pinatubo volcano
On the way from Manila to the Central Cordillera, it is worth making a stop at the Pinatubo volcano, an active volcano with a height of 1486 meters, located 90 kilometers north of the capital. In 1991, there was such a strong eruption here that the whole top exploded. Since then, a lake filled with acid and rainwater has formed in the crater. Excursions are organized here to hot springs on the slopes of the volcano, through gorges, lava landscapes and to the very edge of the crater. Flights around the volcano are also possible, allowing you to take a look at the entire unforgettable area.
Be sure to bring enough warm clothes with you – it can get really cold in the mountains, especially at night. In December and January, temperatures in the highest regions drop to almost zero. Also in your backpack should be waterproof hiking boots and a waterproof jacket.
That, however, does not mean that you will not need sun cream – as you know, it shines especially brightly in the mountains.
Breathtaking terraced landscapes and impressive mountain panoramas of the Cordillera Central are unique motives for photography. Don’t forget to make sure that there is enough space on the memory card, because the variety of “stairs to heaven” will fill your cameras to overflowing with amazing photos.
The most convenient way to get to the north of Luzon is by public bus transport from Manila. If desired, you can book a four- or five-day tour of the region. Particularly attractive in terms of landscape is the route between Bontoc and Baguio along the Halsema Mountain Highway, a 130-kilometer path through a sensational mountain landscape offering breathtaking panoramas. The starting point for trips to Mount Pinatubo is Angeles City.
Between November and April in the Central Cordillera reigns dry season, the rest of the year – the rainy season. The warmest months
are March and April, and the coolest months are from November to February.
This information will be of interest to those who want to plan a trip, focusing on the seasonal stages of rice cultivation: in mid-December, the sowing of rice seeds begins here, often in special sowing beds; four to six weeks later, young shoots are transplanted into fields plowed with the help of cows and water buffaloes; right up to harvest, rice requires a lot of attention, repeated weeding and pest control. Harvesting takes place in July, about five months after sowing. Until December, when it starts again, terraces are being prepared, and if necessary, work is being carried out to restore water channels and retaining walls.
The Cordillera Central has many excellent hotels and other accommodation options. In addition to simple and comfortable overnight stays, there are also first-class resorts in big cities.
Moving around the island
The most convenient way to travel around the island of Luzon is by motley colorful jeepneys, as well as by public transport – buses or taxis. Tricycles are also widespread – motorcycles with a side trailer.