I truly miss the days when Bobby and I used to just travel to any place we want to go to! Motherhood really changes the dynamics, but it shouldn’t be a hindrance to what you can do. I mean, you can travel with your kid if you can afford it, or if you have the time to do so. With airlines’ seat sales nowadays and online booking sites like Traveloka offering discounts for hotel accommodations in the Philippines, it has become cheaper indeed to travel. For Bobby & I, well, we’re prioritizing saving up for Yñigo’s future. We’re trying to be smart savers… and eventually build up our travel funds so that we can make 2017 our family travel year.
Yup, you heard it right. We set a goal to ourselves that we’ll go out of town at least once a month — of course, without compromising our careers. We want to balance work, and family time. So I guess this is a good goal to start with.
When Yñigo was six months old, we had the pleasure of going out of the country! If I remember correctly, Ynigo’s first out of town trip here in the Philippines was Tagaytay / Batangas because our accommodations were free (thanks parents), and we could just travel at ease by land, with or without traffic. But I want to share with you something Bobby & I did before… and planning to do for next year with our son in tow.
Summer of 2014, Bobby and I were struck with boredom, and the intense urge to travel. We were itching to escape the city, but the excitement of this gave us racing thoughts — we couldn’t decide where to go. So one day, while sipping on our iced coffee in a random Starbucks cafe, we made the haste decision to go have an adventure. Our options included the following: spelunking in the caves of Sagada, indulging ourselves with Vigan’s historical prowess, basking under the hot summer sun in La Union, or enjoying the smell of pine trees in Baguio.
For a while, we contemplated, debated, and even computed if we could afford it —- considering we were still in college (back then). Then, our #walwal mod got the best of us — what if we went to all four places? If you think about it, it doesn’t seem that hard planning a [more or less] two-week trip to complete and fully experience all four places we had in mind.
However, we only had five days to go to all of the places. We had to be back in Manila in time for a family thing I had with my parents. The thought of going on a long roadtrip was awesome. But we had a day to plan a coherent itinerary, so we don’t miss out on anything.
So let me take you through a day-by-day itinerary on how to go to Baguio, Sagada, La Union, Vigan, and back to Manila in just 5 days!
DAY 1: BAGUIO
We left Fairview at 5:30 AM, and got to Baguio around past lunch. We were lucky that our friend offered us a place at North Pine Transient Place for us to stay for the night (we only planned staying overnight before journeying to Sagada). Baguio is the go-to place of most Filipinos and tourists when they want to feel some cold summer breeze away from the city. It’s the most accessible one (well, there are a lot more, but this is one of a few)! Since Bobby has been to Baguio more times than I have, he toured me around… bringing me to places I never came across with in my past travels.
FUN FACT: I’ve been to Baguio twice in my life. Hehe.
12:30 PM: Had coffee at Camp John Hay.
01:30 PM: Checked-in at North Pine Transient Place.
02:30 PM: Devoured a scrumptious, healthy lunch at Oh My Gulay!
04:00 PM: Ventured around the city proper on foot, even seeing their ukay-ukay street market by the lake. We even took a stroll at Burnham Park and enjoyed a short (but sweet) boat ride at night.
08:30 PM: Had dinner and a few drinks at the 18BC Music Lounge while listening to the live acoustic band singing sweet melodies.
10:00 PM: Headed over to Kape Umali for some more coffee lovin’, and a tour around their work place (since our friend owned it).
12:00 MN: Went back to the lodging, and stayed for the night.
DAY 2: BAGUIO – SAGADA
We woke up at around 7:30 AM, fixed our things, and headed to our last stop at Baguio before heading to Sagada. I’ve been meaning to go to Ben Cab Museum since a few years ago, but I never had the chance to… nor did I know where it was. Luckily, Bobby brought me to that magical place. A place brewing with art, history, and creativity — makes the place all the more admirable. We saw a variety of masterpieces —from woodcarvings, oil paintings, sculptures, and even those eccentric pieces that I [badly] wanted to take home.
We left at around 2:00 PM. Before this roadtrip, I had never gone to Sagada — I didn’t know how the roads going there would look like, how far it really was, and if I could take the constant twist and turns of the mountains we’d be going through. The car ride was very interesting. Going up, we experienced hail and a really thick fog, and, not to mention, (during those occurrences) seeing unfinished roads and lack of barriers/railings at the sides of the mountains. We honestly thought we were going to die, well at least I did. Luckily, Bobby was a good driver, and he’s been there more than once… just enough for me to feel safe and secure.
We arrived at Sagada 6 hours later. I know it shouldn’t have taken that long from Baguio, but we were really careful making our way towards this magical place. I use the word “magical” for several reasons: I saw picturesque rice terraces, and mountains on the way up. I was taken aback when I saw clouds that freaking close to me… to the point that I could actually say we were literally in the cloud. We even stopped over this little shack/bahay kubo where we had coffee, before settling in at Shamrock Tavern.
08:00 PM: Checked-in at Shamrock Tavern.
08:30 PM: Ate at the well-recommended Yogurt House, which I devoured one of the healthiest, whole-tasting yogurts I’ve ever tried.
10:00 PM: We walked around and ended up in Kimchi Place for a few drinks, and good rasta time; which, by the way, reminded me of a Bob Marley-inspired shop (they had a lot of art, and random things on the wall, plus it was cozy and I felt very hippie).
12:00 MN: Went back to Shamrock Tavern to rest.
DAY 3: SAGADA
We started our day early because we wanted to make the most out of the one day we had there. So, here are the things we opted to do given the limited time we had there:
06:00 AM: Woke up and prepared for the day’s adventure.
07:00 AM: Had a scrumptious, healthy breakfast at Sagada Brew; where we were greeted by the smiles and positive attitude of the people there.
09:00 AM: Trekked / hiked to find one of the hidden waterfalls there (but ended up getting lost).
11:00 AM: Ate a quick lunch in town, looked for a tour guide to help us in our spelunking venture.
12:00 NN: Toured around the hanging coffins, with a little history lesson from our tour guide.
o1:00 PM: Spelunking at the Sumaging Cave, and got a glimpse of the hanging coffins in the Lumiang Cave (never thought where you’re buried there actually had a meaning Those buried in one area were elders, one that were for men, and there was one for children, women, or the sickly ones). This took about four hours of our time, due to my fear of heights, the dark, and murky water. It was an overall fun experience, though, being covered in all sorts of things. The rock formations were surely worth it.
05:30 PM: Went back to the tavern, and cleaned ourselves up before dinner.
07:00 PM: Had a lovely, woodsy dinner and joined the bonfire at Rock Inn Café. Also had a few drinks and good conversations with the other visitors of that inn.
10:00 PM: Returned to Shamrock Tavern to sleep (spelunking drained us, but it was a good kind of tired).
DAY 4: SAGADA – LA UNION
I couldn’t (and will never) get enough of Sagada. I get the hype of it being the go-to place for those in need of soul-searching (even before That Thing Called Tadhana was released and popularized the town). Waking up to the smell of fresh air, the swaying of the pine trees, birds chirping, and the site of clouds just above the rice terraces in your veranda —- who would get tired of that? After a quick breakfast at the inn, we checked-out and made our way to La Union.
There were so many things to see on our way. Even if the ride was supposed to take around 4-5 hours, we took an hour more. By the time we got to La Union, it was late afternoon.
11:00 AM: Left Sagada for La Union.
03:30 PM: Checked-in at Mona Liza Beach Resort. Had a quick shower and some snacks.
04:45 PM: Enjoyed the crashing waves of San Juan, with a little sound-tripping on the beach (and a few drinks to go with it).
07:00 PM: Ate dinner at Max’s Restaurant, and went around the city before heading back to the resort.
10:00 PM: Spent the night lying on the beach, enjoying the sound of the waves, and the beautiful night sky.
12:00 MN: Slept.
DAY 5: LA UNION – VIGAN – MANILA
Waking up the next day, we went to a little shack where they sold different viands, so we ordered liempo and started our day. We were on the beach until around lunchtime. A small jellyfish stung me, which is why we decided to shower. Since Vigan was a few hours away, and Bobby has never really gone there, we drove ourselves.
08:00 AM: Breakfast and beach trip at San Juan, La Union (not a fan of surfing, but the waves were perfect for it).
12:00 NN: Ate leftovers from last night for lunch. Drove about 4 hours to Vigan, with some stopovers at scenic views along the highway.
04:00 PM: Arrived at Vigan, and took a kalesa ride around the place to visit some historical sites, like the Bantay Bell Tower.
05:30 PM: Ate world-famous Vigan longganisa at this restaurant, and bought some to bring back to Manila. We went around shopping for some knives with wooden cases, and enjoyed the rustic feel of the place! The brick roads, delicious aroma of longganisa, and old-fashioned architecture was something I had to just bask myself in. Bobby enjoyed it a lot too.
We didn’t stay at any hotel at Vigan, ‘cause we never really thought we’d go there given the time we had. We were considering Hotel Luna but it was a bit pricey, and it gave me the chills! It was 9:00 PM, and we didn’t have a place to stay. We then decided to drive back to Manila. That took us around 9 hours, but we made it. We even celebrated our monthsary (chessiness sorry) on the road, somewhere in Pangasinan.
Well, that’s how you fit travelling to all of those places in five days. Though each day seemed cramped, I can surely say that we somewhat made the most out of the time we had in each destination. The adventures Bobby & I have been in are so fun, and we can’t make new memories with Yñigo. He’s a bit of a travel baby —- always itching to go out like his parents J So if you plan on taking an out-of-town trip, and you only have a few days to spare, this itinerary might do you well.
*Excerpts / parts from the article I wrote / authored for When In Manila.