- Introduction to Mountain Province
- Location and History
- Local Culture and Traditions
- Top Attractions and Activities in Mountain Province
- Sumaguing Cave
- Hanging Coffins
- Optional activities like Spelunking, Trekking, and Rock Climbing
- Banaue Rice Terraces
- How to Get to Mountain Province
- Manila to Baguio
- Baguio to Sagada
- Private vehicles or jeepneys rental
- Best Time to Visit Mountain Province
- Weather and Climate
- Festival Season
- Tips When Traveling to Mountain Province
- Bring comfortable clothing and footwear
- Respect the local culture and traditions
- Be prepared for basic amenities
- Book accommodations and activities in advance
- Travel with a local guide
Introduction to Mountain Province
Location and History
Mountain Province is a landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region of the Philippines. It is situated in the northern-central part of Luzon Island and shares boundaries with six provinces. Originally a sub-province of the former Mountain Province, it was carved out as a separate province in 1967. The province covers an area of 2,157 square kilometers and is composed of ten municipalities. The province has a rich history, with its indigenous people, collectively known as Igorots, inhabiting the Cordillera mountain range for millennia. The Spanish colonizers arrived in the 16th century and established missions in the area. During the American occupation, the province became a sub-province of the greater Mountain Province, which was created in 1908. Mountain Province played a significant role in the Philippine-American War and was the site of the battle of Bontoc in 1900. Today, it is known for its stunning natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Local Culture and Traditions
Mountain Province is home to various indigenous groups, each with their unique culture and traditions. The Kankanaey, Bontoc, and Ifugao tribes are among the notable ones. A significant part of their culture is expressed through their traditional dances and rituals, such as the "bangibang" or the "tayaw." Their clothing and adornments also showcase their distinct identity, made from woven fabrics and intricate beadwork. Visitors can witness these cultural expressions in festivals such as the Lang-ay Festival and Imbayah. Respect and understanding for their local culture and traditions are essential when visiting the province.
Top Attractions and Activities in Mountain Province
Nestled in the Cordillera Mountains, the highland town of Sagada is an adventurer's dream destination. Its unique culture and breathtaking landscape attract outdoor enthusiasts and culture seekers alike. Visit the famous hanging coffins, an ancient tradition where the deceased are buried in coffins placed high on the mountainside. Don't miss the stunning views of the Rice Terraces and explore Sagada's many caves, including the Sumaguing Cave, known for its impressive limestone formations. Hiking to the Bomod-Ok falls is also a top attraction, with its cascading waters and lush forest scenery. Whether you're after a cultural experience or looking for an outdoor adventure, Sagada offers an unforgettable experience.
One of the main draws of visiting Mountain Province is exploring Sumaguing Cave, also known as the Big Cave. This limestone cave offers a challenging yet rewarding adventure for tourists. With a depth of 270 meters and a length of 2.5 kilometers, Sumaguing Cave features spectacular rock formations, underground rivers, and waterfalls. Visitors can go spelunking, rappelling, and swimming, but it is recommended to hire a guide for safety purposes. A visit to Sumaguing Cave is a memorable experience that showcases the natural beauty of the northern Philippines.
One of Mountain Province's most distinctive sites is the hanging coffins. These wooden coffins, which can be seen in the Sagada area, are hung high up on cliffs or placed inside caves in the steep mountain sides. The practice of suspending coffins in such an unusual manner is said to be a tradition of some ethnic groups in the region and is believed to aid the deceased's ascent into the afterlife. Visitors can embark on guided tours of the hanging coffins to learn more about the unique tradition and gain insights into the customs and beliefs of the people of Mountain Province. Aside from the hanging coffins, the area around Sagada offers spectacular views of the towering mountains and valleys, making for a memorable experience.
Optional activities like Spelunking, Trekking, and Rock Climbing
Adventurers will find a plethora of optional activities in Mountain Province, including spelunking, trekking, and rock climbing. With a diverse range of landscapes, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and challenge themselves. The province is home to several caves, including the famous Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, which features impressive rock formations. Summiting Mt. Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon, is a popular trekking option for those seeking a challenge. Meanwhile, rock climbing at cliffs such as Echo Valley in Sagada offers stunning views of the surrounding scenery. Whether looking for a thrilling adventure or a new challenge, Mountain Province's optional activities are sure to satisfy. As with any outdoor activity, it is important to take necessary precautions and hire guides where necessary.
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Philippines, and can be found in the municipality of Banaue in Ifugao. These terraces are over 2,000 years old and were carved into the mountainside by the Ifugao people using only primitive tools. The terraces are often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to the Banaue Rice Terraces can take a hike through the terraces to gain a better understanding of the impressive agricultural feat. They can also visit the Banaue Rice Terraces Viewpoint for stunning views of the terraces and surrounding mountains. There are also cultural shows and demonstrations held in the area, showcasing the traditional Ifugao culture and their farming practices.
How to Get to Mountain Province
Manila to Baguio
The easiest way to get to Mountain Province is by taking a flight to Manila. From Manila, you can opt to take a bus ride to Baguio City, the gateway to Mountain Province. Victory Liner and Genesis Bus Lines both have daily trips from Manila to Baguio and the journey usually takes around 5 to 6 hours. Once in Baguio, you can continue your journey by taking a jeep or van to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province. The travel time from Baguio to Bontoc is around 5 hours.
Baguio to Sagada
From Baguio, the easiest way to reach Sagada is by taking a bus from the Dangwa terminal. Buses usually depart every hour from 6 am to 1 pm. The ride takes approximately 6 hours and costs around PHP 220-300 per person. If you prefer a more scenic route, you can take the Halsema Highway, which is the highest highway in the Philippines. The route can be a bit bumpy, but the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains make it worth it. It is recommended to hire a private vehicle or join a group tour for this option. If you are feeling adventurous and want to explore beyond the usual routes, you can also try biking or motorbiking to Sagada. However, this option is only recommended for experienced riders and cyclists.
Private vehicles or jeepneys rental
Private vehicles or jeepney rental are an option for those who want to travel to Mountain Province. Visitors can rent a private vehicle or jeepney from Baguio City and travel to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province. In Bontoc, private vehicles and jeepneys are also available for rent to take tourists to various destinations such as Sagada, Banaue Rice Terraces, and Kalinga Province. However, the condition of the roads in Mountain Province is challenging, particularly during the rainy season, so it is recommended to hire experienced drivers who are familiar with the area.
Best Time to Visit Mountain Province
Weather and Climate
Mountain Province has a moderate mountainous climate throughout the year. The dry season runs from November to April, while the rainy season is from May to October. From December to February, the temperature drops to around 15°C, making it the perfect time for trekking and other outdoor activities. The months of March to May are also ideal for exploring the mountains due to fewer rain showers and pleasantly cooler weather. However, from June to October, expect heavy rains that may cause landslides and floods, which may hinder travel plans. It's recommended to visit during the dry season to fully enjoy the stunning natural scenery Mountain Province has to offer.
During the festival season, Mountain Province comes alive with vibrant colors, music, and dancing. The festivals showcase the indigenous culture and traditions of the region. The most popular celebrations are the Lang-ay Festival in Bontoc, the Puminuyaw Festival in Sagada, and the Imbayah Festival in Banaue. The Lang-ay Festival takes place in April and is celebrated with parades, dance performances, and cultural exhibits. The Puminuyaw Festival, held in February, is a tribute to the gods and an offering for a bountiful harvest. Lastly, the Imbayah Festival is a four-day event held in April that commemorates the community's rich cultural heritage and showcases its famous rice terraces. If you want to experience the colorful and lively celebrations of Mountain Province, then visit during the festival season.
Tips When Traveling to Mountain Province
Bring comfortable clothing and footwear
When exploring Mountain Province, it is essential to pack comfortable clothing and footwear. The weather can be unpredictable, so it's best to layer up with breathable clothes that can be easily removed or added as needed. A raincoat or umbrella is also a must during the rainy season. When it comes to footwear, sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes or boots are highly recommended. The terrain can be rough and steep, so having the right pair of shoes will make a huge difference. Sandals or flip-flops should be avoided, as they offer little support and protection. By bringing the right clothing and footwear, you can fully enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty and thrilling adventures that Mountain Province has to offer.
Respect the local culture and traditions
Mountain Province is known for its rich culture and traditions, deeply rooted in the practices of its indigenous people. When traveling to this province, it is important to respect and appreciate their local customs. Always ask for permission before taking photos of locals or sacred places such as rice terraces, burial sites, or ceremonial grounds. When visiting a local community, it is customary to keep quiet and observe their cultural norms. Dress modestly and avoid wearing revealing clothing as it may offend the locals. Remember that their culture is not a spectacle, but a way of life that deserves respect and understanding. By showing respect for their traditions, you will have a more enriching experience and leave a positive impact on the community.
Be prepared for basic amenities
When traveling to Mountain Province, it is important to keep in mind that basic amenities may be limited. The province is located in the Cordillera Mountains, which means some areas may not have access to running water or electricity. It is advised to bring your own water and snacks, as well as a power bank for your electronic devices. Toilets may also be basic, with some areas only having pit toilets or no toilets at all. It is important to be prepared and bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Additionally, bring warm clothing as the temperature in the province can drop significantly at night especially in higher elevations. By being prepared and bringing essential items, you can better enjoy your trip to Mountain Province without being caught off guard by the lack of basic amenities in some areas.
Book accommodations and activities in advance
As a popular tourist destination for both local and international travelers, Mountain Province can get crowded, especially during peak season. It's wise to book your accommodations and activities beforehand to avoid any inconvenience or disappointments. There are several hotels and resorts available depending on your budget and preference, ranging from basic lodgings to luxurious stays with breathtaking views. Aside from accommodations, there are also various activities to choose from in the province, such as trekking, visiting historic sites, and experiencing the rich culture and traditions of the locals. Some activities may require prior bookings, so plan your itinerary ahead of time to ensure a hassle-free vacation. By booking in advance, you can also avail of discounts and other promos offered by some hotels and activity providers.
Travel with a local guide
It is highly recommended to travel with a local guide when exploring Mountain Province. An experienced local guide can provide valuable insight into the culture and history of the region, as well as offer suggestions for off-the-beaten-path destinations and hidden gems. Moreover, the terrain in Mountain Province can be challenging, with steep hills and narrow roads. Having a local guide who knows the area well can ensure a safe and smooth journey. They can also help arrange transportation, accommodations, and local activities, making your trip more convenient and enjoyable. Lastly, hiring a local guide supports the local economy and helps preserve the cultural heritage of the region. So, do not hesitate to book a skilled and knowledgeable local guide to enhance your travel experience in Mountain Province.
Have a good trip!