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Philippines Travel Guide

Philippines Travel Guide seeks to share the vibe of an authentic experience through our idea of adventure travel for explorers and memory seekers in the Philippines.

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Buscalan Adventure Tours

We spent 51 days on a planned and organized Philippines Travel tour adventure in 2017. We created the Philippines Travel Guide website to give travelers authentic insights about this archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, comprising almost 7,600 islands divided into three major island groups — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Our 2-day (Day 30-31) tour in Sagada was extraordinary. We immersed ourselves in the exquisite and unique culture of the Igorot tribe.

Travel Diary for Day 32-33:

Looking forward to another fun-filled Philippine adventure experience in northern Luzon’s less traveled destinations, we spent 2 days (Day 32-33) roaming around Buscalan in the province of Kalinga, Cordillera Administrative Region. Buscalan is a small remotebarangay in the Kalinga highlands. Home to Butbut Tribe, known as fearsome headhunters in Cordillera, we got ready to trek through the mountain slopes and narrow trails to reach Buscalan.

Day 32: How do we Start the Day Visiting Sagada Tourist Spots?

24 March:

Today (Day 32), we got up very early and left the accommodation to watch the gorgeous sunrise at Kiltepan. It is just a short distance from the town of Sagada. At 4:30 a.m., we met with Chris, a good friend who volunteered to guide us around Sagada. Sad to say, the thick clouds covered the sky, and there was no way for us to see the crack of dawn.

Aside from trekking and hiking on the highest mountain climbs in the Philippines, sunrise watching is one of the most recommended activities when you visit the country.

NOTE : Bear in mind that the sunrise watching spot in Sagada can be very crowded during local holidays and weekends. Many local tourists visit the place.

How do we Visit the Echo-Valley Hanging Coffins in Sagada?

Aside from caves, you shouldn’t miss getting a view of the hanging coffins – one of the best places to visit in Sagada. We went to the Echo Valley and got a closer view of the famous coffins that are hung from the cliffs and rocks. Located in the Land of the Hanging Coffins, Cordillera Administrative Region, the place vividly portrays the Igorot tradition of burying their deceased loved ones. Playing a vital part of the Cordillera people’s culture, it is great to know that such tradition is still practiced up to this time.

We stopped by Bontoc local market, in front of Sagada Municipal Hall, to buy some ingredients for a Filipino-style agahan (breakfast). Upon reaching our accommodation, we whipped and enjoyed scrambled eggs and rice.

Discover more about the Sagada travel guide: Philippines best outdoor travel destination for a handful of travel pro-tips. Learn where to stay, how to get there, and which places to visit.

How do we Travel to Buscalan Village from Sagada?

In the early afternoon (Day 32), we left Sagada for Buscalan by a private car. Buscalan is situated in the province of Kalinga at the northern part of Cordillera Mountains. Still with Chris, the private car owner and a local Igorot friend, we made our first stop in Bontoc (the capital city of the Mountain Province). Sagada to Bontoc is approximately a 1-hour drive, or around 19 kilometers downhill.

From Bontoc , you need to travel more or less 2 hours to reach Buscalan by a private car, a jeepney, or a local bus. The first trip starts at 7 a.m., while the last is at 11 a.m.

We stopped by an ATM in Bontoc to secure some cash. But, it didn’t work, as ATMs in the Mountain Region are not connected to the Maestro system. Luckily, we came up with a solution.

In the meantime, Zak, Chris, and Karl went to the local fresh market to buy some food and drinks for our stay in Buscalan. Determined to buy fresh meat, we ended up getting a live local chicken. Our local friend Chris is not just the best tour guide, but a good chef too.

To avoid inconvenience when traveling the archipelago’s rural areas, here is everything you need to know about the currency in the Philippines: best money management tips for travelers.

In the meantime, Zak, Chris, and Karl went to the local fresh market to buy some food and drinks for our stay in Buscalan. Determined to buy fresh meat, we ended up getting a live local chicken. Our local friend Chris is not just the best tour guide, but a good chef too.

To avoid inconvenience when traveling the archipelago’s rural areas, here is everything you need to know about the currency in the Philippines: best money management tips for travelers.

NOTE : Bear in mind that the sunrise watching spot in Sagada can be very crowded during local holidays and weekends. Many local tourists visit the place.

Google My Maps Buscalan Travel Adventures: Day 32-33

If planning a trip to Buscalan, check out the Google My Maps below to experience exciting activities and adventures, and get to know different routes and directions, accommodations to stay, attractions to visit, and restaurants to dine in. Visit the Buscalan travel Google My Map to learn more about our Philippines Travel routes and adventures.

How do we Deal with the Weather in the Philippines?

We were about to leave when it started to rain very heavily. We immediately hopped into Chris’ indestructible Toyota Tamaraw (a very popular and old model car), which we called an “Igorot Tank”. It seemed that the rain didn’t have any plan of stopping, so we kept moving towards Buscalan, Kalinga Province.

Although not everything in the car worked well, we were fortunate that the windscreen wipers were functional. It allowed us to see the road we were taking amidst the heavy rain and strong winds. We went along Chico River in the Province of Kalinga, Cordillera Administrative Region and traveled towards the Kalinga Valley.

As a tropical country, the Philippines has two types of seasons – wet and dry. Check out the weather in the Philippines: Best time to visit the tropical country, and learn what to expect from this hidden gem in Southeast Asia.

The road from Bontoc to Buscalan runs along very steep hills, and traveling through it, especially in terrible weather conditions, can be extremely dangerous. We could barely see anything through the windshield. What made the entire trip challenging was the few mudslides coming down the hillside, piling debris and rocks on the road.

I (Dani) had to get out of the car many times to clear the road, so that we can continue our road trip to Buscalan. Getting out of the car, and attempting to move the rocks from the driveway in the middle of the crazy rain and wind was very spooky. Boulders and debris kept on coming down the mountain. The only thing we had in mind was to get out of the danger zone as fast as we can, and find a safe shelter to spend the night with.

Visit the Geography of the Philippines: Interesting facts and information to understand how this magnificent country faces political, economic, environmental, and social challenges due to its unique location.

How is our Journey to Buscalan Village by Foot?

At last, we made it to the base camp, and waited for the weather to calm down. After an hour, the rain stopped. So, we continued our journey towards Buscalan by foot. We grabbed all our equipment and the live chicken (which we bought from Bontoc local market a while back), and made our way up to the adventurous path to Buscalan. Walking on the scenic nature trail was such a delightful experience.  

At this point, you might be asking when is the best time to visit the Philippines. Here’s the catch. Don’t let bad weather ruin your travel plans. Visit the country during the dry season – that is between December and May. 

We finally got there, and were warmly welcomed by our local friends in Buscalan. They are Chris’ Igorot friends. It’s good to have good connections in the village.

NOTE : The weather in the Philippines is very unpredictable. So, be prepared when traveling to areas close to rivers and hills, as landslides happen here often.

How do we Find Homestay Lodging in Buscalan?

Upon arrival in Buscalan, we immediately went to find a place to stay. Luckily, a kind and friendly family, belonging to the Saclit tribe, offered us a simple room and a mattress to be used during our stay in the Cordillera Mountains.

Buscalan is a small village located in the Cordillera Mountains, in the Province of Kalinga. The village people’s way of living is very conventional. You’ll be surprised to see cats, dogs, chickens, and pigs roaming freely in the village.

Buscalan gained its popularity because it is where the Whang-Od, a legendary tattoo artist, lives. She is over a 100-year old tattoo artist who still practices the old traditional tribal tattoo style. Whang- Od tattoos are applied with a small needle at the end of a bamboo stick. Known as the last mambabatok (tattoo artist) by the locals, Whang- Od’s tattoos were worn by headhunters in the Mountain Province. READ MORE

While we were in the village, Zak flew the drone to capture the stunning sunset over the mountain range. Quickly, it became everybody’s favorite. The kids were excited. They definitely loved our presence, as much as we loved their company. Chris, a good hunter, butcher, chef, and tour guide, was left in the cottage to prepare dinner.

After dinner, we gathered around with the town people, and had a citchat with them over a bottle of Filipino Tanduay rum . We had a great time, as they were friendly and chatty. You’d love to know that they can understand English quite well. Although they had difficulties speaking English, having a conversation with them was no problem. Sounds good right?

Learn here some of the useful Filipino words and phrases when coming to the Philippines. The locals will appreciate it if you to speak some of their everyday words and phrases.

How is the Homestay Accommodation in Buscalan?

You will know that you have arrived in Buscalan Village the moment you see Butbut kids and wandering boars around. When it comes to accommodation, expect no expensive inns, motels, or hot showers, because you’ll be living with the local people’s homes. They offer rooms at their residences or homestays ranging from PHP 200 to PHP 300 USD 4 to USD 6. 

And the best part? Although not every home has a private toilet and bath, a public bath near the basketball court is being provided for you. You may also dip and relax on the waterfalls  nearby. Here’s another kicker! Don’t expect to sleep on a cozy bed when you are in Buscalan village. Get used to sleeping on the floor using a thin banig (mattress) instead. Despite the simplicity of the village people’s lifestyle, you can never feel unwelcomed, because they are congenial and very accommodating.   

Isn’t it fantastic to experience the life of the Butbut tribe during your visit to Buscalan? Grab the opportunity to know the indigenous people’s culture in Buscalan.

NOTE : When planning a trip to Buscalan, bring enough cash, food, and travel supplies because the resources in the Kalinga Mountain Range are limited.

Day 33: How do we Explore the Natural Beauty of Buscalan?

25 March:

In the morning (Day 33), we pushed through our plan to watch the sunrise. Though we had a hard time getting out of bed, it was definitely worth the visit. We were greeted by the wondrous view of the rice paddies in the morning light. When we returned to our accommodation, Chris had already prepared breakfast.

There seems to be no word to describe Chris. Aside from being a great cook, he is very resourceful. He can improvise with what he can find from the things around. Such an attitude may be rooted from his Philippine culture, which fascinates us every time we travel to the Philippines. Just like any other local people we met during our trip to the country, Filipinos are so inventive, which makes them so special.

After a delicious home-made breakfast, we set off to find Whang-Od’s place. We had a lot of fun walking through the village of Buscalan, because there is no path (literally). We just made our way past all the small houses. Bumping into friendly local people and exchanging a few words with them as we pass by their homes, makes our trip extra memorable. It was just so amazing to see some traditional handicrafts in the village and mingle with free-roaming animals.

Some of the most glaring characteristics of the people of the Philippines are their being warm, friendly, religious and family-oriented.

Zak was over the moon because of the many great opportunities to take fabulous photos of the mind-blowing views in Buscalan as we took a short walk to Whang-Od’s home. At last, we reached our destination. We saw Whang-Od’s grandchildren tattooing some customers. To keep the tradition alive , the legendary Whang-Od had taught her grandchildren the old, unique tattoo tradition that she is renowned for.

We just couldn’t let it pass without documenting how Kalinga headhunters’ tattoos look like. To our surprise, the place got really hectic all of a sudden. We could feel the tension, but everybody turned silent when Whang-Od entered the room. Truly, this woman is the boss.

What are the Top Things to do in Buscalan?

Renowned among local and foreign tattoo enthusiasts, Buscalan is located in the northwestern part of Luzon. It is the home of Apo Whang Od, the last mambabatok (tattoo artist) of the Butbut tribe. Aside from getting inked, here are some of the things that you would definitely love to do, places to visit, food to try when traveling to Buscalan, Kalinga (Cordillera Administrative Region):

The Chico River, Cagayan River's longest tributary runs from the Mountain Province, Kalinga to the Cagayan Province. Known as the "river of life" among locals, it irrigates the mountains' rice terraces, and the farmlands of around a thousand hectares.

The river provides an abundant harvest to the inhabitants. In fact, others have found it a good source of livelihood, as they offer tours and whitewater rafting in its rushing rapids. This is the main reason why they are not supportive to the development of hydroelectric dams in Chico River.

If you come across small waterfalls along the way, you've made it halfway to Tumaniw Falls. It is located in Buscalan Village, Tinglayan Kalinga, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Soak your tired feet in the cold water and feel revitalized. During the day, locals and children can be seen swimming at the falls.

Here’s the kicker! Forget about work for a while. Join in the fun, sit on a rocky outcropping, and take photos of the breathtaking scenery around you. You’ll never run out of beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines to visit.

Start the day with a cup of locally roasted coffee. This delicious treat is a compliment to your stay in Buscalan. But, if you can't get enough of it, you can purchase a bag of coffee from villagers at PHP 100 or USD 2. Take home the Philippines’ best-tasting coffee as a pasalubong to your family and friends back home.

Don’t you know that Kalinga coffee has a special sweet flavor, which local and foreign tourists love. Here’s another thing. There are nearly 276,000 coffee farms and 5 different kinds of coffee beans found in the Philippines. Also, Buscalan’s indigenous rice is a must-try.

Since there is no Internet access in Buscalan, it becomes an ideal destination to reconnect with nature and admire the view of the mountains. This is where you can see priceless things that the city can’t give you a glimpse of. Find a great spot to hang out with your travel buddies. Or, have a chit chat with the locals over a bottle of beer or a good cup of local coffee.

In the afternoon, snooze on one of the hammocks, or enjoy the impressive handcrafting skills of the Buscalan people. Go play with the children in the village and awaken that childish enthusiasm in you.

Bontoc is the capital city of the Mountain Province, Cordillera Administrative Region. Get to see new views and try its great-tasting local coffee. While waiting for your trip back to Banaue at Bontoc's public market, have a mouthful of Buscalan coffee to loosen up a bit. This is the last stop-over where you can buy food and pasalubong (gift to friends and loved ones).

How do we get from Buscalan to Banaue Village?

In the afternoon (Day 33), we made our way back down the tricky path towards our jump off point by foot. After an approximately 1-hour hike, we reached Chris’ car (which we call an Igorot Tank). We left Buscalan and headed towards Banaue in the province of Ifugao, Cordillera Administrative Region. Leaving Buscalan wasn’t easy, because all of us had fallen in love with the village and its fun-loving people.

It started raining again while we were on our way to Banaue. After a 4-hour challenging drive at the panoramic and gusty road, we arrived at our destination. It was still raining cats and dogs. Chris took us straight to Las Vegas Lodge and Restaurant, an accommodation in Banaue he knew of.

It is located in Bisaang, Banaue Ifugao (Cordillera Administrative Region). Although it was in desperate need of maintenance, it wasn’t a major problem for us because we planned to stay there for just one night.

Visit the detailed Banaue Travel Guide: A visit to the majestic Philippine Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Google My Maps Philippines Travel Diary: Day 1 to Day 51

Check out the Google Maps below, to have an overview of the entire 51 days of Philippines travel adventure including exciting attractions and activities we did, destinations we explored, and travel directions in the Philippines.

Why do we Create the Philippines Travel Guide?

Zak and Dani created the Philippines Travel Guide while on 51 days Philippines travel adventure in 2017. Focused on the idea to explore travel routes and documenting location information by using the Google Maps application in the Philippines.

We created a detailed Philippines travel diary each day about our Philippines eco-adventure traveling experiences, including the production of pictures and videos of our trip through the Philippine archipelago.

Philippines Travel Guide is passionate about helping other self-minded adventure travel lovers, to make the best out of the trip to the Philippines by providing real information that passionate travelers and enthusiasts need to know about the archipelago.

Philippines Travel Guide is an ongoing process to work out public shared and detailed Google MyMaps of the entire Philippines to provide easy navigation for travelers.

This website also contains a collection of interesting authentic insights and travel tips and tricks and destinations in the Philippines.

SUMMARY: Buscalan Adventure Tours

Many tribes, like the Butbut and Saclit tribes, still exist in the country’s less explored locations. Our visit to Buscalan (Day 32-33) made us appreciate the tradition and the spectacular view of the town. On the first day (Day 32) of our trip, we made our way to the Echo Valley and saw the famous hanging coffins.

Our journey to Buscalan was adventure-filled as we endured many challenges – from sudden weather changes to long hours of travel by foot. The spectacular beauty of nature, the wonderful local people, and the legendary Whang Od’s Kalinga traditional tattoo are only some of the best encounters we had on this trip to Kalinga Province.

Be prepared with the different happenings that you might encounter when coming to Buscalan. Bring the travel necessities, and be flexible, especially when visiting remote tourist destinations.

We ended our Buscalan trip, and moved on to Banaue in the province of Ifugao, Cordillera Administrative Region, our next Philippine destination. Stick with as we share with you A day to forget in Banaue: Day 34.


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Join our Facebook Group and connect with other travelers and adventurers! 

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