The CordillerasDescribed by some as ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’ the spiny Cordilleras Central mountains lure those who like to get active in the fresh air, with wonderful hiking, biking and caving locations. Top 10 Activities
All you need to know about The Cordilleras
The country’s only land-locked region is also one of its most lightly populated areas, across its six provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.
It’s not the easiest of regions to get around due to its isolated communities and terrain of mainly steep slopes and mountain ranges.
This is also a fascinating region from a cultural point of view thanks to several fascinating burial sites and to the presence of tribes maintaining their traditional ways of life.
Why it’s more fun in The Cordilleras
Hiking, caving and swimming in waterfalls await those who seek out this inland region, which is scantily populated save in Tabuk and Baguio City. The latter is the Philippines’ summer capital due to its elevated location and hence milder temperatures – its historic Burnham Park is popular for its lagoon, orchidarium and picnic grove. The Cordilleras is a great place to combine cultural discovery with outdoors activities since many of the province’s most important heritage sites are in spectacular natural settings.
Tappiya Falls Ifugao
Culture & Food
The Ifugao people are known for their chants and their unique musical instruments, which include the nose flute, buzzer and bamboo zither. You may be able to see these in action and watch dances and rituals at one of the region’s colourful festivals. The Ifugao are especially known for their organic heirloom tinawon rice, planted on their rice terraces and harvested once a year.
Other mountain produce and dishes not to be missed include Benguet coffee, gipah herbal tea, miki abra (a breakfast noodle soup), abra masa podrida (shortbread cookies), goloria (doughnuts), inladit (sweet crackers), pinalatan (chicken with pomelo leaves and chili), pinaltit (a ground-pork appetiser), abraw (vegetables stewed in fish paste), kiniing/etag (smoked meat) and pinunnog (smoked sausage).
Public Market Banaue
Top Events & Festivals
- Say-am Festival of Apayao – February
The province’s way of celebrating their anniversary as a separate province. The celebration features street dancing, cultural performances, agri-tourism exhibits and trade fairs.
- Bodong Festival, Kalinga – February
The festival features music, chants, arts, Kalinga’s songs, and cultural shows, agri-tourism exhibits and trade fairs.
- Panagbenga Festival – February
A parade of the flower that abounds in Baguio and Benguet.
- Panagbenga Street Dance Parade, Baguio City – February/March
Floats, processions, local music and competitions.
- Arya! Abrenian Kawayan Festival, Bangued – March
Bamboo is a major product in Abra, thus the name of the festival. The celebration features, parades, fashion shows, balikbayan (visiting overseas Filipinos) night and cultural shows, celebrating the anniversary of the founding of the province.
- Mangan Taku Food Fair, Baguio City – April
A showcase for indigenous food from the region’s six provinces.
- Lang-ay Festival of Mountain Province – April
Cultural festival highlighting the Foundation Anniversary of Mountain Province, with street dances, theatrical performances, sports competitions and agri-trade fairs.
- Gotad Ad Ifugao – June
A cultural festival showcasing cultural presentations, craftsmanship, chants, songs and rituals.
- Adivay Festival of Benguet – November
A month-long celebration of agri-tourism through the culture, arts and industries of Benguet. It culminates in the Grand Cañao and cultural presentations by the 13 municipalities.
Baguio is known as the ‘Summer Capital of the Philippines’ due to its cool climate. Indeed, The Cordilleras as a whole is one of the coldest regions in the Philippines, with an average daily high of 24°C and low of 15-17°C at night time.
Check out the weather today in The Cordilleras
Top 10 things to do in The Cordilleras
Banaue Rice Terraces Apo Tondagi
1. Rice Terraces
Walk through the rice terraces in the provinces of Ifugao (Mayoyao, Hungduan, Kiangan), Mountain Province, Kalinga and other provinces.
2. Mt Timbak to see fire mummies
Hike up Mt Timbak to see the unique Fire Mummies in their natural caves.
3. Trek the mountains
Trek up Mt Pulag, Mt Ugo and Mt Ulap in Benguet for views down over a ‘sea of clouds’.
Bomod-ok Falls Sagada Hannah Reyes
4. Lumiang Burial Cave
See centuries-old coffins in Lumiang Burial Cave then spelunk in nearby Sumanguing Cave.
5. Echo Valley
Discover the hanging coffins suspended high on the cliffs in Echo Valley in Sagada.
6. Bomod-ok Falls
Swim in the natural pools of Bomod-ok Falls.
7. BenCab Museum
Tour the BenCab Museum, Baguio City, with its works by Ben Cabrera and other Filipino artists.
Museum of Cordillera Sculpture
8. Bontoc Museum
Visit the Bontoc Museum showcasing the heritage of the region’s indigenous peoples. Admire the Ifugao woodcarvings in the Museum of Cordillera Sculpture.
9. Art & Culture
Take in the ethnography displays in the Saint Louis University Museum of Arts & Cultures and Museo Kordilyera at the University of the Philippines Baguio.
10. Local Galleries
Tour Tam-awan Village – an Artists Gallery in Baguio City, which uniquely blends indigenous aesthetics and exquisite Cordilleran craftsmanship in an artist’s concept for a village adapted to its setting.
Where to stay in The Cordilleras
The Cordilleras: Mountain accommodation in The Cordilleras is no-frills, homely and affordable – the best places, including inns and homestays, have a rustic, authentic charm. Baguio has more upmarket, modern options.
The Manor at Camp John Hay Baguio
Getting there & away
There are seasonal charter flights from Manila and Clark Airports to Loakan Airport near Baguio City. It’s best to check schedules in advance for flight details.
The main entry points to the region are Baguio and Abra. Manila to Baguio takes about 7hrs by road, Abra is about 8hrs from Manila. Within the region, choose from buses, vans or jeepneys or hire a car.
More travel info
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Wake up in The Cordilleras
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Book a holiday
Dreaming of heading to the Philippines? Plan your next adventure and book your ultimate Philippines holiday today. Check out some of the great packages that are currently on offer from tour operators below.
Grand Tour of the Philippines
Grand tour of the Philippines’ is a comprehensive 23-day exploration of the most important islands in the Philippine archipelago. Visit the famous rice terraces, picturesque Negos, Bohol and Cebu islands taking in both history and pristine beaches.
23 days from £4,785pp
Classic Tour of the Philippines
Culturally and geographically removed from the rest of Southeast Asia, this green archipelago is best known for its pristine beaches. Spend time in the capital city of Manila, trek to an Ifugao village or visit the stunning rice terraces of Banaue.
15 days from £3,725pp
Philippines Northern Explorer & Beach Escape
Explore the majestic scenery of the north and gain a real insight into the traditional cultures and warm hospitality of the Philippines. Tour highlights include the stunning Banaue rice terraces, Sagada’s ‘hanging coffins’ and Boracay’s white-sand beaches
13 days from £1,879pp
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