Backpacking Cordillera: Highland Adventures

The tropical climate in the Philippines can be sweltering. If you’re feeling the heat, escape to the mountains for a breath of fresh air. Here’s a backpacking Cordillera guide for a much-needed mental reset.


Start your trip by getting to Baguio, located just 240 kilometers north of Metro Manila. The drive typically takes around four hours. If you are not traveling by car, simply hop on a bus in Cubao.

After checking in, you will often find yourself wandering around the famous parks, which are quite picturesque. However, don’t miss the chance to discover lesser-known spots like Ili-likha Artist Village, Cinematheque, and Mt. Cloud Bookshop. Try different fresh vegetable dishes at Good Taste, but leave some room for strawberry desserts and craft beers!

Explore Benguet: Hike at the John Hay Yellow Trail, Mt. Yangbew in La Trinidad, Mt. Ulap in Itogon, Mt. Timbak in Atok, and Mt. Pulag in Kabayan. Also, visit farms like Northern Blossom and Bahong Sunflower Farm.

Pines of Baguio


Flowers of Baguio


Mt. Pulag


Mt. Pulag


Marlboro Camp

Mountain Province


Take another bus and head straight to the Yoghurt House. Order their famous pork roast and get a nice cup of Sagada arabica, a single-origin coffee varietal in the Philippines. Of course, don’t leave without trying their yogurt with fresh fruit toppings!

Activities: Spelunk in Sumaguing Cave, check out the Hanging Coffins at Echo Valley, and wait for the sunrise at Kiltepan.

Rice Terraces of Sagada


Lumiang Burial Cave


Church of St. Mary the Virgin


Cold Street of Sagada


Traditional House



Take a jeepney and head to Bontoc. From there, take the local bus to Banaue. Nothing beats brunch in front of the rice terraces! So after registering at the Banaue Tourism Office, treat yourself and get enough protein because you need it for the long trek ahead!

Activities: Trek to the highest point of Batad Rice Terraces, swim at Tappiya Falls, experience a traditional local massage, try the local rice wine, and of course, Ifugao robusta for coffee lovers.



This is probably the most memorable part of backpacking Cordillera. Hiking to meet the oldest living Kalinga tattoo master, Apo Whang-od. Who is now 107 years old. You can reach Buscalan by riding another jeepney.

She lives in a beautiful village with many homestays and rooms for travelers. They provide you with a basic, comfortable room close to the rice fields, along with good food. Kalinga robusta is much bolder than the beans mentioned above, so grab a cup!

Others don’t leave without getting inked. They say it’s mandatory. But it’s more than just a mere souvenir. It’s a deeply meaningful connection to the centuries-old Filipino tradition.

The Timeless Art of Apo Whang-Od

RELATED: Backpacking Ilocos: Adventures in Region I

This region is so vast that this backpacking Cordillera guide only scratches the surface. If you’re already thinking, “Where to next?” Keep an eye out for more adventures to come!


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