While there are currently no direct trips to Bontoc in Mountain Province, there are a variety of options you can choose from: You can come via Sagada or Banaue. Ohayami Trans offers nightly trips to Banaue, while Coda Bus line serves Sagada. There are jeepneys in either destination that will take you to Bontoc. From Sagada, it is a 45-minute jeepney ride, while from Banaue, it will take two hours. Another option is to go to Baguio first and take a bus bound for Bontoc. The trip lasts about six to seven hours.
How to Get Around
If you want to get around the different towns in Mountain Province, you'll have to take the jeepney. These vehicles are usually hard to come by that some passengers have to “topload” (sit on the roof of the jeep). Toploading is a recommended experience if you want to enjoy amazing views of Bontoc while in transit.
Tricycles are also available in Bontoc. You can ride one to get around town.
What to See
For some people, Bontoc is just a stopover on their way to the more popular destinations like Sagada or Banaue in Ifugao province. But little do they know, Bontoc holds many amazing wonders, both natural and man-made, that are worth a second look.
Visiting the quaint village of Alab Oriente will captivate history buffs because of its many historical sights. One of the most distinct are the Alab Petroglyphs carved on a boulder on a cliff. According to UNESCO, these etchings date back to 1,500 BC, proving the existence of an ancient civilization that predated the colonial period.
The Ganga Caves also serve as evidence of this ancient community. These burial caves contain skeletons and coffins of some of the native inhabitants.
Chico River is the ideal attraction for adrenaline junkies. Known as the most extensive river in the Cordilleras, it is a popular spot for whitewater rafting. A hike up the twin mountains of Gotong and Data will also give you the adrenaline rush that you crave for.
Rice terraces are not just found in Banaue as Bontoc also has two: the Maligcong Rice Terraces and Bay-yo Rice Terraces. These terraced rice paddies are a sight to behold. You can view them from afar or you can trek so you can see them up front.
Aside from the rice terraces, the Bontoc Museum is another must-see attraction if you want to know more about how the ancient tribes of Bontoc used to live. This museum holds many artifacts and relics like ancient tools. Replicas of tribal houses are also on display.
Events and Festivals
The Lang-Ay Festival showcases the rich and diverse culture of the various native tribes in Bondoc. Held every April to coincide with the anniversary of the foundation of the province, the festival showcases traditional and cultural performances by the natives in their traditional garb.
Where to Eat
Food in Bontoc is not only limited to Filipino dishes. You can also enjoy other cuisines on your visit.
The delicious Filipino dishes at Tchapayan Restaurant are best paired with their signature Tchapayan rice. Meanwhile, Caja offers a wide variety of pizzas and cupcakes. Make sure to order pizza with etag and strawberry cheesecake cupcake.
Goldfish Cafe offers different kinds of drinks such as coffee, Frappuccino, tea, and an array of snacks and pastries.
There are carinderias in Bontoc where backpackers can enjoy budget-friendly meals.
Etag is salt-cured smoked ham, which is used to enhance the flavors of several dishes. Meanwhile, pinikpikan is a traditional chicken dish like tinola. Preparing this dish requires a complex process of dressing the chicken and even a ritual from the tribespeople.
Bars and Clubs
Head to Cable Bar if you want to have beer while listening to live music.
Where to Shop
There are many cooperatives in Bontoc that offer souvenirs such as T-shirts, keychains, and native handicrafts like woven bags and wooden carvings. Food products like fruit wine and jams are also sold.
Swing by the Bontoc Public Market if you want to buy some affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.
ATMs and Money Changers
The banks and ATMs in Bontoc are limited so you may want to withdraw money while you’re still in Manila or Baguio City.
Fare: PHP 600.00 to PHP 800.00
If you will be going to Bontoc via Sagada, the bus fare from Metro Manila is about PHP 720.00 and the jeepney ride that follows costs PHP 50.00. Meanwhile, from Banaue, the total cost would add up to PHP 600.00, including the PHP 450.00 bus ride from Metro Manila and the PHP 150.00 jeepney ride which will finally take you to Bontoc.
If you will be coming from Baguio, the total cost adds up to more than PHP 700.00: the bus ride from Manila to Baguio costs from PHP 450.00 to PHP 500.00 for regular trips, and the bus ride from there to Bontoc is about PHP 250.00.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 250.00
Though the dining options in Bontoc may be limited, the food is absolutely affordable.
Shopping: PHP 200.00++
A bottle of fruit wine costs an average of PHP 150.00. Meanwhile, souvenir shirts range from PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00 depending on the design.
Accommodation: PHP 500.00 to PHP 700.00
You can get an overnight stay at an inn for as low as PHP 500.00.
Activities: PHP 60.00 to PHP 4,000.00
A PHP 60.00 fee is charged as entrance to the Bontoc Museum. If you want to try whitewater rafting, it will cost more or less PHP 4,000.00 per person.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 1,000.00.
Some activities like hiking at the Twin Mountains will require a guide. The average guide fee costs PHP 1,000.00 which can be split among five tourists.