Philippines

Mt. Pulag, Benguet Travel Guide

Mount Pulag, the third highest peak in the Philippines at 2,926 meters behind Mount Apo and Mount Dulang-Dulang is becoming more and more popular as the popularity of social media and the trend “#wanderlust” continues to grow. Mount Pulag truly deserves the raves it gets with its picture perfect golden grassland and breathtaking sunrise. If you’re considering hiking for the first, this “playground of the gods” is worth the sight and experience.

When To Go

Mount Pulag has a temperate climate all year round with December, January and February being the coldest months. If you’re up for extreme cold temperature experience, these are the best months to go. March marks the beginning of summer and also a great time to climb. April and May offer the most moderate climate and the best time to go. August is the wettest month so the experience can be really, really tough so better avoid this month although rain is expected also all year round.

What To Wear and Other Accessories

Thermal wear is a must! Have a sweater, jacket, thermal pants (preferably rainproof) or just bring clothes for layering, gloves, scarf, and bonnet. Wear comfortable hiking (or running) shoes and socks. (Temperature in Mount Pulag goes between 14 to 16°C (highest) to 4° to 7° (lowest). When hiking for the morning sun, the trail starts around 12 am to 1 am and temperature is at its lowest and sometimes temperature drops to negative. In the end, it depends in your tolerance with cold weather.

Things to Bring

Rain can be drizzle anytime so bring your rain gears. Bring your headlamp or flashlight because for the early morning hike. Bring enough water (I brought 2 liters) to drink. First aid kit is a must. When camping, aside from your usual camping kit, brinang a slea eping bag!

Hiking Fees and Requirements

Visitors should register at DENR Visitor Registration Office at Babadak for Php 225. Hiking guide and medical certificate that indicates “fit to climb” are mandatory. A medical check-up with a certificate in the area costs around Php 100 to 150 and shall be presented upon registration at DENR’s office. Hiking guide is Php 1000 per group. Foreigners are also charged and entrance fee of $10 to 15.

Getting There

There are four major trails to the summit-Ambangeg, Akiki, and Tawagan from Benguet, and Ambaguio from Nueva Vizcaya. Ambangeg Trail is advisable for beginners as it is the easiest. Both organized group hike and commuting can take you to this majestic sight.

     Commuting from Manila

Either take a bus from Pasay or Cubao, Quezon City that goes to Baguio (6 to 7 hours at Php 445 to 700 fare depending on class). Take a taxi to Dangwa Bus Terminal (about Php 100). Then take another bus to Kabayan and get-off at DENR Visitor Registration (3 hours at Php 250 fare). Take a habal-habal or charter a jeepney (Php 400 for habal-habal depending on your haggling skills) to your homestay or to Ambangeg Trail Ranger Station, the jump-off point of the hike.

Jeepneys in Benguet are usually bigger since they're being used delivery of harvest (c) 黃聲豪
Jeepneys in Benguet are usually bigger since they’re being used delivery of harvest (c) 黃聲豪

     Organized Group Hike

Many group climb are available nowadays and you can find them mostly in social media sites. These groups organize a round trip travel from Manila to Mount Pulag’s jump-off point, mostly with guide fees, entrance fees, accommodation and meals included, and usually priced around Php 2,700 to 3,000. I think it is more convenient for a weekend climb but you won’t enjoy your own pacing. You can join a group climb here.

Chartering a jeepney is usual in Bokod, Benguet when hiking Mt. Pulag (c) JR de Guzman
Chartering a jeepney is usual in Bokod, Benguet when hiking Mt. Pulag (c) JR de Guzman

Things To Do

There’s really not much to do other than sightseeing. The view of the sunrise and sea of clouds are breathtaking and the very reason why most people climb here. Enjoy the mountainous village and interact with locals and know more about them and their culture if you’re staying for a while or you have ample time before the hike. On you hike, enjoy the mossy and pine forests. Dwarf Bamboo (Yushania niitakayamensis) and Benguet Pine (Pinus insularis) are both endemic in this mountain and the is sight and smell is just amazing. Wild blueberries can also be spotted and fun to do while on your way down.

Where To Eat

The last restaurant we spotted before we reached our homestay was in Kabayan, Benguet. After that, we saw a few small eateries near the ranger station. In Bokod, we haven’t spotted a restaurant and our meals were cooked by our hosts in our homestay for a minimal cost. There are few sari-sari stores within the area with limited options. Bring food if you’re going to set a camp or buy locally produced vegetable and chicken and cook!

 

Early morning breakfast at Kabayan, Benguet (c) 黃聲豪
Early morning breakfast at Kabayan, Benguet (c) 黃聲豪

Where To Stay

There are no hotels in the area. Homestays (hostels) are your only option except for camping and they are limited. Baban Homestay were our host. There are at least 3 more homestays within their compound. The area is quite close to the ranger station and vegetable plantations.

Hiking Mount Pulag is one of a kind experience. The hike can be challenging but once you’re on top, you’ll thank yourself for taking the challenge as you witness nature’s marvel. Mount Pulag have a magical feel that will let you disconnect for a moment and will recharge your body, mind, and soul.

Go find a time and climb at Mount Pulag now! It sure is worthwhile! See our hike’s video in my friend’s perspective here. 🙂

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