Ever thought of taking a trip to a destination where you can disconnect from the modern world to reconnect with yourself? Or simply just want to have a life-changing experience on a budget? Then worry no more, the best destination for you is ‘Buscalan’!
Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the Province of Kalinga in the Northern part of the Philippines. It is famous for being a ‘tattoo haven’ as well as being the home of the legendary tattooist
I remember the first time I visited Buscalan, I was 16 and went there alone! I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it surely is the start of my wanderlust story. And since then, I haven’t kept track as to how many times I’ve been there already. Well, basically, I’ve been captivated by its breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture resulting in my many countless returns. Definitely a place that would surely make you wanna’ come-back for more.
Top Things to do in Buscalan
-Interact with the locals, go around the village and discover their way of life.
-Go and work your way towards the rice terraces early in the morning to watch the sunrise, or in the afternoon to catch the sunset.
-Go and have a dip at their waterfall situated at the base of the mountain just below the village.
-Try their local coffee, this is a must whenever you visit the village!
-Try their local food, a must if you wanna have an unforgettable experience in Buscalan!
-Get inked by the legendary traditional tattooists of the village!
In this post, I will be sharing some helpful DIY travel tips on how to get there.
The most frequently asked question by every first time traveler is of course, how to get there. Well, there are actually a few ways on how to get there, purely depends on where you will be coming from.
Below are the most commonly taken route:
Manila->Tabuk City->Bugnay, Tinglayan
For this route, take the Victory Liner bus which departs from Victory Sampaloc Terminal in Manila. Buses to Tabuk usually departs during the evening, around 7:00 pm till 9:45pm. The journey roughly takes around 12-14 hours, depends on the traffic. For complete bus schedules and fare, click here.
Then from Tabuk City, take the mini buses or jeeps going to Bugnay or Bontoc which usually departs from Tabuk City between 4:00am- 9:00am, they usually park in front of the opposite side of Damagen Gasoline Station in Barangay Bulanao. The journey takes around 3-3.5 hours from Tabuk City to Tinglayan. If you’ve taken the , tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at ‘Mar-u’ in Bugnay, Tinglayan. Then from ‘Mar-u’, you can ask the locals where the starting point is going to Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village. The walk usually takes around 1.5-2 hours, depends on how fast you are. Or you can hire a motorcycle for $3 to drive you all the way to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan then you can work your way towards the village which would only take around 45 to 60-minutes walk.
Tip: When you ride the jeep/bus going to Bontoc or Bugnay from Tabuk, make sure to ride on top of the jeepney/bus to enjoy an unforgettable experience and a spectacular view!
There is also another way if you want to skip the long bus-ride. You can take a plane from Manila going to Tuguegarao City and from Tuguegarao City, you can ride a van going to Tabuk City which will take around an hour journey. You can then follow the same route as above. But for this option, you need to spend a night in Tabuk City and catch the bus to Bontoc in the morning on the following day.
Manila ->Bontoc Mt. Province->Buscalan
For this route, take the Coda Bus lines which depart from Quezon City, Manila en-route to Sagada, Mountain Province. Just don’t forget to tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at Bontoc. Journey takes around 9 hours to Bontoc from Manila.
For Coda Bus Line Schedules and fares, click here.
Then from Bontoc, you can then ride the Jeep going to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village which would take around 45 to 60-minute walk, depends on how fast you are.
Manila->Baguio City->Bontoc, Mt. Province->Buscalan
This route is the best option if you need or want to have a stop-over at the Summer Capital of the Philippines. I suggest that if you take this route, then spend at least one night in Baguio then take the buses going to Bontoc either via D’Rising Sun or GL Trans in the morning on the following day.
Buses from Manila to Baguio departs every hour 24/7 via Victory Liner, Genesis, etc. Either from Pasay Bus Terminal, Cubao Bus Terminal or Sampaloc Bus Terminal. Journey from Baguio to Manila takes around 5-6 hours.
From Baguio City to Bontoc, you can take any of the following below:
D’Rising Sun Buses departs every hour from 5am till 1pm every day from Slaughter House Compound in Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City.
GL Lizardo Buses, departs 8AM, 10am and 2:30pm from Dangwa Bus Station at the back of Center Mall in Baguio city.
Journey from Baguio city to Bontoc takes around 6-hours and fares differ from $5-$6 depends on the couch you availed. Then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.
If you’re arriving from Banaue in Ifugao. You can take a jeepney ride from Banaue to Bontoc which would take around an hour journey, then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.
If you have questions or clarifications, feel free to drop a comment below.
Photos by Loic Bourgeois Photography, all rights reserved.