Bontoc Travel Guide
In a nutshell
The humble capital of Mountain Province, Bontoc is at long last stepping out of the shadows of its more popular neighbours – Banaue and Sagada; and enticing outdoorsy travellers with its surprising richness of sights and charms.
Why go to Bontoc
The small, sleepy town of Bontoc boasts cultural attractions in the form of the Bontoc Museum which showcases original artifacts and relics from the Igorot tribes, old maps and replicas of a traditional homestead. Located on Guinaang Road and open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 3:30pm to 5pm. Entrance is PHP70.
Not to be missed is the Maligcong rice terraces – Bontoc’s hidden gem just 30 minutes from downtown Bontoc. What makes these rice terraces different to those found in Banaue and Batad is the towering pine trees on the edges of the vibrant terraces. March to May is the best time to visit Maligcong if you wish to see the terraces at the most green and luscious.
Visitors can also paraglide in Bontoc, do white-water rafting on the Chico River and purchase Samoki weaving handcrafts to take home as beautiful and memorable souvenirs.
When to go to Bontoc
The ideal time to pay Bontoc a visit is from November to April and one could even tie this in with the cultural festival - Lang-ay, which occurs in the first week of April. Street dancing, vibrant celebration and cultural performances characterize the traditional event. Rainy season starts from May to July with typhoon season hitting in August until around October.
Where to stay in Bontoc
Spending a couple of nights in Bontoc can be achieved in any of the many affordable accommodations on offer and most hotels charge a budget-friendly PHP150 to PHP500 a night. Fortunately due to the town being so small, means that one can easily find a place to stay on foot or on a tricycle ride. Pre-booking is not essential other than during the Lang-ay Festival and travellers can explore the various options upon arriving and decide on where to get some shut eye thereafter.
Churya-a Hotel & Restaurant is excellent for those on a budget and the restaurant turns out some tasty dishes at affordable prices. Alabama Hotel, located on the main road is also a fine option for those looking to save a few extra pennies and trade air-con for a fan. Archog Hotel and Restaurant is believed to be the most stylish and cleanest hotel in Bontoc and fortunately still very affordable.
Where to eat in Bontoc
Food on offer in Bontoc is largely local, extremely affordable and meals are simple and unassuming. Etag – dried, salted meat is a Bontoc specialty and is an interesting snack for visitors to sample. If you’re a pancake devotee then be sure not to miss the best pancakes in all of the Cordillera Region at Arik Restaurant and Snackhaus. Past the market on the left hand side, keep your eyes peeled for a green building. PHP15 condensed milk pancakes and PHP10 coffee await to greet the hungry.
How to get around Bontoc
Getting around in this little town is usually done on foot down the main road or by hiring locally-priced tricycles to get you to A to B.
How to get to and from Bontoc
Getting into the modest and lovely town of Bontoc can be easily achieved from various destinations. From Manila one can grab a PHP650 bus ride with Cabletours departing at 8:30pm. The bus terminal on Rodriguez Avenue is situated inside the Trinity University of Asia Campus.
For travellers wanting to get into Bontoc from Baguio, simply head over to Governor Pck Road and look for GL Lizardo Trans buses. Buses journey this route at 8am, 10am and 2:30pm. Alternatively head to Slaughter House Compound and look for D’ Rising Sun buses. D’ Rising Sun departs for Bontoc between 5am and 1pm and leave as the buses fill up. Both of these companies charge around PHP250 per passenger.
Bontoc-bound from Banaue is an exceptionally scenic, 3 hour journey on a jeepney. Jeepneys depart from the public market and cost around PHP170 for this winding, mountainous trip.
Is Bontoc a safe place to visit?
Due to Bontoc being mostly used as a gateway for travellers stopping over to head further north to Banaue and Sagada, means that this little town is not very touristy and is thankfully, very safe for visitors. There are no tourist scams or cons designed to separate tourists and their holiday money in Bontoc; and the humble, unpretentious town offers a refreshing change of pace for visitors.