Buscalan Travel Guide – Expenses & Sample IT Included

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Buscalan is home to tattooed women and warriors known as Butbut Tribe. The place has gathered special attention when the oldest mambabatok (traditional hand-tap tattoo artist) Apo Fangod was featured by an international documentary channel.

Kalinga is dotted with panoramic rice terraces. It is surrounded by lush mountains. The local people living in the mountainous region of Kalinga province and the natural beauty of the ecosystem will awe anyone who’ll set foot in the place. The Butbut Tribe of Buscalan has a unique culture and impressive intact tradition.

HOW TO GO TO BUSCALAN

HOW TO GO TO BUSCALAN FROM SAGADA

Since we came from Sagada, this was the route we took. **Check this link for Sagada Travel Guide.

  1. Ride a jeepney to Bontoc. (Travel Time: 1 hour / Fare: ₱50)
  2. From Bontoc, ride another jeepney to Buscalan. (Travel Time: 2-3 hours / Fare: ₱100)
  3. Trek to Butbut Tribe. (Travel Time: 40 minutes to 1 hour / Guide fee: ₱1000 (5 pax)

HOW TO GO TO BUSCALAN FROM METRO MANILA

From Manila, you can reach Buscalan either through Tabuk (in Kalinga Province) or Bontoc (in Mountain Province)

Via Tabuk

  1. From Kamias Terminal in Cubao, take a Victory Liner bus bound for Tabuk City. (Travel Time: 9-10 hours l Fare: ₱750-₱800)
  2. Alight in front of St Williams Cathedral in Tabuk City.
  3. Take a jeepney, van, or minibus bound for Brgy. Bugnay in Tinglayan, Kalinga Province. The first trip is at 7AM.
  • Van – terminal is located a few meters away from St. William’s Cathedral. These vans will go directly to the jump-off point. (You can skip the 4th step if you will take a van). (Travel Time: 2-3 hours / Fare: ₱150)
  • Minibus – mini buses bound for Bontoc, Mountain Province passes by the road in front of St. William’s Cathedral. Alight in Barangay Bugnay in Tinglayan. (Travel Time: 2-3 hours / Fare: ₱130)
  • Jeepney – terminal is situated several meters away from St. William’s Cathedral. Alight in Barangay Bugnay in Tinglayan. (Travel Time: 2-3 hours / Fare: ₱130)
  • From Barangay Bugnay, take a habal-habal (motorcycle ride) up to the jump-off point. Alight in Barangay Bugnay in Tinglayan. (Travel Time: 40 minutes to 1 hour / Fare: ₱100)

Via Bontoc

  1. Coda Lines Corporation has a daily trip from Cubao Terminal to Bontoc. The bus leaves daily at 8PM, 9PM and 10PM.  (Travel Time: 11 hours / Fare: ₱750-₱800)
  2. From Bontoc, take a jeepney or bus bound for Tabuk City. They pass through Tinglayan. The first trip is at 7AM and the last trip at 11AM. Ask to be dropped off to the junction to Buscalan and trek for an hour to reach the village.

GOING BACK TO METRO MANILA FROM BUSCALAN

There’s a jeepney that goes directly to Bontoc. It leaves the jump-off point at 9AM. From Bontoc, you can ride the Coda Bus bound for Manila.

WHERE TO STAY IN BUSCALAN

Homestay is the only accommodation option in the village of Buscalan. We stayed at Charlie Homestay and the rate is P350 per person

WHAT TO DO IN BUSCALAN

  1. Get a tribal tattoo, ideally from Apo Whang-od. Securing a tattoo session with the Apo is quite a challenge because she’s so in-demand, busy, and frail now. When we were there the only tattoo she does was her 3-dot signature (not even her real signature) for ₱500. Tattoo rates vary depending on size and design. Cheapest is ₱500.
  2. See the splendid rice terraces of Buscalan.
  3. Coffee! Take a sip even if it’s freaking 45 degree Celsius hot outside. Bring home a bag, too!
  4. If you haven’t been to Sagada, visit the attractions they have there! Here’s a great travel guide to keep you going. You’re welcome.

SAMPLE BUSCALAN ITINERARY  (via Bontoc)

Day 0 Manila to Bontoc

1800: Departure from Coda Lines Cubao to Bontoc

Day 1 Bontoc to Buscalan
0600H: Arrival in Bontoc. Breakfast
0700H: Ride a jeepney bound for Buscalan
1000H: Arrival in jump-off. Trek to Butbut Tribe
1100H: Arrival. Find a homestay. Settle. Lunch.
1330H: Free time. Tattoo. Roam around.
1800H: Dinner. Socials.

Day 2 Going Home
0530H: Wake up and see the sunrise in Padjao Rice Terraces
0630H: Breakfast
0700H: Trek back to the jump-off point
0830H: Catch a jeep back to Tabuk or Bontoc then Manila

BUSCALAN RATES & EXPENSES (projected)

ITEMS RATES NOTES
Eco-cultural fee ₱75 per person
Local guide ₱1000 per day This is mandatory – 1 guide to 5 tourists
Homestay ₱200-₱350 per person
Tattoo ₱500-₱2,500 Depends on its size and complexity

LET US GO VISUAL!

Check out our Buscalan Vlog so you can at least have an idea on what to expect from the trip.

TRIVIA

Trivia 1 – Apo Wang-Od’s real name is Apo Fangod. Contrary to popular belief, she can actually write. Her original signature was her full name and not just three dots.

Trivia 2 – Apo Fangod (Wang Od) was once branded as the “The Last Living Mambabatok” because no one from the generation after her studied the art. That is no longer applicable now as a lot of youngsters in Butbut Tribe have already acquired the skills and talent in hand-tap tattooing.

Trivia 3 – Before their promotion, not everyone who visited the tribe and asked to be tattooed got one. Their ink is sacred. In fact, they once had a ceremonial tradition where they need to kill a chicken before tattooing. The color of the liver of the killed chicken will determine if you deserve to be inked or not, and only Apo Fangod has a say on the design. It’s a different story now. All you have to do is pay, choose the design you want to be imprinted on your body, and that’s it. This is the reason why I did not bother to get inked. I personally think the “batok” has already lost its relevance.

TRAVEL TIPS

  • No ATM in the area.
  • No restaurants in Buscalan. Bring your own baon/food. You may also use cooking facilities in the homestay.
  • Tattooing schedule is on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Taking a bath is prohibited after the tattoo session so it is best to take a bath first before getting inked.
  • For arranged group trip to Buscalan, you may contact our travel agency partner Sole Adventours. You can message them here – https://www.facebook.com/SoleAdventours/messages
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Thank you for dropping by!

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