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The Playground of the Gods – Reaching the Summit of Mt. Pulag


The Philippines is known for its spectacular beaches and tropical weather. However, if you are seeking for something different, something that will make you sweat and make you freeze at the same time, Mt. Pulag is a must-try!


Climbers suggest January to February are the best time to go there because it is when temperature hits the lowest point.



Breathtaking view of Mt. Pulag at Bokod, Benguet.


Must bring:

  • food (good for 2 days)

  • water (at least 3 liters)

  • headlamp

  • tent

  • insect repellents

  • thermal sweaters

  • socks (at least 2 pairs)

  • shoes

  • bonnet

  • gloves

  • sleeping bag


Guide – Php500+/5pax

Fare – Php1,000+ for a two-way trip from Manila to Baguio

Habal-Habal (motorcycle) – Php350+ (Ate Gina – Ranger Station)


Php3,000+ is a safe budget.

You could also rent a porter for Php500.


There are travel agencies that offer affordable rate (for instance, Php2,600 all in! Inclusive of transportation from Manila to Ambangeg and vice versa; guide and registration fee.)


If you will climb with a travel agency, you have to follow their itinerary. Don’t be late for the call time or else you will be left behind and there’s no other way but to commute.


I took the latter part and that’s where my solitary odyssey started.


If you prefer commuting, better book a ticket ahead of time so you won’t end up being a chance passenger. (Genesis Bus Liner, Baguio route)


Prepare your butt to rest for a 6-7 hour trip. Upon arriving at Baguio City, I took a cab going to La Trinidad, Benguet. The van terminal is located in front of Jack’s restaurant.


It took 4 hours before the van was filled with passengers. Indeed, patience and perseverance are virtues of a mountaineer. There is a grocery store right across the street so you can buy food and other stuff you need for the climb, or you can also wait inside Jack’s restaurant to kill time. They serve the best coffee and delicious carrot cake at affordable prices.




There are different trails you can choose to get to Mt Pulag: Akiki trail, Ambaguio trail and Ambangeg trail. The most difficult trail is Akiki or known as ‘the Killer trail’ because of its slopes. It will take 2-4 days to reach the summit. On the other hand, Ambangeg has the easiest trail. It will only take you 4-5 hours to reach the summit. For weekend availability, take Ambangeg trail.


It took me 2 hours to get to Ate Gina’s eatery and I took a ride at a “habal-habal”(motorcycle used in provinces where cars of jeepneys cannot stand the rough, steep terrain and narrow roads) going to Palansa. This costs around Php120.


The road was under construction that time so I had to transfer to another habal-habal to bring me to Ranger Station (another Php120).



I decided to hike to save money and get to know the place more by interacting with the people who live there. The road was steep. It can really melt your lungs as there was no flat surface! But every time I catch my breath, the scenery left me breathless.


The vegetable plantations that looked like rice terraces from afar was astonishing! It was a 3-hour fun adventure and what-have-I-gotten-into trek.


I was warmly welcomed at the Ranger Station by some marshals and DENR men, the defenders of the forest from unwanted entities like loggers, NPA, etc. (DENR stands for Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This is an executive department of the Philippine government that responsible for supervising, developing and protecting the country’s natural resources.)


After a short nap (the cold will rob you off sleep), the journey continues. One of the policies of the Mt. Pulag National Park is to have a guide. (Php500+/5 pax) For solo climbers, you may tag along with other groups and share the guide fee. We left the Rangers Station at around 1:00 am. There is potable water along the way.


For those who have a delicate stomach, bring at least 3 liters of water. It is very dark there so please don’t forget to bring a headlamp, flashlight and determination.


We arrived at the campsite around 3:00 am. After a quick break, we headed our way to the summit which is an an hour hike. There were more than 200 mountaineers that looked like ants falling in line and with the headlamps they carried. It looked like a parade of lights, such a beautiful sight!



The playground of the gods: A view at the summit of Mt. Pulag.


And then we arrived at the SUMMIT!!! It was around 4:00am when we reached the summit. Mountaineers were setting up their video cameras, waiting for the sunrise.


At last! After the tiring climb and after the restless night, as the sun cast its radiance upon the ocean of clouds that covered the view below, the moon was behind us, slowly fading.


At the marvelous sight of thick clouds covering the surroundings as if it was an ocean covering the coral reefs with fishes playing  inside it. I wanted to join them and plunge into the sea of clouds.


Like a curtain unfolding the show, the clouds slowly faded and revealed something that would keep you staring for hours.


The dwarf bamboo grasses served as the mountain’s carpet. It looked like an enormous golf course. (Pulag was derived from an Ibaloi word “pulog” which means bald. )


No camera could capture such an amazing view. It is so extraordinary that you’d bear the cold temperature (16 degrees Celsius), just to savour the moment.


The scenery and the feeling of being on top of Luzon’s highest peak (2922 meters above sea level) was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.


I wish I could stay longer at the summit. Even though that experience showed me a whole new world and brought me closer to heaven, I still wonder why they call it “playground of the gods” when it looked more like their home.


Mt. Pulag is just an introduction of what’s outside our comfort zone. It is one of the things that the internet can’t show and it is just one of the great adventures that await you when you get up from that sofa. So, what are you waiting for?


Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time.





Bokod, Benguet

Major jump-off: Ambangeg Ranger Stn, Bokod, Benguet

LLA: 16°34’58″N 120°53’15″E, 2922 MASL (#3)

Days required / Hours to summit: 4-5 hours / 1-2 days

Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2

Trail system: Grand Cordillera Trail, Section 3

Features: Sea of clouds, dwarf bamboo slopes, pine forests



Author: Expatch Editorial Team


Photo source:

Last photo –

All other photos – Courtesy of the author






  1. hi,,,

    ur post is very helpful… :) Thank you!!!

    but do we need to bring tents?

    • Marcy Villegas says:

      Hi, Sheena. Thank you. We’re glad you like our article. Yes, you will definitely need a tent while there in Mt. Pulag. For more information, please refer to the things needed that are listed by our writer. Thank you and we wish you a safe and happy trip in case you will visit Mt. Pulag. Cheers.

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