TRAVEL: Bontoc Take 4 + Exploring Mainit Hot Springs

Travel Date: 28 October – 1 November 2016

For the fourth time within a span of one year, I went back up North.

The entire trip was technically last minute. Initially, I planned to do a second attempt at summiting Mt. Pulag then head to Buscalan afterwards to get my third and final tattoo from Grace. But for one reason or another, I cancelled out on everything and decided to do a solo trip around Bontoc instead.

Kids of Pulag (Bokod)

Having recently been devastated by typhoon Lawin (international name: Haima), most roads were closed due to landslides and damaged bridges. Instead of one long bus ride from Baguio, travelers had to cross a footbridge and transfer to shuttles upon reaching Sabang.

Temporary footbridge made by the locals

In Bontoc, I went back to Maligcong to visit a good friend of mine to kick-start a library project for her homestay.P_20161031_073531.jpg

Feel free to start your own #BookStay Project to help remote villages have their own library!

Ate Vi’s adorable daughter
My Maligcong family

I stayed in Maligcong to revisit Mt. Kufafey and have another attempt at exploring the rice terraces. But as luck would have it, it was once again Te-er, a local holiday that prohibits people from entering the terraces as the spirits “cleanse and bless” the area.

Remember Sumamalangyan from my first Mt. Kufafey climb? The dog without a name apparently has two: Misty / Lava
Misty / Lava / Sumamalangyan enjoying a good tummy massage.
I wonder when I can explore you.

From Maligcong, I went back down to Bontoc to visit another friend there.

Cafe Davana’s new offering: Cinnamon Rolls!
With Karyll, my first friend from Bontoc.

After chatting up with my friend, I left Bontoc to check out another village I haven’t been before: Mainit.

Bontoc Town Proper as seen from the jeepney heading to Mainit.

Mainit is a small village about an hour away by jeepney from Bontoc Town Proper. It passes through the small village of Guina-ang via rough roads. The village is famous amongst the locals for its hot springs. Mainit in English means “hot”.

Reaching Mainit, the jeepney stops at a community basketball court. From there, I hiked for a couple of minutes to reach the small mountain community.

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 10.23.34 AM.png
The shaded pool and the open pool (far right)

There are two man-made pools in the village. The hot spring nearest the biggest pool had a small stream coming out of it. The locals placed tubes to direct the water from the hot spring into the pools.

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 10.32.43 AM.png
Also doubles as a laundry pool.

Water from the hot spring actually flows throughout the village, making it hot and humid. A few steps from the pools, I saw another hot spring with a more powerful burst of water.

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 10.33.14 AM.pngThey say that the location of the springs changes from time to time. It is believed that the village of Mainit stands atop a dormant volcano.

The village was eerily quiet when I was there. After enjoying a few minutes dipping my tired feet in the pool, I decided to go back down to the basketball court to catch a jeepney back to Bontoc.

Friendly Mainit kids.

The travel back to Bontoc was a bit of an adventure. It was already 4pm and rain started pouring. With no network signal and the last trip to Bontoc gone, I had to walk for about an hour towards the only hotel in the village. Once I got there, the person manning the place was charging me Php 1,500 for a night (almost 30USD), which was waaaayy beyond my budget.

I decided to wait out by the road, praying to hitch a ride. I was resigned to staying overnight when a group of local teenagers saw me and asked why I was there. After telling them my situation, they asked if I wanted to join their trek down to Bontoc instead. I said “Of course!” and joined the group until we reached Guina-ang where my friend was finally able to pick me up.

Like I always say, people form the North are the nicest! Thank you, Jane for saving me!
Karyll and cousins. Thanks for picking me up!

My exciting day ended with an awesome sunset road trip down Bontoc. The view was certainly the cherry on top.

Guina-ang Village


Drinks at Cable Cafe to end the day.

Watch this video summary of my Maligcong – Mainit adventure!

Ingat and see you on the road!

How to get there:

From Baguio, head to the slaughter house to catch the first trip to Bontoc at 5am.  Php 212

From Bontoc Town Proper, get off near the market and ask around for the jeepney heading to Maligcong for Mt. Kufafey, Php 20; or Mainit for the Hot Springs, Php 40. Ride top load for the best experience.

You can also opt to hike Mainit from Maligcong. Ask Ate Vilma for a guide. It takes about 2-3 hours, depending on your pace.

Where to stay:

In Maligcong:

Vilma’s Homestay can accommodate solo traveler and groups. She cooks the most delicious meals and provides unlimited Kalinga coffee and mountain tea. Rate: 300 php / Breakfast: 50php, Meal: 90php per. Like her FB Fanpage.

In Mainit:

There are no hostels in Mainit yet. I recommend doing this as a day trip.


There are no ATMs, so bring enough cash.

Always ask for trip schedules before heading out.

Read about my first Mt. Kufafey climb here. 


Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at 


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