I was never really fascinated by caves. I always imagined it as dark, tight, and secluded. When I watched Thai Cave Rescue, a nonfiction series about a junior football team getting trapped in a cave, it made me wonder why people enter caves in the first place. But instead of fearing caves from watching kids being trapped in it, it got me curious to try exploring a cave too.

In September 2022, I tried the Sumaguing Cave spelunking. The Sumaguing spelunking experience went really fast. Usually, there will be groups of people waiting for their turn at a photo spot, so it didn’t turn out to be the fulfilling cave experience I expected it to be.

I had a chance to go back to Sagada in November 2022 with my friends. So for the second time around, with them only having the Hanging Coffins on their mind, I encouraged them that the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection should also be on our itinerary. One of my friends backed out because of an injury she got from our hiking to Mt. Ampacao a day before. Nevertheless, we still continued on our cave adventure. 

Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection

At the mouth of the Lumiang cave, where the tour started, were several age-old coffins stacked together (not creepy at all). There were also a few bone fragments on the ground as we continued entering the cave.

My friends and I a few meters from the entrance of the Lumiang Cave

The first challenging thing we did was to slip through a cave opening going down, that would be hard to fit into if you had a big backpack. It seemed easy at first, but as we descended deeper and deeper into what looked like stacked big rocks, we started to think “Okay, what did we get ourselves into”.

Clearly, a vertical descent as the guide is literally below me

A few minutes later, we passed through the smallest cave opening the whole tour had. If you happen to have a bag, you have to remove it in order to fit into the hole. We joked about passing through there as coming out of a womb, except the feet came out first.

Me trying to fit myself at the cave hole, with my bag, but eventually failed

The second challenge was to descend between a thin rock slit, approximately 15-ft. high, using one rope with tied footholds. Following our guide, we held our breaths, swallowed our fears of possibly falling, and put all our weight on the rope. We carefully thought about where to place our feet, step by step, until we reached the ground.

My friend Cid, preparing to climb down from the top of the rock slit

Just as we thought we accomplished something big, there was a bigger challenge waiting to happen in front of us. It was climbing towards a cave opening above using another rope. Although hard, we carried ourselves just fine and managed to pull through. After accomplishing that, we no longer doubted our capabilities all the way to the Sumaguing cave.

Me, climbing halfway to the cave opening above

Deeper into the Lumiang Cave, you’ll see a wide ground with a deep pool on one side, where our guide said, they would chill and hang-out drinking beers and swim if they wanted to. They called it the Dance Hall. If you have reached that, you’re almost there for the second part of the cave connection tour, the Sumaguing Cave.

One of the rock formations inside Sumaguing Cave

The tour for the Sumaguing Cave, with all its rock formations shaped like something, was possibly inspired by the tour on Puerto Princesa’s Underground River. During my first time in Sagada, I once mentioned to a guide that I am from Palawan. He said that they went on a city tour in Puerto Princesa once and the highlight was the Underground River, so they could get an inspiration on how the guides tour inside the cave. So if you went on any of the cave tours, you’re probably familiar with phrases like, “If the water drip is cold, then it’s holy water, if it’s hot, then it’s holy shit, or bat urine.

Going deeper into the Sumaguing Cave

My favorite part in the Sumaguing Cave spelunking was where the guide would sometimes ask a group of tourists “Do you still want to continue?” because if you do, it involves getting wet, slipping through small cave openings, and passing through cave walls with a rope to hold onto so you wouldn’t fall into the water. Aside from enjoying ourselves from doing all of these, there are also rock formations inside the cave that I can only describe as either nice or great.

Us posing for a photo because our guide told us to

All exhausted, with a hundred stair steps to go to reach the road, we bid goodbye to our one-of-a-kind spelunking experience at the entrance of the Sumaguing Cave.

Us on the last cave formation attraction from Lumiang to Sumaguing Cave

When asked, is it worth it? The answer is super. Would we do it again? 2/3 of us wouldn’t mind! It might be different from what I was looking for in a cave experience. It completely contrasts meditating in the darkness and admiring cave formations. But I find the whole exhaustive experience equally fulfilling and worth it.

Now you might be wondering where the crazy and terrifying part is. Was it the coffins and bone fragments? Not at all. Those were just remains of people who died a natural death. What’s terrifying is if you don’t, just like we thought we would.

When we had our dinner that day, we boasted about our experience to our friend who backed out, and also talked about our guide. One of my friends was a dentistry student so she always peeked at our guide’s stained teeth and wondered what could’ve caused it, but she concluded that it must be the red colored candies he had been eating.

Strangely, our guide seemed to be chewing something from time to time, and by the middle of our cave tour, he had a bloody red mouth. At that time, my friends were already wondering if there was cannibalism in Sagada, and one of us even thought that no one could possibly help us inside the cave if the guide ever ate us. I, on the other hand, was focused on getting my vocals perfect for singing Into the Unknown’s intro from Disney’s Frozen so I never noticed something that strange and creepy.

We were laughing our heads off talking about cannibalism and being eaten inside a cave while having dinner at Salt and Pepper, and as we made it to dinner in one piece, clearly we didn’t die of an unnatural death and confirmed that there is no cannibalism in Sagada (or so the internet said it).

The next day we found out, from another local guide, that the cause of the bloody red mouth and the stained teeth was a fruit that’s locally called, nga-nga. When I researched about it, I found out that it had the same effects as nicotine and a lot of locals in the Mountain Province are addicted to it.


  1. Wear clothes that can get wet and dirty.
    • The first time I went on the cave tour, it was muddy inside the entrance of the cave, and I immediately wanted to wash off after. My shoes got really dirty as well.
  2. Secure a headlight for each person. 
    • I read on another blog that you should bring at least your own flashlight for the tour, but our guide provided us with headlights. It would be better if you could ask the guide if he could provide the headlights, before going on the tour. 
  3. Bring a small water-resistant bag or do not bring a bag at all.
    • My waist bag that fits my wallet and phone inside worked just fine for the whole tour as I can also put it below my chest, as a shoulder bag, safely crossing waist-deep waters. But if you do not have a small bag that can be tight around your body, it’s best not to bring a bag at all.
  4. Secure your gadgets.
    • If you bring a gadget, make sure to put it in a bag or a pouch and not in your pockets. I learned my lesson not to put my phone in my pocket while doing an activity that involves sitting and constantly moving around, after my phone fell from my pocket to the ocean, while trying to get across a makeshift tree bridge.
  5. Sing inside the cave.
    • Your tour won’t be complete if you don’t try to sing inside the cave, especially in the dance hall.


Tour Rates (as of 2023)

Php 1900 (up to 3 pax), which includes the optional Php 400 shuttle service fee.


It takes around 3-4 hours to complete the tour.

Difficulty Level


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  1. You have exceptional compositional writing skills. If I were to make something like this, I would have used the popular AI bots nowadays. The jokes didn’t flop or fall flat. It was a genuine composition like I am reading a chat or message from a friend but in .docx or .pdf or .epub format. I’m looking forward to your next blogs/updates, Mademoiselle Marzo.


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