playground of the gods

2022 First-timers Guide to Mt Pulag: Highest Mountain in Luzon (Expenses + Itinerary)

I was one of those people who got delayed on their Mt Pulag dreams because of the pandemic way back 2020. But surely it was a blessing in disguise to allow the mountains to rest from tourists! So yeah, everything is cool. (Guide To Mt Pulag)

The long wait is finally over now that I was able to conquer the highest mountain in Luzon. I am excited to share with you my trip to the Playground of the Gods in this article. Continue reading below for some important tips and reminders!

Guide to Mt Pulag

About Mt Pulag

Nestled 2,926 above sea level lies the famous and breathtaking “Playground of the Gods”. With its scenic view of rolling hills beneath the sea of clouds, you will surely feel like you are on top of the world. Sitting on the foothills are the Ibaloys and Kankanaey Village.

Mt Pulag is the 3rd highest mountain in the country next to Mt Apo and Mt Dulang-Dulang. Not only that it is famous for its sea of clouds but mountaineers go here to witness an exceptional view of the Milky Way Galaxy at dawn.

Did you know? The indigenous mountain of Mt Pulag is considered by locals as sacred because it is believed to be the resting place of their ancestors, people could appear and disappear. The elders suggest to ask permission to the anitos before entering so that they will not be disturbed. Otherwise, strong winds and bad climate will suddenly appear.

mt pulag indigenous mountain
Indigenous Mountain of Mt Pulag

Trails & Difficulty

Even if Mt Pulag is the highest mountain in Luzon, it’s difficulty is fairly 3/9. Meaning to say that the trail is easy to follow and with less difficulties compared to other mountains. The hike will take you about 4-6 hours depending on your pacing. For us we managed to climb it for approximately 5 hours and another 5 hours going back.

There are about 4 rails to Mt Pulag. The 2 famous trails are the Akiki and Ambangeg trail. Akiki is also known as the killer trail while Ambangeg trail is for beginners. For more information about the trails available, you may read more about it here.

ambangeg trail
The Ambangeg Trail

Pre-Travel Requirements (COVID-19 Guidelines)

Here are some pre-travel requirements you need to know about the indigenous mountain.

Is it open to tourists?

YES. However, take note that it is only open to tourists residing in Benguet province. As per the DENR’s orientation, they will slowly open the mountain to tourists in the future when there is enough vaccinated tour guides to accommodate the influx of tourists. As a result, only Benguet residents are allowed to enter. (Updated as of April 2022).

What are the requirements?

As of April 2022, here are the requirements needed:

  • Vaccination Card
  • Valid ID (with address in Benguet or Baguio)
  • Medical Certificate

Pre-Travel Tips From Joan’s Footprints (Guide to Mt Pulag)

  • I’m a beginner, can I climb Mt Pulag? The answer is YES. Even beginners can climb Mt Pulag because it is classified with 3/9 difficulty as mentioned above. Just remember that there is no such thing as “easy hike” to beginners.
  • What to wear? I highly suggest to do some proper layering on your clothes. I wore 4 layers on top, 3 layers below, and 2 socks in total and it was still super cold on top of the summit! Important Note: the oxygen air gets thinner as you rich the peak. So be comfortable with your clothes.
  • What to bring? Water, trail food, ponchos (in case of light rain), flash lights/head lamps. I cannot stress enough how much important hydrating is. Please do not forget to hydrate!
  • Signal reception is weak for both Smart and Globe users at the Ranger Station.
  • Sleep well the night before. Get enough sleep to power up your energy.
  • Do some stretching or warm up exercise before your ascent.
  • Bring enough cash. There are no ATM machines near the Ranger Station.
  • Pets are not allowed.
  • No shouting, vandalism, littering.
  • No fire, camping or swimming near bodies of water (Lake Bulalakao).
  • Most importantly, refrain from taking anything from the indigenous mountain. Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures!

Entry Protocols & Requirements

  • Pre-booking is mandatory to ensure slots because of the limited number of pax allowed per day.
  • Valid government ID is required for proof of identification.
  • Only 100 tourists arrivals are allowed per day.

Important Contact Person

For Mt Pulag slot reservation.

  • Smart: 0961 249 9071
  • Globe: 0926723 5614
  • TNT: 0930 341 9847
Grassland Mountain

2 Days 1 Night Itinerary + Attractions Via Travel Agency (Guide to Mt Pulag)

We got our tour from Mt Pulag Yapakanz for PhP3,400.00/person and 2 nights, you may check them on Facebook for schedules and rates. This includes 4 meals, homestay, and other entrance fees. I prefer booking with a trusted agency for my Mt Pulag tour since DIY isn’t really that ideal to budget travelers like me. Say hi to Mark for me!

As part of our tour, we had a few stopovers and side trips before going to the Ranger Station. If you book with Yapakanz on Facebook, the attractions below are included.

Side-trip at Ambuklao Dam

Our first side-trip was Ambuklao Dam which is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from Baguio City. Here you will see a wide range of fresh water and hills circling around it.

ambuklao dam

Side-trip at Sulfur Spring

After about 40 minutes from Ambuklao Dam is the Sulfur Spring.

sulfur spring mt pulag
(Photo Credits)

The Ranger Station

Before arriving at the Ranger Station, there will be a short briefing and orientation at the DENR. You can walk around the Ranger Station to check out the village and the scenic view of the mountains. Below is a photo of me at the Ranger Station with the local kids.

We started the hike from the Ranger Station at 1:00 in the morning and was able to reach Camp 1 after an hour. After Camp 1 is another 2 hour hike to Camp 2.

ranger station
Kids at the Ranger Station

Mossy Forest

Prepare yourselves for a very entertaining trek! The mossy forest is one of the best view during our Mt Pulag 5-hour hike. Honestly I think it took us about an hour for photoshoots during our descent. It’s like an Alice in Wonderland theme or Into the Woods.

The mossy forest will start after Camp 1 until Camp 2. Here you will witness how rich and indigenous Mt Pulag is.

mt pulag mossy forest
Guide to Mt Pulag

Dwarf Bamboo Forest

Subsequently, just after the Mossy Forest is the Dwarf Bamboo Forest. This starts from Camp 2 going to the peak of Mt Pulag. Before reaching the peak, you will pass by Peak 4, Peak 3, Peak 2 and the summit itself. In this trail you will also see some indigenous plants around.

Guide to Mt Pulag
Dwarf Bamboos around us

The Summit & The Grassland Mountain

Mt Pulag is every hiker’s dream and it’s not hard to see why! The exceptional view of the grassland mountains will surely take your breath away. At last, after 2 years of patiently waiting, here lies in front of my naked eye one of the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I finally conquered Mt Pulag!

We were blessed with such beautiful scenery that can only be seen after working hard for it. I am proud to have been given the chance to climb this humble mountain.

Guide to Mt Pulag
Congratulations, team!
Guide to Mt Pulag
Grassland Mountain

DIY Expenses

Below are the expenses and fees to expect when in Mt Pulag. For DIY travelers, homestays are everywhere near the Ranger Station, just ask around. Homestays are Php500.00/pax/night.

Entrance Fee for Non-local ResidentsPhp175.00/pax on weekdays
x2 on Holidays and weekends
Admin Fee for Local ResidentsPhp25.00/pax on weekdays
x2 on Holidays and weekends
Guide FeePhp1,200.00 (1-5 pax) and additional Php240.00
for every exceeding number of pax
LGU FeePhp150.00/pax
Environmental and Cultural Heritage Fee
Porter Fee (optional)Php1,000.00 – 15 kilos and below
Additional Php100.00 for every exceeding kilo
Camping Fee (Camp 2)Php50.00/pax/night on weekdays
x2 on Holidays and weekends
Medical Certificate (optional)Php130.00/each

Help me improve my Guide To Mt Pulag! By commenting suggestions in the comment section below, I am very open to new ideas. Photo credits to Aldrin and Mimi!
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