Weather and climate have a major impact on travel... here's what you need to know to plan your trip! We don't guarantee the weather, but an understanding of the basic weather patterns gives you the best probability of getting the conditions you are looking for.
Temperature in the mountains can be a surprise to people who packed only shorts and t-shirts for a trip to the tropical Philippines. Sagada is at 1500 meters above sea level, and many treks spend days above 2000 meters. Nighttime temperatures from December to February can drop to 5 degrees Celsius at these altitudes, and cloudy windy days can be quite brisk. Weather gets warmer from March to May, with warm days and cool nights. June to September are wet and relatively warm, unless it's pouring, while temperatures gradually cool from September to November. If you don't want to bring bulky warm clothes, there are stores in Baguio, Sagada, and some other areas selling second hand imported clothing, and you can generally pick up a serviceable fleece, sweatshirt, or jacket for a very low price, which can be left behind when you head to the beach!
The Southwest Monsoon (a monsoon is a seasonal wind pattern, not necessarily bringing rain) typically begins in mid May to early June and blows until late September or early October, bringing warm wet air from the South China sea. When that warm air meets the mountains, it rises and cools, and it rains. The west and central parts of the mountains, and the west coast, have their rainy season during this time. These months typically have warm sunny mornings, with clouds piling up in the early afternoon and rain coming in mid afternoon. It's a great time for river trips, and can be a good time to travel: there are few tourists, the mornings are great for trekking, and the mist and low-lying clouds make for great photography. A strong monsoon, typically in June or July, can bring continuous rain, which gets less likely (though not impossible) in August and September. Areas on the east side of the central Cordillera are less affected, and the east coast tends to be dry during this period, unless a typhoon comes by.
The Northeast Monsoon arrives in October and usually runs until late February or early March, bringing strong, steady wind and cooler, drier air. We do have occasional grey, drizzly days, and the east side of the mountains and the east coast may have rainy periods. Weather in the central mountains is typically dry, cool, and crisp... the streams are still full and the mountains green from the recent rains, and it's a great time for hiking and cycling.
The Slack Period from March to late May has no prevailing wind, and is typically warm, dry, and sunny. The lush green of the mountains fades a bit, with some brown edging into the color scheme, and the air becomes hazy. Days are warm and nights only cool.
Typhoons are a fact of life in the northern Philippines. Massive destruction from storms is often featured in media reports, but this typically occurs in the southern Philippines, where low-lying communities are susceptible to flood and storm surge and where poor migrants often settle in hazardous areas. Impact in our area is less severe: the mountains blunt the force of the storms, and tribal communities have the experience to avoid flood and landslide areas. A typhoon typically brings 1-2 days of strong wind and rain, and travel may be constrained by road blockages afterward, generally for not more than a day or two. Typhoons may begin in late May, usually begin in June, are common in July and August, less common in September, occasional in October, rare in November, very rare in December, and almost unheard of from January to April