The Boho Travels Apo Whang-od tattooing

How to get to Apo Whang-od in Buscalan, Kalinga

Okay, so you want to get a traditional Kalinga tattoo. But the question is, how to get to Apo Whang-od in Buscalan, Kalinga? What can you expect? What do you need to prepare for?

I know a lot of people are interested to visit Apo Whang-od and experience first hand the magic of her tattooing skills. So, I compiled some FAQs to help you plan your trip. I hope you find them useful and please do share your experience with me!

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources.

πŸ›Œ Accommodation: I recommend Agoda.com
✈️ Flights: I recommend Trip.com
πŸš‚ Land Travel (Bus, Train, Vans, Cars): I recommend 12go
🏞️ Tours and Experiences: I recommend Klook
πŸ›‘οΈ Travel Insurance: I recommend SafetyWing

*These are all the sites I personally use to book my trips, and if you use them, some of them will earn me a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps reduce the ever-increasing costs of keeping my site up. Thanks!

How to get to Apo Whang-od in Buscalan, Kalinga?

We took this route: Manila (bus) > Tabuk (jeepney) > Tinglayan (jeepney) > Bugnay (hike) > Buscalan.

the boho travels’ tip

If you’re coming from Manila and taking the bus to Tabuk, book your bus tickets ahead of time to make sure that you have your seat!

How were the jeepney rides to reach Buscalan?

Our journey to meet Apo Whang-od was long and sometimes quite perilous. After our 15-hour trip to Tinglayan, Kalinga, we rode on top of the jeepney to Bugnay while passing rough roads.

Specially for a city girl like me, it was indeed an adventure! But, it was definitely worth it.

How to get to Apo Whang-od: Toploading in Tabuk, Kalinga. You might have to do this if the jeepneys to Bugnay are full.
Toploading in Tabuk, Kalinga, taken by The Boho Travels, December 2012

Was the hike difficult?

I guess it depends on your level. It was my first time hiking and my health was not in tiptop shape. So, yes, the hike was difficult for me. But, my friend said that it was just like a walk in the park for her.

How long was the hike to Buscalan?

I was told that it should only take 30 minutes to get to Buscalan from Bugnay. But, as unfit as I was, it took us 2 hours to get there.

Do you recommend getting a guide to reach Buscalan?

If you are someone like me who has the propensity to get lost, if you do not speak their local language, and if you do not mind paying a little extra, then definitely – hire a guide to get to Apo Whang-od. A plus is that you get to help their local tourism industry πŸ™‚

But if you are the adventurous type and would like to do it on your own and without a guide, here’s a link to Buscalan Tattoo Village, to help guide you on how to get to Apo Whang-od.

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    Where did you stay in Buscalan?

    We were fortunate enough to stay at Apo Whang-od’s home during our visit.

    These days, tons of people are hike to Buscalan and line up to get a tattoo from Apo Whang-od. But back when we visited her, Apo Whang-od wasn’t as popular as she is now.

    My friend, Tara, and I were the only non-locals visiting their village. This is probably the reason why our guide managed to arrange our

    Tara on the floor of Apo Whang-od's home

    Where did you eat?

    Our host, Apo Whang-od, also prepared and served our meals.

    She made us coffee when we arrived. And she cooked lunch, dinner, and our breakfast for the next day.

    During our meals, we also had the privilege of having conversations with Apo Whang-od, even if we don’t speak the same language!

    Where did you pee & poop?

    Oh, this was one of my concerns, to be honest. Apo Whang-od’s home had an outside bathroom that was clean and smelled good!

    The door behind Tara was the door to the bathroom.

    Tara showing off her tattoo by Apo Whang-od

    Do they have electricity? What about cellphone signal?

    Yes, there was electricity. Mobile signal was weak to non-existent. But, honestly, it was not such a big issue. Buscalan is such a lovely and interesting community. It would be a pity just spending time on your phone instead of exploring and getting to know their people and culture more.

    What else can you do in Buscalan?

    Aside from getting a tattoo from Apo Whang-od, you can also:

    • Socialize with the locals
    • Take pictures of their beautiful people and village
    • We also had a Q&A with Apo Whang-od and the kids of Buscalan
    Elderly in the Village of Buscalan, Kalinga
    Tattooed woman in Buscalan, Kalinga

    Did you get a tattoo from Apo Whang-od?

    No, I did not. Getting a tattoo was never part of my plan. But, because of how difficult the hike was from Bugnay to Buscalan, I admit that the thought crossed my mind. After taking a break and spending time with Apo Whang-od, I realized that I did not need it at that time. I just really wanted to meet her, take pictures of her, and write about her.

    Do you plan on going back to get a tattoo from Apo Whang-od?

    Yes, I do! If not to get a tattoo, I’d like to visit her again. I had such a profound experience when I visited their community in 2012 and I’d love the chance to see Apo Whang-od in Buscalan once again.

    The Boho Travels Apo Whang-od

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