At long last, the Banaue Rice Terraces are finally crossed off my bucket list!
For as long as I can remember growing up in the Philippines, the Banaue Rice Terraces were perhaps the most advertised destination I remember seeing in the Philippines – perhaps more so than Boracay or any other tropical islands in the country.
This should not come as a surprise given that many Filipinos consider the rice terraces as a national treasure and the 8th wonder of the world.
Legend has it that the Ifugao (natives of Banaue) built the terraces mostly by hand, and is largely believed to be over 2,000 years old.
Today, the popularity of the Banaue Rice Terraces are growing at a steady rate every passing year, seen by the increasing number of domestic and international tourists in the province.
If you are planning a trip to the mountains, keep these 6 tips in mind:
1) How to get to Banaue Rice Terraces from Manila
The Banaue RIce Terraces are situated in the Luzon province of the Philippines, about 372 km north of Manila.
The bus ride is actually pretty comfortable. The seats were spacious and comfortable enough that I didn’t feel tired or lacked sleep the following day.
TIP: These buses blast the AC to the max to the point where it feels like a freezer inside the bus. Make sure you are properly covered (i.e. no shorts, unless you want to freeze) during the bus ride.
2) Spend a night in Batad
Batad’s ampitheather view of the rice terraces is one of the most iconic viewpoints in Banaue.
We spent a day and overnight in Batad, where we explored the rice terraces, visited villages, and went “hiking” to Tappiyah Falls. It was an amazing experience and challenging at the same time.
It was amazing because of the view (duh!), but challenging because of the number of steps we had to “climb”. I consider myself a fit person, but those stairs will definitely test you physically – so come prepared!
If you do decide to spend overnight in Batad, be informed that the accommodations you will find there are all basic. It’s basically a standard room with bed and a shared bathroom. And considering Batad is a distant village, there is absolutely no signal – so be prepared to be disconnected from the online world while in Batad!
3) Pack as light as you can
I mentioned briefly on point number two on how physically demanding Batad was for me even though I’m a fit person.
I don’t care how much you go to the gym or if you go running everyday, trekking hundreds and hundreds of steps is NOT easy! But imagine carrying a heavy backpack while climbing these stairs….
So make it a little easier for you by packing light!
4) Ride the jeepneys
Toploading on a jeepney seem to be one of the most memorable experiences while traveling to Banaue for foreigners.
I honestly didn’t see much of the appeal before I getting on top of that jeep (maybe because I’m Filipino? Idk…) But after having done it, I can totally understand the hype with the toploading!
The views you will encounter from atop of the jeep from Batad to Banaue will nothing be short of mesmerizing.
Make sure you have your camera ready to go!
5) Whang Od
Considered by many Filipinos as a national treasure, Whang Od is the country’s oldest mambabatok (or tattoo artist).
Many are willing to get out of their way to travel from Banaue to Kalinga (about a 4 hour trip) just to get inked by this legend.
6) Explore Banaue with a travel guide
If you are on a limited time like we were, I highly suggest hiring a local tour guide to take you around the main viewpoints of the Banaue Rice Terraces.
Actually, even if you do want to explore the terraces on your own, you will be required to have a guide on certain routes for safety purposes.
There is a lot to explore, and having a guide will ensure you won’t miss some of the stunning viewpoints you will ever see.