Polish travelers Agness and Cez of eTramping are two of the most prolific fellow bloggers we know. We are cool friends with the duo, and we invited them to share their cool guide for travelers who want to visit beautiful Banaue!
Located in the northern area of the island of Luzon, Banaue is one of the most fascinating places in the Philippines. It is home to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, the unofficial Eighth Wonder of the World.
Yet, the Rice Terraces is not all that Banaue has. With beautiful natural wonders to culturally rich local villages where you can truly experience indigenous Ifugaonon culture, Banaue is a step out of the world you know and into one of adventure.
Getting In and Out of Banaue
Taking a bus is the best and cheapest way to get in and out of Banaue. In Manila, there are several buses that ply different routes depending on which direction you want to go. The journey lasts around about 10 hours in most cases, with tickets costing between ₱ 350 and ₱ 600 depending on which bus company you choose.
You can also book a tour through an agency; this is a good idea of you want convenience or if you’re completely uncertain of what you should do. They can help you rent a van or car, book your stay in Banaue, and more. There are many reliable and well-connected tour agencies available, and virtually all of the guides speak good English. No communication problem there!
Getting Around Banaue
Banaue is known for its natural beauty. As such, the road network is somewhat rudimentary. Basically, it is a single main highway cutting through the municipality and deeper into the Mountain Province. Several roads connecting to the highway. These smaller roads consist of a mishmash of paved streets, uneven roads, or dirt trails.
Thus, getting around is an adventure in itself. The most common local mode of transportation is the jeepneys. These converted jeep-like buses ply along pre-determined routes in the municipality. Tricycles (motorcycles with side cars) are also quite common, mostly used to travel around the city or shorter destinations.
Motorcycles-for-hire, or habal-habals, are the best way to travel through smaller roads and deeper into Banaue. Drivers are almost always knowledgeable locals, and that’s a great advantage. They can show you lesser-known attractions and tell you great stories about their place.
If you have an unscratchable itch to explore, you can hire a motorcycle for a day and independently go around.
When to Visit Banaue
Visit Banaue between the temperate months of August and November. During these somewhat wet months, the rice is fertile and is in full bloom. Thus, the terraces have a beautiful sheen of green. Later than that, you might find that all the rice has been harvested already!
What to See in Banaue
The Banaue Rice Terraces
Known as the unofficial Eighth Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces is the most famous attraction in the region. The Terraces, which extend to a height of 1,500 meters above sea level, were originally created over 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao natives. Because the ancient irrigation system still works effectively, many of the terraces are in good condition and are still used today by local farmers. By virtue of Presidential Decree 260 in 1973, the Banaue Rice Terraces were declared as a National Cultural Treasure.
Unfortunately, as society becomes more modernized, more Ifugaonons find farming a less appealing way to earn a living. Many of them migrated to work in cities and elsewhere. As a result, several terraces have started to lose their prominence, with their outer edges falling into disrepair.
If you’re planning to visit them, make sure to keep a whole day free. Walk through the Banaue Rice Terraces, interact with locals, and take incredible pictures.
Getting to beautiful Tappiya waterfalls requires a moderately strenuous hike that takes 1.5 hours, but the payoff is more than worth it. Make sure you wear good and strong trekking shoes with a good grip since the trail is slippery in places. You can hire a guide from the area for a relatively low price, but make sure to tell them to take you through the standard route so you don’t miss out on anything.
Awa View Deck
The Awa View Deck sits atop one of the highest peaks of the Banaue Rice Terraces and offers an encompassing view of the entire area. It takes two to 3 hours to walk through the terraces to get to the view deck. A lot of trails crisscross the main trail, so it is a good idea to hire a guide to take you the right way.
Locally Made Handicrafts
Head to the foot of the Rice Terraces and visit one of the small tribal villages. Purchase exquisitely made handmade souvenirs such as mugs, home decors, kitchenware, and more. Don’t forget to buy Ifugaonon purses, scarves, headgear, and other cloth products. These precious stuff are made in the traditional way, practiced since time immemorial.
Each purchase you make is not just a boon to the local economy but also helps in preserving their way of life.
- Make sure to bring cash with you. You won’t find any ATM machines here!
- Phone signal isn’t the best in the area. In some areas, you probably won’t have any signal at all. Let trusted people know where you are when you go out hiking.
- Bring a warm jacket to the higher altitudes. Banaue is mountainous, and once you start reaching higher altitudes, it can drop pretty quickly.
- Proper trekking shoes are a must if you plan to walk around the Terraces and other off-beaten paths. Not only will they prevent you from slipping all over the place, they’ll also make your hike a lot more comfortable.
Banaue has a unique living and breathing cultural landscape. Along with many other cultures and places in the Philippines, it’s a perfect place to experience an indigenous way of life. For those who want to uncover those cultures like a real-life Indiana Jones, Banaue is the perfect place to start.
All photos courtesy of Agness and Cez.