Free Web Hosting  

Mystic Waters

Treks, hikes and other outdoor adventures in the Philippines

BANAUE: Home of the Ifugaos and the world-famous rice terraces

This page is a guide to Banaue, where you can find the world famous rice terraces, and gateway to the rest of Ifugao.
General information
Points of interest
Wake-up call for the rice terraces
Getting there
Lodging and restaurants
Traveling from Banaue
BEYOND BANAUE
  Gateway to more Ifugao adventures
  Ifugao villages: Batad, Cambulo, Pula
  Ifugao village: Bangaan
  Ifugao village: Mayoyao
  Ifugao village: Hapao / Hungduan / Mt. Napulauan
  Mt. Amuyao
  Bontoc / Sagada
  Why got to Batad first?
  Why go to Sagada next?
  Sagada sampler

General information


World-famous Banaue Rice Terraces

One of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, Banaue is one of the municipalities in the province of Ifugao, a land-locked area at the foot of the Cordillera mountain range in Northern Luzon, Philippines. The rice terraces and the rich colorful culture of its native inhabitants, the Ifugaos, make Banaue, or Ifugao Province in general, an interesting destination for the intrepid traveler in search of unique experiences.



Filipino and English are widely spoken and understood in the area, aside from the local dialects. Bring enough cash in Philippine pesos. It's difficult to find an ATM machine in the area and credit cards are not widely-accepted. There are money-changers that convert US$ to pesos (about US$1=Php53 as of December 2002). Due to its elevation, weather is a bit colder than the rest of the Philippines.


Back to top


Points of interest


Banaue Viewpoint . This is three kilometers north of Banaue, and 10 minutes travel by car via the highway that goes towards Bontoc. Situated on top of a plateau, this is the perfect place to view the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces, known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.


Matang-lag Bronze Smiths . The small sitio of Matang-lag can be reached by climbing foot trails beside the road that goes towards Batad. Using crude tools and materials, the smiths produce a cornucopia of metal ornaments.


Guihod Natural Pool . Its refreshing, crystal-clear spring waters can be reached either by a 1˝ km. ride or a 30-minute hike from the town center.


Poitan Village . Just a short trek on your right, from the same road going to Batad, visit this place to witness traditional woodcarving and weaving.


Back to top


Wake-up call for the rice terraces


The Banaue Rice Terraces, despite its popularity, is also endangered of deterioration. Some parts had to give way to housing. Erosion is a common problem caused by burrowing earthworms, creating holes in the soil. Banaue's forest cover, which serve as watersheds and soil anchor have dwindled, courtesy of Banaue's booming woodcarving industry. It's ironic that a place made famous by tourism would also meet its tragic fate as a result of tourism. The challenge now is how to promote an eco-friendly tourism that supports the preservation of Banaue's endangered legacy, the rice terraces and its fragile ecosystem. I wrote an article to open the eyes of readers on the endangered rice culture of the Ifugaos . Please click here to check it out.


Back to top


Getting there


If you're coming from Manila, the most popular way of getting to Banaue is by taking the 10 PM Autobus (Tel. Nos. 743-6869 to 73) trip at their Dimasalang bus station in Sampaloc. There's only one bus assigned for Banaue, though additional trips are scheduled during peak seasons. To be sure, reserve tickets in advance. If you fail to get reservations on the Banaue bus, don't despair because you can still get there by cutting your trips. Try going first either to Lagawe, Kiangan, Santiago or Solano, and then take a connecting trip from any of these points to Banaue.


The nearby Dangwa Tranco bus station in Dimasalang also has scheduled trips to Banaue.


Those coming from Baguio can take any of the two non-airconditioned Dangwa Tranco bus trips to Banaue.


Travel time from Manila or Baguio to Banaue is from 8 to 10 hours.


Back to top


Lodging and restaurants


You can choose from a variety of inns to stay in Banaue. Some of these inns also have restaurants on the ground floor. Prices for overnight stay ranges from less than Php100 up to Php2,000 (about US$2 - US$40).


Back to top


Traveling from Banaue


The last Autobus trip from Banaue to Manila leaves around 5 PM. Reserve tickets in advance during peak seasons. The last trip going to Manila is by Dangwa Tranco bus that leaves around 6 PM. If you fail to catch the Manila-bound bus and you cannot stay overnight in Banaue, try a connecting trip by taking first a two-hour jeepney ride from Banaue to Bagabag. At the highway in Bagabag, plenty of Manila-bound buses from other provinces pass by.


From Banaue to Baguio, Dangwa Tranco provides a daily service that leaves as early as 6 AM and as late as 4 PM. The last Autobus trip from Banaue to Baguio leaves around 5 PM.


Back to top


BEYOND BANAUE

Gateway to more Ifugao adventures


With Banaue as jump off point, one can go to a myriad of places to complete one's Ifugao adventure. Whether your taste is trekking or mountaineering, mountain biking, or simply relaxed sightseeing, all roads start from Banaue, your gateway to more Ifugao adventures.


Back to top


Ifugao Villages
Batad / Cambulo / Pula


I trekked through these villages sometime in November 2000. Click here to check it out.

If you only have time for an overnight stay, a trip to Batad and Tappiya Waterfalls within Batad is worth it. In Batad, choose an inn that will afford you a view of the Batad amphitheatre and the surrounding mountain range. Resolve to get up early in the morning to witness the sunrise. The sun gradually peeking from the mountain range and gently illuminating the Batad amphitheatre is an unforgettable sight to behold!


I always stay at the Hillside Inn because of the friendly service. Friends have bad comments about Simon's Place, so I'll stay away from this inn.


Back to top


Bangaan


For those who don't have the energy and the luxury of time to trek and stay overnight in Batad, a daytrip to Bangaan makes a good alternative. Bangaan is an hour's journey from Banaue. At the Batad-Bangaan junction, the road on the right goes to Bangaan and brings you to more views of rice terraces and a native Ifugao village.


Back to top


Mayoyao


About 4-5 hours from Banaue is the town of Mayoyao. The rice terraces in these parts have walls made of masonry stones. Mayoyao is a pleasant surprise. Since it's not as popular as Batad, I never thought Mayoyao could be so beautiful. Click here to check out my visit there in December of 2002.


Back to top


Hapao / Hungduan / Mt. Napulauan


I traversed Mt. Napulauan, with ascent from Hungduan and descent via Hapao sometime in January 2001. Click here to read the accounts of my trek.


Back to top


Mt. Amuyao


One of the top 10 highest peaks in the Philippines, it is a recommended climb to mountaineers. The summit affords a 360-view of neighboring towns and summits, including Mt. Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon and second in the Philippines.


There are several options in going to Amuyao. The traditional way is via Barlig. When taking this route, you have to take a series of jeepney rides that brings you from Banaue to Bontoc to Bay-yo to Talupeng, and eventually, to Sitio Macalama in Barlig, the jump off point. The jeepney travel will consume the whole morning, so you will start your trek in the afternoon. On the average, the summit can be reached within 4 to 5 hours of trekking. Plan to camp overnight at the summit. Bring your food and water provisions. Don't forget to bring a sleeping bag and a windbreaker. The weather on top is very cold.


Amuyao can also be reached via Batad-Cambulo-Pat-yay. To take this route, start from Banaue, passing by Batad. You can add spice and variety in your trek by traversing Amuyao, either ascending via Barlig with a descent via Pat-yay or vice-versa. Check out here my traverse climb of Mt. Amuyao last Nov./Dec. 2001!


Back to top


Bontoc / Sagada


If you have more time to spare, a trip to Sagada is highly recommended. In fact, a lot of travelers only pass by Banaue as jump-off point. After a brief sightseeing at the Banaue viewpoint, to see of course its world-famous rice terraces, they would immediately head to Batad for an overnight stay, and then to Sagada the following day.


To get to Sagada from Banaue, take first the jeepney that goes to Bontoc. Top-loading (riding on top of the jeepney) is highly recommended to witness a kaleidoscope of fantastic scenery along the way. If you opt to stay below, sit on the left side of the jeepney for more views. The jeepneys leave before noon and the trip takes about 2˝ hours. You may opt to visit the museum in Bontoc before taking a connecting jeepney to Sagada, for another hour of a scenic journey.


Back to top


Why go to Batad first?


The rice terraces of Batad are more pristine and better preserved compared with its famous counterpart in Banaue. The refreshing trip and hike towards the village of Batad is a good introduction to fantastic views that the rest of Ifugao has to offer.


Back to top


Why go to Sagada next?


Personally speaking, it's the best tourist destination so far north of Luzon. (Shut up Baguio City!) Hmmm…let me qualify that. Sagada rules, at least, for the nature-loving adventure-seekers among us.

Sagada is just a small town in Mountain Province but is gaining popularity worldwide, especially among backpackers. Sagada is an eco-adventure and cultural trip all rolled into one. I've never been in any other place where so many points of interest are concentrated in one area. (I still have to schedule that Batanes and Camiguin trip.) Sagada is blessed with a cool climate and pine forests.


An overnight's stay in Sagada is not worth it. Plan to spend at least two days to enjoy the place.


Back to top


Sagada sampler


Don't leave Sagada without exploring the caves! If you do, you've never been to Sagada at all. Sumaging caves are the most popular.


Don't miss also the hanging coffins and the craggy cliffs along Echo Valley. It's just a short trek from the town center.


There are two waterfalls that you can explore. Bokong is the small waterfalls and is a trek away from the town proper. Bumod-ok, the big waterfalls in Fidelisan, is normally reached by jeepney but can be hiked for about two hours. In previous trips, access to the big waterfalls was prohibited to the public. Don't push your luck when this happens lest you get caught in the middle of a tribal war!


A leisurely hike towards Kiltepan Tower is highly recommended. Climb the tower to view breathtaking vistas, including well-preserved rice terraces.


A hike to the summit of Mt. Ampacao could take most of your day. Don't forget to bring lunch and plenty of drinking water. You can cap this dayhike by traversing Ampacao to emerge at a road going to Lake Danom.


Forgoing the dayhike to Mt. Ampacao, you can hike through Lake Danom by following the main road from the town proper going to Besao.


Back to top



View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
Home

Retrace the trails I've trekked!

     For questions, comments or feedback, please leave a message at my guestbook.
     Copyright © 2001-2002. All Rights Reserved.