Ifugao Province is home to several rice terraces proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This living cultural landscape is a reflection of resourcefulness, creativity, and passion of our native Ifugao people. That’s why a visit to this province in the north is a kind of trip anyone should make at least once in their lifetime.
These rice terraces were carved into the mountains with minimal equipment by the indigenous people. Who said you can only plant rice crops on plains and valleys? Seems like our indigenous Ifugao people hate to make excuses!
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces, or Hagdan-hagdang Palayan ng Banawe in Filipino, are the rice terraces particularly close to Banaue downtown and the ones printed on the twenty peso banknote. They are easily accessible and surrounded by concrete structures, causing it to score low in the UNESCO inscription. The presence of too many modern structures makes it less appealing. To be honest, the rawness of the place seems to be fading.
Although not included in the UNESCO list, the Banaue Rice Terraces were declared as National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government. How can they not? No matter how many modern structures are present, these rice terraces are over 2000 years old, built by the ancestors of indigenous Ifugao mainly by hand, and passed on from generation to generation — that alone is amazing!
However, there’s another problem. Most of the younger generation of Ifugaos do not find farming interesting and the older ones are now becoming weak. As a result, the “steps” which require constant care are now becoming more prone to erosion.
Since the Banaue Rice Terraces became a main tourist attraction, the locals, including the youth became more drawn into the hospitality industry as it seemed to be more lucrative. We cannot blame people who need to support their families. We can only hope that the government and the local people would unite to keep this cultural wonder alive.
As you would notice in the photos, a large portion of the terraces are empty of rice crops. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s either it’s past the harvest season or they really stopped farming already.
Now that the pandemic has hugely affected the tourism industry, it somehow caused us to give farming the attention it deserves. I hope that our beloved Ifugaos, both the government and the people, will be encouraged to utilize this cultural wonder that they richly inherited from their ancestors.
Since the terraces are located approximately 1,500 metres above sea level, the temperature is relatively lower (about 20°C in average) even during summer months. That’s why apart from Baguio City, it became another favorite summer destination for people to escape the scorching summer heat.
Batad Rice Terraces
Located in Brangay Batad in the municipality of Banaue is the famed rice terraces that resemble an enormous amphitheater — the Batad Rice Terraces. It is one of the 5 clusters of rice terraces listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tiny village is a paradise tucked away from modern civilization and only those with wondering hearts are willing to take the path to discover it.
Batad is a remote village with around 1,500 people. It is said to be home to the most well-preserved rice terraces in the Cordillera region. The rice paddies in Batad are built with stone walls which is why it looks more neat and stable compared to those with mud walls.
Apart from the amphitheater-like rice terraces with a village at its base and stunning landscape, Batad also has a nearby waterfall that offers a natural swimming pool: the Tappiya Waterfalls. The trek to the falls may take 2 to 3 hours depending on your pace. This waterfall is found at the bottom of the terraces where you can swim and marvel at its beautiful scenery.
Batad can be reached by a 10-km jeepney ride from Banaue town proper to the saddle, and about a 15-minute hike down into the village through mountain trails. There’s no transportation that can take you directly to the village, but a little hike allows you to really appreciate the scenery along the way and be one with nature.
How to get to Banaue?
The only way to reach Banaue is by bus.
- From Cubao or Sampaloc in Manila, take a bus bound for Banaue. There are two bus lines that go directly to Banaue: Coda Lines and Ohayami Trans. Travel time is about 9 hours.
You can book your transportation to Banaue via 12Go Asia. Bus fare will be around 850 Php.
- Upon arrival at Banaue bus terminal, you can take a tricycle to your hotel or you can start your tour right away. The Banaue Rice Terraces can be viewed directly from the road sides and view deck.
Going to Batad:
- From Banaue proper, you can take either a passenger or private jeepney to the Saddle point.
- Once at the Saddle, hike down into the village of Batad.
Where to stay in Banaue/Batad?
There’s a lot of hotels and homestays in Banaue town proper and Batad. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Banaue Homestay – Banaue Town Proper
2. Uyami’s Green View Lodge – Banaue Town Proper
3. Hillside Inn and Restaurant – Batad
4. Ramon’s Homestay and Restaurant – Batad
For travelers who are non-resident of Ifugao, non-APOR arriving from ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ areas, here are the requirements:
1. Health Declaration Form (filled-up/to be filled up upon arrival at checkpoint border), including temperature scan
2. Valid Government issued ID
3. Vaccination card (Fully/first dose)
4. Negative results of Antigen test or RT-PCR test. In the absence of negative results, the traveler shall submit himself/herself for testing
5. Proof of transaction, business, or purpose of travel in Ifugao.
Note: Please check Ifugao Public Information for the latest updates.
Have you been to Ifugao already? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!
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