See the majestic rice terraces of Banaue in the Philippines. What else is there to see and do in this rustic province in the Cordillera region? Learn everything there is to know in this guide.
The mountainous Banaue in Ifugao province located in the northern part of Luzon has captured the interest of both local and international travelers because of its rich culture, cool weather, untouched mountain ranges and the warmth of the local Ifugao people.
Banaue is also home to the most picturesque and awe-inspiring rice terraces that stretch for miles into the horizon. Amongst the most popular are the Banaue Rice Terraces and Batad Rice Terraces, the latter being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The rice terraces and its people coexist in a way that makes you appreciate the stunning view more and more as you take it all in.
Knowing that the wide expanse of lined rice terraces all the way to the sky is the fruit of labor of the generations of Ifugao people’s drive and workmanship makes it more iconic and remarkable.
Aside from the rice terraces, Banaue is also a famous weekend destination for those coming from the busy big cities of the Philippines, like the capital city of Manila, because of its cool weather and back-to-basics lifestyle.
There are no huge buildings or busy streets here, just vast lands of farms and humble huts or simple houses. Banaue also offers unique cultural experiences, outdoor activities, and culinary adventures for tourists.
Because of its proximity to other North Luzon destinations like Baguio City and Sagada, Banaue is usually a part of a longer itinerary covering those areas. But if you’re the type who wants to simply get away from the stresses of life, a longer stay in Banaue comes highly recommended.
Curious to learn more about this peaceful province in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)? Read this ultimate guide to know everything about it and plan out your Banaue escape.
Visiting during the rainy seasons of July and August is not recommended due to the possibility of landslides in some areas making it difficult for activities like hiking and trekking.
Traveling to Banaue is a long journey and may be a bit difficult due to the road conditions especially as you approach the mountainous regions.
But as they say, the journey is indeed worth it once you see the postcard-perfect view of the Banaue Rice Terraces. There are a number of routes that you can take when going to Banaue:
It takes about 9 hours (depending on traffic) to get from Manila to Banaue and the only way to get there is via land transportation. There are no direct plane flights available to the province of Ifugao. Most people choose to travel by bus during nighttime so that you can arrive early in Banaue the next day and have more time to explore it.
The Ohayami Bus Transit which can be found in the corner of Fajardo Street and Lacson Avenue in Sampaloc Manilla operates from 9PM daily. If you want to reserve seats in advance, they accept booking online through their website.
Another option is Dangwa Transit which has their terminal in Cubao. Be sure to arrive at the station early if you plan to go by Dangwa bus since they operate only one trip daily and accommodates passengers on a first come, first serve basis. Their earliest schedule leaves at around 8PM.
The bus from Baguio to Banaue takes approximately 3 hours including transfers and departs at least three times a day. You can go by Ohayami Bus transit stationed along Otek Street near Burnham Park or KMS bus that offers two trips daily and can be found near Rizal Park.
If you’re coming from Sagada, it’s advisable to get to the terminal early. At the Sagada Municipal Hall, there are jeepneys going to Bontoc (the capital of Mountain Province). Travel time is around an hour and the trip starts as early as 6:30 a.m. There’s an available trip that leaves every half hour until 9:00 a.m to 1 p.m.
From Bontoc, you can take the local bus to Banaue. The first trip leaves at 7:00 a.m and takes around 2 hours. Another option is to ride a van that leaves at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 1:00 p.m.
When it comes to Banaue accommodations, this is a place where you get the value for your money. There are no fancy Banaue hotels or resorts around, but the majestic view of the rice terraces all throughout the day and the relaxing sound of nature are more than you could ask for.
The top places to stay here are in the Banaue town proper or Batad. However, you must consider that Batad is less accessible since there is no road that directly leads to the village. It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk/hike in and out of this place. Given that it is more secluded, there is no proper signal in Batad, therefore, be prepared to unplug and disconnect.
As they say, there’s no better way to spend your vacation than to be one with nature. Banaue will surely not disappoint.
Here are some of the most recommended places to stay in Banaue:
Batad Top View Homestay and Restaurant
Popular with backpackers and tourists alike, Batad Top View Homestay is at the end of a 100-yard side trail off the main Batad rice paddies. It’s like a hidden gem in the middle of nowhere. What visitors love most about this place is that it gives you a front-row seat to an unobstructed view of the Amphitheater Rice Terraces.
Uyami’s Greenview Lodge
A family-friendly basic hotel that’s conveniently located near the Banaue Rice Terraces. The hotel also has its own restaurant for guests who would rather stay, relax and enjoy the view within the area.
Located 10 minutes away from the town center, Bogah Homestay offers a convenient location for guests coming from the city. It offers a relaxing ambiance as it provides a beautiful overlooking view of the rice terraces and the town’s river valley.
Ramon’s Home Stay in Batad
Experience the traditional Ifugao houses and wake up to the magnificent view of the Batad Rice Terraces. Their huts are simple, but the breathtaking views make up for it.
You’re also in for a treat as the owner Ramon goes the extra mile by organizing bonfires and storytelling sessions at night. Guests are encouraged to join and socialize as Ramon shares stories about Batad and the Ifugao culture. Truly a recommended place to stay if you want to immerse in the local’s way of living.
The cozy Banaue Homestay is right in the center of town, which makes it the easiest choice for tourists. With its perfect location, it is close to everything and is literally just 10 minutes’ walk from Banaue town proper and the bus station. The homely and friendly atmosphere of this place is the top reason why it is listed as one of the best places to stay in Banaue.
On a good day, the view from their balcony makes you feel like you’re looking at a little piece of heaven with the clouds almost touching some of Banaue’s beautiful rice fields.
Native Village Inn
Upon entering the driveway to the Native Village Inn, you’ll be welcomed by a sign that reads: “Welcome to Paradise. We hope you have a pleasant stay.” Indeed, the place is a paradise in its own way.
Imagine looking at the green, luscious stretch of rice terraces while having your coffee in the morning or over a bottle of beer during dinner. Imagine listening to the sound of nothing but the flowing river or the cheerful tunes of the playful birds as the sunsets. Nature at its finest is what you will get from staying at the Native Village Inn.
A part of its charm is also the fact that you can experience their traditional Ifugao tribal huts while savoring all that Banaue has to offer. The owners and staff show genuine friendliness that makes you feel a part of their community.
Video by the Philippine Department of Tourism
There’s more to Banaue than rice terraces. The place is full of spots to discover that you will surely not run out of things to do here. Just make sure to fuel up and energize since most of the activities almost always involve a bit of trekking and walking. Nothing that you can’t handle anyway!
Recognized by many as the highest of its kind in the world, you can’t help but stare in awe at this amazing stair-like beauty. You can choose to explore several viewpoints located in different areas around the municipality to better appreciate the rice terraces in their full glory.
It’s amazing to think that these rice terraces were created thousands 2000 years ago by the Ifugao people and still stands marvelously up to this as a symbol of the impressive skills and hard work of the Ifugao people who cultivate them through the years.
The rice terraces of the Philippines in the Cordillera region were built to address the problem of rice farming up the slopes of mountains.
Surrounded by rugged terrain, the Ifugao people had to find a way to grow rice despite the landslides and erosion around the area. You would be amazed to know that they are using the same ancient irrigation system up to this day.
Commonly referred to by the locals as the 8th Wonder of the World, Banaue Rice Terraces is more than just a sight to behold but a bewildering remnants of the years and years of the Ifugao’s inspiring way of preserving and cultivating their rice culture – a culture that have been intricately woven in their way of living.
For instance, their major traditions are closely tied to their planting and harvesting seasons. They perform thanksgiving celebrations during harvest season and strictly observe “tungo or tungul”, known to be their days of rest during the off season.
What better way to appreciate Banaue more than to see and experience the daily life of the Ifugao people? 240 steps below the Banaue hotel, lies the cultural village of Tam-An. It is a community of carvers and weavers whose craftsmanship skills have been passed on from generation to generation. Expect to see souvenir stalls that display some of their local products.
Aside from souvenirs, the village is also known for its native Ifugao houses referred to as the “no-nail houses”. These houses are built out of Amugawan trees, carefully and sturdily used as timbers to hold the houses together.
Upon entering, you can see authentic wooden carvings and designs that ultimately represent the owner’s cultural heritage. Visiting this side of town gives you a quick glimpse of the Ifugao’s way of living through the years.
If you want to experience the other tourist attractions Banaue has to offer, you can go on an adventure and discover the breathtaking waterfalls in the middle of the forest.
The one-hour trek from Poblacion to Chappah Falls in Barangay Bocos is surely worth it with its cold and refreshing water. It also offers a panoramic view of the whole town, as well as a close perspective of the rice terraces.
The Tappiyah Falls in Barangay Batad is also popular among tourists. You’re in for a treat with its enormous natural swimming pool. Don’t forget to bring your swimming gear and packed lunch as you enjoy the sight and sound of this magnificent waterfall.
For those who would like to delve deeper into the Ifugao culture, this museum showcases some of the cultural treasures of the ancient Ifugao people.
The museum displays over a thousand pieces of indigenous artifacts. It is located 1.8 kilometers south of downtown Banaue and is accessible via a 10-minute tricycle ride from the town center.
Batad is home to the remarkable amphitheater rice terraces which is one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in the World. Unlike the town proper of Banaue, Batad is a paradise tucked away from modern civilization and only those with wondering and brave hearts take the path to discover it.
It’s admirable how the culture and heritage of Batad have remained untouched despite more and more people discovering its magnificence. The locals still speak their mother tongue, practice their ancient rituals and remained unmoved amidst the current flow of tourists visiting the place.
You are surrounded by nothing but nature’s beauty in Batad. Everything is a sight and memory to hold on to. Savor these moments and make them count more with other suggested activities in the list below:
Be one with nature as you walk along the rice fields
Trek to Mount Amuyao
Stay in a native Ifugao hut
Don’t miss out on the native Ifugao coffee
Hike to Awa View Deck to get the best views of the rice terraces
Join bonfires where the locals share their daily life stories
Try the native rice wine
Mingle and chat with the locals and be amazed with their stories of old folklores and myths
Try the local dish, pinikpikan and other traditional delicacies
Watch the locals create the handcrafted souvenirs and support the local community by buying some as souvenirs
Hike to Kinakin and Cambulo
Banaue has a number of rustic restaurants with scenic views that make every dining experience unlike any other. Most of the accommodations in Banaue also have their own restaurants that offer traditional Filipino food at an affordable rate which makes it convenient for most of the tourists. Here are some must-try restaurants when in Banaue:
7th Heaven’s Café
Photo from 7th Heaven's Cafe
It offers a good selection of breakfast and other comfort food while your eyes feast on the amazing views of the rice terraces. Don’t miss out on their famous honey-cured liempo and tinocenturi, their own version of the popular Filipino dish tinola.
Sanafe Lodge and Restaurant
A popular choice among tourists because of its lovely outdoor restaurant with a stunning view. Perched on the side of the hill, you can enjoy eating outside as you relax and breathe in the cool, fresh breeze.
Their best seller list includes their own take on homemade meals such as Chicken Curry, Beef Salpicao, and Sweet & Sour Pork.
Native Village Inn Restaurant
As you enter their lovely restaurant, you know you’re going to have a good time because of the unbelievably beautiful view of the Hapao Terraces right in front of you and the warm hospitality of the staff. The place is quiet and romantic. You can choose to eat in one of their huts outside as you enjoy both the food and the view.
Their restaurant’s menu offers a wide selection from western to traditional Filipino food but their Spicy Pork and Chicken Curry with Ifugao Rice is a must-try. Have a cheesecake for dessert too.
Las Vegas Lodge
Photo from Las Vegas Lodge
You can never go wrong with a scenic view, live music, and great food. Good thing, Las Vegas Lodge offers all of them. Known for their variety of both local and international cuisine, this place is visited by travelers who are after affordability and tasty meals.
Home-cooked meal at a very affordable price makes you feel like you’ve never really left home. For about PHP100 (USD 2), you already have a complete set of meal consists of the main course dishes, rice and ripe mango for dessert. Not a bad deal!
Activities and itineraries in Banaue require a great deal of walking, hiking and trekking so it’s better to be physically prepared.
You will get a weak mobile signal and sometimes even none in Batad so make sure you won’t be needing your phone for work or any urgent matters while you’re there. You’re on vacation anyway!
If it’s your first time, drop by the Tourism Office of Banaue so that they can orient you about available tours and transportation transfers.
Some tours don’t require you to get a guide but for someone not familiar with a place like Batad, it would be better to have one to walk you through and lead your path. You’d rather spend your precious time ticking off the itineraries on your list than being lost.
Be mindful of the schedule and availability of public transportation especially in Batad to avoid spending more. Public jeepneys leave Batad at 9AM and returns from Banaue at 3PM.
Bring clothes that are appropriate for trekking and the cold weather. Bear in mind that the temperature in the mountains can be unpredictable, so bring an extra jacket wouldn’t hurt.
Bring enough cash with you. There are no accessible ATMs, especially in Batad.
Everything is on cash basis. The homestays and restaurants don’t accept credit cards so having cash handy will save you from any inconvenience.
Appreciate the beauty around you but leave no trace of trash or rubbish.
Buy locally produced souvenirs as your way of support to the local community.
Since it’s usually a weekend destination, Banaue can be enjoyed for as short as 2 days and 1 night. Here’s a sample itinerary to guide you.
09:00 PM - Departure from Manila
06:00 AM - Arrival in Banaue/Breakfast
07:00 AM - Tricycle to Batad
08:00 AM - ETA Batad drop off point. Trek to Village and the chosen accommodation
09:00 AM - Hotel. Check-in. Rest
10:00 AM – 03:00 PM: Trek to Top View, Tappiyah Falls and if time permits, drop by the Awa View
04:00 PM - Head back to homestay. Freshen up and rest
05:00 PM - Walk around the village. Watch the locals create the handmade souvenirs. Souvenir shopping
06:00 PM - Dinner
07:00 PM - Socials and bonfire session
10:00 PM - Lights Out
06:00 AM - Wake Up. Freshen Up
07:00 AM - Breakfast
08:00 AM - Pack up. Trek back to the main road where the drop off point is
09:00 AM - ETD Banaue
10:00 AM - ETA Banaue. Check-in. Rest
11:00 AM - Banaue Rice Terraces Viewing Deck
12:00 NN - Lunch
01:00 PM – 05:00 PM - Try a Banaue Heritage tour and visit Ambuklo Dam, Banaue Museum, and more
06:00 PM - Early dinner. Proceed to bus terminal
08:00 PM - ETD Banaue to Manila
Escape to Rustic but Charming Banaue
Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism
Truly, Banaue is a paradise in its own way, a place of exceptional happiness and delight. A place where you can be one with nature. A place that encourages you to be fully present.
A place that gives you a glimpse of a rich culture lived centuries ago and has been cultivated by its younger generations. There might have been a bit of a modern touch into it now but Banaue still has its inexplicable charm – one that makes you want to be in the moment.
As they say, it’s nice to be in places that make you realize how small you and your worries or concerns are. Banaue is one of them. It reminds you of how simple and humble life in the mountains is.
Despite the lack of modern facilities, the Ifugao people were able to survive and thrive for centuries. Moreover, it’s such a moving thought to ponder how these world-renowned rice terraces were built with almost nothing but their bare hands.
Imagine the sun as it slowly peaks in between the mountains. Imagine the morning light as it strikes the Banaue Rice Terraces that glimmers in the morning. Imagine the cool breeze as it softly touches your face while walking amidst the luscious rice fields in Batad. Imagine listening to the sound of the river as it flows down the valley.
Imagine the sky as it changes its color from blue to a shade of sea green as you watch the sunset at the top of the mountain overlooking the magical rice terraces of Banaue.
The next time you find yourself dreaming of your next adventure, think no more. Banaue is the place to be. Go ahead and see it for yourself.
The stretch of green mountains that expands its way into the horizon, the warmth of the Ifugao people, the untouched forests, river valleys and waterfalls are more than enough reasons to tease and satisfy your wanderlust.
Start planning your trip to Banaue today. Explore the Philippine tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary to this charming destination in North Luzon.