Ifugaos on their wooden scooters in Banaue, Philippines

North Luzon Travel Guide: Explore Highlands of Baguio, Sagada, and More

Verified expert

Banaue Rice Terraces in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Explore the Northern provinces of Luzon in the Philippines. Find out which destinations should be in your travel bucket list. Learn about the must-see tourist spots and top activities that you shouldn't miss. 

The geographical features of the Philippines give the country its famous beaches, but it also means the country is home to several mountains. North Luzon in the Philippines offers some of the country’s most spectacular mountainous areas. Just a few hours away from the busy urban streets of the capital city of Manila lie destinations where visitors can be one with nature.

Video by the Philippine Department of Tourism

Trek to world-famous rice terraces and experience the rich tribal customs and culture of the Cordillera people. Postcard-perfect images of lush terraced rice paddies are the iconic landmarks in North Luzon. Ancestors of the Ifugao tribe carved thousands of step-like terraces in the mountains by hand, creating a picturesque sight that people often refer to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Blessed with a cooler climate and natural attractions, there is much to discover and appreciate in the mountainous provinces of the North.

The Philippines' Batad Rice Terraces is a World Heritage SiteHighlights for first-time visitors include visiting the mountain village of Sagada with its caves and hanging coffins and the stunning rice terraces of Banaue and Batad.

For the more adventurous, you can try hiking in Mount Pulag, the highest mountain in Luzon, which offers a challenging but scenic hiking trail above a sea of clouds.

Experience nature at its best and new cultures when you visit North Luzon. Read on to learn more and plan your trip. 

1. Baguio

Kennon Road Viewpoint in Baguio, Philippines

Baguio is a landlocked city in the heart of the province of Benguet. Popularly known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” Baguio City serves as the gateway to the Cordillera region.

Because of its elevation of 1,500 meters above sea level and its pine-clad topography, Baguio City enjoys relatively cooler temperates compared to the metro and nearby provinces. Baguio escapades are popular for both locals and international travelers who want to escape the city heat.

Starry night at Mines View Park in Baguio, Philippines

The weather dips to as low as 10 degrees in the cold months of December, January, and February. The dry season lasts from November to April, while the rainy season is for the rest of the year.

Baguio has many hotel and accommodation options to choose from. The best ones are near notable tourist spots in Baguio. Don't miss the chance to visit Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, Mines View Park, Session Road, Night Market, and Botanical Park. 

2. Banaue     

Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines

Banaue (also spelled Banawe) is mainly visited for its stunning rice terraces. The 2000-year old Banaue Rice Terraces were created by the Ifugao people in a massive engineering project to cover the sides of the valleys. 

The Banaue Rice Terraces is one of the most famous tourist spots in Banaue. This amazing landscape designated as a National Cultural Treasure has also made its mark in popular culture.

In the ending scene of the 2018 blockbuster film Avengers: Infinity War, the film’s main villain, Thanos, is seen walking out of a small hut to watch the sunset on a vista of mountains and rice paddies, which the film production confirms shows the Banaue Rice Terraces.

Farmers at Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the Banaue Rice Terraces that are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the presence of numerous modern structures. 

This distinction was earned by the Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces, which can also be found in the province of Ifugao. However, Banaue Rice Terraces is an essential tourist spot in the province.

3. Batad     

Aerial view of Batad's towering rice terraces

Batad is a quaint village of fewer than 1500 people and is situated among the Ifugao rice terraces. It is perhaps the best place to view this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape is truly stunning, and the nearby waterfall offers a lush swimming point. 

There are no roads leading to Batad and no motorized vehicles in the village. Get ready for a lot of trekking and hiking because all visitors must get around on foot to visit this remote mountain village. Walking is mostly possible only on the walls of the rice terraces, which are wide enough for one person to pass at a time.

UNESCO World Heritage Batad Rice Terraces in Northern Luzon, PhilippinesWhile the rice terraces of Banaue are mud-walled, those found in Batad are stone-walled. The terraces form an amphitheater and are an impressive sight to behold. 

Nowadays, visitors can find a number of hostels and guest houses in the small village catering to travelers, most of which overlook the scenic rice terraces. For those who have limited time, it’s possible to visit Batad as a day trip from Banaue. 

North Luzon Travel Guide: Explore Highlands of Baguio, Sagada, and More

4. Sagada  

Kapay-aw Rice Terraces of Sagada, PhilippinesSagada is a laid-back town that is nestled in a valley at the upper end of the Malitep tributary of the Chico River, some one and a half kilometers above sea level in the Central Cordillera Mountains.

The province has long been popular with international backpackers seeking a remote destination off the beaten path because of the variety of tourist spots in Sagada.

A typical Sagada day tour includes trekking, exploring both caves and waterfalls, spelunking, bonfires, picnics, rappelling, visiting historical sites, nature hikes, and participating in tribal celebrations. 

Sugong Hanging Coffins in SagadaSagada is also very well known for its hanging coffins. This is a traditional way of burying people that is still utilized today by the local tribes. Not everyone is qualified to be buried this way; among other things, one had to have been married and had grandchildren.

In recent years, the town of Sagada has shot to fame among local weekend warriors because of a popular local romantic comedy filmed there.

Sagada has beautiful natural wonders which are now frequented by travelers, including Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves, Bomod-ok and Bokong Falls, Echo Valley, Kiltepan Tower, Underground River, Lake Danum, Pongas Falls, Mount Ampacao and Marlboro Mountain.

5. Kalinga    

Kalinga's Master Tattooist Whang-od Oggay in Mountain Province, Philippines

Kalinga is a landlocked province that borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north.

Once part of a larger province called Kalinga-Apayao, the two split in 1995 for local government to better service the respective needs of the various indigenous peoples in the area.

The province is a land of natural charm and beauty with a variety of natural attractions, from mountains and caves to rustic villages and rice terraces. A land of living waters, Kalinga is rich in waterfalls and rivers that snake around villages. 

North Luzon Travel Guide: Explore Highlands of Baguio, Sagada, and More

A top draw in Kalinga for modern travelers is the remote village of Buscalan, where adventurous travelers trek to get traditional tribal tattoos by Apo Whang-Od, who is known as the oldest mambabatok. She is part of the Butbut people of the larger Kalinga ethnic group. For a hassle-free experience, you can book a Buscalan tour package.

Some of the more well-known places in Kalinga include Sleeping Beauty in Tinglayan, Kabunyan Natural Dam and Pasil River, the Preserved Tributary Falls and Forest and Saltan River in Balbalan, the Capitol Provincial Park and Chico River in Tabuk. The Pasil, Saltan, and Chico Rivers are the premier whitewater rafting places in the region.

These rivers not only offer excitement but also a glimpse of the cultural history of the Kalinga people. 

Ifugaos on their wooden scooters in Banaue, Philippines

A trip to North Luzon is one of the best adventures you'll ever do in the Philippines. Travel to the mountains of this region to discover the unique culture of Filipinos in this part of the Philippines. If you're coming from Baguio City, research Baguio tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary. 

Popular articles

Link to appstore phone
Install the Philippines’ biggest travel app

Download the Philippines’ biggest travel marketplace to your phone to manage your entire trip in one place

Scan this QR code with your phone camera and press the link that appears to add the Philippines’ biggest travel marketplace into your pocket. Enter your phone number or email address to receive an SMS or email with the download link.