Carved into the mountains by ancestors of indigenous Filipinos, the Banaue Rice Terraces are an ecotourism adventure in the Philippines that will engage you using ancient and modern culture and agro-architecture that is over 2,000 years old. Often said to be the ‘8th wonder of the world’, the Banaue Rice Terraces are carved out of the mountainside ‘like steps leading to heaven.’ This ancient form of agriculture was strategically designed with an irrigation system that utilizes the rainforest to feed fresh water to every terrace and paddy, each one leading to the next and eventually ending in the river basin below.
Your best and most beautiful bet for accommodation will be in Batad. There you can find a nice guesthouse overlooking the terraces and wake up to one of the most unique mountain landscapes you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Once settled in, check in with the Visitor Information Centre and gather any information you need. Book a tour with them or through your guesthouse and set out on a full day adventure exploring the rice terraces. The Banaue Rice Terraces are a modern form of agro-tourism that are employing local community members as guides. It’s important to remember that many young people are opting for a career in tourism over farming, and to book your tour responsibly, asking all the right questions.
Batad is a tiny village that got electricity in 2008 so the internet may be hard to come by, and ATMs certainly are as well. The village has a ‘welcome office’ where you’ll pay your fee for visiting the area – a charge that goes into preserving the rice terraces and ecology of the region.
Dedicate a full day to exploring the Batad Rice Terraces – an ecotourism adventure in the Philippines that is sure to satisfy. Your guide will take you step by step (literally) from the top to the bottom of the mountain, so make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks – it’s a big day of hiking. While exploring, you may notice elderly locals in traditional dress posing for photos for a small fee – it’s okay to support this because, at their age, they’re certainly not tending the rice paddies anymore so posing for photos is just one way for them to make a little coin on the side. Continue on your tour through the dramatic landscapes of Batad to what is one of the best parts – the Tappiya Waterfalls. This 230 foot waterfall is the perfect place to cool off and get some great photos. Ask your guide if he has any friends or knows where to buy local handicrafts – this area is great to buy handmade wood carvings and trinkets.
Other things to do in Banaue include visiting the Hapao Rice Terraces and hot springs – entrance to the hot springs is free and very welcomed after a gorgeous hike through the Hapao Rice Terraces. Optimal views of the Batad Rice Terraces are accessed by a two-hour trail from Ramon’s Native Homestay to Awe View Deck.
March to May and October to November are the best times to visit to see the terraces at their greenest. July and August are not favourable due to rainy season and a high chance of mudslides. We visited the rice terraces at the end of February and the photographs in this post are from that time, which was perfect. Not too hot and a perfect shade of green across the mountains.
Prepare yourself for a long, twisty and probably air-con cranked 9-hour overnight bus ride. Travellers can take the official bus company which is called Ohayami Trans. Stock up on snacks and make sure to keep a jumper and warm clothes out of your big bag in case it was like our bus ride – freezing.
From the bus depot drop-off, you can check-in with the tourist information centre and either take a Jeepney or trike 12KM up the road to Batad.
We recommend staying for at least three full days, keeping in mind you’ll arrive in the morning and have a day when you get there. Four is best so you have time for all of the hikes and the option to travel further to explore Sagada, famous for its hanging coffins.
We opted to stay in town with a beautiful view of the rice terraces, but there are many options in and outside of Batad. If you’re looking for a countryside hut getaway just outside of town, Native Village Inn might be your spot. In town Rice Homestay and Banaue Homestay are in the centre. Other options for accommodation in town with vistas are Simon’s Viewpoint Inn, Hillside Inn or Ramons Native Homestay.
Author: Eco Escape Travel | Date: March 2, 2017