Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces are places we wanted to visit eight years ago during our last visit to the Philippines but we didn’t plan properly and ran out of time. Not this time! This time we arrived in Manila, acclimated to the 12 hour timezone difference, then headed to Sampaloc, Manila to catch the 10pm Ohayami Bus. We will visit Batad and Banaue Rice Terraces in North-Central Luzon, Philippines very soon!
Traveling to Banaue and Batad
Before I say anything about the bus ride, remember, it’s just part of the journey and part of the fun!
Ok here goes – the bus ride…
- is very very long…like 9 1/2 hours long
- was chilly likely due to the A/C never being turned off; dress appropriately just in case – you can always shed a layer
- provided entertainment; trip to Banaue was a repeating set of Air Supply songs and the return trip was Kenny Rogers
- stops for a quick bite to eat and use the bathroom; best to bring a few snacks just in case
That’s it! Probably no big surprises.
One last note which you probably already know, it isn’t easy to sleep on a bus! I get into what feels like THE perfect position then it becomes uncomfortable right as I get sleepy. I try another position then again it isn’t. I look at Aimee and she is sleeping perfectly and others are in positions that looks like they fell off a cliff yet they are sleeping like babies! Any ideas on the perfect bus sleeping position would be appreciated!
Arriving in Banaue
We arrived in Banaue, grabbed our bags and headed to the nearest restaurant for breakfast. Love the longganisa, rice, eggs, coffee and if available you must eat bibingka EVERYDAY! While eating we were approached many times to sign up for tours and transportation to various tourist sights but we turned them all down.
After eating, we left the restaurant, found a tricycle driver and negotiated 400 php to take us to Batad which is approximately 30 minutes away. Apparently the tricycle dropoff used to be the saddle which then required a long downhill trek into Batad. We heard this hike was at least an hour. The road has been extended further down the hill past the saddle so the hike only took us 30 minutes. It was a very easy and scenic hike but if wet would be messy and likely slippery.
Once we arrived at the official entrance of Batad we had to pay a heritage fee of 50 php each. At this point in your trip you’re likely tired but it’s worth just sitting and taking in the views! If you don’t, no worries, they get better very soon!
Just a little further down the path and the rice terraces, the village and this new world opens up before us! A few thoughts will come to mind – inspiring, remarkable, breathtaking and explorable!
Seeing the terraces will make you realize what people can do. When all the land was taken for building rice terraces, villagers would hike to the top of the mountain and start creating terraces on the other side. It seems to go on forever and it’s truly an amazing place.
Ramon’s Homestay and Restaurant
We walked down some very steep steps to Ramon’s Homestay and Restaurant. Ramon and staff are very friendly and accommodating. The authentic ifugao huts looked amazing but we chose a standard room for 600 php per night. The ifugao huts were 1500 php. We stayed three days and two nights so we could relax and enjoy.
- hike the terraces
- hike to Tappiyah Falls
- hike to the Batad’s highest viewpoint
Hiking the Terrace with a Guide
The terraces are a bit overwhelming with paths and stairs everywhere. We were told we could just start exploring but it’s much easier and less intrusive to the people living there to hire a guide. So we found one at Ramons for 600 php for the 3-4 hour hike. We recommend a guide as it helps them, they can point out sights that you may not notice, and you don’t hike thru people’s personal property.
During the guided hike we passed a natural spring which allowed us to refill our bottles, climbed many cool steps especially the longer stones set in walls to create steps, walked on the edges of many terraces, down what seemed like 1000 steps to Tappiyah Falls and those same steps felt like 2000 steps heading back to the top and thru the village in the center of the terraces. This is a must do hike! As you hike, keep in mind, all of this was man made. Every stone wall, every walkway, stairs and irrigation channels. Remarkable accomplishment!
Hiking the Terrace without a Guide
Just a note, the next day we did nearly the same hike without a guide and at a much slower pace (5-6 hrs). We gathered more spring water then headed for the Batad viewpoint. On our way to the viewpoint we passed many children heading to school. We both laughed as each child we passed said hi, so we responded with hi, then they said hi again – cute. We arrived early at the Batad viewpoint which sits only a few hundreds yards above the village so we had it to ourselves. Very peaceful morning.
After about an hour, three women from the village came up on their way to harvest rice on the other side of the mountain. They sat with us for an hour and shared stories. They also decided I should try moma and of course I said yes, followed by…what is moma? They said it was bitter nut, lime and optional tobacco wrapped in a leaf and makes you feel good and turns your teeth red. Those are two of my favorite things so I popped it in my mouth and started chewing. Not the best flavor I’ve ever tasted but I wanted to feel its power. I believe it’s an acquired taste but they were right, it did make you feel good and turned my teeth red. We also found they like a little rice wine when harvesting. We just happened to have a bottle so we shared it until they decided they’d better get to work. These are the things we love when traveling!
When you have some downtime check out some of the activities Ramon has scheduled. Most nights Ramon invites everyone for “storytelling” around a fire. This you should do! He also answers any questions you may have. Just listening to him detail the history of the area, talk about his experiences and his homestead and history is worth it. During the day, they will explain various processes such as harvesting and separating rice, making wine, brooms, and more. Another interesting topic was how they preserve the ifugao huts.
Hiking to the Highest Viewpoint
The next day we choose to hike to the highest viewpoint. We heard it was only a few hours to hike. Hmmm wrong! We hiked for hours, stopped to enjoy sights and by the time we neared the top it was getting slippery and foggy.
We hated to do it but feared if the fog continued we wouldn’t see anything and it could make the ascent very difficult. So we decided to stop and go back. Sad…but there will be a next time! There are so many amazing sights and views on this hike. More stones that jut out of walls to create steps, rice paddies, and so much more.
Today is our last day so we simply relaxed at the restaurant overlooking the terraces, hung out with some new friends and drank coffee. Unfortunately we had to leave and begin our 30 minute hike out of Batad and back to the tricycle area. Another 30 minute tricycle ride and we arrived in Banaue. We already started missing the peacefulness of Batad where the only sounds heard were birds, chickens, and kids playing and the air was as fresh and clean as you could imagine.
Back in Banaue, we walked around a bit trying various pastries and coffee and did a little shopping. We spent the last couple hours before catching the bus back to Manila in People’s Restaurant overlooking the Banaue rice terraces.
I liked the moma signs at the restaurant’s outside deck! Banaue isn’t nearly as peaceful and scenic as Batad but still a very cool place. There are lots of shops, restaurants, bakeries and just activity – tricycles, buses, cars, people everywhere and even chickens.
One thing you’ll notice is that everything in Batad is a bit more expensive than Banaue. This is because everything must be hand carried into Batad!
7pm and time to get on the Ohayami bus back to Manila. Sad to leave, fear the long sleepless bus ride but very happy we finally visited!
Already looking forward to coming back and spending more time here, Sagada and perhaps even heading further north to the coast.
More Area Information
We paid online using the Ohayami Bus web site and specified the date of travel and number of people – very easy process and no problems once at bus terminal in Manila
1020 php each
Departed Manila at 10pm
Tricycle from Banaue to Batad
250 php each but negotiated to 400 php
Batad Heritage Fee
50 php each
Standard room 600 php nightly – very basic room with bed and shared bathroom
Ifugao huts 1500 php nightly – climb ladder to enter hut, looked fun but they were all rented 🙁
Sample Batad food prices
Rice Wine 250 php
Coffee 25 php
Rice 25 php
Chicken Adobo 175 php
Chop Suey 100 php
Tinolang Manok 175 php
Sample Banaue food prices
Rice Wine 100 php
Coffee 12 php
Rice 15 php
Chicken Adobo 130 php
Chop Suey 100 php
Tinolang Manok 130 php