Banaue is a municipality located in the Ifugao province of the Philippines and is a famous tourist destination in the country thanks to its rice terraces. The Banaue Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nick named “The Eight Wonder of the World” by locals, the terraces were built 2,000 years ago by the Ifugaos.
The ingenuity and skill that it took to build was way beyond its time. They figured out the entire irrigation system by tapping streams and springs and channeling them through canals which distributed the water to down through the rice terraces. Using very early methods and primitive tools, the terraces were built with stone walls and are taller than even the Empire state building when measured from top to bottom.
Banaue is in a mountainous terrain 5,000 feet above sea level. It is a cooler climate by about 8 degrees than that of Manila.
Banaue is 350 kilometers from Manila. You can rent a car and drive to get there if you want or you can take the overnight bus leaving from Manila. If you chose this option, be sure to book your ticket on the bus the day before as spaces do get limited and their may be no available seats if you wait too long.
Anyone making this trip should understand that it is very slow going through the mountains. Going directly could take about 9 hours. Be sure to set aside at least 3 or 4 days to see everything you want depending on what you want to see. On the way there, you could also take another route which will go via Baguio which itself is amazing. You could try arranging to stay a day or two in Baguio. It then goes on to Sagada and finally Banaue via rice terraces.
I have found that the buses in the Philippines can get a bit cold. It’s already cooler heading into the mountains and the bus can get cold so I strongly recommend bringing a jacket with you.
Once you arrive, the best way to explore there terraces is on foot. A one hour journey will take you to five different amazing views of the terraces with each one seemingly more amazing than the others. If you don’t feel like walking, you can certainly have one of the guides on the tricycle take you along. For those who feel like climbing to get good camera angles and aerial views, that is certainly an option.
After visiting the 5th viewing point, there is a great trail for those who are a bit more athletic which takes you back to Banaue. You can pay one of the guides to take you back and truly appreciate the postcard-like views along the way. Many find that when they have gone on their own, they have gotten a bit lost. The locals are very fair and will give you insight into the area.
Hotels and Lodging
It is one of the most famous spots in the Philippines so there is adequate lodging. You may try the Banaue Hotel which has amazing views. There won’t be any four and five star hotels, but this hotel should be nice enough for most. Assuming you took the 9 hour ride to see one of the most majestic creations, I would guess the average tourist that visits Banaue is more adventurous than high maintenance.