If like us you are crazy about natural sites, you should visit Asia’s best rice terraces. Though we had already seen fantastic ones in Bali, nothing could prepare us for the ones in the Philippines. The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, to the north of the country, are over a thousand years old, and still in use today. Granted, it’s a bit difficult to get there, but the place is worth the extra effort. The whole region of Ifugao hosts numerous terraces. However, only 5 are World Heritage Sites. Therefore, it’s very important to organize where to stay in Banaue. It’s the only way to enjoy this little piece of paradise to the fullest.
- 1 How to Get to Banaue Rice Terrace
- 2 Where to Stay in Banaue Close to the Rice Terraces
- 3 What to Do in Banaue
- 4 Best Time to Visit Banaue Rice Terraces
How to Get to Banaue Rice Terrace
Manila to Banaue – Night Bus
The only direct option to go from Manila to Banaue is a night bus. Since three companies operate the route, there are plenty of buses to choose from. Florida’s night bus from Manila to Banaue departs from its station near the University of Santo Tomas. Likewise, Ohayami Trans bus leaves from its station, one block away from Florida’s. Both stations can be reached on foot from the Lagarda Station on the metro LRT2 line. Finally, Coda Lines operates 4-night buses that leave from Cubao Terminal (Monte de Piedad) in Quezon City. You can walk there from the MRT and LRT Metro Station Araneta Center – Cubao. The journey takes between 8 and 10 hours. Bring warm clothes as they tend to turn on the air conditioning to the maximum.
You can buy your tickets here.
Baguio to Banaue
Many visitors to the Philippines choose to spend a few days in its summer capital, Baguio. Though Baguio is considerably closer to Banaue than Manila is, the trip can be as long. Not only that, but there are fewer options. Ohayami Trans runs one-night bus (some sources mention 2 daily buses, so please check while there) per day from Baguio to Banaue. The buses leave from the Baguio Central Bus Station on Gov. Pack Road, east of Burnham Park. Additionally, there are two daily minibuses (jeepneys) that leave from the Jeepney terminal close to Rizal Park. These can’t be booked online, and are slightly less comfortable.
Book your bus to Banaue here.
Vigan to Banaue
Another option is to combine Banaue with the beautiful colonial town of Vigan, in the north of the country. To get from Vigan to Banaue, you have to take 4 different vehicles. First, take any bus/minibus that goes from Vigan to the south towards Manila or Baguio, and get off at the Bitalag Junction. This is where Coastal Road 2 meets Mountain Road 205. From there, take a minivan to the town of Cervantes, on the Lagben River. In Cervantes, take a minivan or jeepney to Bontoc. Finally, take a bus from Bontoc to Banaue. Though the whole journey can take up to 15 hours, the views are unforgettable. You might have to share your seat with a rolled carpet, a couple of locals, or a chicken! No worries, you are in the Philippines, so you will be safe and taken care of. We went from Banaue to Vigan and loved the adventure. Take note that most of the minivans/jeepneys depart as soon as the connecting one arrives, so you won’t have to wait.
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces are the Philippines’ most famous rice terraces. According to some historians, the impressive terraces are 2000 years old. What amazed us is that people have never stopped using them. To this day! What makes them so special is their location some 1500 meters above sea level. As you can imagine, the views of the area are breathtaking. Due to the numerous construction sites that surround the terraces, UNESCO did not include them in its World Heritage List. Nevertheless, the Banaue Rice Terraces are the closest to the town of Banaue, thus the most visited ones.
Batad Rice Terraces
Together with four other terraces, UNESCO included the Batad Rice Terraces in its World Heritage Site List. The five within the list are called the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. They are long, wide, stonewalled, and a unique living cultural landscape. Take note that the Batad Rice Terraces are only 15 kilometers away from Banaue. However, it’s not that easy to get there. There is just one jeepney per day from Banaue to Batad. It leaves your close to the Batad Countryside Inn. From there, walk through the jungle to reach the terraces. Of course, you can hire a private tricycle too. The whole journey is quite an adventure.
Where to Stay in Banaue Close to the Rice Terraces
Tiny Banaue Town is the main base to visit the rice terraces. Most buses from the rest of the Philippines arrive in Banaue. Besides, it’s the only settlement with decent tourist infrastructure. There are hotels and guesthouses, several shops, restaurants, a market place, and even a hospital. Bear in mind that it often rains a lot, so it’s very important to choose a comfortable place to stay for your visit to Banaue. We are sad to inform you that there are only a few decent options.
Hotels in Banaue (Ifugao Province)
Most hotels in Banaue, Ifugao province, and the rest of the Philippines are poor value for money. Moreover, in small towns like Banaue, you can rarely find decent midrange accommodation. The best hotel in Banaue is the Banaue Hotel. Actually, it’s the only one. Without a doubt, the Banaue Hotel should be your top choice. Located just south of the town center, it offers magnificent views of the local terraces. It’s a nice building perfectly incorporated into the landscape, with comfortable rooms, and private bathrooms. Their panoramic restaurant serves delicious meals, and there is even an open-air swimming pool. We arrived at dawn in Banaue, super tired, and headed directly to the hotel, where a comfortable bed was waiting for us. We woke up, draw the curtains, and couldn’t believe the views from our room.
Other Accommodation in Banaue
There was a heavy storm going on when we visited. Thus, everything looked so dramatic. Our hotel was almost full, so we had to change rooms the next day. While we waited, we checked several local guesthouses. On days like that, the best you can do is to admire the landscape from your bedroom window. As it turned out, our hotel is the only accommodation in Banaue Town with panoramic views. That said, there are a few nice hotels (guesthouses) close to the Banaue Rice Terraces. The best is the Hiwang Native House Inn & Viewdeck. You get the experience of staying in a native Ifugao hut and a private viewing deck of the terraces.
Where to Stay in Batad
Those of you who are a bit more adventurous should consider staying near the Batad Rice terraces. This is an isolated town (remember the walk through the jungle we mentioned above), so don’t expect any luxury at all. Also, it’s not a good idea to stay here if you are carrying a suitcase, unless you leave it in Banaue. That said, staying here is a magical experience. If you are a fan of great views, we recommend the Batad View Inn and Restaurant. Since it’s located above the terraces, it offers probably the best views in the area. The other option is to stay in the middle of the terraces. The CRISTINA’S Main Village INN & Restaurant is your best bet there.
What to Do in Banaue
Most tourists visit Banaue to admire the impressive rice terraces. What nature lovers don’t know is that there are loads of things to do in Banaue. You can walk all the way to the Banaue Rice Terraces or hike through the middle of the jungle. You can also hike to nearby villages, like Poitan, Bocos, or Tam-an. From Batad, it’s an hour walk to Tappiya Falls, where you can swim. Travelers into culture should visit the Banaue Museum to check the interesting collection of Cordilleran artifacts. Finally, don’t leave Banaue without watching an Ifugao cultural show. We enjoyed the one organized by our hotel so much!
Best Time to Visit Banaue Rice Terraces
The appearance of active rice terraces changes depending on the time of the year. The best time to visit the Banaue Rice terraces is while they are lush green. That is usually spring (April – May) and fall (October – November). Since July and August are in the middle of the rainy season, it can be dangerous to hike around the terraces. Thus, its best to avoid them during these two months. Another interesting option is to visit during the harvest period, which is in June and December. We’ve been in late January during the planting season and thought the terraces were equally impressive.