Ifugao Province | Breathtaking Banaue Rice Terraces – DIY + Viewpoints

For most people, the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear the word “Cordillera” is the Banaue Rice Terraces. It is a famous tourist spot known all around the world and was even called as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Officially, there are only Seven Wonders of the World which are must-see natural and man-made structures or places. The Eight Wonder is a place, structure, or natural creations comparable to the official Seven Wonders. The Banaue Rice Terraces has been nominated as an Eighth Wonder of the World because of its beauty, perfection, use, and antiquity. The Banaue Rice Terraces was built by hand almost 2,000 years ago by Ifugao ancestors. There are still debates as to the real age of the rice terraces because the stones used to hold the soil trace back to a much older date. The rice terraces cover several mountainsides, carved from the top down to the bottom of the mountain. It was an ingenious farming method devised by the Ifugao people due to lack of flat terrain to plant rice. It also makes watering more efficient as water from the top would flow down to every layer. Each layer is bigger than the layer before it, forming a staircase like pattern, which earned the Tagalog reference “hagdang-hangdang palayan.”

Banaue Rice Terraces is one of the declared Nation Treasures of the Philippines by virtue of Presidential Decrees 260 and 1505. It is a symbolism of the national heritage of the country and one of the areas being protected and conserved by stakeholders. Unfortunately, it is not one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

When you visit Ifugao, you will realize that Banaue Rice Terraces is not the only rice terraces in the province. Also located in Ifugao are the Bangaan Rice Terraces, Batad Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Rice Terraces, Hapao Rice Terraces, and Kiangan Rice Terraces. The Mayoyao Rice Terraces, Batad Rice Terraces and Kiangan Rice Terraces are included among the rice terraces declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Batad Rice Terraces is located 18 kilometers away from Banaue. The tail going to Batad Rice Terraces is strictly by foot, as there are limited vehicles going to the site itself. Batad Rice Terraces has a different formation as it covers only one mountainside, as seen from the view deck. However, the Batad rice terraces is nestled all around with mountains. At the bottom of the Batad Rice Terraces is a village.

Elder Tujndagi of Banaue Rice Terraces
89-year old Tundagi, an Ifugao warrior and one of the original workers of the rice terraces.

The first thing to do upon entering Banaue, Ifugao is to visit the Municipal Tourism Center to pay the Php20.00 pesos tourism fee. They also offer maps and other relevant information as to transportation routes, lodging, and tourism packages. An important thing to note when going to Banaue is to bring cash as there are no banks or ATMs in the town. Banaue is only a town, while Lagawe is the capital of the Province where the banks are located. Before visiting the rice the rice terraces you may also drop by the Banaue Museum. From the junction or the town proper, you can follow the road going to the Banaue Rice Terraces. The distance is 4 kilometers, but travel time may vary due to vehicular traffic.

Chango Viewpoint
Dried terraces - harvest season just ended in most parts of the famous terraces.

Banaue Rice Terraces Standard Tricycle Tour

From the main road, you will follow a road to the left. Along the way, you will see different signs indicating the designated viewpoint or view deck from which you can see the Banaue Rice Terraces. Currently, there are four (4) famous viewpoints to witness the beauty of this breathtaking Banaue Rice Terraces. Usually the tour starts from the first viewpoint located in the bottom part or closer to the town proper up to the fourth viewpoint, which is called the Main Viewpoint.

  • The first viewpoint is a view from the bottom of the mountain called the “Chango Viewpoint”. Actually there are 2 other vantage points here. The view here is famous for being featured in the current Philippine 20-peso bill. Depending on the weather, you might see the whole rice terraces or you might see the bottom portion only because the view from the middle to the top of the mountain is covered with fog. 
  • The second viewpoint is the NFA - Aguian View Point. The second viewpoint has two views, from the roadside and another lower view deck. The viewpoint shows a comprehensive view of the Banaue Rice Terraces because you can see the top down to the bottom of the mountain.The old (demonetized) Philippine 1000-peso bill image was taken here.
  • The third viewpoint is the Dyanarra or Dayanarra View Point. This viewpoint was named after Dayanara Torres. The view is similar with the second viewpoint but from a higher vantage point. You’ll have to pass by several stores before arriving at the viewing spot. There are no railings here and you are literally standing on a mountain slope or cliff. 
  • The fourth viewpoint, called the Main Viewpoint, is located beside the road going up. The viewpoint is hidden by a lot of stores selling woodcarving, souvenir items, woven fabric, and delicacies. From the fourth viewpoint, you can see the whole Banaue Rice Terraces. However, if the weather is not good, the whole rice terraces will be covered with fog.

Along the way there are several stores, souvenir shops, and picture-taking booths. There are allotted parking spaces for every view point, but if the parking spaces are full you can park on the road side as long you don’t obstruct traffic.

Dayanarra Viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces
Stairway to Heaven and the waterfalls - from Dyanarra viewpoint.

Personal Notes + Sagada to Banaue Travel Journal

Still early for my 2:00PM bus trip to Banaue, I decided to walk from the terminal going to one of the famous local restaurants in Sagada, the Yogurt House. The Yogurt House is one of the famous restaurants or cafes in Sagada and known for its yellow building. I ordered beef cutlets with veggies and rice. The beef blends well with their red sauce mixed wth carrots, red bell pepper and Baguio beans. 

BTW, per advise of a friendly local I met in the hostel where I am staying, I booked my bus trip in advance (1 day ahead). Actually, this bus trip is routing Quezon City but they accept passengers dropping by at Banaue Terminal. It is advisable to book in advance as the seats get filled up very fast. There are only 4 scheduled trips of Coda Lines everyday. Another option is to take a public utility vehicle routing Sagada to Bontoc then take another ride from Bontoc to Banaue. Of course, taking the direct air conditioned bus from Sagada to Banaue for a more or less 3-hour trip is less hassle and quite comfortable.

I spent more than an hour in the Yogurt House – not just for lunch but also for the beautiful exhibit of photos on their wall. 

Our bus left Sagada at the exact scheduled time. The zigzag road, beautiful long river, and wonderful views along the road kept me awake. I took note of the two beautiful rice terraces we passed by before the town proper of Bontoc, which is another one of my reasons to go back to Mountain Province.

It was around 3:39PM when we passed by at the amazing Bayyo Rice Terraces. How I wish I could ask the driver to stop for a while. We had 2 stopovers before we reached Banaue. First is the 30-minute stopover in a vegetable market area (I forgot the name of the place) where some passengers bought fresh produce – mostly cabbages and carrots. I don’t have any clue on the name of the spot of our second stopover. It’s where the drivers and conductors fetch their drinking water from the natural spring along the road. It’s a memorable spot for me because of the beautiful view of a lone house in the middle of the mountains. The stopover is just 5 minutes and I forgot to take shots using my DSLR, but I hope my smart phone will do justice. 

We arrived in Banaue Town at 4:30PM. The bus stop is actually in front of the Municipal Tourism Office of Banaue. I paid the tourism fee and asked if touring the terraces is still possible. The kind officer nodded and assigned me to a driver for a tricycle tour. The tour costs Php200.00 and includes the four famous viewpoints of the Banaue Rice Terraces. Unfortunately it’s already dark in Banaue at 5:00PM. I took pictures but it’s already dark specially when we arrived in the in “20 pesos bill spot”. I decided to reschedule my shoot the following day with a different plan…

Town Proper Banaue
Morning view from Uyami's Green Lodge.

DIY Banaue Rice Terraces  Tour + Viewpoints

It’s officially my Day 1 in Banaue – exempt my failed (unscheduled) photo shoot the other day. I woke up at 7:30AM. Before heading to my main plan in the itinerary, I let myself enjoy the view of Banaue Town from the restaurant of Uyami’s Green Lodge. A typical Pinoy breakfast of fried rice, daing na bangus, sunny side egg and brewed coffee for Php140.00 set my mood for a different shooting plan in this foggy morning of January 18.

I checked out at Uyami’s at around 10:00AM and went back to tourism office to book for another tricycle ride. But this time it’s different. The very accommodating tourism officer remembered me and asked how my experience was the other day. I just smiled and asked her to book another tricycle ride going back to the main view point – this time just for a one way ride. I hired a tricycle for Php 100.00 up to the main viewpoint and I plan to just walk going back to the town proper. It’s a 7-km walk from the main viewpoint going to the town proper, yep, to reshoot and to try also unfamilliar vantage points. 

Hopefully, there’s a good internet signal so I could catch also PIKACHU. No not Thanos, since he could be in Batad preparing for war versus the Avengers? Maybe!

Town Proper Banaue
The town proper and rice terraces from Uyami's Green Lodge.

The Main Viewpoint. I arrived at the main viewpoint around 10:00AM. The weather was not good! The rain started to fall. While waiting for the rain to stop, I had the chance to talk to two beautiful ladies, the 82 year-old Urtago and the 85 year-old Camote Kuyapi. They are two of the original workers in the rice terraces but due to old age and weak body they can no longer perform their old farm works. They agreed to be photographed.

I just stayed at the souvenir shop in the main view point, waiting for the rain showers to stop. After 15 minutes, the rain stopped, the other two foreign tourist decided to proceed with their trek up to the terraces. Two large groups of tourist arrived and left but I was still busy shooting and finding the perfect color and composition of the terraces.

Main Viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces
Drone shot from the main viewpoint.

"The Banaue Rice Terraces has been nominated as an Eighth Wonder of the World because of its beauty, perfection, use, and antiquity. The Banaue Rice Terraces was built by hand almost 2,000 years ago by Ifugao ancestors..."

Elders, Main Viewpoint
Urtago (82 years old) and Kuyapi (85 years old) - two of the original workers of Banaue Rice Terraces.

Dyanarra Viewpoint. After more or less an hour of staying in the main viewpoint, I walked going to Dayannara viewpoint. Locals call this as Dyanarra Viewpoint from the name of the 1994 Miss Universe Winner Dayanarra Torres. This viewpoint was made famous by Ms. Torres when an entertainment production team used this spot as background in one of her projects. An old man wearing traditional Ifugao dress smiled at me and he agreed for photos. Took some shots then walked down to the next viewpoint, the NFA viewpoint, which is the one I missed the other day. 

Dayanarra Viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces from Dyanarra Viewpoint

Dayanarra Viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces
An Ifugao elder in Dyanarra Viewpoint

The NFA-Aguian Viewpoint. The location of the famous skating scene commercial of an energy drink is now dry. The two store owners told me that the harvest season just ended and preparing of the land will be in the coming months. For now, its just a garden of red leaf flowers and grasses. Anyway, I stayed in NFA Aguian Viewpoint for more than an hour- to reflect. Kidding! Just to enjoy the view and imagine the view of the whole area during planting or harvesting seasons. I ordered the 60-peso cup noodles and bottled water for lunch then a friend made a cellphone call.

NFA - Aguian Viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces
A woman crossing the cemented pathway of the rice terraces - view from NFA-Aguian Viewpoint

After an hour of staying and enjoying the view of the rice terraces from the NFA-Aguian viewpoint, I realized that this is also the spot featured in the old (demonetized) 1000 Philippine Peso Bill.

NFA - Aguian Viewpoint of the Banaue Rice Terraces
The old (demonetized) 1000 Philippine Peso Bill image of the Banaue Rice Terraces.

I moved to the next spot. It’s around 1:30PM already when I arrived in the spot or not familiar viewpoint – I forgot the name of the location. I meet the famous Ifugao warrior named Tundagi. He’s already 89 years old but his smile is infectious! He’s full of joy and positivity. BTW, he’s actually famous – he already appeared in different international magazines, video ads and website pages.

Elder Tujndagi of Banaue Rice Terraces
Tundagi in his infectious smile.

The rain started to pour again; luckily, there is a wood carving shop along the road. The workers allowed me to stay and witness how they patiently carve these art pieces- the usual souvenirs from Banaue. Buy wood carvings or wood products here because they are sold cheaper.

Woodworks Banaue
A typical day for wood carving workers of Banaue.

The Tuwali Restaurant and the Viewpoints in Chango area. I had a short stop over in Tuwali Restaurant viewpoint. The view here is also good but no excitement at all for me since I already visited the previous viewpoints with much better vantage points. 

After Tuwali, the next stop around 2:30 PM is the famous 20-peso bill viewpoint. The famous view of the Banaue Rice Terraces in the current Philippine 20-peso bill can be seen in the area called Chango. It is actually the second of the two viewpoints in the said barangay. I just took drone videos in the 20-peso bill viewpoint then walked for less than 5 minutes going to the first viewing point in Chango. I meet an elder again, Awan Tiya Umok. I forgot to ask for her age but I think she’s the oldest of all the elders I have met. She agreed for photos.

20 Pesos Bill Viewpoint
The image featured in the current 20 Philippine Peso Bill.

I assumed I already accomplished all the viewpoints and walked back to the town proper. I noticed a group of tourists staying in a local restaurant named 7th Heaven Cafe – I dropped my backpack and decided to have my early dinner. Their pork liempo is simple but sumptuous. The view of the town here is amazing! I stayed here until 4:20PM - reviewing my shots while SMILING. Then I rode a tricycle back to the tourism office, also the loading terminal of Coda Lines. I’m heading back to Manila at 5:30PM. 

The fog is all over the town, the weather is chilling, and our bus leaves, I’m filled with beautiful memories!

Chango Viewpoint
The scenery from the first viewpoint in Chango.

Travel Notes 
  • Arrange your Banaue Rice Terraces Tour at the Tourism Information Center in Banaue Town Proper. Pay the Tourism Fee. 
  • After you arrange your tour at the Tourism Office, a tricycle for Php 200.00 (two way) or Php100.00 (one way) will be assigned to you. 
  • The farthest viewpoint, the Main Viewpoint, is about 7 kilometers away from the town proper of Banaue. 
  • Tricycle tour includes visit to the 4 official viewpoints – beginning at the bottom going to the main viewpoint. It usually lasts for more or less 3 hours. 
  • If you have enough time and stamina, just like what I did, walking from the main viewpoint going down to the town proper is a 4-hour journey. The good thing is you’ll discover that there are a lot of good vantage points to witness the breathtaking Banaue Rice Terraces.Your comfort and difficulty of the hike will depend on what you wear. Remember to wear appropriate hiking clothes, pack light but make sure to bring water, energy drink and a small towel. 
  • Bring enough water. Food staffs are also available along the way. 
  • Bring along a camera - the views are amazing! 
  • You can fly a drone but please ensure safety and respect the privacy of locals living in the community. 
  • I explored the rice terraces in January, not a good timing though. During this month, majority of the rice terraces are dried – after a recent harvest season. June and July, according to the locals, are the best months to visit Banaue Rice Terraces – during or before the harvest season. 
  • Mobile phone signal is good in the Banaue Rice terraces area – much better than in the hostel I stayed. 
  • Please, NO LITTERING! Let’s preserve the cleanliness of Banaue. 

Main Viewpoint

How to Get There 

From Metro Manila Manila 
  • Take a sleeper bus from Manila. Some recommended liners are the Ohayami Trans Bus and Coda Lines which can leave at night and arrive at Banaue early in the morning the next day. Travel time is approximately 9-10 hours and the fare is around Php 450 - 500 for ordinary buses, and Php 500 - 600 for deluxe buses as of this writing. 

From Sagada/Bontoc, Mountain Province 
  • There are two options going to Banaue, Ifugao from Sagada, Mountain Province. First option is to take a bus routing Quezon City (Coda Lines) and ask the driver to drop you off at Banaue. The second option is to take a public utility vehicle from Sagada to Bontoc then transfer to a jeepney or van heading to Banaue. The schedule of trips from Sagada to Bontoc and Bontoc to Banaue is quite limited – usually starts early in the morning and the last trip is during lunch time. 

From Visayas and Mindanao
  • Fly to Manila or Clark then follow the instructions above.


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