Ifugao Province | Journey to Batad Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Banaue

One of the gems of the Philippine landscape is certainly the Batad Rice Terraces of Banaue in Ifugao Province. Its importance is not merely for the fact that it’s a sight for sore eyes, but that it represents so much of what the Filipino culture and heritage stands for. The terraces were built by the Ifugao ancestors two thousand years ago almost entirely by hand in order to combat the erosion brought about by heavy rains during the monsoon season. When rain falls, the water will flow gradually from terrace to another until the water is evenly distribute to all the rice plants. This irrigation system stands and lasts till this day – a testament to just how hardworking and innovative the Filipino people can be.

Batad Rice Terraces

But standing at around 1500 metres above sea level, this fantastic man-made structure is not very easy to get to! There’s quite a journey to be had when getting to the Batad Rice Terraces - yes, it’s technically called the Batad Rice Terraces! Banaue is merely a starting point off to the village of Batad where the actual terraces are located. It’s located in the province of Ifugao, but going there will take time and energy also.

Batad 5
Batad Rice Terraces from the main viewdeck

PERSONAL NOTES

This is actually a follow-up of my Ifugao trip last January this year. I’ve felt that my Banaue trip was not complete if I haven’t explored Batad and the other equally stunning rice terraces in the area. Along with the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, there are five other magnificent rice terraces in Ifugao. I planned this trip while I was in Jakarta airport going back to the Philippines for my quarterly work vacation. Originally, I will be traveling with wife; sadly her work schedule doesn’t permit. 

A day before this trip, I was not in a good mood to pursue this trip. You know hormones when you’re in 30’s. Then, I made up my mind the next and found myself riding in an overcrowded bus bound to Coda’s Edsa Terminal (also known as HM Bus Terminal). I arrived 2 hours earlier in the terminal only to realize that I haven’t completed the payment of my reserved bus ticket going to Banaue. Luckily, there are still vacant seats for 11:00 PM schedule and I scored the window seat on the last row. 

Our bus arrived in Banaue around 7:00AM. I registered first at the Municipal Tourism Office and booked a tour going to Batad Rice Terraces – with side trips in other equally interesting rice terraces along the way. I took most out of the trip while I was in Banaue. 

I paid the tourism and the tour fees and boarded the tricycle assigned to me together with Manong Romeo [+639069003340] who was my tour guide. On the way, we dropped for a while at Uyami’s Greenview Lodge which I booked through Agoda - for breakfast and my early check-in (glad they allowed me). I left my things in the hostel and just brought enough cash, my camera, drone and mobile phone. Better to travel lightly for the trek.

The almost one hour road to Batad was already paved. My tour guide and driver were generous enough to drop me to other rice terraces along the way. We made a short stop at Poitan and Guihob Rice Terraces. They always remind me to just take time and enjoy my experience. What a pleasant day for me!

Poitan Rice Terraces
The view of Poitan Rice Terraces and the town of Banaue from the road going to Batad

Guihob Rice Terraces in Banaue, Ifugao Province
Guihob Rice Terraces, another beautiful sight on the way to Batad Rice Terraces

We arrived in Batad saddle point around 9:30AM. From the drop-off point, going to the viewing deck requires a 30-minute trekking. Half of the road going to the view deck is already paved and developed and the other half is still rough road for which I made a mistake of not wearing a trekking shoes. The trail going to the viewing deck (area where most homestays are located) is an easy trek. We stayed there for more than an hour. 

I was in awe upon seeing the Batad rice terraces for the first time! The mix of green and gold colors is vibrant; the patterns and lines of the terraces is a sight to behold; and the authentic and charming smile of the locals is heartwarming. I wish I had more time to stay in this kind of comforting place.

Batad Canon 2
A village in the middle of Batad Rice Terraces

There are sari-sari stores and restaurants in the area. While I was exploring, the locals were busy doing their usual daily activities. I flew my drone and kept on pressing the photo shot button. Meanwhile, my tour guide is enjoying his brewed coffee and he just keeps on reminding me to just take my time whenever I look at him asking if we’re still on the timeframe of the itinerary.

Batad Warrior
An Ifugao elderly in traditional costume

We left the viewing deck at 11:55AM. The trek going back to the jump-off point is not as easy as going down. From 30 minutes it became more or less an hour. My tour guide always checks on me and we always stop whenever my lungs give signs “to pause.” But the trek going up is full of good stories from Manong Romeo or maybe full of laughter moments. In one of our stops, he shared to me that he’s the tour guide behind the location hunting and shooting of the rice terraces scene in the box office hit “Avengers: Endgame”! Oh this famous tour guide, Manong Romeo – I forgot to make selfies with you!

Manong Romeo, Batad Rice Terraces
Manong Romeo, my tour guide during this Batad journey 

After Batad, my driver and tour guide then brought me to the beautiful Bangaan Rice terraces, also part of the clusters of rice terraces declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. The journey took more or less 20 minutes from the jump-off point in Batad.

Bangaan Spark 1
Bird's-eye view of Bangaan Rice Terraces, another World Heritage Site in Banaue

Bangaan 2
A village in the middle of Bangaan Rice Terraces

Bangaan Kapa 2
Bangaan Rice Terraces from unknown viewdeck on the roadside

No other itineraries left and I assumed I already accomplished my short comeback in Banaue, I asked the driver and Manong Romeo to take me back to the town proper. At 2:45PM, I took my (late) lunch, roamed around the town for a photo walk and booked my trip ticket for the earliest bus back to Manila.

The fogs started to cover the beautiful town of Banaue around 5:30 PM. I am sipping a cup of tea while enjoying the priceless view of the western part of the famous Banaue rice terraces from the window of Uyami’s restaurant.


TRAVEL GUIDE and THINGS TO DO IN BATAD

Upon arrival at Banaue, Ifugao, register and arrange your Batad tour at the Tourism Center. The rates going to Batad Rice Terraces are standard and they will assign a tricycle/car that will take you to the Batad rice terraces. The cost for a one way trip going to the jump-off point is Php 500 or Php1000 for back and forth trip (chartered). The driver will drop you off at the main drop off point in Batad, the Batad Eco Saddle, after which your 30-minute trek into the Batad village proper will begin. The starting point is marked by a sign which says, “Welcome to Batad.” Once you arrive at the village, there are many local restaurants and homestays where you can spend the day or night to rest before you start your hike. 

According to the locals, the best place to see fantastic views of the rice terraces is at the Awa Viewdeck. The trek to Awa Viewdeck will take a total of 5 hours from the village proper – yep, not for fainthearted! While the walk is taxing and tiring, there are natural springs where you can refill your water as well as shops along the path where you can purchase souvenirs and snacks. The view from the top is worth more than the physical exertion, however, with a delightful view of the entire rice terraces from above. I opted to do Awa viewdeck trekking because of my recent surgery. No worries, if you’re not physically ready also, the view from the main viewdeck is still mesmerizing!

Aside from the Batad Viewpoint, another great trek is the Tappiya Waterfalls which is a bit more easy on the knees. The trek to Tappiya Waterfalls back and forth will take 3 hours.

Batad 5
Batad Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site


TRAVEL NOTES
  • Arrange your Batad Rice Terraces Tour at the Tourism Information Center in Banaue Town Proper. Pay the Tourism Fee. I availed the day tour package since I was booked at Banaue Town proper – yep, day tour is possible!
  • If you want to spend overnight, there are homestays in Batad. Transient price ranges from Php 300-Php 750. 
  • After you arrange your tour at the Tourism Office, a tricycle for Php 1000.00 (two way) or Php 500.00 (one way) will be assigned to you. You can get a guide right away at the tourism office or upon arrival at the saddle point for Php 1200.00 (including Tappiya Falls). I opted not to include Tappiya Falls on my itinerary due to my recent surgery so I paid lesser. 
  • Ensure you have enough cash because there are no ATMs or banks in the area.
  • The jump-off point is at the area they call saddle point, an hour travel from the Banaue town proper. From the jump-off point, its’ an easy 30-minute down trek going to the view deck.
  • From the main viewdeck, Tappiya Falls is more than an hour trek. According to my guide, Manong Romeo, going to and from the falls requires stamina – not for fainthearted!
  • Start your treks early so you can make it back to the village while the sun is still out.
  • Carry a walking stick to make your trek easier.
  • Bring enough water. Food staffs are also available. 
  • Use sunscreen and bring umbrella and jackets to be prepared for the weather whether it's cold or hot.
  • 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. Ask advice from your tour guide or ask permission from the locals.
  • Go during the summer (March to June) to avoid muddy and slippery treks - this is also when there is an abundance of greenery and foliage. 
  • I explored the Batad Rice Terraces in June, a good timing though. During this month, the rice terraces are colored yellow and green – a combined season of rice growing and harvesting period. 
  • Be prepared because there is no phone signal in the trek site.
  • Do not haggle with the locals as the prices help support their livelihood.
  • Please, NO LITTERING! Let’s preserve the cleanliness of Banaue.
  • To return back to Banaue from Batad, you can take a jeepney which leaves at 9:30AM and 2:30PM daily or if you’re on a daytour (just like me), chartered tricycle is just waiting at the jump-off point.


HOW TO GET THERE

From Metro 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 in the morning of the next day. Travel time is approximately 9-10 hours and the fare is around Php450 – Php500 for ordinary buses, and Php500 - Php650 for deluxe buses (as of this writing). 
From Sagada 
  • Take a bus or van headed to Banaue. Estimated fare of Php 150-Php 250.
From Visayas and Mindanao
  • Fly to Manila or Clark then follow the instructions above. 

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SAMPLE BATAD ITINERARY
*** This is a weekend getaway itinerary and was my actual Batad trip itinerary. I opted not to include Tappiya Falls and Awa Viewdeck due to my recent surgery. 

Day 0 (Friday)
11:00PM - ETD from Metro Manila (Coda Lines in Quezon City)
Day 1 (Saturday)
07:00AM - ETA at Banaue/Register at the Tourism Office/Arrange tour 
07:30AM - Drop bag at the homestay and breakfast
08:30AM - Tricycle ride (chartered) to Batad saddle point 
08:45AM - Poitan and Guihob Rice Terraces
09:30AM - ETA at the saddle point/ trek to Batad Viewdeck
10:00AM - Batad main viewdeck
12:00NN - Trek back to the jump-off point
01:00PM - Arrival at the jump-off point/travel to Bangaan Rice Terraces
01:20PM - Bangaan Rice Terraces
02:00PM - Back to Banaue town proper
02:45PM - Arrival at Banaue Town proper/lunch/photowalk and chill moments in one of the cafĂ©’s overlooking Banaue rice terraces/book bus ticket back to Metro Manila
Day 2 (Sunday)
08:30AM - Breakfast/Just me time at Uyami’s restaurant and enjoying the morning view of the rice terraces.
12:00PM - ETD to Manila via Coda Lines


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