Ifugao province is located at the foot of the Cordillera mountain ranges. It is bounded on the north by Mountain Province, on the east by the Isabela, on the south by Nueva Viscaya and on the west by Benguet. The province has a land area of 251,778.0 hectares. The terrain is rugged, with mountains cutting across the horizon, elevations reaching beyond 1,000 meters and peaks above 2,000 meters. Ifugao is dry from November to April and very wet during the rest of the year. The climate is mild and comfortable all throughout the year.
The Cordillera mountain ranges are home to diverse cultural minorities and some of the country's most beautiful landscapes. Ifugao is known for its famous Banaue Rice Terraces considered as the eight wonder of the world and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The terraces are believed to be over 2,000 years old and run more than 100 square miles. They manifest the engineering skills and ingenuity of the Ifugao tribe. It took the Ifugaos centuries to build the terraces and up until today, they continuously work on them; making the rice terraces the longest agricultural project in history.
How to Get There
A traveler can get to Banaue by taking the Ohayami (tel. 5160501/0927.6493055) with a terminal located at Lacson St., España, Manila near University of Santo Tomas. The average bus fare to Banaue is four hundred fifty pesos (PhP450). This route takes eight to nine hours of travel time.The bus leaves at around 9 p.m. and arrives in Banaue around 6 a.m.. It is recommended to make an advance bus reservation due to limited bus trips. Upon arriving the next day in Banaue, a tricycle can be hired going to viewpoint and from junction going to Batad or anywhere in Banaue.
There are two alternate routes going to Banaue via Baguio City: via Halsema Mountain Trail and via Bontoc, Mountain Province. Travel time is approximately eight hours. Another route from Baguio City is via San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. The travel time would be eight to nine hours.
In going to Batad, from the Banaue terminal, hire a tricycle to bring you to the junction. The average tricycle fare for two is three hundred pesos (PhP300). Normally, it takes an hour to reach the junction but if you love taking scenic pictures, then it would take you longer to reach the place. From the junction, it takes two hours of trekking. For the first hour, you can take a rest at a waiting shed on top of the mountain. Then from the waiting shed, you will descend for another hour in going to the lodging houses.
Where to Stay
There are so many accommodations available for travelers. There is the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel (tel. 074 3864087 to 88), Banaue View Inn (tel. 074 3864078), People's Lodge (tel. 074 3864014) and Green View Lodge (tel. 074 3864021). When in Batad, you can stay at any of the following: Simon's Viewpoint Inn and Pizza Restaurant, Hillside Inn and Restaurant, Batad Pension and Restaurant, Foreigner's Inn and Restaurant and Waterfall Side Lodge. Among these accommodations, Rita's Mount View Inn and Restaurant is the best as it is situated overlooking the rice terraces. It charges 150 pesos per night. Reservations may be made through 0910-8423076.
All lodging houses have its restaurant which serves healthy, delectable food with prices ranging from 100 to 200 pesos. Best-tasting pizzas are served at Rita's restaurant.
What to See
There are many places to see in Banaue. Some of the places would require a guide especially in going to the rice terraces. In some of the rice terraces, it takes hours of trekking to reach the place. I suggest that you take your breakfast first before proceeding to the rice terraces and stay there for a night. I recommend Denwil Batangog, as tour guide and van rental (0935.9591897).
Here is a list of the must-see places in Banaue: 1. Tam-an Village 2. Viewpoint 3. Batad rice terraces 4. Tappia Falls in Batad 5. Hapao rice terraces 6. Kiangan rice terraces 7. Mayoyao rice terraces 8. Hungduan rice terraces 9. Natoban cave 10 Bintacan cave 11. War Memorial Shrine in Kiangan 12. Banaue Museum
In Batad, there is no electricity in the village and cellular network.
In some of the rice terraces, you need to stay at least a day to explore the place.
There are no automated teller machines. It is advisable to bring enough cash during your stay in Banaue.
The mode of transportation in the area is limited. Jeepneys and buses going to other provinces leave every hour and fewer during holidays.
I have always wanted to see the rice terraces up close. When I had the chance to visit the place I was overwhelmed by the ingenuity of the Ifugao culture. I was also fascinated with the beauty of the rice terraces. When I saw the rice terraces, the more than two hours of trekking was worth it. I even walked another one hour and a half to reach the Tappia Falls from the lodging house. On the way to the falls, a lot of the Ifugaos invited me for a lunch and kids asking for candies because it was their town fiesta. In the evening, the people gathered around the bonfire to tell stories. It was also my first time to sleep in a very simple accommodation... just a bed and a candle. There was no electricity and slept with just the moon, stars and fireflies that lighted the night. The trip was tiring and a wonderful experience and I am sure that I will go back there to visit the other beautiful rice terraces.