Banaue

Ancient, eternal rice terraces

Carved on the rugged mountainsides of the Cordilleras in the northern Philippines are rice terraces so beautiful and bountiful beyond belief. How the Ifugao people’s forefathers built them 2,000 years ago, reshaping immoveable cliffs and diverting spring water from nearby jungle forests into a complex network of irrigation, remains a mystery. No wonder they are considered the eighth wonder of the world.

The UNESCO has named these rice terraces World Heritage Sites. Strictly speaking, the rice terraces at the center of town in Banaue are not part of the UNESCO declaration. But since two of the five declared sites — Batad and Bangaan — are part of Banaue town, and the other sites — Hungduan, Mayoyao Central and Nagacadan — are in the vicinity anyway, it became convenient to just call them unofficially as the Banaue Rice Terraces.

At the end of the movie Avengers: Infinity War, bad boy Thanos sallies forth into a stunning sunset over a mountain carved up into cinematic rice terraces. Guess where it was shot?

  • Take a bus from Manila directly to Banaue, practically a whole day’s trip.
  • You may also take a four-wheel drive up there. Or get a van rental.
  • In Banaue, you can go local aboard jeepneys and on motorbikes.
  • Modest accommodations are found in family-owned inns at the town proper. These also offer hearty home-cooked meals.
  • Picky tourists make reservations at the government-run Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel.
  • Some travel guides prefer foreign tourists over domestic travelers.
  • Get off your van and explore the rice terraces on foot, of course! The village folk are happy to lend you their ceremonial attire for your Instagram snapshot or new Facebook profile pic.
  • Head off to some out-of-the-way waterfalls or hot spring at the back of an elementary school.
  • Partake of local delicacies, such as wild game and freshly harvested mushrooms, cooked the Ifugao way.
  • Fly a kite in the crisp mountain air.
  • If you have time for only one rice terraces site, your best bet would be Batad. Discover life in the village enclosed by swaying rice stalks, like waves tossing you back in time.
  • The Museum of Cordilleran Sculpture has wooden rice gods, handwoven fabrics, and indigenous art works and practical household items for sale.
  • A few steps from the roadside entrance to the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel is the home-atelier of an artist who has made Banaue his home. He makes made-to-order woodworks. Check out the atelier and the artist!
  • Wood sculpture
  • The incredibly heady strong local coffee
  • Native rice wine
  • Sugarcane wine
  • Sturdy brooms made of local grasses

HOW TO GET HERE

Fly from the US (Nonstop from LAX, SFO, HNL, GUM, SPN) to Manila (MNL)

Fly from Canada (Nonstop from YVR and YYZ) to Manila (MNL)

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