LOCATION: BANAUE, PHILIPPINES
Discover the millennial-old Rice Terraces with me in my travel VLOG…
A mere two-weeks since my arrival from my December-January trip to Hawaii (a very comatose fortnight, thanks to a terrible case of jet-lag) I was already itching to get out and explore – this time, the country I call home. Despite having lived here in the Philippines since 2012, I’ve hardly explored this diverse and culture rich country. The Ifugao Rice Terraces made it onto my bucket-list a long while back, but I’d never made the effort to actually travel up country to see it… until now (*insert super excited emoji here). The sights in Ifugao are breathtaking, and I hope my posts will convince you to see this marvel with your own two eyes.
How To Get There: By Road
The mountainous region of Ifugao lays 463km away from the capital of Manila, Philippines. I chose to travel via car since I have my own and my mum/travel buddy/photographer is a pretty good driver (or crazy if you’re not from the Philippines). It was a straight nine hour drive via the Pan-Philippine Highway. Depending on your driver’s skill / bravery when it comes to overtaking the large trucks, buses, tricycles and slow movers along the way can cut down your travel time by a little. We had no problem along the way, but overtaking in the Philippines is definitely not for the fainthearted, so you may want to pack a blindfold. Another travel option to Ifugao is by bus which is a great option for those who don’t fancy driving or want to travel alone.
Where to Stay: Sanafe Lodge
Banaue, the town itself doesn’t really have all that to offer other than the sight of the majestic rice terraces. There is a trek to the nearby Chappa Falls but as a seasonal sight and it was not visible during my visit. Accommodation in Banaue is pretty straight-forward and casual – which is all you could really ask for since the main purpose is to rest those sleepy bones after a full day of exploring and then pass to the next town. Sanafe lodge is perfect for the passing-through traveller as its situated in close proximity of town centre and has its own restaurant that serves filipino comfort food along with native coffee. My favourite feature would have to be the outdoor patio that boasts a beautiful view overlooking the town with the rice terraces in the distance.
Food around these parts, in my experience is really just to fill an empty stomach. Coffee is also locally sourced but the ones I tried during my stay didn’t warrant any recommendations.
The view from the Sanafe Lodge.
What to Try: Ifugao Traditional Costume
At practically every viewpoint in Banaue are Ifugao people who are dressed in their traditional red, patterned Ifugao costume. They will gladly allow you to wear a costume in exchange for a tip. However, than main reason I included this on my list is that I found it particularly enriching to learn about the rich history straight from a local. The man I met was happy to tell me about his knowledge about the culture, heritage and history of the Rice Terraces. So when you see the locals, be sure to leave with some knowledge along with your pictures.
What to See: The Rice Terraces
The only thing I could think of when soaking in the sculpted mountain sides were..’it is amazing how this was achieved over 2000 years ago with bare hands, will power and working with the elements.’ Each level of the rice terraces are naturally irrigated with ancient systems using the mountain water and to this day, traditional practices are still in use. This is the main attraction in Banaue – and rightfully so. There are multiple view points, all joined by a single road, that offer differing perspectives of the Terraces and I really recommend visiting more than one. This way you can see each face of the mountain and even spot a hidden waterfall.
I hope the Banaue Rice Terraces have found a spot on your travel wishlist! Keep in mind that the rice planting is seasonal, so its best to go just when the harvest is at its greenest (around mid-year) but whatever season, the terraces take your breath away any time of the year.