The rice terraces in the Cordilleras are probably the biggest tourist attraction of the Philippine archipelago. They offer fresh, clean air – which stands in opposition to polluted Manila – breathtaking views and exhilarating treks.
Banaue is generally reached by a night bus from Manila which takes around 8 hours. Both Florida and Ohayami have a bus that runs this route, and prices are 450 pesos per person. From Ohayami one sets off at 9 and one at 10pm, both of them arrive into the village at around 6am. If you have already booked accommodation they will collect you from the station. If not there will be tour guides encouraging you to sign up to up to treks around the area; these are significantly more expensive than those found in hostels in the village though, and you will be in a much bigger group.
We stayed in Bogah home stay which was perfect for the trip. They offer freshly cooked, reasonably priced meals served 6am-9pm. Also, they provided us with a very impressive personal guide, who knew a lot about the area. The town itself doesn’t have much to offer, so it’s advisable that you hire a tour guide,even just for one day.
The first thing our guide showed us was a waterfall-cum-slide on the outskirts of the village. We trekked for about an hour through the exquisite countryside and along the thin terraces walls (be careful as these can be slippery and it’s easy to lose your footing). The waterfall and chilly pool were remarkably refreshing after the walk. Also, we were lucky enough to be the only ones there. On the trek back to Banaue, our guide invited us into his family home, where they were preparing for a wedding. We ate chicken and soup with the family whilst the various pets and wildlife scurried about our feet. This cost 800 pesos, including the cost of a tricycle to the start of the trek.
Another excursion we participated in was to Batad, it took around an hour in a tricycle to get to the start of the hike. Our guide showed us some spectacular view points, and was very informative about the area and culture. We also went to Tappiya waterfall which is a short trek from Batad. Once again, the water was just what we needed to revive us. Our guide invited us into one of the residences home and taught us about the process of making organic rice. We also had the opportunity to pound the rice ourself. This trip cost 2,200 pesos, including the transport.