One of the most famous spots to explore the terraces is the little village Batad, although there are some terraces in Banawe, a small town, often used as a base for visitors who want to explore the surroundings.. Also Banawe is the last stop on the way from Manila to the terraces..
I had no wish to take the bus, anyway, so I hitchhiked all the way from Manila to Banawe.. The road took me two days, getting rides on commercial jeepneys and buses, and even on a military truck with two soldiers holding M-16.. I had to spend the night in a police station, and then continue my to Banawe early in the morning.. There are hiking routes around Banawe, but I would suggest not to waste time there, because the terraces around Batad are more impressive and beautiful..
It’s not that easy to reach the Batad rice terraces.. The public jeepneys to Batad saddle are rare.. There are jeepneys going another village, it passes by Batad junction from where it’s 9 km to the saddle.. If you’re lucky you can get a lift.. I wasn’t that lucky so I had to walk all the way up to the saddle.. Tourists can also hire a jeepney in Banawe for 1500 pesos (about 40 USD).. After reaching the saddle, one has to walk down to the village.. The walk takes about an hour depending on how fast one walks..
As I said it’s not easy to reach the terraces in Batad, but it is worth to suffer a bit.. The scenery impressive! The terraces of Ifugao are man-made and I wonder what’s that power that pushed people to carry the stones and by their own hands make the terraces on the mountain slopes..
Local families grow rice only for their own use, working hard on the fields under the burning sun.. The harvest is hardly enough for them to eat.. Rice in the Philippines plays a very important role in daily meals.. Although, the rice culture is not common for Philippines and was brough to the islands, perhaps, from China or other regions.. Historical studies link the terraces to the Miao tribe of China that crossed the South China Sea around 20th century BC..
If by any chance you’ll visit Batad rice terraces, make sure to stay at least for 2-3 days! Accommodation is not a problem here.. There are cheap and cozy guesthouses where you can stay.. I didn’t have the chance to explore them (I guess you can find a wealth of information in guidebooks), because in my way from Batad saddle to the village I met a beautiful young lady and she suggested me to stay at Ramon’s guesthouse where she works.. The bonfire and Ramon’s stories on local culture and traditions made their point! Ramon’s guesthouse offers a very simple accommodation but it is worth to stay there, because the owner, Ramon, holds a bonfire every evening.. He’s a good source of information on Ifugao traditions and daily life.. Apart from that, in Ramon’s guesthouse you can stay in traditional Ifugao wooden house..
Apart from the terraces in Batad, there are four other spots around Banawe declared UNESCO world heritage site.. Filipinos claim the Ifugao rice terraces to be the 8th wonder of the world.. And I’m absolutely agree with them.. The terraces of Batad are one the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.. It’s only because of magnificent scenery spots, but also because of the hospitality of locals, who smile and greet you as if you are an old friend..
Check out more photos from Banawe and Batad: