I thought of spending my birthday this year by visiting the green lands of the north. And so, with my friend, we travelled to the well-loved destinations of Ifugao province, the Batad Rice Terraces, a UNESCO heritage site and the location of the ampitheatre rice terraces, and the Banaue Rice Terraces, a 2,000-year old terraces recognized as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Getting to Batad Rice Terraces
We left Sampaloc, Manila via Ohayami Bus (P470.00) at around 9:30pm on a Friday night in March. Surprisingly, the bus was fully occupied by majority of non-Filipinos eager to spend the weekend there.
Upon our arrival at the bus terminal at 7:00am, we registered and paid the environmental fee worth P50.00 per person and rode a jeepney going to the central district of Banaue. We dropped off at a restaurant and walked towards the jeepney terminal to Batad. The terminal is near a carinderia, so we decided to have our breakfast first before buying some vegetables in the market to bring to the lodge in the village.
The jeepney from Banaue to Batad leaves at 8:30am daily even with few passengers on board (P150.00). We sat on the front seat to see the view as the jeepney maneuvered along zigzag paths for around 30 minutes.
From the jumpoff at the Saddle, we started the hike on a muddy and slippery trail which took around 45 minutes before we reached the village. According to the locals, it rained early in the morning; good thing I brought my trekking sandals, my adventure partner in these kind of days.
The trail was adorned with lush green trees, but the rice fields were like muddy pools. The blog willflyforfood.net recommends the months of April-May or October-November if you want to witness the rice fields at its greenest. The harvest time is on June and December, hence, the terraces show off a golden color.
We then came to the Batad village, paid the environmental fee of P50.00 and descended a seemingly “endless” steep cemented pathways until reaching Ramon’s Native Homestay. Mang Ramon himself welcomed us warmly on his breakfast table. His windows offered a breathtaking view of the rice terraces and nature’s fresh air! We rented an Ifugao hut at P400.00 (per person/overnight) and secured our bags there. Mang Ramon also offers dormitory rooms at P250.00/person per night.
After a short rest, we decided to trek the view deck while I wore a native Ifugao costume. Mang Ramon lends the costume for free for picture-taking purposes. Thanks to Marco for the suggestion; we were able to take remembrances in a different way (lol). Marco, who visited Batad a couple of times, became familiar with the routes so he planned our itinerary and led the way.
The View Deck
To reach the view deck, we hiked uphill, passed by an outlet of potable spring water, and crossed the ultra narrow cemented edges of the rice terraces. A snapshot of the rice terraces will prompt a perception of an easy trek, but reality opposes this assumption. The characteristic “steps” seem to stand at a height of more than 10 feet, hence, a careless fall could lead to injury. And so we carefully tred these narrow paths. Alas, we spent some time at the View Deck reveling in the beauty and grandiosity of the ampitheatre rice terraces.
We then decided to proceed to our next destination – Tappiya Falls. Trekking downhill… on rocky trails and uneven stairways without railings… posed a challenge with our knees; bringing a walking stick was very helpful as it gave us a sense of security and balance. Walking sticks are available at the village for P10.00.
We got excited when we saw the river bend and the sound of rushing water, giving us a clue of our nearness to the waterfalls.
The Tappiya waterfalls, rising at 300 feet, is also a spectacular feature in Batad. Water upstream powerfully flows from the overhang to the plunge pool. I’d say that the view was worth the time and perspiration. 🙂 We did not miss the chance of dipping in its cold waters, which most local and foreign friends, and even children locals, did during that time. The stones were slippery though, so caution is necessary. Also, the locals have installed a nipa shelter as resting place, with few locals selling chichiria and bottled drinks for guests.
The time came for us to pack up. Ascending the steep stairways and rocky trails was more challenging than ever as we struggled with our breath and wobbling knees. I realized that I was dealing with the issue of exercise and weight (lol!) This was the time when the walking stick becomes your most important accessory for this adventure 😀
Along the way we were acquainted with Nadja, a British friend, who also joined us over lunch at a hometyle restaurant. It is typical for the locals to mix red rice with the viand. So, I had a healthy lunch of vegetables (string beans and carrots) mixed with red rice, while my friends had their share of tuna and veggies mixed with red rice, and sunny-side up (fried egg). The prices starts at a minimum of P100.00.
Bonfire with Co-Travellers
At night, Mang Ramon invited us for a get-together over bonfire as it was customary for him to acquaint his occupants to each other. While sharing stories, he let us taste the Ifugao version of rice wine (tapuy). It was a memorable evening; we met new Filipino and European friends who shared the same passion for travel and adventure.
“Til Next Time, Batad!
The next morning, we packed up early for our next destination. Marco cooked our breakfast on his portable stove. With our new friends Lanie, Con and Japhet, we left early and hiked for another hour to the Saddle. Marco’s contact, Mang Andy and his friend, took us back to Banaue on their habal-habal (P200). We had a carefree ride on that long and winding road since we were the only motorists in the highway. The views of the mountains and greens were fascinating and we had enough of cold fresh air, something that we will miss when we get back to the city.
At the terminal, we moved to the jeepney bound to Bontoc, Mountain Province. The driver was kind enough to drop off his passengers at the Banaue View Deck to see the Banaue Rice Terraces, a snapshot found in the 2010 series of the Philippine twenty peso bill.
What to Bring
Here are some stuffs that you can bring for this trip: trekking sandals/shoes, comfortable pants/shorts and shirts/tops, fleece jacket (in case it gets cold), clothes for swimming/swimwear, toiletries, flashlight, pocket money, camera, and snacks (optional).
Walking sticks are sold in the village.
Sample Itinerary for an Overnight Stay in Batad
If you need a helpful and complete travel guide to Batad, you may check out willflyforfood.net.
Here’s a sample itinerary for an Overnight Stay and the approximate expenses for the trip:
|TIME||ACTIVITY||COST PER PERSON
(group of 2)
|9:00pm||Departure from Manila to Banaue (via Ohayami Bus)||Php 470|
|7:00am||Arrival in Banaue; pay environmental fee
Ride a jeepney to near the market
Buy food for cooking (optional)
Php 100 (breakfast)
|8:30am||Departure from Banaue to Batad Saddle via jeepney||Php 150|
|9:15am||Arrival at the Saddle; trek downhill to the village|
|10:00am||Arrival at the Batad Tourism Center; trek downhill||P50 (environmental fee)|
|10:15am||Arrival at Ramon’s Homestay; choose type of accommodation||Php 400 (per person/native hut)
Php 250 (per person/dorm room)
|10:30am||Trek to Awa Viewpoint||P1,500/guide (guide fee; may vary from guide to guide)|
|11:15am||Photo-ops at the viewpoint; trek to Tappiya Waterfalls|
|12:00am||Arrival at Tappiya Waterfalls; picnic and swimming|
|1:00pm||Ascent back to the village|
|2:00pm||Lunch at a homestyle restaurant in the village||Php 100-Php 200|
|3:00pm||Arrival at Mang Ramon’s Native Homestay|
|6:00pm||Dinner||Php 100-Php 200|
|7:00pm||Bonfire at Mang Ramon’s Native Homestay|
|6:00am||Breakfast||Php 100-Php 200|
|6:30am||Departure from homestay; start trek to Saddle|
|7:30am||Arrival at the Saddle; ride habal-habal||P200 (habal-habal ride)|
|8:00am||Arrival at Banaue terminal
Departure from Banaue to Manila
Estimated Expenses =
Getting in Touch
Ramon’s Native Homestay and Restaurant
Mang Andy (Habal-habal) – 09263404469