A Travel Guide to the Banaue Rice Terraces…By Janbolat Khanat / Almaty / Tony Bar / New York / dotLuxury…Jannifer Bar / Philippines
For over two thousand years the mountains of the Ifugao province in the Philippines have been cultivated with endless rice terraces. These terraces follow the curves of the mountains, delighting all who visit with their mesmerizing beauty.
The knowledge of farming these fields, along with the lands themselves, have been passed down through families for generations. The Banaue Rice Terraces are the most famous of the Ifugao rice terraces. If you’re looking to enjoy this man-made marvel, here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip to Banaue.
A Trip to Banaue
The Banaue Rice Terraces are located 216 miles from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. There are daily buses available from the capital to the terraces. These trips can be eight to ten hours in length due to stops and the mountainous terrain.
Many visitors opt to travel on overnight buses for the trip. The buses are air-conditioned and can be quite chilly, so wear layers to ensure you are comfortable. Most buses will stop three times during the trip for food and bathroom breaks.
Driving from Manila is another option. Driving the 350km from Manila, you travel through the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Viscaya to San Jose City.
Pause for lunch and continue on through Dalton Pass to Bagabag where the spectacular mountains and rivers of Ifugao land first appear. -BanaueRiceTerraces.com
When to Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces
Photo Courtesy of Wilson Loo
There is no bad time to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces. If you visit during February and March, you will see the cleaning and planting phase of the growing process. Visitors in June and July will get to witness the harvesting process.
Summer and fall rains may obscure views of the slopes, so take that into account when planning your visit.
Where to Stay
During your visit to Banaue, there are a variety of guesthouses. These guest houses are very basic and some have shared bathrooms. Many visitors opt to visit just for the day. Be sure to view your hotel room prior to booking if staying in town to ensure you are aware of the level for the accommodations.
What to Do
Hiking is a popular activity at the Banaue Rice Terraces for natural reasons.
The most popular place to look at the rice terraces is called the Sunrise Viewpoint, where local Igarot tribes people pose for photographs and sell wood carvings. But it is also possible to set out on foot along the pathways across the rice paddies, their banks scattered with scarlet wild flowers that contrast spectacularly with the vivid green of the rice plantings.
It is best to hire a guide if you want to adventure yourself in the rice terraces as you might get lost otherwise.
These mountain hikes can take hours but the views of the terraced valleys are breathtaking and in one or two places there are waterfalls and natural swimming holes where one can ease away the aches and strains of the hike. – BanaueRiceTerraces.com
Why Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces
Visiting the Banaue Rice Terraces is about more than a pretty view. Tourism to this area helps preserve the heritage of this site.
Increasing numbers of young people are migrating toward urban areas in search of a far different future.
With few left to work the fields according to the old ways their future is uncertain. Some 25 to 30 percent of the terraces are abandoned and beginning to deteriorate, along with irrigation systems.
Due to these threats the site was placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger in 2001, and later removed in 2012. Sustainable tourism may offer hope for conservation. In fact, the region’s value to the nation as a tourist destination likely exceeds that of its rice production. –National Geographic