The world famous rice terraces of the Philippines are a natural wonder that is the pride of the country. The Banaue terraces are what many vacationers think of when visiting the Philippines. Not only do locals call this region the “8th Wonder of the World” but they understand its importance to life here. Often the same locals forget about the terraces of Ifugao which are just as beautiful and run on the same Eco-system.
Both regions of rice terrace are part of the Cordillera Mountain Ranges. Each plays a significant role in the beauty and 2000 year old heritage which the terraces give to the Filipino people. In all, the rice terraces cover a region which measures 10,360 square kilometers. The Banaue terraces rest at approximately 1,500 meters above sea level while the terraces in Ifugao sit at nearly 2,000 meters high. It has been known that if the steps of the terraces were laid end for end they would reach half way around the world.
Access to the multiple sites from Manila is by bus. Those who visit Baguio City can also access by bus from a much better vantage point. Once you arrive at the town of Banaue at the bus terminal you can tour the region by jeepney, motorcycle and some areas by private transport. To see the Ifugao terraces one must take yet another long trip by bus to access this beautiful region.
The town of Banaue is a good place to stay if this is your first time to the area. Many guest houses and Inns are available along with good restaurants and roadside eateries. In other towns and villages like Batad the only option is to stay in private homes. The costs can vary deeply so be sure to bargain your way to a suitable price or hire a guide and he will bargain for you. Be sure to ask about add on charges of extra towels, blankets, electric charging of cell phones and computer and other notable items as often these are not part of the pricing structure and can add up quickly.
When thinking of visiting the rice terraces of the region remember that this is a walking tour with steep steps, long hauls and often muddy paths. For those in their golden years be sure a local guide is there to help you tour the best areas which fit your needs. The minimal 200 to 300 peso charge will be money well spent and you will see many hidden treasure that your guide can point out along the way.
As with many things in life, “to see it is to believe it” and to visit the rice terraces of the Cordillera Mountains Range is simple awe inspiring. The photo opportunities are endless but the memories of this place will live on in your dreams forever.