AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

The Rice Terraces

We travelled in a clockwise direction around northern Luzon, from Manila to Baguio, to Sagada, to Banaue. Our recommendation after doing this is to do it the other way. Banaue is a dive compared to Sagada with low quality food, nasty looking buildings and the weather is not usually as pleasant. Banaue and the surrounding area is good for hiking whereas Sagada only has a few strenuous activities and is better for relaxing. Hence our suggestion of going this way round:

  1. Book the night bus to Banaue before you arrive in Manila. The only company running that route at the moment is Ohayami. They have online booking. Once you arrive in Manila you can head up the same day, flight dependent. Alternatively, stay one night in Manila. We and everyone we’ve spoken to has hated Manila.
  2. Plan a rest day after the overnight bus. We didn’t sleep on the bus (too many corners) and felt awful the next day, others we met went to bed on arrival in Banaue.
  3. Walk to the view point and then take a guide through Banaue rice terraces. You see them from above and then see them up close.
  4. If you go to Batad don’t bother with a guide unless you want to talk a bit about the rice terraces or want someone to steady you on a narrow section of wall. The waterfall is on a single path with no junctions and the rice terraces are like a giant amphitheatre and you can’t get lost.
  5. If you like trekking then I suggest a multi-day trek. A good trek is Batad-Cambulo-Pula-Banaue, two days with a one night stopover. This walk takes you through rice terraces and a forest. Leave your main bag in Banaue and take a tricycle to Batad (in the morning) and explore Batad that day. Then the next day walk through the rice terraces via Cambulo to Pula. The route is reasonably straight-forward. If you are not sure then get a guide. If you get a guide in Batad try to negotiate the price to around P600-800. Stay over in Pula; The guesthouse is the blue house you see upon arrival (located at the top of the village). It’s basic with no hot water, no shower, no meat to eat. The next day you trek through forest and reach the main road about 4km up from the top viewpoint. You can then walk or get a tricycle back to Banaue. The trek is mainly uphill and over two days you will climb 3000ft (1000m).

    If you don’t feel so fit or energetic you can do this trek in reverse. The start is uphill but the majority of the trek is flat or downhill. It is about 9km to the start of the trek uphill. You may wish to get a tricycle. This time you can walk direct to Cambula. About 4 hours into the walk (if you hire a tricycle), you will reach a hut looking down onto Pula. Continue in the same direction you have been going  to take the main route to Cambula.

    There are two guesthouses in Cambula. Stay the night before going to Batad. Stay a night in Batad. You can then get the local jeepney or if you have hired a guide ensure they have arranged a tricycle back to Banaue.

  6. When you’ve finished head up to Sagada. Get a minivan to from Banaue, it should cost 300pesos per person. It is much easier to travel in this direction than in reverse.
  7. Go caving in Sagada. You haven’t seen Sagada if you haven’t seen the cave.
  8. Either take GL Lizard to Baguio and then the Victory Liner bus back to Manila or go back to Banaue and take the overnight bus. The trip from Sagada to Baguio consists of 6 hours on a windy road. Then a further 9 hours from Baguio to Manila, this will take 2 days to travel and is only worth doing it if you want to spend some time in Baguio. A minivan to Banaue is 2 hours then overnight to Manila makes this option far quicker if time is of the essence.
  9. Alternatively, book a tour and have no transport worries. The main difficulty in the rice terraces is transportation and a tour will have all this arranged for you. But, you will pay for this privilege!

Accommodation in the terraces.

Banaue

For simplicity but great hospitality I recommend Randy’s Brookside Inn, Banaue.

The price is 200pesos per person per night and includes WiFi and power sockets as well as a hot shower in the shared facilities.

Sagada

Most accommodation costs around 300pesos per person. We stayed at the Canaway Guesthouse. Nice and clean. Laundry at 70 peso/kg. Dodgy WiFi.

Baguio

If you go here then book early. It is a favourite with people from Manila. This means high prices for average accommodation.

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