Hiking to the Batad Rice Terraces – a photo journal

Northern Luzon in the Philippines is home to the best rice terraces I’ve seen in the past 10 months. Couple this with quaint villages to hike through and sleep in, it makes the region really special. Here’s a photo blog of our journey to the terraces, and a little practical information as the internet is lacking in good advice for the region.

Getting to Banaue, the main gateway for trekking to Batad, entails a bus journey from Manila. Personally, this was the shittest bus ride I’ve been on, and I know Bianca and Bridget agree with me. It’s long and uncomfortable, the bus is either too hot or too cold and we had the back row of seats which are the worst. I managed to sleep a little but that small mercy will see me putting a chiropractor’s children through university now.

Advice: We stayed at Randy’s Guesthouse (details in the Lonely Planet). Simple, basic accommodation BUT the winning point is they organise guides for trekking. You need a guide, it’s not optional, but they are really affordable. Randy’s is also centrally located on a really loud road, but everywhere is loud here. The roads are steep and Jeepney drivers are yet to discover that there are more gears available after first.

Banaue is a great little town, complete with many restaurants, my favourite being Sanafe Restaurant. There are also many bakeries which produce excellent food. I think I consumed a dozen Chelsea buns the one day. Although the girls will disagree with me, I was comfort-eating after standing on what I suspect was a human turd. Bianca and Bridget laughed for a solid 30 minutes whilst I was helplessly trying to control my gag reflex and uttering references to Jesus for saviour.

Advice: don’t stand on human turd.

What trek to choose? You can do a 2 night/3 day one or the shorter 1 night/2 day variation. We opted for the longer option as you see more rice terraces and pass through more small villages.

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The reason behind this photo is to illustrate the fact that no one stops working here. The lady on my left is over 100 years old. Too old to continue working on the rice terraces, but she is still able to ply the tourist trade of posing for photos. Yes, touristy, but she’s ancient and is still working! Interestingly, many villages up north consider 100 to not be old. Our guide made a comment that someone he knew was “only 116 when they died”. Exaggeration? Possibly, but even if you dust off some spice, it’s still incredible!

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Some farmers in Banaue tending to their terraces. I suspect the terraces in Banaue used to be incredible at some point but these days, they appear worse for wear and Batad overshadows them easily.

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The view of rolling hills from the beginning of our hike. At this point I was sweating buckets and dealing with sunglasses that were fogging up relentlessly. Furthermore, I was continuously having to provide emotional support to the girls to keep them going. Just kidding – they are mountain goats – I was doing the catching up all the time!

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Just before lunch on day 1. Hadn’t seen a rice terrace at this point but the scenery is amazing!

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Farmers planting rice in once of the terraces. As you can imagine, back issues are common with all this bending over.

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Another farmer tending to his terrace.

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The famous Batad Terraces. There aren’t any filters on these photos – the terraces really are this green. The thicker white terrace border is what you walk along. My balance isn’t the best and if yours isn’t too, I’d recommend a walking pole for the lesser kept foot paths.

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These kids were having a good laugh when we were admiring the terraces. Everyone is really friendly and kind here.

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More of Batad, with the village located below. Walking to the village involves some stairs (shock and horror). The locals must have leg muscles bigger than an African Elephant.

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More of the terraces. You can see why this is a UNESCO listed sight.

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No filter!

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We were staring into the sun for this photo but our guide, Jay, was insistent in taking 300 shots. My retinas have since been burnt off.

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Not Batad, but another village on the way back to Banaue. 

Practically speaking:

  • The hike isn’t that hard. Day one is your longest day and will see you walking 18 kilometres but don’t panic – it really isn’t that bad. Day 2 was about 8 kms and day 3 even less. If you’re moderately fit, you’ll be fine.
  • Cost wise, the guide will cost not more than 1500 Peso a day (it may be a little less, but I can’t remember), accommodation is 250 Peso a night (seems to be fixed at this rate everywhere) and food is reasonable. Most importantly, beer is cold and cheap in the evenings.
  • Insect repellant and suncream are your friends here.
  • Banaue has one ATM which doesn’t work.
  • Minivans to Sagada are available at the tourist office near Randy’s and run when full.
  • We had hot showers on one evening but we had a cold bucket shower the other, so manage expectations.
  • We spent our first night in a village called Cambulo and the second in Batad itself. Both are decent.
  • You walk a lot, I got a few blisters as did the others, so bring some band aids.

One thought on “Hiking to the Batad Rice Terraces – a photo journal

  1. Wow, the rice terraces are so lovely! And the valley is amazing! My travels so far have been mostly in Europe, and a few times in N America.
    But the Asian experience is a different kind, so one day I hope to get there.

    Here is also my travel blog, would love to have back your follow and support.
    https://egodiary.com

    Good luck!
    Julia from Romania

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