In one souvenir shop in Banaue, you can find the Ifugao tribe members wearing their traditional dress. I asked one of them how old they are and she said 'I do not know'. Apparently, they are too old to remember their age. Anyway, most of the tribe members was not able to go to school but you will be amazed how fluent they are in English!
Like what I said, rice terreces can be seen all over the Cordillera region so be sure to stop by other picturesque view by the road. We stopped by at the Bay-yo Rice Terreces in Bontoc on our way to Banaue
Contrary to popular belief, rice terreces can be seen all over the Cordillera region BUT, the one in Banaue is said to be the most beautiful. The viewing deck is located just beside the road behind souvenier stores.
Banaue is a 4 hour drive from Sagada. There are buses and jeepneys from Sagada which will take you here.
If you are familiar with the postcards of the Rice Terraces with the many roofs on the foot of the rice teraces this is it (see my picture). The trekking itself is about 6 hours plus travel to and from the Saddle (the starting point of the trekking) is about 2 hours so you will need at least 8 hours for this activity (depending on the pace of the trekking).
The whole tour is Php 3,500.00 (but you can split it if you are in a group) I traveled solo but i joined a group I just paid Php 350.00 for the tour + the jeepney ride + the guide.
One more thing if you like to see the terraces in its golden brown color (harvest time) you have to go here on the month of July.
Another thing is that there is a jeepney going to the saddle early in the morning...and that same jeep will leave the saddle in the afternoon...contrary to what many guides said that there is no public transportation going to Battad....that you have to stay there for a night........*
You can find this in every view point of the Banaue Rice terraces with so many items to choose from from huge wooden sculptures to small decorative items. The only problem is that its very hard to carry if you buy many items. I like what i bought here its already displayed at the entrance of our house (it's a 2 dimensional wooden head bust of an Igorot couple).
I like to collect my pictures with the different ethnic groups in the Philippines. It will be a rare chance to do this.I gaher all of the available Igorot elders so I can have a nice souvenir pictures with them. would you beleive they will even suggest you to have a wacky shot lol......
There are I think 5 famous viewpoints the farthest one is the viewpoint on your way to Bontoc. when I was here I tried to go on the different viewpoints. The two famous viewpoints are the Main Banaue viewpoint and the Aguian View point (The one we see on the 1000 peso bill).
You can find this on the Banaue main viewpoint. You can rent this for Php 10.00-20.00 per hour (I hope i remember it right).
I went to Banaue to try this...and its great.....its prefect on the rolly streets of Banaue. The only problem is that the steering wheel is too tight...
YOu should try to catch their festival wherein the main part of it is the wooden scooter race.
There is a tourist information centre just opposite the huge concrete eye sore of a building that is in the centre of the village. There is a detailed map on the wall and a list of over-inflated prices for tricycle destinations. It seems that they are really taking advantage of the tourists here by charging ridiculously high prices. They also show prices of guides for local treks too, again they seem to be high. Apart from that the lady who runs the place was extremely friendly and very pleasant, helpful to talk to.
There is a plaque outlining the history of the area telling us of the migration of the people. It is interesting to read and you can find it at the top of the steps that lead from the village to where the long distance buses are parked.
From the village there is a waterfall nearby that can be reached in an hour by walking down the hill in the town past all the lodges and round the bend until you reach a compound with a church in it. Walk through this compound and follow the path up the hill. There are many trails leading off to the right so ask some school children which one fro the waterfall. Once you are on the correct trail the path will pas through a small clutter of native houses and will gradually wind it's way round the mountain until you reach this waterfall. There is a small pool there but taking a dip can be frightfully cold!
We set off early and covered the 12 km walk to Banga'an in under 3 hours, careful not to slip on the many steps when descending to the village. unfortunately it is all set up for tourists. Don't miss the noon time bus back, or you will have to walk. Quite interesting to see the native houses if you haven't seen that type of thing before.
As i had lived here in '95 i was shocked at the price for a guide to take you through the rice terraces to the Viewpoint. When i lived here i used to amble through the rice terraces each week without a problem and it was easy to find the way. I suggest you walk up the road to the last viewpoint ( there seem to be 4 viewpoints now, everyone cashing in!), and walk back through the terraces.
Enjoy the spectacular view of the rice terraces while you eat. You can do this in People's Lodge and Restaurant. The Restaurant has a balcony which faces the rice terraces of Banaue. Potted flowering plants lined the sills of the balcony. From here too, you can see Barangay Bocos - a little village next to the town . Having your meals or tea here is simply relaxing and fresh. Good place to chit chat and in the evening you can watch sun-set.
Not for the faint-hearted as these terraces are quite high (5 metres in places), but worth the effort for the scenery. We crossed the terraces to reach the hot springs, unfortunatly after 3 typhoons and resulting landslides, the springs have been reduced to a very small area and are not suitable for bathing!
Our guide also took us to see the local Shamman who sacrificed a chicken to ensure our safe travel, please if you have the chance to visit him do not turn it down... access is a little tricky but then again it's part of the adventure!
Banaue is noisy but full of colour, here you can find an internet café to keep in touch. There is also a tourist information centre which can provide help with treks and transport.
A trip to a local school with little presents of biros, and maybe postcards of where you live, is a good idea; the children need all the help possible and will be pleased to see you.