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Visiting the Banaue Rice Terraces

Banana Leaf to the Batad Valley Floor

Visiting the Philippines had been on my list for ages, and I really was excited by two sights.  Getting out of Manila, we planned to tick off Palawan and the Underground River as well as the amazing rice terraces of Banaue, both world heritage sites.  When we woke up to find transportation to Banaue, boy was I ready!

The Banaue Rice terraces of Ifuago in the Philippines are some of the most difficult areas we’ve traveled to in Asia. We’re not big trekkers, so I’m sure some of our readers may disagree, but for us the hike into and up and around these amazing 2,000 year old terraced fields was daunting. Of course, the high temperature and staggering humidity did nothing to ease the journey.

We had planned for a single day to visit the terraces in Batad, opting to stay overnight in Banaue instead of a guest house in the village. The views from our hotel were simply breathtaking, but there was far better awaiting us.

Leaf Sliding Philippines.

We woke in the morning, had an early breakfast and climbed into the Jeepney that would take us to the end of the road, 6 or 7 km from the Batad terraces. The hike was mostly downhill through the jungle but the heat and humidity were still slowing us down.

Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of rice terraces across the valley through a break in the jungle and that would spur us on. When we finally broke out of the forest at the top of the terraces we were stunned. To imagine people had carved this entire system by hand from the side of these precipitous mountains was unbelievable, yet the proof was laid out before us in a panorama of lush, vibrant green.

We inquired at a guest house and hired a guide to lead us for a three hour hike around and through the terraces and rice fields. Shortly after starting the descent toward the valley floor, we encountered these two young children playing on the mountainside. It had rained recently and the vegetation was still wet and slippery.

They had pulled down a large banana leaf and fashioned it into a sled of sorts which they then took turns sliding down a toboggan run they had trampled through the dense undergrowth. It looked like pure fun, but I could barely handle the hike on the trail, I couldn’t imagine the climb back up after the slide down. But they were merrily sliding and running back up to take turns on the leaf, again and again.

It reminded me of the fun my brothers and sisters and I would have in the dry grassy hills in California. We would drag our cardboard boxes to the top of the tallest hill and slide down at precarious speeds, only to roll off at the bottom, jump up and run back to the top (all of this in 90+ degrees).

Of course, the hike down was awe-inspiring, and the trek back to the top nearly killed us; but the memory of those joyful boys will stay with us forever.

Banaue Pink Eco Lodge and Hostel was a comfortable hotel with most amenities. They have excursion options, but we just had them arrange a Jeepney to take us to the trailhead.

Have you trekked the rice terraces in Ifuago? Share your experiences below!

Author Bio: Jim Vail, is a travel, food, and video creator and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 15 years. For many years he lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands, and he’s visited over 90 countries.


Thursday 10th of July 2014

Aw, those kids are so cute! I traveled in the Philippines for two months last year. And I have to say it's one of my favorite countries. I never made it to the Banaue rice terraces, which I totally regret. It sounds like it was a tough hike (the heat and humidity are brutal) but it sounds like it was totally worth it. When I return to the Philippines someday I'm definitely going to go the rice terraces. Great photo too :)

Corinne Vail

Friday 11th of July 2014

Thanks Justine, We absolutely loved it despite the humidity and heat! I would recommend anyone go to the Phillipines.


Thursday 10th of July 2014

Lovely photo :)

Corinne Vail

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Thanks Muza-chan!


Wednesday 9th of July 2014

I'm with you Corinne, hiking in the heat and humidity is a no go for this guy! Love the picture of the kids but where is one of from your hotel room!!! :(

Corinne Vail

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Mike, I was too exhausted to take one from the! It was beautiful there!

rhonda albom

Tuesday 8th of July 2014

When I was reading that your trek was mostly downhill I was wondering how you were going to get back. I would be with you, exhausted. Glad you met the boys though, sounds like it was all worth your effort.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Rhonda, It was definitely worth it! I just wish I could push a button and have my own bubble of air conditioning while I'm walking!