Mayoyao Rice Terraces

The Mayoyao rice terraces are situated a (roughly) 2 hour ride to the east of Banaue.  They are probably the least visited of the 5 rice terraces in the Unesco World Heritage list, and when one visits the town, the reasons for this, become more than apparent.

The rice terraces in Mayoyao are perhaps some of the most spectacular, however, the lack of food and lodging options in the town, and the fact that they are a little out of the way for most visitors, make them an “off the beaten path” attraction that should definitely not be.

The rice terraces are, like in Batad, carved into the sides of the mountains surrounding the village (of a much more uniform construction than Batad), occupying a vast area.  There is a view point from which one can look in every direction to appreciate the view the view of the terraces, away from everything and everyone and surrounded by different shades of green and earthy brown (depending on the time of the year).  The view is naturally framed by the massive mountains of the Cordillera that add to the spectacle.

If you are in Banaue, this should definitely be on your list and can be done in a day trip.  On the way, you will be able to see the Bangaan rice terraces, the snake river and the also beautiful rice terraces in Ducligan.  If time is not an issue, there is a hiking trail which will take a couple of days and can start in Banaue and end in Mayoyao (or viceversa) passing by Pula and Mt. Amuyao or Cambulo, a great way to see other rice terraces, hidden in the Ifugao mountains.

Banaue

Banaue has become a popular destination from which tourists chose to visit the famous rice terraces.  5 of these rice terraces in the Ifugao province made it to the UNESCO World Heritage list, and 2 of them are within the boundaries of the municipality of Banaue (Batad and Bangaan).

There are a few ways of experiencing Banaue, as there are a number of ways one can visit these and more rice terraces.  Not having your own form of transportation can become tedious, or rather, having it can make things a lot easier for the traveller.  Batad, and Bangaan are a mere 30 to 40 minutes ride from the Banaue town proper (about 10 minutes from each other, if you don’t count the hike from the car park to Batad), and if planned carefully, one can surely fit a visit to both in one day and make it back before sundown.

One way to visit the Batad rice terraces is  by hiking to Tappiyah falls, through the rice terraces and getting to see what the locals call the 8th wonder of the world, from a few different angles.  The hike takes, roughly, an average of 5 hours.  It is energy draining, but you can have a bite and rest well once you reach the lower part of the village.  The falls are quite impressive and they are a great place to take a dip and freshen up before heading back up the 800 steps that take you back to the terraces.  Having finished the hike, you can take a last look at the breathtaking view from one of the inns overlooking the valley and head over to Bangaan.  These rice terraces are visible from the road, and do not require hiking to appreciate the beautiful view (although there are hikes that take you down to the actual village).

If you want to visit Sagada or Mayoyao by road, they are both roughly a 2 hour ride away, in opposite directions.

If you are in the mood for a longer hike, there are also a few options through which you can visit the towns of Pula, Cambulo, Mt. Amuyao and even Mayoyao, but these usually require one to spend the night in a homestay in the mountains, so if you are on a tight schedule, it may not be an option.  If time is not an issue, it’s probably the best way to experience the area.

Where to eat when in Banaue?  We tried as many places as we could, and started with those ranking high in Trip Advisor and Google, but we had the best overall experience at The restaurant/bakery by the Banaue View Inn.  Food was tasty and well prepared, especially comparing to most of the other places we tried.  The only “but” would be that being a bakery, it was a little disappointing that the bread served with the pasta, was cheap industrial toast bread, and that the only dessert option available at the time was a rather small and sad looking brownie.

Another option we enjoyed considerably more than the rest was 7th Heaven Cafe.  Literally a stones throw away from the previous one, with simple but tasty food, friendly staff and a killer view (something common to most restaurants in Banaue)

We tried eating at Las Vegas Cafe a few times, but every time we went there (for an early dinner) it was closed (even if we had seen it was open earlier in the day).

If you are on a budget, Banaue Evergreen Hostel is without a doubt the place we would recommend.  The staff is not only friendly, but they go out of their way to help and make your stay more memorable, not to mention how good they are at helping plan your visit and recommending places to visit.

Rice terraces ::: Batad, Banaue, Sagada and sorroundings.

As much as the Philippines is mostly known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs, one must not forget about the rice terraces located in the Cordillera Administrative Region, in Luzon.  We rode to Batad, Banaue, Buscalan Village and Sagada to get a glimpse of some of the most beautiful landscapes this mountainous region has to offer.

Batad

Located in the Ifugao province, Batad has probably one of the most remote and inaccessible rice terraces of them all, but at the same time the most spectacular.  It is roughly a 10-12 hour ride from Manila or a 40-60 minute ride from Banaue Town Proper, but one must park 1km away and hike to get to the village.

As a day trip, getting there relatively early will allow you to enjoy breakfast, overlooking the terraces before heading down to Tappiya Falls.  Many ask if it is a must to get a guide to do so, and as much as one could find the way fairly easily, it is not so much a question of whether one needs a guide but a question of whether the guide needs the traveller.  A guided tour of the terraces and a visit to the falls will set you back Php1200, which goes a long way for most locals.  Not to mention that the local guides will take you to the best places from which you can snap your Instagram worthy moments.

The hike to the Tappiya Falls and back, takes approximately 5 hours and it is relatively physically demanding, but definitely possible for anyone to do, and absolutely worth the effort.  Remember to bring river shoes to make getting in the water for a swim a much easier task.

If you do have time, 2 or more nights in Batad (we had an amazing experience at Rita’s Mount View Inn and Restaurant), are ideal to spend more time exploring the surrounding villages and sights.

Banaue

This larger and more easily accessible town, is our jump off point of choice, especially if time is of the essence.  From Banaue, one can reach a number of “must see” places with relative ease. The UNESCO World Heritage List included The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in 1995 and includes the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces (both within the Municipality of Banaue), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan) and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan), all in the Ifugao Province and most, at a reasonable distance.

Buscalan

Similar to Batad, Buscalan requires visitors to leave their form of transportation (it takes 1.5 to 2 hours to ride from Sagada or 2.5 to 3 hours from Banaue) and hike for about 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get to the village.  A guide is required and you will have no problem finding one at the make shift car park area where the hike starts.

While you will be able to see some rice terraces (much smaller than the others mentioned in this article, the main attraction in Buscalan is the famous Whang-od and her students.  At 100 years old, Whang-od is the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines (at the time of writing) and is the last mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattooist).  Traditionally, these tattoos were done on Kalinga warriors, and to become a warrior, one should have killed another person and bring the head as proof.  Nowadays, many local and foreign tourists head up to Buscalan to get a tattoo from Whang-od and it may require an overnight stay (sometimes more) at the village.  There are plenty home-stay options in the village, but we were with Charlie Knows and highly recommend it.

A great alternative, considering Whang-od’s age is to get inked by one of her 2 students Grace Palicas, and Ilyang Wigan.  For some it may not be an option, but if you want something special, getting a tattoo from the next generation is as special, if you ask us.  Both Grace and Ilyang, will be in this year’s Singapore Ink Show.  You can also find more info on Tattooed by Apo Whang-Od Facebook Group.

Sagada

Another “must” while up in the mountains lies a 3 hour ride from Banaue.  In Sagada, one can visit it’s famous caves and hanging coffins, drink their coffee or go white water rafting.  We had our best food at Coffee Heritage House and the Yoghurt House.  The first one is a little more remote, but if you want a great meal in a very peaceful environment with a staff that has a good eye for details, this is definitely something you should keep in your list.

When visiting any of the sights in Sagada, one must first register at a tourist infformation office and hire a guide.

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