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.