Banaue Rice Terraces is considered the “8th Wonder of the World”. Previously believed to have been built 2,000 years ago, recent studies have shown that they were built between 500 to 800 years ago. Nevertheless, these “stairways to the sky” are still considered an engineering marvel that is proof to the ingenuity of the free people of Ifugao in olden times. Located approximately 1,500 metres (4,900 feet) above sea level, these rice paddies are irrigated by small canals connected to streams that cascade from a higher location.
The rice terraces reveal much of the culture of the province’s tribal people. In 1995, it was inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List as “a continuing cultural landscape”. There are rituals to be performed before, during, and after planting rice. With the exception of a few farmers, rice farming in this part of the world is still traditional, no machines and no chemicals. In fact, the government is promoting organic rice from the whole province of Ifugao for export!
Nowadays however, the rice paddies are slowly being destroyed due to lack of maintenance. Many of the youth would rather move to the cities or work in the local hospitality sector, ironically serving as tourist guide to the dying terraces!
How to go there
Banaue is a town located approximately 385 north of Manila. (See map below.) There are buses with regular (daily) trips to Banaue from either Manila or Baguio. Travel time is around 6 to 7 hours. The nearest airport is in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya but there is no regular flight going there. If you are coming outside Manila or Baguio, you can also opt to travel instead to Clark International Airport in Pampanga. The government is promoting this route as a way to decongest Metro Manila.
The best but also the most expensive hotel in Banaue is the government-owned Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel. The less expensive ones are:
1. Las Vegas Lodge and Restaurant
2. Sanafe Lodge
3. Spring Village Inn
4. Querencia Hotel
5. Green View Lodge and Restaurant
6. Cozy Nook Inn
7. Stairway Inn
8. People’s Lodge and Restaurant
9. Halfway Lodge
10. Banaue Evergreen Hostel and Restaurant
See also: Philippines Historical Events by Month