TPB’s must-visit of the month: Exciting ancient escapade in Banaue, Ifugao

A testament to the nation’s rich heritage and natural beauty

Nestled in the north of the Luzon island group of the Philippines, Banaue, Ifugao, stands as a testament to the nation’s rich heritage and natural beauty. This captivating destination offers travelers a glimpse into the soul of the Philippines, where terraced rice fields and ancient traditions coexist harmoniously.

Banaue’s serene ambiance and cool mountain climate make it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. It is renowned to both local and international travelers for its picturesque rice terraces carved into the mountain slopes by the inhabitants of the Ifugao people more than 2,000 years ago. The marvelous man-made terraces have been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, preserving their cultural and historical significance.

Discover a journey like no other, and learn why Banaue was hailed as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Here’s a travel guide on exploring the enchanting beauty and culture that define Banaue, Ifugao.

The exciting journey to Banaue

Banaue is located at the foot of the Cordillera Mountain Ranges. Traveling from Manila may take quite a while since there is no direct flight to Banaue, and it will take nine to 10 hours of land travel, but the trip is definitely worth it. Here are ways on how you can get to Banaue from Manila:

1. If you are a fan of road trips and enjoy sightseeing while traveling, you can drive a car to Banaue. Simply take NLEX from Manila, then exit to SCTEX; from there, take the TPLEX exit to Pura and right to Guimba-Nueva Ecija toward Baloc, then Maharlika. From Maharlika, turn to San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and then drive all the way to Nueva Vizcaya to Ifugao.

2. You can also travel through a direct bus trip via OhayamiBus Liner located at J. Fajardo St. Corner Lacson Ave., Sampaloc, Manila. If you will be traveling from Quezon City, Coda Lines Bus Fleet also offers a direct bus trip to Banaue, located at HM Transport Inc., corner Maryland Street, Cubao, Quezon City. One-way bus fares going to Banaue start at P740 to P1,000, depending on the type of bus.

3. Tourists may also travel by air with a combination of land travel. Tourists can book a flight to the nearest airport, which is in Cauayan, Isabela. Upon arrival, travelers can take a three-hour bus or van to Bagbag, and another three-hour bus or jeepney ride to Banaue.

The taste of native delicacies

A visit to Banaue is not complete without savoring the flavors of Ifugao cuisine. Their traditional dishes, often prepared with locally grown ingredients, offer a unique culinary experience to tourists.

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Inlagim (Photo from Tourism Office LGU Banaue, Ifugao)

Since the weather in Banaue is usually cold, it is always nice to have a cup of warm soup to compliment the weather. With that, Banaue offers the appetizing Inlagim, a native chicken stew used during rituals and celebrations. The word inlagim literally translates to "burn cooking" in Ifugao, so instead of traditionally boiling the chicken when plucking the feathers, they roast the chickens over the open fire instead; and then pluck the feather until it is completely cleaned. The “burn” in the chicken gives the smokey essence of the ginger and onion-based soup. For P1,500, tourists can enjoy a whole chicken stew good for four persons.

Binakle (Photo from Tourism Office LGU Banaue, Ifugao)

For those who like to eat while still doing activities in Banaue, Binakle can be a tempting must-try. It is traditionally prepared in a communal ritual or sometimes in family activities, which is usually served at night after the evening meal. For P10 to P20 per serving, you can already have Binakle, a rice cake made from pounded glutinous rice with sesame seeds wrapped in banana leaves. This is also commonly sold in their local markets.

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Tinawon Cookies (Photo from Tourism Office LGU Banaue, Ifugao)

Given that Banaue is known for its terraced rice fields, locals have innovated their rice products and one of them is the Tinawon Rice Cookies. The Ifugao term tinawon literally translates to “once a year” because this variety of local rice can only be harvested from the Banaue Rice Terraces once a year. The locals will store the harvested tinawon rice for the supply to last longer and will be used to make cookies that usually cost P80 to P100 per box of 10 bite-sized pieces.

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Banaue-Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao (Photo from Tourism Promotions Board PH)

Beyond the picturesque postcards

For adventurous travelers, Banaue offers a gateway to thrilling experiences. One way to experience Banaue is to visit the rice terraces that we can only see at the back of the P20 bill. The Banaue-Batad Rice Terraces are known for the amphitheater rice terraces and are commonly referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World for remaining untouched by civilization. The 2,000-year-old scenic wonder covers a vast area of over 10,300 square kilometers and never fails to leave travelers in awe of its majestic beauty.

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Tam-An Village, Banaue, Ifugao (Photo from Tourism Office LGU Banaue, Ifugao)

Apart from the famous rice terraces, tourists can also add hiking to Tappiya Falls as an exhilarating escapade. Beyond the terraces, a trek to Tappiya Falls awaits, where Banaue also takes travelers’ breath away with its incredible waterfalls in the middle of a forest. After hiking the steep, uneven steps of the rice terraces, a natural swimming pool rewards tourists with its cold and refreshing water. The view from the falls also offers a close perspective of the rice terraces, which is worth the hike.

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Tappiya Falls, Banaue, Ifugao (Photo from Tourism Office LGU Banaue, Ifugao)

This picturesque town offers local and international tourists a unique blend of culture and nature, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking an authentic Philippine experience. Witnessing a protected and well-preserved ancestral land is not to be missed, let Banaue take your breath away with its rich culture and breathtaking landscapes.

Plan your next trip  to Banaue, Ifugao and fall in love with the surprises awaiting you in your next adventure, make sure to download the Travel Philippines App for Android and IOS. It is a handy companion complete with interactive maps, insider tips, and exclusive discounts.

Banaue, Ifugao is not just a feast for the eyes but also a culinary and cultural adventure waiting to be savored. Discover the heartbeat of Banaue, where traditions flourish, landscapes entice, and adventures beckon at every turn.