Travelling to Ifugao offers more than just enjoying a calming cool weather and seeing the magnificent rice terraces. You will have a trip down memory lane as the modern day scene of the province does not differ that much from its past—men and women clad in red woven cloths, planting rice on the flooded paddies using traditional ways while the elders in the village sing old songs under huts raised by stilts. A trip to Ifugao will be a unique opportunity for you to experience an ancient tradition in modern times.
The Banaue Rice Terraces dominates the itineraries of travelers who visit Ifugao. The terraced rice paddies are marvelous man-made wonders, sculpted by the ancient Ifugao tribesmen on the mountains around 2000 years ago using only their bare hands. Even with the tranquility of the mountains, viewing the Banaue Rice Terraces is a breathtaking experience. During the harvest season for rice, the locals celebrate by holding traditional thanksgiving feasts and ceremonies. In addition to rice, the Ifugao tribes plant vegetables and other crops on the rice terraces.
While exploring Ifugao, you are welcome to visit the traditional Ifugao villages tucked within the mountain ranges. Some of the villages to see are Bangaan, Cambulo, and Pula, where the locals will gladly show you around while telling stories and facts about their way of life.
Aside from majestic mountains, other natural wonders that can be found in Ifugao province are the Tappiya Waterfalls in Banaue, Bintakan Cave in Lagawe, and Abuwaya Lake in Kiangan.
The trip to Ifugao may be long and arduous, but it is definitely worth it. It takes about nine to 10 hours to get there by bus from Metro Manila. Coda Bus Lines and Ohayami Trans are currently the only bus lines that cater to this province.
Coda's buses offer nightly trips to Banaue from their bus terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Their buses usually depart around 9:00 or 10:00 PM. Meanwhile, Ohayami Trans serves both Banaue and Lagawe. Their buses depart their terminal in Sampaloc, Manila, every 9:00 or 10:00 PM as well.
Another option is to hop on a Baguio-bound bus like Victory Liner and Genesis' JoyBus. The trip takes about five to six hours from Metro Manila. Once you're in Baguio City, head to Ohayami's bus terminal and ride the 9:00 PM bus to Banaue or Lagawe. You'll arrive in Ifugao after eight hours.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys take you around some of the towns of Ifugao. These transportation modes are hard to come by so some passengers will have to “topload” when the jeepney gets full. Toploading is a unique experience that most tourists include in their bucket list. They get to see amazing views of Ifugao while sitting on top of the jeep.
There are also tricycles in Banaue. You can either catch them for a single ride or hire them for a tour.
What to See
Perhaps the most famous landmark of Ifugao is the Banaue Rice Terraces. This National Cultural Treasure is regarded by many as the 8th Wonder of the World. Carved on the mountains 2,000 years ago by the natives using only their bare hands, it is not only considered as an engineering marvel but also a historical one.
Apart from the Banaue Rice Terraces, there are other terraced rice paddies located in other towns in Ifugao that are definitely worth a visit. In fact, the Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan, Bacung Spider Web Terraces in Hungduan, the rice terraces in Mayoyao, and the Batad and Bangaan Rice Terraces in Banaue, collectively known as the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Aside from the world-famous rice terraces, Ifugao's historical sights are also included in its list of landmarks. The Philippine War Memorial Shrine in Kiangan was built to commemorate the end of World War II in Asia in 1945. From this monument, you'll also enjoy a great view of the towns below.
Though Ifugao is a landlocked province, it is blessed with plenty of natural wonders for those seeking for nature encounters for their trip.
Several waterfalls are hidden within the peaceful towns of Ifugao. In Brgy. Batad in Banaue, there's Tappiya Waterfalls where the trek may be a bit challenging for beginners but the sight of the cascading falls and the relaxing dip in its cool waters may just be worth the trip. Also located in Banaue is the Guihob Natural Swimming Pool, which is also perfect for a cold swim.
The town of Mayoyao, on the other hand, boasts four waterfalls: O'Phaw Mahencha, Muntuytuy-ub, Hecheng, and Tenogtog. If you're up for a trek, you can visit them all. Better yet, push yourself to do the ultimate challenge and hike Mt. Nagchajan. A marvelous view of the rice terraces and the highlands await you at the summit.
Ambuwaya Lake is another impressive attraction in Kiangan. The lake is ideal for swimming, boating, and picnics.
The caves in the town of Lagawe are ideal for spelunking. The Nah-toban Cave and Bintakan Cave hold certain wonders such as magnificent rock formations just begging to be explored.
What better way to learn about the rich culture and traditions of the Ifugaos than by visiting one of the native villages such as the Tam-an Cultural Village? This quiet settlement will have you immersed in the daily lives of the natives. You'll also get to see the unique Ifugao houses.
But if you're not up for the trip to Tan-awan, you can just visit the museums in the province. Both the Banaue Museum and Museum of Cordillera Sculpture have several artifacts and artworks on display that give you a background on the history of the province.
Events and Festivals
All 11 towns of Ifugao come together to celebrate the annual Gotad Ad Festival. This gathering showcases the rich culture of the Ifugaos through traditional street dances, parades, and competitions.
Where to Eat
Most of the restaurants in Ifugao are located within the inns and guesthouses. Las Vegas Lodge's Restaurant is among the favorite dining establishments in Banaue where you can enjoy various Filipino and Asian dishes. Also in Banaue is the Batad Pension and Restaurant. This open area resto lets you enjoy the traditional dish pinikipikan while looking out into a gorgeous view of the rice terraces. Make sure to also order their vegetable pizza. But if you want lots of food choices in a single restaurant, head to Imbayah Restaurant. This quaint establishment features an extensive menu with Filipino favorites as well as some international dishes.
Meanwhile, Million Dollar Cafe and Restaurant is located in Kiangan. They offer American and French breakfasts and both local and international coffee and tea.
Bars and Clubs
Friends Country Music Bar and Banaue Reggae Garden are your options if you want to grab some cocktails or beers. Both are located in Banaue.
Where to Shop
Make sure to swing by the town markets to buy vegetables and tinawon rice. The prices are undoubtedly cheaper than in Metro Manila.
There are some pasalubong shops in Ifugao, especially in Banaue and Lagawe, where you can buy some souvenir items and food products. Taronut cookies and taronut choco cream sweets are the usual food products sold at co-ops. You can also buy some tapuy or rice wine.
Souvenir shops sell various merchandise such as T-shirts, keychains, and native handicrafts like wooden sculptures and woven bags.
ATMs and Money Changers
There are only a few ATMs in Ifugao, and some of them are located in Banaue and Lagawe. Tourists are advised to withdraw their cash in Metro Manila or Baguio City since there is only a limited amount of bills in the machines.
Fare: PHP 450.00 to PHP 900.00
A direct trip to Banaue would be cheaper instead of getting off at Baguio first. Fare ranges from PHP 450.00 to PHP 490, depending on the bus line and bus unit.
Meanwhile, a bus ride to Baguio City costs about PHP 450.00. You'll have to spend another PHP 400.00 to get to Banaue or Lagawe.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00
Food in Ifugao is relatively cheaper than most destinations. You can spend as low as PHP 100.00 for a meal.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
For only PHP 100.00, you can already buy several keychains and fridge magnets. A simple T-shirt would also cost about PHP 100.00, while the ones with more colorful designs would sell at PHP 200.00. Taronut cookies and a pack of local blend coffee range from PHP 100.00 to PHP 200.00.
Accommodation: PHP 250.00 to PHP 500.00
Accommodations in Ifugao are also cheap. You can get an overnight stay in an inn for as low as PHP 250.00. Take note that most accommodations are not air conditioned since Ifugao has cool climate.
Activities: PHP 400.00++
You need to hire a guide to see some attractions in Ifugao. A guide can accommodate more than one person, so if you're traveling with a group, you can share the guide fees with them.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00
There is a small environmental registration fee at the Municipal Tourism Center for only PHP 20.00.
||Arrive in Banaue.
||Register at the Municipal Tourism Office and pay the necessary fees. You can also make arrangements with a tricycle to take you to Batad Saddle Point or the jumping off point to the Batad Rice Terraces and Batad town proper.
||Have breakfast at Las Vegas Restaurant.
||Start journey to Batad Saddle Point.
||Arrive at Batad Saddle Point. Hire a guide for your trek to the Batad town proper.
||Arrive in Batad. Check in at your preferred accommodation. Some of the popular ones are Ramon's Homestay and Batad Top Viewpoint Homestay.
||Have lunch at your accommodation’s in-house restaurant. Enjoy native delicacies while admiring the view of the Batad Rice Terraces.
||If you're up for it, you can trek to Awa Viewdeck, the highest viewpoint in Batad. Make sure to have a guide with you on your journey.
Next to the trek to the viewpoint would be a hike to Tappiya Falls. You can cool off with a swim in its cold waters.
||Trek back to the town proper.
||Arrive back at the town proper. Use your free time exploring the town and interacting with the natives. Don't forget to take photos of the Batad Rice Terraces in all of its amphitheater-like magnificence.
||Have dinner at Batad Pension Restaurant.
||Have breakfast at your inn. Prepare your belongings for check-out.
||Check out from your accommodation.
||Start trek back to Batad Saddle Point.
||Arrive back in Banaue. Have lunch at Imbayah Restaurant.
||Ride a tricycle to the Banaue Viewpoint to get a good look of the Banaue Rice Terraces. Take lots of photos.
||Visit the Ifugao Museum and the Museum of Cordille Sculpture.
||Use your free time buying pasalubong and exploring the town. Don't forget to bring home some taronut cookies, Ifugao brew coffee, and some souvenir items. Make sure to swing by the market as well for some fresh vegetables and tinawon rice.
||Ride bus back to Manila.
Ifugao's high altitude makes its climate cooler than the average, so make sure to bundle up on your visit. Don't forget to bring a jacket and a blanket.
Should you be in need of any medical assistance on your trip, Ifugao has some hospitals and clinics where you can have a check-up. Ask your guide for the nearest health center in case of an emergency.