Make your third-grade self embark on a new adventure as an adult. I’m sure the little kid in you will thank you for it!
How I Ended up in Batad
Filipino kids almost always recognize “Banaue Rice Terraces”. But going to Batad as an adult, I learn more than it being a man-made wonder and a UNESCO World lister. I discovered why it’s a favorite place to disconnect and reconnect.
My first mountain was conquered in 2013 with Trail Adventours. Three years later, I found myself on the other end of the spectrum — a guide. Then an old first came a new first. It was my first time in Batad Rice Terraces and my first time as a volunteer guide for Trail Adventours. Who would have thought, right? It pays to persevere as a beginner.
Things to Know Before Going to Batad
- What to pack. Make sure to withdraw enough money to cover the expenses of the entire trip. There are no ATM machines once you get to the jump-off point at Batad.
- Estimated Budget. For DIY and overnight trips, expect the entire trip to cost around PHP 2,500. This includes transportation from Manila, van transfers to Batad, environmental fees, guide fees, food and homestay.
- Reservation. For DIY and overnight trips, be sure to secure your homestay days before your arrival. This is because cellular signal in Batad is low, and it may take time to communicate with the owners.
- Best time to visit Batad. Try not to plan your trip during the rainy season (July-August) to better see the evergreen rice paddies. Inquire with local tourism when harvest season comes, as sometimes Batad is closed to give way to local festivities.
Here are more delightful facts about Batad:
#1 The Banaue Rice Terraces are found in clusters
One of my surprises. There are five rice terraces sites in the Philippines inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Found in the cultural landscape category, these are the Hungduan, Batad, Bangaan, Nagacadan and Mayoyao Rice Terraces. The first three are found in Banaue town, and the next two are in Kiangan and Mayoyao towns.
The rice terraces found in the poblacion of Banaue (first written here) are in fact not on the list UNESCO Heritage list. Batad is. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth seeing.
Most terraces in the Banaue poblacion are hidden from view. I understood immediately that it’s because these man-made wonders were not built for tourism, but for livelihood. Good thing is, merely driving around Banaue will afford you a glimpse of mountainside farming.
We drove to both the main view point and the NFA-Aguian view deck of the Banaue poblacion. Decorating both are sculpted bul-ul made from recycled materials, often clothed in red scarves in traditional Cordillera fashion. At the main view point, souvenirs are sold, and a group of elderly locals pose for the camera for a donated amount.
The UNESCO lister in Banaue is found in the distant barangay of Batad. Its rice terraces is in amphitheater format, making the decks and its surrounding farming communities more visible to tourists. Plus, it hides Tappiya Falls just behind it.
#2 The hike to Tappiya Falls demands strong lungs and legs
Batad Rice Terraces are not only made for viewing. Upon our arrival in the afternoon, we immediately descended to the farming communities, hiking through the rice paddies. It was easy at first because of the cemented pathways. But the terraced geography meant that later on, it’s more like Ant Man climbing giant staircases.
Still, what a consolation it is to behold such sights during rest periods! We saw straw roofs mimicking the mountains, and we were just in time for green, growing season. I felt my inner third grade self gushing over the view only previously seen in postcards.
It was literally downhill past the highest point of Batad Rice Terraces. In longer time than I imagined it would take, we found ourselves at the pebbled banks of Tappiya Falls. We hesitantly dipped our toes to its ice-cold water, which soothed our sore muscles.
#3 No cellular reception, but greater connection in Batad
The hike back to our lodge is equally arduous. No wonder massage services are available! Exhausted from the bus travel and the dayhike, we retreated to our lodge for the night and enjoyed a steaming pot of pinikpikan. It’s a local delicacy unfortunately made from bled chicken in broth, eaten with rice. The night came alive with stories and music. No cellular signals meant no texts, no Facebook, no status updates.
Majority of the visitors of Batad that weekend were foreigners. But by morning, the lodge was emptied to ourselves. We took our sweet time eating breakfast with generous servings of vegetables, whilst playing Taboo. It’s no wonder travelers often escape to Batad to forget the worries in the city. Just an overnight stay has cleared my mind and relieved my eyes.
I hope we always try to make our inner kids proud. With old firsts will come new firsts!
How to commute to Batad: Ride the 10 PM bus from Manila to Banaue. The Ohayami Bus Station is located near UST. Upon arrival at Banaue, ride or hire a public jeepney (PHP 150/pax one way. If hired, PHP 2,800/jeep) or tricycle (PHP 700 per tricycle). Estimated travel time is 1.5 hours so you might want to eat breakfast first. Upon arrival at the jumpoff point to Batad, hike the 45 minute stretch to the registration booth. Pay the heritage fee of PHP 50/pax.
Where to stay in Batad: For this trip, we availed of Simon’s Viewpoint Inn. They serve food and drinks, with last orders at 8 PM. I have to say I love their food, which is reasonably priced. Note that this is a budget traveler’s inn. Room rate is at PHP 250/pax/night with rooms that can accommodate 2-3 persons. No in-room plugs or electric fans. You have to pay to recharge batteries downstairs (PHP 30). There are only communal baths and toilets with optional hot showers (PHP 50). You can also check out other accommodations in the area.
North Luzon Attractions
- Baguio City
- Buscalan (Kalinga tattoos)
- Northern Blossom Flower Farm
- Mt. Ulap
- Cagayan Valley
- Mt. Pulag