Exploring the Philippines: Northern Luzon’s Rice Terraces

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg

Part of what makes travel so much fun is the journey in arriving somewhere special, including all the fun quirks, farm animals and scenes along the way. Travel to the Northern Luzon area of the Philippines is no exception, with terrific sights like the Batad Rice terraces and the Sagada caves reachable from Manila. To get there, an overnight bus leaves Manila’s main bus terminal for Baguio, then you take one of these:

 

A colourful Jeepney to Banaue. Your Jeepney may include at least 10 of these:

and quite possibly a few of these too:

But more memorably it will be stuffed to the gills, with people hanging off the rails at the end, plying dizzingly small roads at the edge of the Cordillera Central Mountains.  Northern Luzon, a huge contrast to the turquoise and sand of the Philippines’ many islands, is home to a variety of mountain tribes and a series of ridiculous vistas that seem too beautiful to be true. While I love beaches (who doesn’t?) I’m a mountain girl at heart and travel to the North of the Philippines was a wondrous few weeks.

 From Banaue, it’s a multi-day hike through the rice terraces, winding around the slopes of the Gran Cordillera and down to the villages below.

Leaving Banaue:

Walking upward, toward the next villages:

Circling down to Cambulo, one of the smaller villages:


Back up to the mountains (and some vaguely ominous clouds):


Back up to the mountains (and some vaguely ominous clouds): And finally to Batad, which was well worth the trip, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve met a lot of travelers bound for the Philippines and they talk about Boracay and the islands and the Chocolate Hills and tarsiers of Bohol. But it would be a shame to ignore the North, as many people do. It’s a great change from the beaches and as you can see above, the landscape was simply unbelievable.

-Jodi