Trekking in Banaue – An untouched Unesco World Heritage Area
Trekking in Banaue might be one of the best things you can do in Luzon – Philippines. The whole area is a is absolutely stunning and it was built thousands of years ago. It is such a remote place and you will feel like you have been set back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage area really impressed me right from the start. I have to admit, that I did not really know anything about it, but it was a great decision to go there and hike around the jungle.
Trekking in Banaue – An untouched Unesco World Heritage Area
Guys, just like always I have to say, that everything you will read in the following is based on my own opinion and experiences, that I have made. I can not say that I am an expert about Banaue and the area, but I think, if you go hiking for 2 days in such a unique area, you can see a fair bit and get a good impression, because you soak up everything as much as you can. Generally the Philippines have been absolutely amazing to me and trekking in Banaue was one of the best things I have done on this trip. So I tell you upfront – make sure to stop by!
Trekking in Banaue – General information
Banaue is a small community in the north of Luzon. It is the island where you also find the capital – Manila. It lies in the jungle with lots of mountains. Mt Amuyao (2628 m) is the highest one of them. The whole area is very wet and humid. So prepare for a sweaty experience. The rice terraces you can find there are older than 2.000 years. Especially the ones in Batad and Bagaan are really impressive.
It is still a pretty untouched area, even though tourism already took over. You only find small villages here and there. The whole region has 171 ethnolinguistic groups and once every 3 years the people have an ethnic festival, which is very important for the local culture. The native people wear fancy dresses, drink a lot of rice wine and celebrate for a good future. Nowerdays this festival is used to integrate the local people into the modern society and luckily not as a marketing instrument for the goverment.
Trekking in Banaue – How to get there
You have different opportunities to get to this beautiful place and do your trekking in Banaue. The most common one is to book a bus ride from Manila. That’s what we did. It will cost you about 450 peso (9 $) per person. If you get told in Asia, that a bus ride takes 8 hours, than be sure to plan for about 10 hours. It is never what they tell you 😉
Also make sure to bring some warm clothes, food, drinks and maybe even care products for the bus ride. They will stop 2 times on the way at some small kiosk/ food stops with toilettes, but these places don’t have western standards in any way. So you might be better off bringing your own stuff. Also wear warm clothes. The busses will be cold, because of the air conditioning.
Another way to get there is buying/ booking your own scooter and drive all the way up by yourself. This has the positive effect, that you will see a lot more cool stuff along the way. You can also stop wherever you want. On the other hand it might be exhausting and it can get pretty ruff, especially with bad weather. If you do it this way, make sure to drive during daytime. Never drive at night in Asia. It can be quite dangerous (I have done that in Vietnam). Also be aware of your driving skills, because driving in Asia is waaay different than in the western world 😉
Trekking in Banaue – What to see
Now to the fun part 🙂 Trekking in Banaue is wonderful. When you arrive, you will most likely be brought to the tourist office. The local guide will show you, what you on a map what you can explore in the area. You can do various kinds of tours. It is up to you. Even though I usually do not like tours, I recommend to do one, because it is quite hard to get around.
The main spots to visit are the rice terraces of Banaue, Batad and Bagaan. The guide told us, that you can also see even older ones, if you do a 5 -7 day tour. They would guide you over the mountains to the most untouched spots you have probably ever seen.
We did a 2 day tour (2.000 peso per person – 40 $), which was absolutely fantastic. You will stay in one of the different small guest houses, which are very basic. We stayed in Batad View Inn. The owners are very, very friendly and you will have a phenominal view onto the rice terraces of Batad. Especially the sunrise is something you will never forget!
Along your way through the jungle, you will see all different kinds of plants and insects. In between you will come along some small shops with owners, who have rarely seen anything in their lifes besides their shop and home/ village. Very isolated living, but pretty cool in my opinion. They have the most peaceful lifes I guess 😉
The first day we hiked about 6 hours to a completely untouched village in the middle of the mountains. They will cook you the most delicious meal, which is free of any chemicals or additives. One of the best meals I have ever had.
What you see along the way
You will see some other rice terraces, small waterfalls, local shops, etc. along the way. Additionally you have to climb and walk on the edge of the rice terraces sometimes. It’s good fun 🙂 Make sure not to step over or you will get a huge fine, because you are not allowed to damage their property. The guide will explain you everything you want to know. How they plant everything, how people live there, the history, etc. Really cool!
On the second day we have been brought to the Tappiya Falls and the Bagaan rice terraces. Both places have been absolutely incredible. The size and the beauty of the rice terraces as well as the waterfall have been unbelievable for me. During the walk, you will also see some beautiful turquoise rivers. I think I have rarely seen a landscape like that before.
I have to admit that the tour is quite hard, even though I like hiking a lot. So make sure to mentally prepare for that a bit, when you go trekking in Banaue or anywhere in the area.
I can not say what impressed me the most. The caring people, the views, the hike itself, the food, the history or or or…
Trekking in Banaue – What I have learned
The trekking in Banaue reminded me of something very valueble. At least it is for me… I guess you know this feeling of being really tired and anoyed of every single person on the planet. Your daily life pisses you off and you slowly get more angry or frustrated. The only thing you want, is to have some time off/ piece.
Most of us don’t stop when it is time to relax. We keep going on and on and on. This is just how our society works nowerdays. We get trained to do so. Not having a look at how you feel and what might be good for ourselfs in a certain situation. You have to keep pushing. We do it for our families, bosses, jobs, friends, etc.. We want to make them proud.
The “I” is secondary. Everything comes down to good performances and achievements. What a human beeing needs or wants is irrelevant. And exactly that causes a lot of damages for many people. Even physical and mental diseases…
What you should do
From my point of view we all have to learn again, how to slow down. There is nothing bad about being ambitious or wanting to get the best out of your life/day. This is exactly the same mindset that I have as well. BUT we need to remind ourselfs, that we sometimes need breaks in order to recharge our batteries. Because after you have fully relaxed, you will be able to keep going even faster/ better with whatever you want to do.
It is just a good thing to do. For me, the trekking in Banaue helped me a lot to realize that again. Even though it is physically quite tuff, it was still a good mental recharge to just to keep walking through nature and to enjoy the enviroment.
At the end of the day, I can only say, that trekking in Banuae is really worth doing. Even though I have seen something pretty similar in Vietnam, I can say, that this tour was something that helped me a lot to focus again and it is something I will always remember.
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