Banaue Rice Terraces: The Magnificent Man-Made Cultural Heritage

Banaue Rice Terraces: The Magnificent Man-Made Cultural Heritage
majestic view of banaue rice terraces
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The Banaue Rice Terraces, locally known as the Hagdan-Hagdang Palayan, are undoubtedly a source of pride not just for the Ifugaos but also for Filipinos across the world. These have taken the center stage in tourism ads and are always a regular backdrop of many souvenir photos. 

Because of its magnificence, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. Since then, the world has noticed and never stopped talking about the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. 

Located at the foot of the Cordillera mountain ranges in the northern island of Luzon, this destination will definitely take your breath away as you get lost by the astounding view of these rice paddies. 

History of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

Hungduan Rice Terraces

This jaw-dropping destination is not just among the Philippines’ must-visit attractions, but Banaue Rice Terraces history and origin will also leave you fascinated.

Built 2,000 years ago and passed on from one generation to the next, the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance to preserve the Banaue Rice Terraces have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between the people and the environment.

The Ifugaos said that their ancestors built these rice terraces Philippines only by hand. And up until now, the new generations are still applying the same technique amid the modernization to preserve the breathtaking rice terraces.


The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras being a UNESCO World Heritage Site

majestic view of banaue rice terraces

According to UNESCO, the rice terraces Philippines are the priceless contribution of Philippine ancestors to humanity. Among the reasons for its recognition is that the terraces illustrate a persistence of cultural traditions and remarkable continuity and endurance, since archaeological evidence reveals that this technique has been in use in the region for 2,000 years virtually unchanged. 

UNESCO also noted that the rice terraces Philippines are a memorial to the history and labor of more than a thousand generations of small-scale farmers who, working together as a community, have created a landscape based on a delicate and sustainable use of natural resources.


What you need to know before traveling to Banaue Rice Terraces

The Locals

old locals posing and smiling

They are very accommodating. They are always smiling. One thing you might notice when you meet Ifugaos is that their mouth and teeth are red. This is because of nganga or betel nuts. Nganga is like an alternative to tobacco or cigarettes. However, this isn’t smoked but chewed and to be spit afterwards.

Nganga is part of the Ifugaos’ culture so expect that most of them, even women, are chewing nganga.

The Food

flatlay of the banaue longganisa

The food here isn’t cheap but not too expensive. Basically, a regular meal will already cost you around P150 but the serving is generous. You must try their native rice and longganisa! They’re a perfect combination, especially for breakfast. 

The tour won’t be easy

a tourist and local guide trekking the banaue rice terraces

Sure there are vans and other transportation services available to tour you around but when you’re already going to the rice terraces, expect a lot of hiking trips, some are easy and some are challenging but definitely worth the sweat and effort!


Banaue Rice Terraces Facts

aerial view of another rice terraces in banaue

There is a local term to the rice terraces Philippines

The Banaue Rice Terraces tagalog is “Hagdan-Hagdang Palayan.”

Ifugao Rice Terraces are different from Banaue Rice Terraces

A common misconception among tourists is that they often think that the Ifugao Rice Terraces and Banaue Rice Terraces are the same. This is one of the Banaue Rice Terraces facts that every traveler must know. Overall, there are more than 48 rice terrace clusters but only five of them are included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. 

There are five inscribed rice terraces in the province

While the stunning attraction covers an extensive area, the inscribed property consists of five clusters of the most intact and impressive rice terraces, located in four municipalities.  

First is the Nagacadan terraces in Kiangan, a rice terrace cluster manifested in two distinct ascending rows of terraces bisected by a river; second is the Hungduan Rice Terraces that uniquely emerges into a spider web; third is the central Mayoyao Rice Terraces which is characterized by terraces interspersed with traditional farmers’ bale (houses) and alang (granaries); fourth is the Bangaan Rice Terraces in Banaue that backdrops a typical Ifugao traditional village; and fifth is the Batad Rice Terraces, that’s also in the town of Banaue, that is nestled in amphitheatre-like semi-circular terraces with a village at its base.


Places you can visit near the Banaue Rice Terraces

Tappiya Falls

tappiya falls in banaue

Unlike other waterfalls that are easy to reach, Tappiya Falls is a challenge but definitely worth it. Expect a not so easy trek by any stretch, the path to the falls will take you up and down steep uneven steps, narrow rice terraces, and muddy slippery trails. The trek will take about an hour or two depending on your pace. Also, the water here is freezing cold! But that’s what you’ll be needing after the tiring trek.

Bogyah Hot Spring

bogyah hot spring ifugao

Like the trek to Tappiya Falls, you’ll be in for another challenge going to Bogyah Hot Spring. You will have to pass through narrow rice terraces and uneven steps for about an hour but all these will be worth it when you finally reach Bogyah Hot Spring for a dip. 

Ducligan Snake River and Mountains

After the endless rice terraces in Ifugao, Ducligan Snake River and Mountain should be your next stop. This will be your breather during the trip. It’s among the most beautiful mountains in the Philippines featuring a snake-shaped river, hence the name.

How to get to Banaue Rice Terraces

There is only one way to reach the Banaue Rice Terraces location and it is by bus. From Cubao or Sampaloc in Manila, you can ride a bus bound for Banaue. There are two buses that go straight to Banaue: Coda Lines and Ohayami Trans.

The travel time will take about 9 hours at the minimum. 

Upon arrival in Banaue bus terminal, you can ride a tricycle going to your hotel or just tour the area directly.

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras embody the absolute blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, and religious environment. Indeed, it is a living cultural landscape of exceptional beauty.

 

 

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