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Batad rice terraces. eesti / Creative Commons

The Banaue Rice Terraces have stood for 2,000 years as a legacy of Ifugao’s indigenous heritage. Oft-touted by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the rice paddies were carved largely, as the locals would say proudly, by hand, or with only basic tools. Many farmers within the Cordillera mountains continue to plant and grow rice and other crops on the terraces to this date; it is a tradition and a way of life, passed down from one generation to the next.

Tourists can get to Banaue by bus from Manila or Baguio City. The ride itself unravels mountainside sights to marvel at, plying through the winding route to the town. In Banaue, tourists flock to the aptly-named Sunrise Viewpoint for a sweeping view of the rice terraces. Travellers can also opt to hike on dirt paths bordering the paddies to fully immerse themselves in the landscape. Hiring a guide is recommended, as the vast mountainside offers many opportunities for one to get lost amid the many paths.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Banaue Rice Terraces, grand as they are, offer only one slice of Cordillera’s rice terraces — the towns of Batad, Bayoyao, Hapao, and Kiangan also feature these agricultural wonders for the traveler looking for more.

Ifugao Rice Terraces. Image courtesy of George Tapan / Philippines Department of Tourism.
Child and Ifugao locals at Banaue. Shubert Ciencia / Creative Commons.

Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
If you’re interested in mountain treks and welcoming encounters with local tribes and their works, try these other experiences: an overland trip from Makassar to the Tana Toraja heartland in Indonesia; Sapa in Vietnam; hiking through Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia; visiting Laos’ mysterious Plain of Jars; and Brunei’s Tutong cultural and ethnic experience.