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Sights and Attractions

There's a good reason why they say: It's more fun in the Philippines. Why not see and experience the best sights and attractions in the Philippines for yourself?

  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines
  • The Rice Terraces of the Philippines

The Rice Terraces of the Philippines

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In the north of the Philippines, the Banaue (Batad) rice terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, await you. They are definitely one of the highlights of the country and one of the best sights to behold. 

However, the journey can be tedious and you’ll find yourself spending long hours on a bus ride. Here you will find our tips to help you plan your trip, and of course, stunning photos that will inspire you.

The Awe-Inspiring Rice Terraces in the Northern Region of the Philippines

The Awe-Inspiring Rice Terraces in the Northern Region of the Philippines
The northern region of the Philippines is one of the many underestimated wonders in the country. While the north is as breathtaking and culturally significant as many of the country's resorts (such as Boracay and Puerto Galera), comparatively few visitors come there. 

A bus ride of at least eight hours (overnight) is the most common means of transportation. Tourists are awakened when the bus ends its journey at inconspicuous stations and they suddenly find themselves in awe of mountain views and scenic landscapes. Of course, you’ll still have to line up to pay the necessary environmental fees. Nevertheless, the journey to the magnificent rice terraces is one the top experiences in the country that will leave you in awe.

The Philippine Cordilleras

The Philippine Cordilleras

There are five rice terraces in the Cordilleras, but they are listed under a single cluster of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. The eight-hour trip (or sometimes 13) pales in comparison to the majesty of the mountains - the indigenous architecture will also impress you.

It is also one of the most culturally diverse regions of the country, where many of its indigenous traditions are maintained and preserved. There are nine major ethnolinguistic groups in the region, with marked differences, including the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and the Mountain Province, which make up the so-called Cordillera Administrative Region. Yes, and to this mountain range belong some areas from the eastern sections of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, as well as the northeastern Pangasinan and the western areas of Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan.

Five of the splendid rice terraces include Banaue and Bangaan, Nagacadan in Kiangan, Batad, Hapao in Hungduan, and Mayoyao, which is partly in Isabela. Banaue and Bangaan are close together, so a tour to Banaue could include a stopover in Bangaan.

The Banaue rice terraces are often called the eighth wonder of the world and their popularity has led to a misunderstanding that it is the only rice terrace system that has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Sadly, this isn’t the case. But, well, it shouldn’t matter, this is still one of the best sights to behold.

The amphitheater architecture of Batad is always a hit among tourists looking for a hike, and the hidden Tappiya waterfalls underline its charm. Be sure to bring water! Make sure you are fit and your legs are strong. The hike to Tappiya is definitely not a walk in a park. There is a path, but sometimes these are rather huge lumps of rock. Back at the inn or hotel, you will be indescribably exhausted and maybe even need a massage (there are some, don't worry).

Kiangan is a historic district in the north, a short 20-minute tricycle ride from Lagawe. This is where General Tomoyuki Yamashita surrendered in 1945 and where American architecture from the colonial period of the Philippines is still visible.

From the city center and through a winding cemented road, the Nagacadan rice terraces lead to the city. Like its sisters in other areas, Kiangan is home to smaller rice terrace systems such as Asipulo (quite remote and far from the city center) and the Ba-e-Rice Terraces (where sunrises are best seen). In Kiangan there is a laundry, a dormitory, several host families, a KFC (Kiangan Food Center, not the fast food resto), a church, some city supermarkets (which close very early), and a city historian.

The Hapao rice terrace system in Hungduan is probably one of the most underestimated terraces in the Cordilleras. It's true, there is not much to do in the area except for the hot spring, which is located next to a raging, ice-cold river. Where Batad has the really cold and refreshing Tappiya and Kiangan the hidden jewel that is the Julongan waterfalls in Hungduan has the unique hot spring. Visitors must cross the huge rice terraces of Hapao to reach the hot spring. You can either choose the normal route, which already offers a great view of the terraces, or you can choose the less traveled road and even be rewarded with the best view.

Tips for Traveling to the North

stunning rice terraces of the Philippines UNESCO World Heritage Site
1. Plan carefully

While some of the best beaches in the Philippines are quite remote and there are hotels where you can safely store your luggage, traveling north is quite a challenge. Here, there are not many hotels unlike what you can find in Boracay, Cebu, or Palawan, but there are inns and homestays in traditional houses and the people in the Cordilleras are among the friendliest hosts in the Philippines. They can explain the landscape to you a little bit, help you find good inns and also help you with public transportation schedules.

2. Arrival
3. What to pack
4. Public transport
5. Security
6. People in the north are time conscious
Visitors and travelers are often told that there are only two seasons in the Philippines: hot and hotter. The summer seems to be a constant and people are always in the mood for something "Vitamin Sea". No wonder, the Philippines has simply fantastic beaches. With over seven thousand islands, adventure seekers will always find a paradise. Still, the country is not only about beaches and islands, and a visit to the rice terraces in the Cordillera mountains should be enough to convince you that.

Have you ever been to the magnificent rice terraces of the Philippines? How was the experience? What is your personal favorite? Leave us a comment below.