Wake up. We have arrived in Banaue. We are hustled off the bus we just spent the night on. We arrived in Manila later than expected – flight delayed. We ran through the airport, were the first in the customs line, and taxied across town just in time to catch the overnight bus. Waking up in Banaue was our first real experience in the Philippines.
Now first things first. There is no internet connection and no phone service in Batad. There are also no roads. I didn’t realize this until reading the fine print on our booking a couple days prior to the trip. The only way to get to Batad is to hike. You can try to arrange porters from your guest house to come and help you with your luggage but you will need to do it well in advance. We tried to organize porters a couple days before our arrival but no one from the guest house had checked their emails in the days leading up to our arrival (as checking their emails require a hike and a drive into an area with phone service).
From the Banaue bus stop you can easily hire a trike or jeepney to take you to the Batad interchange. This is essentially where the road ends, and the way to Batad becomes a hiking trail.
The hike isn’t really that bad. It’s all downhill and takes about 30 minutes. Half the hike is a partially paved trail and the other half is through the rice terraces of the village. The village is built on a very steep hill and steep concrete steps and paths connect all the buildings and rice terraces.
We had booked our accommodation in advance, however since it was low season there was really no need. We were the only group of travellers in the entire village, and there were more than enough guest houses available for travellers to just show up with no booking. We stayed at the Batad Transient House, a local home stay with a pretty incredible view. All the accommodation in Batad appears to be quite basic. All the accommodation appears to be home stays – there are no 5 star hotels here. Our room was basic with no fan or air con, but it wasn’t required in the crisp mountain air.
What to do
The thing to see in Batad are the incredible amphitheatre rice terraces. There are quite a few hikes to do in the region, and indeed, that is the reason that most people come here. I did one of the shorter hikes in the region out to the local waterfall. One of the men from the family we were staying with was our guide/ carrier of Jacob when he whinged too much. The hike out to the waterfall took us through the village, along the sides of rice terraces, and through a patch of forest before we came out to the waterfall. The pool below is safe for swimming, but we didnt swim since it was just me and Jacob and I am not a strong swimmer.
The walk while technically easy, has a lot of ups and downs and stairs so can be quite exhausting in the heat and sun so I recommend taking plenty of water.
What to bring
There are no shops in Batad, just small little kiosks. You can buy snacks and drinks at these kiosks, but any other essentials you will need to bring with you. I’m talking med kits, sunscreen, insect repellent… all these things need to be brought with you.
People in these communities lead simple lives but are all incredibly friendly. One thing I wish I had brought along was toys or school supplies to give to the children.