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Philippines Adventures PT1: Manila to the Banaue Rice Terraces

About Manila

The Philippines is awesome in almost every way. It’s cheap and exotic. The locals are charming and kind. The beaches look like postcards and the jungles look Indiana Jones movie sets. And there is rum, smooth delicious rum, for less than $2 USD per bottle. Go to the Philippines. Go now, go often, and go for a long time but, for the love of God, after you get off the plane get the hell out of Manila as fast as you can.

Unless you’re shopping, looking for hookers, or watching midget boxing, there’s nothing to do in Manila. Aside from a few colonial era churches, the city is devoid of historical attractions. The poverty is depressing, the beggars and touts are aggressive, the prices are the highest in the country, and crime aimed at tourists is common. There is no reason to stay there. I strongly advise leaving as quickly as possible.

Where 2 Next Hostel, Manila, Philippines

Where 2 Next Hostel

The Bus From Manila to Banaue

Jeannie Mark, aka Nomadic Chick (you can read her post about our trip here), and I spent one night in Manila at a hosel while planning our escape for the following day. The owner, Elanore helped us to figure out the bus times. Several companies run busses to Banaue. It’s an 8 – 10 hour trip (give or take) so busses generally run in the morning (travel all day) or between 8pm and 11pm (travel all night). They generally run $400-450 pesos (around $10-12 USD). Don’t expect a lot of luxury. If you are traveling at night expect hard seats, bumps, and swerves to interfere with your rest. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, the bus is COLD. For reasons that I cannot explain, the bus drivers crank up the A/C like they’re trying to climate-control hell. Bring a sweater, jacket, and hat.

Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines

The Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue, Batad, and the Best Ways to see the Rice Terraces

If you want to make your stay as comfortable as possible, stay in Banaue. Banaue is a small town at the foot of some very nice rice terraces. The town has several hotels and guest houses (though its quite hard to find information about them online) as well as a handful of restaurants and cafes with internet access and great views of the nearby terraces. However, the prices do reflect the large number of tourists that stay there and Banaue is about an hours bus ride from the Batad Saddle Point where you begin the walk into Batad where the most spectacular rice terraces are.

If you want to really explore the rice terraces (and save some time and money) I suggest that you try to skip Banaue and go straight to Batad where the most spectacular rice terraces are located. From Banaue you will need to take a jeepney to the Batad Saddle Point. The price per jeepney is $2000 pesos and is split between all occupants (12 at the very most). From the trailhead you will have to hike about 45 min – 1 hr (with all your gear) downhill into Banaue. Banaue has some inexpensive guesthouses with beds as cheap as $100 pesos per person per night. The restaurants are also reasonable and the views are epic.

Waking up in Banue and eating breakfast with a view of the amphitheatre of terraces is itself worth the trip. Even better, however, is geographic position of Batad among the terraces. Here you are in position to jump off into several hikes ranging from one to several days that will take you through thousands-of-years-old terraces and villages that are only accessible by foot.

On our visit, I didn’t have time to go on one of those hikes. Had we gone straight to Batad, I would have. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Batad Rice Terraces, Philippines

The Batad Rice Terraces Amphitheater

Have you visited the Banaue Rice Terraces? What did you do while you were there?

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40 Responses to Philippines Adventures PT1: Manila to the Banaue Rice Terraces

  1. Pam February 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Great photos! I look forward to your updates! I found a place to vicariously live out my adventures! Good stuff!

    • Matt Gibson February 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

      I’m really glad that you liked it Pam. You will see a lot more articles like this coming in the near future. You can make sure you receive them by subscribing to my RSS or following me on FB or Twitter. Stay tuned!
      Cheers!

  2. belladonna February 10, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    I really had a great time reading your very informative post Matt.

    • Matt Gibson February 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it Belladonna.

  3. Philippines Travel Fan February 13, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Banaue Rice Terraces are a great place to visit and they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Definitely worth the bumpy bus ride!

    • Matt Gibson February 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      I definitely agree. Totally worth the bumpy (and freezing) bus ride.

      • Zorian Matthews February 10, 2015 at 10:08 am #

        Hi, thanks for your post. Can you advise me on the time realistically I would need to travel up from Manila, see the main sites and then travel back for my onward journey? I’m on a very tight schedule but really want to see the terraces and even do a hike potentially for a day, but it may mean dropping one of my other destinations elsewhere in the Philippines instead and dont want it to be an unrealistic rush.
        Your help is appreciated.

    • Linh Nguyen September 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Please tell me where the bus station for Banaue and the name of the bus station.

      • Matt Gibson September 26, 2014 at 2:39 am #

        Hi Linh,

        I’m sorry, but I don’t recall where the bus station is. But, when you arrive, I’m sure the people at your hotel or at the airport can help you. Lots of people in Manila know where it is.

  4. Lyndsay/ Discount Travel Blogger July 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the info., such a shame how I’m getting info of my own country from a foreigner.lol I have been to Sagada, but unfortunately the route to Bontoc is what we took because only have limited time and it was the only available bus route available when we reached Baguio. We wouldn’t want to spend a night in Baguio so we head to Bontoc instead.

    I want to go back to Sagada and when I do, I’ll make sure I’d take the Banaue route.

  5. Jhul M. January 5, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    It’s so nice that you visit my country. Hope to be back someday. 🙂

    Favor please. Help us retweeting and sharing my travel blog about Philippines: http://thesimplertraveler.blogspot.com/ Thank you so much! 🙂

  6. xavi February 21, 2013 at 2:44 am #

    Be careful!! My LUGGAGE WAS STOLEN on an OHAYAMI night bus on 18th February 2013 on a trip from Banaue to Manila. We believe it was when we arrived to Manila, the conductor opened the luggage door and took out all the bags while everybody was still waking up (it was around 3 am when we got there).
    Nor company, nor driver, nor conductor did anything about it, not even Police.

  7. Matt Gibson February 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Wow. I’m really sorry to hear that Xavi! I’m always very careful in Manila. Although I think that most of the Philippines is very safe, Manila is not.

  8. Robin March 16, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    I am travelling with 2 adults and 2 teenagers. Your blog is really helpful. We are wanting to visit the rice terraces at Batad but have limited time. We are flying into Manila at 9.20 pm so don’t think we’ll have time to catch at overnight bus to Banaue. If we caught a bus the next day from Manila to Banaue, and planned to spend the following day visiting Batad, and then catch a bus back to Manila, would that give us enough time.

  9. Matt Gibson March 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Hi Robin, I wouldn’t recommend that. Yes, it is physically possible to do it, but the bus to Batad is not the most comfortable I’ve ridden. You’ll likely have trouble sleeping on it. It’s also very cold (be sure to bring warm clothes).

    You’ll probably be tired when you arrive, and the hike to Batad is fairly long and steep. If you arrive with little sleep, and then do the hike, and then get back on the bus, where you’ll probably have a hard time sleeping again, it would probably be too rough of a trip to enjoy. You’d really need more time.

  10. Dynah April 30, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Extensive information! Thanks for all the pointers! Husband and I plus our 4,5 daughter are planning thorough trip thru Philippines 2014. Husband wants to trek to Batad but do you think it’s doable for the little one! We are seasoned backpackers and have already traveled lots with her but just wondering about the trek down to Batad! Did you see any other family’s about on this leg of your journey! Thanks for any advice!

  11. Dynah April 30, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    Was just thinking are there any Sherpas for hire to carry a child!?

  12. Matt Gibson May 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    Sounds like a great trip you guys are planning. If you’re a fit outdoorsy family, I don’t see any problem. I’m sure you could hire a nice local fella to carry your child, or do so yourself. It’s a steep 40min-1 hour hike in, so you could also do it yourself. You’ll probably want to make sure that you bring your own carrying device. I doubt they have anything more sophisticated than a sling in Banaue.

    The question is, how much hiking do you want to do once you get to Batad. A day trip is nice, but there are also reasonably comfortable accommodations in Batad, so you could plan to stay and do some day hikes in the area. Unfortunately, I don’t know any way of making reservations. Maybe by phone?

  13. Marice Cruz June 12, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Very informative and realistic! I’m a Filipina currently planning a trip to these terraces. Thanks, Matt!

  14. Matt Gibson July 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    Glad to be of help Marice!

  15. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family July 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    How does Banaue compare to Sapa in Vietnam, Matt? (If you’ve been there.) I really enjoyed Sapa and walked around for days and days. We’re planning on going to the Philippines at the end of the year and I’m thinking Banaue would be a nice break from all the beach time.

  16. Matt Gibson July 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I haven’t been to Sapa in Vietnam, but, as far as I know, the rice terraces at Banaue are as spectacular as they come. I’d definitely recommend it.

  17. Tes June 19, 2014 at 4:28 am #

    Are you saying that banaue and batad are two different places? If so, are you saying that to get to batad, you’ll need to hike? And what’s the best route to get to banaue from manila?

    • Matt Gibson June 19, 2014 at 4:31 am #

      Hi Tes. Yes, Banaue is a small town that can be reached by bus from Manila. Bus or car is the only way to reach Banaue from Manila.

      Batad is a small village that can only be reached by foot. First you have to take a bus or car from Banaue to the trailhead and then hike into the village. It is fairly physical and quite steep, so not a good idea for people with bad knees.

  18. Tom September 16, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Hi Matt
    Really enjoyed you piece, very informative. Would you know if there is a domestic airport in the near area of benaue/batad I heard of Bagabag but I am not sure if it is still open. This would cut out the long return bus trip.

    • Matt Gibson September 16, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      I think there is an airport in Baguio, which the bus to Banaue passes through. That would definitely cut some time off the journey.

  19. Natasha October 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Hi Matt. I just spent some time reading your blog about Banaue and Batad. I just had some questions if you don’t mind helping. My boyfriend and I will be travelling to the Philippines in February. We will be flying into Manila and arrive late so will be staying the night there but looking to leave the next day and was thinking of heading to the rice terraces. We aren’t really strapped for time so I am wondering what would be the best trip. We will be travelling with just our backpacks and would like to get the best trip possible! Thanks for your help!!

    • Matt Gibson October 15, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

      Hi Natasha,

      That’s a pretty hard question for me to answer. The best trip for you depends on your taste and style. If you like hiking and adventure, then you can hike several days through the terraces and visit remote villages that have no roads to them. If you prefer comfort, you may want to stay in Banaue and visit the nearby terraces by car.

      I hope this helps a bit.

      Cheers,
      Matt

      • Natasha January 19, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

        Hi Matt,

        Sorry just saw your response now! We have planned our trip and will just stay in Banaue and travel and hike around during the days! My next question, hopefully you can help, is what is the best way to get from Manila airport to the bus terminal. We arrive in the morning so have some time to get to the bus terminal but curious about how to get there!

        Thanks,
        Natasha

  20. marju November 7, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    hei matt!

    thanks for sharing your experiences!
    im planning to go there next week so i have few questions, maybe you can help me 🙂
    my flight arrives 6.30pm, is it possible to get on the night bus, i mean do i have enough time? i wouldn’t stay in Manila at all if i can avoid it.
    and you say to go to batad instead of banaue. are there any guest house or hostelsin batad? or i have to stay the night in banaue?
    thank you for all your help!

    • Matt Gibson November 10, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

      Hi Marju,

      Your welcome!

      I don’t know if you can get on the night bus. It depends which airport you land at (Clark is very far from the city), and which bus company.

      You would not make it for the bus that I took, I can tell you that. But I think there’s more than one company.

      I think that your best bet is to call the tourism bureau or a hotel and ask them. I think the bus station is pretty far from the airport.

      Cheers,
      Matt

  21. Suhas December 20, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Hi Matt,

    Excellent information! Any idea around what time do the buses for Manilla depart from Banaue/Batad?

    I’m planning to reach Banaue in the morning via a night bus from Manilla, and I have a flight the next day 10am from Manilla. So, would I be able to get back to Manilla by 7am or so?

    Thanks,
    Suhas

    • Matt December 20, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

      Sorry Suhas, it was a long time ago. I really don’t remember.

    • Jedidja February 6, 2016 at 6:35 am #

      @Suhas, we’ve been there in 2014 during the Imbayah in april. We took the bus at 19.30 at Banaue and arrived at 4.30 in the morning in Manila. I’m not sure which company we booked. There were 2 companies at that time that run de Banaue-Manila route.

  22. Cebu Tours June 8, 2018 at 10:09 pm #

    Thanks for the info., such a shame how I’m getting info of my own country from a foreigner. I have been to Sagada, but unfortunately the route to Bontoc is what we took because only have limited time and it was the only available bus route available when we reached Baguio. We wouldn’t want to spend a night in Baguio so we head to Bontoc instead.

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