Sleep & Dress like an Ifugao at Ramon’s Native Homestay in Batad, Banaue, Ifugao

Sleep & Dress like an Ifugao at Ramon’s Native Homestay in Batad, Banaue, Ifugao

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to have experiences. Call it a midlife crisis, but I have this urge to do something different all the time now. Whether it be tasting some exotic dish, visting a remote island, or jumping out of a plane, it’s important for me to step out of my comfort zone and experience something new.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about this lately, but when I die, I don’t think I’ll be measuring my life with how much money I’ve made or how high up the corporate ladder I’ve climbed. Instead, I’ll be quantifying my life with how much of the world I’ve seen, how much of it I’ve experienced.

If a doctor diagnosed me with terminal cancer tomorrow and gave me one year to live, I’m not going to think: “Oh no, I haven’t made a bajillion dollars!” or “I’m not a CEO yet!” No, my first thoughts will surely be: “I haven’t seen Machu Picchu. I haven’t eaten a Cuban sandwich in Havana. I haven’t proposed to my wife in Santorini. It’s time to go.” I have a feeling that most people will probably feel that way.

It doesn’t even have to be a grand experience like climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest or something. It can be as simple an act as experiencing Fall in New England or eating sannakji in Seoul. Because a life filled with experiences, no matter how big or small, is a life well-lived in my book.

This native Ifugao hut, devoid of electricity and set deep within the terraced mountains of Banaue, is one such experience.

The Ifugao Huts

Known locally as a fale, the traditional Ifugao hut looks like it’s all roof on stilts, kinda like a bobblehead house. It has three functional levels β€” the ground floor work area which is actually the space beneath the house, the second floor which is the living quarters and social area, and the third level which is used as a granary.

Ramon’s Native Homestay has five of these huts available for PHP 1,500 a night, each with a maximum capacity of 4-5. You can book these huts through Agoda.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

L: Here’s my friend Pat entering the hut using the removable ladder. Do you see those wooden discs close to the top of each stilt? Called oliang, they keep rats from entering the house.
R: The inside of the hut. It’s much bigger than it looks from the outside right? That area in the center of the picture is an open fire pit for cooking. Pretty cool how they can cook in these huts. You can also see the granary up top.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Pat and I stayed in their biggest hut. It can sleep five – three on beds and two on floor mattresses. As mentioned above, there’s no electricity in these huts. They do provide you with candles but it’s still very dark inside, so I suggest bringing flashlights if you intend to stay here. Another thing, they don’t give you blankets at first so be sure to ask for them. It can be freezing in Batad at night.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

L: A better shot of the granary
R: The huts don’t have indoor plumbing so you’ll have to use these common bathrooms. Obviously not the most glamorous or hygienic, management does try its best to keep them clean. This is pretty much the plumbing situation in all of Batad.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Both freaky and cool, the underside of the roof is often embellished with animal skulls. Ifugaos are animists so they offer animals to the gods during their annual rituals.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Apparently, these animal skulls are a source of pride to the hut owner.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

What’s cool about Ramon’s native huts is that they weren’t built just for tourists. These are actual functioning huts which they still use to store and prepare rice. If I’m not mistaken, those baskets on the right are used to make local bugnay (berry) wine.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Working beneath our hut, here you can see a local separating the grains from the stalks.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Once separated, he transfers the grains into this giant mortar and starts pounding away. Watching him do this made me realize how easy many of us have it. Life may be simple here in Batad, but it isn’t easy.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

The Restaurant

There are no standalone restaurants in Batad so wherever you’re staying is pretty much where you’ll be eating all your meals. As expected from a place this remote, choices are basic and a little pricey for what you get, but the view more than makes up for it. Killer eh?
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

The kitchen. Because Batad is so remote, all supplies are shuttled in by foot and marked up higher as a result. 8 oz bottles of soda cost PHP 50 while beer goes for PHP 70 a pop. Pricey for a place like this yes, but understandable considering how difficult it is to bring them in. We watched our guide Job carry two unopened cases of San Miguel beer on his head from the Saddle to the village, a trip that he makes up to three times a day. Still want to complain about the price? πŸ˜†
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

Tastes like chicken β€” fried chicken, asado chicken, and chicken curry for lunch. Each of these rice plate meals goes for PHP 140. Pretty tasty.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

L: Vegetable, tuna, and cheese pizza for PHP 120. I hate to say this, but the pizzas are gross. They use banana ketchup for the sauce and the crust was raw. Steer clear.
R: Breakfast was much better. Pictured here is an odd omelette/sandwich mashup (PHP 155) and a pancake (PHP 85). Both were decent.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

When in Rome

Talking about experiences, what sets Ramon’s Homestay apart aside from their Ifugao huts are these native costumes. Made available to guests for free, they dress you up in full Ifugao attire complete with wanno (male g-string), tapis (female body wrap), wraparound skirts, weapons, necklaces, and headdresses. Could you ask for a better Batad souvenir than this? πŸ˜†

On the left of this picture is my buddy Pat who’ll be going back to New Zealand in May. In the middle are my newly married Japanese friends Tom and Kai who visited the Philippines for their honeymoon. I wanted to give them all a Philippine experience they won’t soon forget, which is why I chose Ramon’s Homestay and their Ifugao huts. As you can tell from the priceless picture below, it was the perfect choice.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

It’s important to note that Ramon’s Homestay also has regular rooms that can fit up to two people. I believe these go for PHP 250 a person per night. As highly recommended as the huts are, I understand that they may not be practical for travelers on a budget, so these regular rooms make a good alternative.

As much as I enjoyed our stay at Ramon’s, I have to admit that I was disappointed by a couple of things. One, we chatted with the owner Mang Ramon who’s a very nice man, but it did feel like he was trying to sell us something at every turn. Whether it be the staging of a “cultural performance”, a gathering around a bonfire, or the hiring of a guide, it felt like he was constantly trying to peddle these unsolicted “add-ons”. I do understand that he was being hospitable, perhaps just eager to chat it up with his guests, but I’m the type of traveler who likes to be left alone so I didn’t much care for the sales talk. I could be wrong but that’s exactly what it felt like at the time β€” sales talk.

Another thing, they charge you for food and drinks only at the very end, right before you check out. This was making me nervous a bit as I was constantly worrying about our total. I much prefer settling immediately each time, just to make sure that my expenses and budget are in order. Thankfully, there were no surprises in our bill but I do hope they allow guests the option of paying after every meal.

With that said, these are minor infractions that may or may not bother other travelers. We were all 100% satisfied with our stay at Ramon’s and would recommend it highly to anyone looking to spend a night or two in Batad. It’s definitely an experience.

In parting, here’s a short video of Pat dancing the haka while dressed like an Ifuago. Slapping mud all over his chest and face, he went full Kiwi on this one. πŸ˜†

Ramon’s Native Homestay, Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao

Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines
Mobile: 0935-130-2911 / 0930-962-7348
Facebook: RamonsHomestay
Email: ramonshomestay@gmail.com
Agoda booking (huts only): ramon-native-homestay-and-restaurant

APPROXIMATE ROOM RATES: (as of Jan 2015)
Native Ifugao Hut – PHP 1,500 per Ifugao hut (good for 4-5 pax)
Room – PHP 250 per person

Make a Reservation through Agoda

HOW TO GET THERE:
From Batad Saddle, trek downhill towards the village. It’ll take you around 40 minutes to get there. Once there, follow the signs to Ramon’s Homestay. It’s a pretty small village but if you get lost, just ask someone and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Where to Stay in Batad: Ramon's Homestay

For more Batad travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines

 The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines

Disclosure

The hotel links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a reservation, then we’ll get a small commission at NO extra cost to you. We really appreciate your support as this helps us keep this website going. Thank you!

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.Β Β He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.Β Β Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 22 comments for this article
  1. nilpa shah at 10:09 pm

    Hi, thank you for sharing your experience. we are looking to visit Banaue Rice terraces in Mid September this year for 2 days 1 night. So the plan was to leave early morning say Sunday AM, get there by afternoon, spend half day and the next full day then take the night bus bacl to manila. Is this worth it or too short a time? Are there any other recommended hotels in Banaue?

  2. JB Macatulad at 10:15 pm

    Hi Nilpa, that should be enough time. I suggest staying in Batad as it has some of the nicest rice terraces. You mentioned that you’re planning on leaving for Banaue early Sunday morning. Which bus company are you taking?

  3. henry at 9:39 pm

    hi,is it advisable to bring your 3 year old kid with you?thanks.

  4. JB Macatulad at 12:28 am

    Hi Henry, getting to Batad from the saddle with a 3-yr old shouldn’t be too bad. But trekking around Batad will be more difficult and perhaps a little dangerous with a young child. I suggest leaving him at the inn if you plan on doing any heavy trekking. Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

  5. Thomas Ragell at 11:05 pm

    While I’m not gastronomically inclined, I have certainly enjoyed your blogs on Sagada and Batad. I ffind them to be informative and entertaining in a funny, relaxed style. Thanks for all the info. I will be visiting Sagada, Batad, and Banaue in December 2015 and I will certainly use the info I got from you.

    Thanks, JB
    Tom

  6. JB Macatulad at 7:25 am

    You’re welcome Tom! Happy your found the guides useful. Have a wonderful trip. December is a great time to visit. πŸ™‚

  7. Bugoy at 2:03 pm

    Hi,
    Would you know if the road to Saddle from Banaue-Bangaan junction is accessible via non-4×4 car? And if it is already possible to park at the saddle area?

    thanks,
    Bugoy

  8. JB Macatulad at 7:22 am

    Hi Bugoy, PUJs and tricycles make it up there so non-SUVs surely can. The road’s been paved so it’s smooth already. There were jeeps and tricycles parked there when we went in January so it’s probably ok. I suggest confirming this at the tourism office in Banaue though just to be sure. Not sure what the local policy is on parking there. Hope that helps and have a safe trip. πŸ™‚

  9. RAMON PUJALTE at 8:34 pm

    hi! i wish to travel to batad and sagada this february. is it possible for me to rent cheap room if i am travelling alone. how much would be my expenses?

  10. JB Macatulad at 8:12 am

    Hi Ramon, yes cheap rooms are available. You can refer to our guides for room rates. Have a great time. πŸ™‚

  11. Anna at 8:42 pm

    Hi, I have found your blogs very informative and extremely helfpul. My husband and I will be travelling to Banaue, Sagada, Laoag & Pagudpud later this month, and I’ve used your Blog posts as travel guides. I will be using your Blogs from now on as my “Philippines travel brochure”. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Thanks Mate πŸ™‚

  12. Cristina at 5:27 pm

    Hi JB! You wrote a very nice and helpful article about Batad πŸ™‚ We are planning to go there this November. We’ve actually been to Banaue/Sagada years ago but never to Batad. I hope it is still as Majestic as then. Anyway I have a question. We will be using our own transportation going there. Do u know if there is a safe parking place for the cars? We are also planning to stay at Ramon’s and I understand it requires travel by foot to there so the car needs to be left behind elsewhere, elsewhere safe I hope. Thanks.

  13. JB Macatulad at 7:07 pm

    Hi Cristina, several jeeps and tricycles were parked at the Saddle so you may be able to park there. Not sure what the local policy is on parking though. I suggest inquiring at the tourism office in Banaue upon arrival. At worst, you’ll need to park in Banaue then arrange for transportation to take you to the Saddle. Have an awesome trip! πŸ™‚

  14. sandra at 12:28 am

    Hello !
    I have limited time and my plan is
    Feb 8; Overnight bus Manila – Banaue
    Feb 9; get to Sagada and spend the night
    Feb 10; go back to Banaue
    Feb 11; take nightbus at 19.00 – manila

    I KNOW the schedule is tight and that you could spend weeks there BUT I’m used to short stops and I’m fine with it… what I wanna ask is Should i stay overnight in Banaue or is it better to try to get to batad,,,? I wanna stay in this “hut” but i’m worried about that 40 min trek just to get there and bringing luggage (I am bringing a suitcase, not heavy but still…) or maybe better to rent a cheap room in Banaue, leave the suitcase and just bring the nessesery to Batad and sleep overnight… what do you think..?

  15. JB Macatulad at 7:50 am

    Hi Sandra, yes I agree that renting a cheap room in Banaue to leave the suitcase would be ideal. Just be sure you get back to the Saddle in time to catch the public jeep back to Banaue on the 11th. An alternative would be to arrange for private transportation (jeep or tricylce) to take you back to Banaue from the Saddle on the 11th. Hope that helps and have a great trip. πŸ™‚

  16. Linda at 6:36 pm

    Hi JB, Loving your blog! My boyfriend and I will be in the Philippines in mid-late May this year… you wrote in your blog that the rains start to kick in more regularly around this time.. do you think it will be unsafe to make our way up to Sagada/Banaue/Batad at this time?
    Thanks
    Linda

  17. JB Macatulad at 8:27 pm

    Hi Linda, rainy season starts around May-June but it shouldn’t be too bad yet. I went there in May one year and though overcast, it didn’t rain everyday. And whenever it did the rains would be brief. So long as you avoid monsoon season (July-September) then you should be fine. Have an awesome time! πŸ™‚

  18. Rein at 2:30 am

    If December is harvest time and I would arrive December 4th, would I be too late to see the golden terraces or would I be in time. Is there anyone who can tell me, I dont want to waste 2 days of vacation to just harvested mudpools πŸ™

  19. JB Macatulad at 7:54 am

    Hi Rein, the best way to know for sure would be to contact Ramon’s Homestay. You can do so via the contact details provided at the bottom of this post. It may take them a few days to get back to you since cellular reception isn’t great in Batad, but they usually respond. Hope you see the terraces in all their glory! πŸ™‚

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