Batad, I love you and I hate you.
I love you for taking my breath away. You leave me breathless with your pristine rice terraces and far-flung appeal. Many have called your terraces the most beautiful in the Philippines. I haven’t seen them all, but I believe it.
I hate you for taking my breath away. You leave me out of breath with your arduous treks and gazillion steps. You remind me how terribly out-of-shape I am, in spite of all the running fast walking I’ve been doing.
Every time you kick my ass and leave me groping for my inhaler, I swear I will NEVER visit you again. But here I am, at your doorstep, unable to resist your charms. You’re like a bad habit I can’t give up.
Batad, I really do hate you, but I will always love you more. ♥
GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT’S IN BATAD?
Batad is a remote village of around 1,500 people in Ifugao province. It’s said to be home to the best and most well-preserved rice terraces in the Cordillera region. These terraces are between 2,000-6,000 years old and have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
Batad is so remote that there’s virtually no cellular service let alone internet access anywhere in the village. There are no roads or motorized vehicles either. To reach it, you’ll need to be dropped off at the Saddle then do a 15-minute hike down muddy trails into the village.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BATAD
Batad enjoys cool weather year round, about 75°F (24°C). People go to Batad for the rice terraces so you’ll see it in different states depending on which time of the year you go. Climate change may be to blame, but there’s a lot of conflicting information online about planting and harvest seasons. Here’s what you can expect based on the most current information.
DEC-MAR: This is the coldest time of the year in Batad so most of the rice terraces will be barren muddy pools.
APR-JUL: April to May is typically planting season in Batad. The rice terraces are green but they aren’t lush yet. They fill out by June and July but rains become more frequent during that time as well.
AUG-NOV: August to November is said to be the best time to see the rice terraces at their greenest and most lush. August and September are the rainiest months so the area is more prone to landslides. For that reason, you may want to wait until October and November. Just don’t wait too long since all the rice may have been harvested by the time you get there!
All the times I’ve been to Batad were in January when most of the terraces were just muddy pools. I enjoyed the cold weather so I didn’t mind, but I think seeing them at their greenest would have been even more rewarding. Based on the above, I think October is the ideal time to go. It seems to be the best balance of green and blue skies prior to the rice being harvested.
HOW TO GET TO BATAD FROM MANILA
Banaue is the jumping off point to Batad so I’ll describe how to get to Banaue first. To give you a better understanding of where all these places are in relation to one another, I’ve included a map below borrowed from the Bisayang Manlalakbay blog.
From Manila to Banaue
You’ll be taking a 9-10 hr overnight Ohayami Trans bus to Banaue. It leaves at 10PM daily (and 9PM during peak season) from the Ohayami station near UST (Lacson Avenue cor. Fajardo Street). The fare is PHP 490 each way and it gets you into Banaue at 7AM the next day. Buses get full, especially during peak season, so be sure to reserve your ticket in advance to guarantee yourself a seat. You can visit the Ohayami Trans website for information on how to reserve a ticket. Alternatively, you can book advanced tickets through 12Go Asia. It’s a popular transportation website that services many destinations in Southeast Asia.
To go back to Manila, the Ohayami bus leaves Banaue at 7PM and arrives in Manila around 5AM. During peak season, they have another bus leaving at 6:30PM. With just one or two buses a day, it’s best that you reserve your return ticket in advance as well.
From Sagada to Banaue
Just a province away, many people pair this trip with Sagada (I did twice). From the intersection in Sagada, take a 40-min public jeepney ride to Bontoc for PHP 45. It leaves every half hour from 6:30AM until 9AM, then every hour from 9AM until 1PM. From Bontoc, hop in a van to Bananue for PHP 150. It’s a 1.5-hr ride which leaves from the tourism office three times a day at 8:30AM, 10AM, and 1PM.
You’ll spot a Bontoc-Banaue sign at this corner of the tourism office. That lavender van is what we took.
Alternatively, you can take a bus from Bontoc to Banaue as well. I’ve never done it so I don’t know where to catch the bus, but it’s said to make two trips daily, at 7AM and 9AM. Like the van, one-way trips cost PHP 150. Just ask someone where you can catch the bus.
For anyone wondering how to get back to Sagada from Banaue, you can refer to my Sagada Travel Guide for more information.
From Banaue to Batad
Upon arrival in Banaue town, register at the tourism office and pay the PHP 20 environmental fee. You can then take a jeepney or tricycle to an area called the Saddle — the closest point to Batad village that a vehicle can go. From there, it’s about a 20-min downhill trek to the village and your inn. Once you arrive in the village, you’ll be asked to pay another PHP 50 environmental fee.
To go from Banaue town to the Saddle, you can catch a public jeep that goes there twice a day. The fare is PHP 150. The problem is, no one seems to know exactly what time the jeep leaves and from where. If you can’t catch this phantom jeepney, then you can rent an entire jeep to take you to the Saddle (up to 20 pax) for PHP 1,500 each way. This is the easiest way to go and worth the cost if you can split it between enough people. Alternatively, a tricycle can take 2-3 people for PHP 150 but the ride is much less comfortable. Tricycle or jeep, you can arrange for them to pick you up from the Saddle as well for your return trip to Banaue town.
Now if you’re part monk and want to walk the entire way, you can hop on a public jeep bound for Bangaan or Mayoyao and get off at Batad Junction. From the junction, it’s a tough 3-km trek uphill to the Saddle before a steep 3-km trek downhill to the village. I did that before on my first trip to Batad and I will NEVER do it again.
We made it! Woohoo!
HOW LONG TO STAY / SAMPLE ITINERARY
With relatively few attractions, Batad is a short stay destination. Assuming you’ll be arriving in Banaue by Ohayami bus from Manila, then one night should be enough for you to see the major sights. Here’s a sample itinerary:
7AM – Arrive in Banaue
8AM – Breakfast in Banaue
9AM – Hire a jeep or tricycle to take you to the Saddle.
10AM – Trek to the village and check in to your inn. Relax the rest of the morning.
12NN – Lunch
1PM – Trek to Tappiya Waterfalls
6PM – Dinner and lights out
7AM – Breakfast
8AM – Trek to Awa View Deck
1PM – Lunch
2PM – Check out and trek back to the Saddle
3:30PM – Hire a jeep or tricycle back to Banaue town proper. From here you can either go back to Manila, stay in Banaue, or move on to another destination like Bontoc, Sagada, or Baguio.
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES
Batad is inexpensive, even more so if you’ll be traveling in a group. Assuming you’ll be coming by Ohayami bus from Manila, staying overnight, and going straight back, then a budget of around PHP 3,500 should be enough. Here’s a summary of expenses:
PHP 980 – Roundtrip bus ticket to Banaue from Manila
PHP 300 – Tricycle to and from the Saddle (less if split between 2-3 people)
PHP 70 – Environmental fees
PHP 250 – One-night stay (regular room)
PHP 1,400 – Guide fees to Tappiya Waterfalls and Awa View Deck (may vary from guide to guide)
PHP 500 – Food and drinks
This comes out to PHP 3,500 for a solo traveler. If you travel with one other person, then your cost gets cut down to around PHP 2,525 per person. If there are three people in your group, then it goes down even more. The brunt of your expenses will go to guide fees so the more people traveling with you, the less each person has to pay.
WHERE TO STAY IN BATAD: Ramon’s Native Homestay
If you want a truly unforgettable experience in Batad, then you should stay at Ramon’s Native Homestay. Why? Their native Ifugao huts. Able to sleep 3-4 people, you can rent an authentic Ifugao hut for around USD 20 a night through Agoda or AirBnB. It’s a unique experience which I highly recommend.
They don’t seem to be listed on Agoda or AirBnB but Ramon’s Homestay has regular rooms as well for around PHP 250 a person. This may be best if you’re traveling alone. You can contact them through their Facebook page for more information.
Batad is a small village but it does have a few other places to stay. Check out Agoda and AirBnB for alternate listings. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 22 free travel credit via THIS LINK.
Without giving too much away, you can shoot the best mementos of your Ifugao experience at Ramon’s Homestay. Check out my post on Ramon’s Native Homestay in Batad to see what I’m talking about. 😉
Approximate Rates: HUT – Around USD 20 per hut (3-4 pax), ROOM – Around PHP 250 per person (as of Sept 2017)
WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO DO IN BATAD
1. Tappiya Waterfalls
About an hour’s hike from Ramon’s Homestay, the trek to Tappiya Waterfalls is one of the most popular things to do in Batad. It’s popular because it’s a relatively easy trek (by Batad standards) that even moderately fit people can do. With that said, it isn’t without its risks, that element of danger perhaps adding to its overall appeal.
Check out my post on Tappiya Waterfalls in Batad for more pictures and information.
Length of Trek: 1 – 1.5 hrs each way / Fitness Level: Moderate / Guide Fee: PHP 600 (up to 4 pax, may vary from guide to guide)
2. Awa View Deck
I had every intention of trekking to Awa View Deck on our last trip. But after sucking wind mightily on the hike back from the falls, I acknowledged my limitations and said fuck it. Just take a look at the picture below to see why.
Taken from Ramon’s Homestay, that speck high up in the mountains is Awa View Deck. It’s a passage used by locals crossing to and from Batad and Sitio Patpat. It takes around two hours to get to that point, rewarding you with the best bird’s eye views of Batad once you reach the summit. If you’re in good shape, then you should definitely do it. Me? I’m happy to enjoy the view through someone else’s lens.
Length of Trek: 2 – 2.5 hrs each way / Fitness Level: Steroids / Guide Fee: PHP 800 (up to 4 pax, may vary from guide to guide)
1. Get Travel Insurance
If you’re a non-Filipino, then I strongly suggest you get travel insurance before visiting Batad, or anywhere else in the Philippines for that matter. Fact is, you never know what can happen. In a place like these rice terraces where you can easily lose your footing when hiking, having travel insurance will be a godsend.
We buy travel insurance from World Nomads because every long-term traveler I know recommends it. From the sound of it, they’re the best in the industry by a mile. Not only do they provide a high coverage limit for medical expenses (up to USD 5 million with the Standard package), they also cover things like trip delays, missed flight connections, theft/loss of passport and luggage, etc. Follow this link to learn more and get a free travel insurance quote from World Nomads. It’s super quick and easy.
2. Buy Your Bus Tickets in Advance
If you’re coming from Manila, then you’ll be riding an Ohayami Trans bus to Banaue. Be sure to reserve your ticket in advance to guarantee yourself a seat. You can visit the Ohayami Trans website for information on how to reserve a ticket.
3. Bring Cash
Batad is a tiny, rural village without any banks or ATMs. No establishment accepts credit cards or Bitcoin so be sure to bring enough cash to fund your trip. No other currency except Philippine Pesos (PHP) are accepted here, so you should change all your currency beforehand.
4. Step Up Your Cardio
Batad is physically demanding. With most of the trails at a steep incline, even getting around the village requires effort. And the treks? Unless you’re a juiced up Lance Armstrong, then these will test your endurance, especially the trek to Awa View Deck.
5. Get a Guide, Trek Early, and Carry a Big Stick
Some of the sights like Tappiya Waterfalls are easy enough to find on your own, but I suggest hiring a guide for your own safety and peace of mind. On top of that, guides add value by sharing stories and tidbits of information, plus you’ll be giving back to the community.
It’s important to start your treks as early as possible as well. That way you can be back before nightfall. Many of the paths are dangerous enough by day, you don’t want to be stuck out there at night. If you’re moderately fit, then start your trek to Tappiya Waterfalls by 2PM, earlier if possible. To Awa View Deck, start no later than 1PM. This will give you enough time there and be back by sunset (around 5:30PM).
And be sure to carry a sturdy walking stick. It will make the trek much easier. As you can see below, there are few flat areas of land in Batad. You’ll be climbing up steep, uneven steps and crossing narrow, muddy trails for much of the time, so a walking stick will come in very handy.
6. Order Every Meal in Advance
The homestyle restaurants in Batad can’t handle too many guests at once. To avoid long waiting times, be sure to order every meal in advance especially if you’re traveling on a tight schedule.
7. Disconnect and Enjoy the View
There’s little to no cellular coverage in Batad, so you’ll pretty much be detached from the modern world while you’re there. Take the opportunity to disconnect, slow down, and enjoy the view. 🙂
I’m not an expert on Batad but I do hope that you find this post useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from our trip. If you have any suggestions or simply want to share your own experiences, then please feel free to do so in the comments section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well. We’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for stopping by and have fun exploring the rice terraces in Batad!
These are some of the things we brought with us to Batad. As you can tell, I document a lot of content for this blog so most of the things I bring are photo and video equipment. 😆 If you’d like to see what other gear we use, then you can check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon affiliate links.)
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