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. ♥
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GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Because of the current global situation, travel guidelines have been changing very frequently. Our friends at SafetyWing created a website that lists detailed information on travel restrictions around the globe.
Before doing any serious travel planning, be sure to check the Flatten the Curve website for information on travel restrictions to the Philippines.
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 21°C (70°F). 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.
Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Batad
To help you better understand the weather in Batad, I’ve included average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.
WHAT TO WEAR
Batad may have one of the coolest climates in the Philippines, but it still doesn’t get that cold relatively speaking. I’ve been to Batad several times during the coldest months and all I ever brought with me were cargo shorts, t-shirts, and a light jacket or hoodie. I was perfectly fine with that. Be sure to bring a good pair of hiking shoes or sneakers since you’ll be doing a lot of trekking. You may want to bring a jacket with a hood as well in case it rains.
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. This guide assumes you’ll be arriving in Banaue from either Manila or Sagada, but if you’re coming from somewhere else, then you can check for route options on Bookaway.
To help you get your bearings, I’ve included the map below which was borrowed and edited with permission from the Bisayang Manlalakbay blog.
From Manila to Banaue
You’ll be taking a 9-10 hr overnight Ohayami Trans or Coda Lines bus to Banaue. You can book tickets through Bookaway. It’s a popular transportation website that services many destinations in Southeast Asia.
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!
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. It’s a unique experience which I highly recommend.
They don’t seem to be listed on Agoda 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 for alternate listings.
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)
HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / SAMPLE ITINERARY
With relatively few attractions, Batad is a short stay destination. Assuming you’ll be arriving in Banaue by bus from Manila, then one night should be enough for you to see the major sights. Here’s a sample itinerary:
BUDGET / SUMMARY OF EXPENSES
Batad is inexpensive, even more so if you’ll be traveling in a group. Assuming you’re traveling from Manila, staying overnight, and going straight back, then a total budget of around PHP 4,000 should be plenty. That may sound like a lot, but this assumes that you’re traveling alone and paying for all the guide fees yourself. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Accommodations in Batad are cheap. If you’re staying in a room and not one of the Ifugao huts, then expect to pay PHP 250 for one night.
Food is pretty cheap as well. Expect to spend around PHP 500 on food and drinks for your overnight stay.
If you’re traveling alone, then expect to pay around PHP 300 each way for a tricycle between Banaue and the Saddle. You’ll pay less if you’re traveling with other people.
|ENVIRONMENTAL / GUIDE FEES
You’ll need to pay PHP 70 in environmental fees to visit Batad. If you plan on trekking to Tappiya Waterfalls and Awa View Deck, then you can expect to pay around PHP 1,400 in guide fees. This amount may vary from guide to guide.
You can expect to pay around PHP 2,520 for your overnight stay in Batad, less if you’re traveling in a group. The brunt of your expenses will go to guide fees so traveling with others will greatly reduce the total cost of your trip. With roundtrip transportation from Manila, your expenses will amount to around PHP 3,700.
1. Get Travel Insurance
If you’re a foreigner traveling in the Philippines, then I think you should get travel insurance, especially if you’re visiting a place like Batad. You can easily slip and fall while trekking here so it’s definitely a good idea to have some type of insurance.
We buy insurance from World Nomads or SafetyWing. They’re both leading travel medical insurance providers used by many digital nomads. Check out my article on why we buy travel insurance for more information and a description of the two. You can follow the links to get a free quote from World Nomads or SafetyWing.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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. 🙂
By no means am I an expert on Batad but I do hope this post can help you plan your trip. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from my trips there. 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!
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