WEATHER IN BANAUE
Wednesday 10/17 80%
High 30° / Low 21°
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Showers and thunderstorms early. Low 21C.
Tomorrow 10/18 90%
High 29° / Low 21°
Thunderstorms likely. High 29C. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 90%.
Friday 10/19 100%
High 29° / Low 21°
Thunderstorms. High 29C. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 100%.
Banaue is a town on the Cordillera mountain range in the north of the island of Luzon, in the Philippines. It is most widely known as the site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site, the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces.
The mountainous regions have some really unpredictable weather; while it may be sunny in one valley, it may be raining heavily on the other side of the mountain, and then 30 minutes later the situation is reversed. You can check current weather conditions at AccuWeather.
MONEY, NEWSPAPERS, AND INTERNET
There are no banks nor ATMs in Banaue (It really is a very small town!). The provincial capital, Lagawe, 25 km south of Banaue, has a branch of Philippine National Bank and an ATM. It’s machine typically dispenses only a maximum of 4,000 pesos for a single transaction. If you’re paying a large service fee for each withdrawal from your foreign bank this could be very expensive. Solano, in the province of Nueva Viscaya, about 70 km away, has several banks and many ATMs. Those of BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) dispense 10,000 pesos in a single transaction, BDO (Banco de Oro) 10,000 pesos, RCBC 20,000 pesos.
Foreign currency can be exchanged in Banaue but at very unfavorable rates.
National newspapers are available daily in Banaue but only after about 1 PM because of the distance from Manila.
There are some internet cafes in town. If you travel with a laptop you can also get online from most areas of the region by using a USB dongle available from either of the two major mobile service providers in the country, Smart and Globe. Cost is about 1,000 pesos for the modem and only 5 pesos for each 15 minutes of online access. If you travel with a tablet phone/computer you can purchase the SIM card for Smart or Globe for only about 60 pesos, and the charges are the same, only 5 pesos per 15 minutes of online access.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO AROUND BANAUE
This map provided by the Banaue Tourism Office may be useful in finding your way around the region and reaching tourist attractions. Notice that Banaue town is the obvious hub for all tour activities in the region so staying downtown is your best option.
The famed Banaue Rice Terraces
While there are other terraces in Ifugao, the most photographed and wrote about are those in Banaue. Indeed, the most extensive and breath taking terraces can be found in the UNESCO heritage sites of Batad, Bangaan and View-point-Bocos of Banaue. Hand-carved about 2000 years ago, when no books were possibly yet made about hydrology, engineering or agro-forestry, the lfugao forebears transformed their rugged and harsh steep mountainous environment into productive rice terraces using only their bare hands and the crudest of tools. The paddies are exquisitely carved following the contours of the mountains and worked on a highly unique indigenous system of irrigation that connected distant rivers and creeks which supply water to the rice paddies all year round without altering the biochemistry of the environment. This system speaks of an exemplary hydro-engineering ability of the Ifugaos.
- Visit the Cordillera Sculpture Museum, 1.8 km south of downtown, a comfortable walk if you want the exercise or you can take a trike taxi for only 10 pesos. It’s directly across the road from the Las Vegas Lodge.
- See the Banaue Museum with Ifugao culture artifacts like spears and baskets; just walk uphill from the transit center downtown.
- Hike the road from downtown to the Banaue Viewpoint to photograph terraces as well as tribesmen in native clothing; some options here:
- walk to the viewpoint on the road and enjoy the scenery, then take a trike back to downtown.
- or take a trike to the viewpoint and then hike back to town, not on the road but on the rice terraces; you will need a guide for this trek because you’ll be walking on private property.
- Walk downhill from the Banaue Hotel and see the Tam-an village.
- Visit the many shops in town which offer locally made items like blankets, statues, wood carvings, and handbags.
- Visit the lobby of the Banaue Hotel where you can purchase handcrafts as well as local coffee.
- Walk the suspension bridge (the locals call it the “hanging bridge”) that is below the market area and connects with the road to Batad. Many locals use it: students from the center area to get to their high school across the river, and those from the other side to go to market in downtown Banaue.
To the East
Batad, Mayoyao, and Cambulo Village are the principal sites of interest in the area. These are lovely destinations and clearly worth your time. If you do plan on taking trek tours out of Banaue then this direction is clearly the place to go with Batad as your first destination.
To the West
The town of Hungduan, about 17 km away is accessed by a rather rough road but the views are beautiful. Hungduan has a guesthouse and some interesting things to see, such as the Spiderweb Terraces, the Hot Springs, and the trailhead to go to Japanese General Yamashita’s last hideout, a cave about a six hour trek up the mountain and rumored to have buried there millions of dollars in stolen cash, gold, and jewels. On that same road to the west, and only 3 km from downtown Banaue, there is the Hiwang Native House, a lovely park, recreation, and relaxation area.
To the South
Lagawe is the capital of Ifugao Province, just 25 km south of Banaue. Those with an interest in history might enjoy seeing the surrender site of Japanese Gen. Yamashita in Kiangan, the town west of Lagawe. Further south of Lagawe is access to the eastern highway that links Manila and Tuguegarao. Those interested in exploring caves of the region might want to see this Tourism Department file which tells of caving opportunities near Lagawe.
To the North
Bontoc and Sagada with the famous hanging coffins are about three hours away from Banaue. But transport in that direction is best gotten early in the day, another reason to stay in downtown Banaue. Sagada might be included as part of a circle trip because transport is available from there to Baguio on the Halsema Highway, about an eight-hour journey.