Do I need a guide? Trekking in the Ifugao Rice Terraces (Banaue)
If you are looking for a suggested itinerary for Banaue and the rice terraces click here!
When my wife and I were visiting Banaue, we often wondered if we needed a guide for every hike. We are all about supporting the locals, but sometimes it’s nice to be alone and enjoy one another’s and Mother Nature’s company. Unfortunately for us, we found that Banaue is rife with misinformation about how necessary hiring a guide really is. Half of the people are trying to sell you a guide, and the other half just tell you what you want to hear.
As a result, through much trial and error, here are our recommendations for hiring guides for some of the more popular treks around Banaue. Please note the estimated times are based on the speed my wife and I went and we are of moderate fitness.
(for a map of the area to help you understand the place click here)
1.Batad Junction to Batad Saddle Point (45 mins; 1-way): No guide needed
This hike is a piece of cake along a torn up road. Impossible to get lost.
2. Batad Saddle to Batad Proper (1 hour; 1-way): No guide needed
This is an easy hike down hill. There is one fork, both both paths lead to the town (one is just a short cut). Follow the signs.
3. Batad Proper to Tappiyah Waterfalls (2 hours each way): Guide not necessary, but nice
This is a relatively straight forward hike. Head towards the red hut on the ridge and down into the valley behind. A guide is not necessary, but some tourists have taken a wrong turn and ended up climbing across the terraces in the dark. A guide comes with great stories, and is helpful for trekking in the village and around the terraces themselves.
4. Batad Proper to Lannah Junction (2 hours; 1-way) : No guide needed
This hike is easy as long as you get a local to show you the trail head. Head down the valley and cross the two bridges. Find the trail and stick with it to the village. Head straight through the village and the trail will lead you past a few rest houses and eventually to the highway.
5. The main road into the to Bagaan Rice Terraces (30 mins each way): Guide necessary
We haven’t been on this hike, but talked to some other travelers who told us that the way is difficult and poorly marked. These terraces are not easy to navigate.
6. Banaue View Point to Banaue Proper (2 1/2 hours; 1-way): Guide necessary
We tried this hike without a guide and got lost a few times before giving in and hiring a local we met along the way to guide us. The trail split many times and we were sent in the wrong direction by locals on more than one occasion.
7. Hapao road to Hapao hot springs (1 hour each way): Guide recommended
Some travelers successfully do this hike without a guide. We tried, but went the wrong way. We eventually found the way when we ran into our tricycle driver and he offered to show us the way for free. While it’s not the most complicated hike, there are many places where you can accidentally go the wrong way.
8. Batad proper to Cambulo Rice Terraces (2 hours each way): Guide necessary
We haven’t been on this hike, but once again, talked to some travelers who told us that the way is difficult and poorly marked. These terraces are not easy to find or to navigate without help.