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.

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions


~ by zecucumber on January 11, 2013.

14 Responses to “Do I need a guide? Trekking in the Ifugao Rice Terraces (Banaue)”

  1. thanks!

  2. Hello. I have limited time for the rice terraces so I have to take the overnight bus there and back. With that being said what is the best way to spend my time there? It sounds like the are a wide variety of trails. Also, I commonly find that I have a harder time finding a trail head sometimes than staying on the trail. Are most of the trail heads easy to find? Are there maps in the information center? Sorry for all the questions. Just worried that once I get there I will spend hours spinning my wheels.

    • Hi Justin, if you are up for a big day of hiking, it is possible to hike into Batad go the waterfall and hike back to Banaue as a day trip (it would be long and tough, but totally worth it). You would have to start really early (if you are arriving by overnight bus, that wouldn’t be a problem). Hire a tricycle for the day from banaue town centre. Head straight for Banaue junction and you’re off. Check my itinerary page for details on the Batad trip and when to hire a guide. Does that answer your question?

      • Yes. I did it a little different. I took a tricycle from Banue to the view point and hiked down from there to the town and then from Banue took the tricycle to the Batad junction. Hiked to Batad town center and then back. It was an awesome day. Well worth the grueling bus ride and 7-8 hours of hiking. Thanks for the tips. I wish I had a week up there.

      • Sounds great! Take care

  3. Hi! One of my bucket list is to see Banaue Rice Terraces. I’m planning to visit Banaue in June 20-21, 2013. Is June a better month to go to Banaue or too much rain. I am bringing my 13 yrs old and 10 yrs old sons with me. Is children allowed to trek in Banaue. Also, is it safe to a tourist like me to visit. Thanks. Looking forward to hear from you.

    • Hi there. A visit in June will be a bit more wet, but should still be sunny as well, still totally worth a visit. As per you kids, you can take them trekking for sure. With kid’s I’d recommend that you still trek to Batad and Hapao, just plan on taking longer. And Banaue is a very safe tourist destination. So enjoy! Thanks for reading.

  4. I did the Banaue to Bangaan to Batad to Cambulo to Pula to Banaue loop without a guide. A guide definitely would have made it easier and I might recommend one, but I just wanted to say it’s possible without a guide. I did get slightly lost once, but there seems to be people around that you can ask. Nothing is labeled, so you really need to rely on asking directions the whole way.

    • Sounds great! I’m glad you were successful asking directions. We ran into the problem of people giving us incorrect directions ALOT! It seems to be a common probelm when backpacking in the Philippines. Thanks for posting!

  5. Hi. We are planning to visit Banaue on May. I’ve got a question, what is the best way to get to Batad after we will leave night bus about 4-5am? How long does the journey to Batad take and what is estimated price? The same day we want to go back from Batad to Banaue for a night and the second day spend on hiking on Banaue’s rice tarrace. Thx for any answer. Mariusz

    • If you are staying the night in Banaue, I’d consider dropping your bags at your hotel and then, depending on your group size, hiring a tricycle/jeepney to take you. since you are returning the same day, you should probably hire your driver for a return fee. Prices as of Dec. 2012 can be found here.

  6. Hello! We are planning to visit Banaue tihis coming Dec.21-24, 2013. My kids ages 9 and 7 wanted to join us adults, is it ok to tag them along?

    • Hi there, it will be fine to take your kids with you. You just need to decide which treks to do. The Banaue trek is too hard for kids; the Happao terraces are a good family friendly hike. AS for hiking into Batad, it’s possible with kids, but it depends of whether your kids exercise a lot or are familiar with hiking. Either way, plan to take snacks to give them energy and take lots of breaks!

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