You need a minimum of two full days to explore the terraces around Banaue. Your schedule will be tight, but you will be able to enjoy all three sets of terraces that we recommend - Batad, Hapao, and Banaue.
Hapao and Banauae
- You should get picked up on your first morning no later than 7am. Ask your guide to take you straight to Hapao. There will be stops along the way to enjoy what your eye's will not believe as the morning sun adds a special glow to the terraces.
After a few stops and paying the Hapao entry fee (10PHP, $.25USD), you will reach the entry point of your hike which is near an elementary school. The hike itself has one challenging part at the start (which is also the end), but is otherwise a relatively leisurely hike. The hike will take you deep into the Hapao valley where you'll see locals working the terraces, kids playing, and the incredible shapes the terraces create. At the return point of the trail, there is a small hot spring and a river that you can relax in. Don't get your hopes up to much here, but it really is nice to relax after the hike!
After returning from your Hapao hike, have your driver and guide take you to the Banaue lookouts. These lookout points are about 4km from the center of Banaue and are absolutely worth a look. Both of the lookouts have places to sit and enjoy the view with a drink. Take your time after what has been a long day to sit, stare, and wonder about these 2000 year old masterpieces.
Things to Bring - For the hike, we recommend that you bring sun screen, at least a liter of water, and your swim suit for the hot spring and/or river at mid-hike. Also, you will want to wear closed toed shoes, bring a little bit of money for snacks, and of course, bring your camera!
- A day trip to Batad is a very long day and thus we recommend a very early start. Have your driver and guide pick you up at 5am to make sure you avoid the heat of the day for at least some of your hiking. The drive to the start of the hike (the Saddle) will take about 1-hour and is a very bumpy and windy road!
From 'the saddle,' the outbound hike can be broken down into three sections which each take about an hour. The first section will take you to Batad proper, then next section takes you through the valley, and the last section takes you down to the Tappiya Waterfall. On the way back, you can hike different trails, but the times remain about the same. All-in-all, expect about 6 hours in total of hiking plus time to eat lunch and enjoy the waterfall.
Be Prepared - The hike in Batad is moderate to difficult. We consider ourselves to be in average shape and we found the hike difficult. We stopped frequently to catch our breath, sit down for a couple of minutes, and to have a drink of water. Be prepared for what will not only be an incredibly beautiful day, but will also test your endurance!
Pre-Order Your Lunch - Hillside Inn - If you get an early start, we recommend that once you have hiked from the saddle to Batad (about 1 hour), that you seek out the Hillside Inn. At this Inn, they have the perfect restaurant view that you'll not only enjoy now, but also over a freshly cooked meal after hiking for the day. Ask to pre-order your meal and give them an estimate of when you will return. It will take you about 4 - 5 hours to hike down to the waterfall and back depending on your pace.
Tappiya Waterfall - The waterfall that you can hike to is not easy to get to, but from our point of view, well worth it! The waterfall is 70m (~230 feet) tall and dumps straight into the perfect swimming pool for you to cool down and relax mid-hike. However, the stretch leading down to the waterfall and back is probably the hardest section of the entire hike - be aware! If you have the time (2 hours) and the endurance for the hike, we highly recommend that you go for it!
Things to Bring - For the hike, we recommend that you bring sun screen, at least a liter of water (you will buy much more at stops along the hike), and your swim suit for the hot spring and/or river at mid-hike. Also, you will want to wear close toed shoes, bring a little bit of money (snacks, water, lunch), and of course, bring your camera!
Our recommended itinerary could have some of you in a dizzy from the terrace views, hiking, and well, just trying to take it all in so quickly. If you have more time or want to take it a bit slower, go for it! We would recommend that you add your extra days at the end. By doing this, you can focus and really get into the terraces and then have a day or two to relax and reflect.
Another idea is to hike down to Batad from the saddle as we mention in Day #2, but instead of continuing the hike at that very moment, relax in Batad for the day and stay overnight. The next day, you can hike into and out of Batad or even add a fourth day on to the back end.
Lastly, if you are into photography, you will definitely fall in love with this area of the Philippines. It would be great to spend an entire day or two walking around the various villages, snapping away photos of the beautiful people living amongst the amazing terraces.