A mini guide to Banaue, the Philippines

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

Banaue Guide

Banaue Guide is about small picturesque town located in Ifugao province in the Philippines. It is mainly known for its stunning Ifugao Rice Terraces. One of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both, the Batad and Bangaan Rice Terraces attract an enormous amount of travellers every month. But surprisingly the place seems so peaceful and quiet.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

One of the biggest advantages of visiting Banaue is experiencing the rural side of the Philippines. It is not another posh or busy city with Western food or fancy shops. Just the opposite! Banaue gives you a brief overview of simplicity and poverty of a typical Filipino town or village.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

People here are humble and honest. You are surrounded by wooden shops and local markets. Farmers are working in the field, kids are running around, birds are flying, cows are walking across the street and you can smell peanut butter and fresh bread made in local bakeries.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Grabbing my camera and strolling down the streets of Banaue was one of the most memorable moments during my trip across the Philippines. I spoke to some locals. Visited fruit and veggie markets. Bought a wooden necklace and treated myself with local delicacies – apple and raisin buns, one of the yummiest I have ever eaten!

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

When it comes to spendings, Banaue can be both – expensive and inexpensive. It is one of the most touristic places in the country so the prices are a bit higher than in other small Filipino towns, but the good news is you can still do it on a budget of $25 or less a day! How is how we did it…

#1 Sleep Well

Banaue is small so there are not many accommodation options to choose from. You can either book your room in advance (via Hostelworld) or just look around once you arrive (as we did). It took us over 1 hour to find a decent place to stay for a few nights and we would like to highly recommend it to everyone who is coming to Banaue.

Hostel: Wonder Lodge

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Price: PHP400 / $9

Advantages:

  • The rooms were nice and clean, there was a hot water in the room and WI-FI at the reception.
  • It was the cheapest hostel we could find around.
  • We were not charged extra for using sockets and charging our phones (in other places foreigners were charged PHP 50/ $1 per one piece of electronics to charge).
  • The atmosphere was amazing.
  • The lady who owns the hostel did some washing for us and always had a chat with everyone around.
  • The staff were friendly and amazingly hospitable.
  • You could order both Filipino and Western food to eat in or take away.
  • The kitchen was always open so everyone could cook their own food any time during the day.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

The food prepared in hostel was both – cheap and delicious. There was a menu with breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the reception. We ordered some rice with boiled egg, Greek salad and fish soup followed by chicken curry. Both meals costed us PHP180/$4 and we had them for lunch and dinner as the portions were massive.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

 Disadvantages:

  • The Internet connection was weak (as in all town) and Wi-Fi was not available in the rooms so we had to work in the main hall.
  • Bathroom looked a little bit gross.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

 #2 Eat and Drink Big

Apart from having your meals at hostel, you can visit local bakeries to try some of local pastries, cakes, cookies and bread sticks. These are extremely cheap. One piece of cake costs PHP2 – 10/$0.04 – 0.22, a loaf of bread costs PHP30/$0.67 and a glass of hot milk/coffee/tea was less than $10/$0.22. If you really want to make everything cheap, you can buy your own tea/coffee and get a mug of hot water for free in any restaurant/shop/bakery.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Banaue is also famous for its organic products. When you visit local store, you can purchase a jar of homemade peanut butter (PHP45/$1), any kind of organic rice (PHP25 per kg/ $0.56), homemade chocolate (PPH25/$0.56) and a bottle of whiskey (PHP150/$3.40) or wine (PHP85/$1.90).

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Banaue is a great place for snacks. You will quickly realize that you don’t need to eat a whole meal. Having local delicacies on the go will be enough for you. You can start your day with a big breakfast of bread and peanut butter, egg and a bowl of fruits (PHP80/$0.80) and then prepare around $3-$5 for snacks which you can have on the go!

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

For those who watch out their weight, I would recommend to visit a local fruit and veggie market in Banaue. It is located just in the heart of the town, at the tricycle station. I did my shopping for two days for only PHP140/$3.13 and that included 3 bananas, 2 apples, 1 orange, 3 nectarines, a bunch of chopped carrots with a bowl of various raw veggies. You might be disappointed with the quality of food (not fresh and sour fruits), but it’s still more healthy than cakes and pastries.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

 #3 Go Explore

Obviously, the Rice Terraces are number 1 thing to explore when in Banaue. The good news is you can do it for free. How? Walk your ass off! You don’t need a tricycle to take you from one spot to another (that costs PHP200/$4.50) as you can easily pack some food and go hiking. It takes about 2-3 hours and believe me – the fresh air and beautiful landscape is totally worth the sweat!

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Warning! If you want to take a picture of locals sitting there, you need to pay them the quoted amount of money. Usually they say “It is up to you” or “Anything is ok”, but giving them less than PHP45/$1 might be received as a rude gesture (that’s what we were told).

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

One of top attractions in Banaue are traditional dance performances in the evenings for all tourists and travelers. We gathered all together on the top floor of one building in the downtown where we were introduced to Ifugao dance and witnessed a live performance of locals wearing traditional uniforms. We were told a story of how the Ifugao tribe was established. It was a free of charge attraction during which we had a tone of fun and met some foreigners so make sure you add it to your list!

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

#4 Buy a souvenir

Leaving Banaue without buying at least one piece of any kind of carved woods cannot happen. Local handcrafts are cheap, small and portable. Their prices vary from PHP20/$0.45 to PHP100/$2.30 and it’s a nice gesture to support local industry.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

#5 Getting Around

Banaue is ridiculously small, so taking a tricycle (unless you’re trying to get to the Rice Terraces) is just pointless. You can easily walk everywhere and it takes less than 1 hour to fully explore the downtown. Please bear in mind that all shops get closed at around 9 pm so if you hope to stay late in a bar, you might be kicked out.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

We were coming to Banaue from Banguin (KWS bus). It took us 8h and we paid PHP415/$9.30 each. From Banaue to Manila it takes 9 hours (the bus leaves at 7pm and arrives in Manila at 4am) and it costs PHP450/$10 a person.

Banaue Guide, Philippines, eTramping Blog

Sum Up

Accommodation – $15

Food – around $7

Attractions – $0

Transport – $0 ($4.50 if you want to take a tricycle to see the Rice Terraces)

Souvenir – $2

Total: $24 or $28.5 with the tricycle

As you can see, you can fully enjoy your stay in Banaue on the cheap so share this Banaue Guide with your friends!

Agness and Cez are a pair of travellers, who defy social norms, face many challenges, but live life to the fullest and wouldn’t change it for the World. They are two modern day nomads who do not need to define the line between work and passion. On their blog, called eTramping, they share budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. If you would like to read more about China, you can check out their latest e-book Add the Brick to the Great Wall:” Experience-based Advice for China from Expats  where they describe their two-year experience of teaching, living and travelling in the Land of Dragons.

Twitter Agness – Twitter Cez – Facebook – Blog

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored!

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43 thoughts on “A mini guide to Banaue, the Philippines

  1. Tina

    Philippines is definitely a country to visit. People are nice and friendly very helpful and speak English :) If you’re going to SE Asia, don’t miss the Philippines. EL Nido is paradise.

  2. Esta

    Beautiful ! I’ve always wanted to visit the Philippines.

  3. Globalmouse

    I would love to visit the Philippines and Banaue looks amazing. Great photos that really capture the place and the food looks yummy… Aaagh you’re making me want to look at flights, my other half is going to kill me!!! ;)
    Globalmouse recently posted…Brussels with ChildrenMy Profile

  4. Jeanette Todd

    Banaue in Philippines is great place to explore. If you want more out of your visit in the Philippines then try Sagada and see the hanging coffins of the natives. It is just a couple of hours from Banaue. Have you been there as well?

  5. Sam

    Big fan of Agness & Cez, I really admire how they are able to travel on such a tight budget!
    Thanks for the run down on Banaue – we are headed to Boracay in October – Whoooot!
    Sam recently posted…All you need to know about Australian Ski Resorts and FieldsMy Profile

  6. Martin

    Enough said about the Banaue and the Phils itself, please keep this blog up.

  7. I’ll be in the Philippines in early 2015 so excited to read this guide! Definitely saving it for later and these photos are lovely!! :)
    Ashley recently posted…J is for Jack Daniel Distillery #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  8. Ben Leigh

    Yes yes… already have enjoyed successfully by visiting @ bali rice terraces by last year.. but now banaue rice terraces make me awestruck, will sort to get soon there again “rice terraces” !!! :)

  9. Megan

    Wow awesome highlight on Banaue – thanks for the tips! Definitely agree you have to explore the rural Philippines – now time to book my flights!
    Megan recently posted…Only in Africa … Where Warthogs Have Right Of WayMy Profile

  10. Sarah

    I was sad to leave the Philippines without visiting Banaue! No regrets, I’ll have to make it next time!
    Sarah recently posted…5 Quirky Things to do in BaliMy Profile

  11. Jenna

    Great guide, Agness! Love it when you can visit a place for such an affordable price! I really want to see the rice terraces and the town looks great too, especially since it is so walkable!
    Jenna recently posted…Weekend Getaway to Jacksonville, FloridaMy Profile

  12. Thanks for the great tips about hiking to the rice terraces and the Ifugao dance. We always try to buy souvenirs from the regional craftsmen and artisans so that the money goes back to the local economy. The wooden carvings look beautiful.
    Mary recently posted…Green Travel Tips- The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable TravelMy Profile

  13. Such a comprehensive guide Agness! We’re not planning to head to this part of the world until next year but I will be book marking this post for future reference.
    Charli recently posted…Snapshots From Lake Wanaka And Lake HaweaMy Profile

    • Same here, never been but once I will get there I know who to ask for some tips :) Agness rocks!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #63My Profile

  14. Ron

    Nice guide Marysia. While I was in Southeast Asia I had intentions of visiting the Philippines but was not able to make as I made my way North to Tibet. I’ll definitely be swinging by on my next trip through! Great tips, I’ll keep them all in mind. I’m still kind of baffled at the fact that they make you pay to charge your electronics; that’s a bit ludicrous. :-/
    Ron recently posted…Phewa Tal of Nepal in Pokhara Valley | Photo EssayMy Profile

    • About the charging fees you would have to have longer talk with Agness! I would love to visit Philippines too!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #63My Profile

  15. Glad I have found this post. Heading to the Philippines soon, so need to bokmark the place ;)
    Ivana recently posted…Our Travel Destinations for the Next 7 MonthsMy Profile

  16. So what it’s the Philippines and there is no beach?? :)

    Btw just followed you on Twitter as well – like your site! Looking forward to connect!

  17. Just wanted to say thank you for having me here. It’s great to share budget travel tips with others, especially if you visit such a great and breath-taking place as Banaue. I really miss the Rice Terraces!
    Agness recently posted…Exploring Singapore At NightMy Profile

  18. You saw and did quite a lot on a small budget! Good for you. Goes to show that travel doesn’t have to be expensive to provide a rich experience. The rice terraces look amazing.
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Which way to the Juarez Theater in Guanajuato?My Profile

  19. Maria Falvey

    Another fun post and great resource on Banaue.
    Maria Falvey recently posted…Situational KryptoniteMy Profile

    • Yes, Agness is great! :)

    • Thank you Maria. Never enough of Banaue :)!

  20. Banaue looks lovely in the photos! I actually went there a few years ago to see the rice fields, but unfortunately I was pressed on time and only spend the day. Seeing now that there are affordable hostels available, makes me think that I really should have stayed a bit longer and explored more of the area. Banaue is definitely a nice place to visit, thanks for sharing… :)
    Dennis Kopp recently posted…Sunrise Climb at Volcano Gunung BromoMy Profile

    • I so would love to visit! I have never been in Philippines and now I really want to visit!

      • That’s a real pitty you have not made it to the Philippines yet. The landscape is totally worth it!
        Agness recently posted…Exploring Singapore At NightMy Profile

      • You should definitely go and visit the Philippines when you get the chance Marysia. Ideally try to apply for an actual visa and bring some time with you. My 21 day on-arrival visa expired so quickly between Manila, the beaches in the south and rice terraces in the north, that I couldn’t see everything I liked to… :(
        Dennis Kopp recently posted…Yogyakarta and the Ruined Water CastleMy Profile

    • Definitely. I totally agree. Although Banaue is so touristy, it’s still a budget friendly town!
      Agness recently posted…Exploring Singapore At NightMy Profile

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