Philippines · 30 hotels available
Nestled in the Cordillera Central mountain range on the island of Luzon, the Province of Ifugao is known for its remarkable natural and man-made wonders. Here, one can explore the striking and fascinating culture of the Ifugao people, listen to their ancient chants and music, and see the province’s marvelous rice terraces that were carved into the mountains hundreds of years ago.
The name of the province was derived from the local word Ipugo, which means “people from the hill.” Spanish colonizers were the first to call the area Ipugaw, a name which the Americans later changed to its final form, Ifugao, when they arrived. The inhabitants of this area also prefer to be called the Ifugao people.
Today, this landlocked province is world-famous for its beautiful natural attractions, enduring artistic traditions, and of course, its magnificent man-made rice terraces. These rice terraces were collectively declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
From Manila, travelers can reach Ifugao by taking a nine-hour ride on Ohayami buses, whose station can be found in Sampaloc, Manila. Alternatively, tourists can also take a trip to Baguio City aboard Dangwa Tranco buses and then transfer to a bus heading for Banaue, Ifugao.
Jeepneys are a popular mode of transportation in the province. Some travelers even prefer “toploading” (riding on a jeepney’s roof) to breath in the fresh air. Buses and vans can also take visitors around the province. For nearer attractions, riding tricycles is recommended.
A trip to Ifugao won’t be complete without one seeing its famed rice terraces. Tourists can choose to visit the spectacular hand-carved rice terraces of Banaue or check out the Batad Rice Terraces, which is known for its amphitheater shape. Going around the terraces, travelers can have the chance to see some Bulul sculptures by the rice granaries. These carved wooden figures representing the Ifugao people’s ancestors are believed to grant abundant harvests.
Those who are interested in learning more about the Ifugao culture can also stop by the Museum of Cordilleran Sculpture in Banaue. Here, one can find a variety of sculptures made from wood and stone, plus many other pieces of art representing the rich culture of the Ifugao.
After dropping by the museum, travelers can also pay a visit to Kiangan, the oldest town in the province. It is believed that this town is the birthplace of the Ifugao culture. The Nagacadan Rice Terraces and Philippine War Memorial Shrine, which commemorates the end of World War II, are also located here.
Other than taking splendid photos of the rice terraces, tourists can also walk through the elevated rice paddies of Banaue and Batad. Lucky travelers might even chance upon locals chanting the Hudhud, an Ifugao epic that can take up to 4 days to finish. After a trek through the rice terraces, tired visitors can take a rejuvenating soak in the cool waters of the majestic Tappiya Falls in Batad.
Adventurous souls can also conquer the 8th highest peak in the Philippines, Mount Amuyao, which is situated between Banaue and Mayayao.
Another mountain one can explore is the Mount Kapungan, which can be found near the municipality of Kiangan. Alternatively, there’s also the Pangaggawan Cave, the largest cave system in the province, where spelunkers can explore interesting rock formations.
Travelers can dine in The Gazebo Restaurant, which is located in the provincial capital of Lagawe. It is a great place to enjoy reasonably-priced Filipino dishes such as lechon kawali, sisig, and adobo. This restaurant also serves meals quickly, making it perfect for hungry travelers on the go.
Umayi’s Green View Lodge and Restaurant in Banaue is another great dining destination where customers can chow down local cuisine at great prices.
There are also many small eateries that can be found throughout the province. Make sure to try local favorites such as vah-vah (fried frog), carabao (water buffalo) meat, and yuyu (pond loach). These delicacies are best paired with native rice harvested from the terraces.
Being a rural province, Ifugao is relatively quiet at night. However, there are a few nice establishments where travelers can enjoy the local nightlife. The Friends Country Music Bar in Banaue is one such place. This bar has good drinks, friendly staff, and live bands that play country music every night.
Travelers can also enjoy a relaxing ambiance at Guihob Restobar, which is also located in Banaue. Guests can cool off in the swimming hole nearby, or spend some time at the shooting range before drinking the night away.
Accommodations in Ifugao are usually very comfortable and give visitors great views of the surrounding mountains. The Sanafe Lodge and Restaurant in Banaue, for instance, offers affordable and well-appointed lodgings plus fantastic views of the town.
The Banaue Hotel is another recommended accommodation for travelers planning to stay in Ifugao province. The hotel has a wide range of amenities, including a restaurant, an array of shops, a basketball court, an outdoor pool and even a massage service.
For budget travelers looking for a quiet and homely place, Randy’s Brookside Inn in Banaue is a great option as well. The owner and staff are helpful and treat all visitors warmly. They can even arrange tours for guests.
On the other hand, backpackers who plan on exploring the rice terraces in Batad can stay in native Ifugao huts at Ramon’s Native Homestay.
Prepare well for trekking. The province has rugged or steep terrains that can make walking difficult unless you wear durable and comfortable shoes. For those who plan to trek through the rice terraces, using a walking stick is recommended. A flashlight will also come in handy for early morning or late afternoon walks.
Visit Ifugao during the Tungoh and Hungduan Festival. This annual festival is held in the third week of April to celebrate the ending of the planting season. In fact, Tungoh refers to the rest period in the agricultural cycle. Tourist can enjoy ethnic parades, games, exhibits, and demonstrations of indigenous rituals and practices.
Have on-hand cash. Because of the lack of ATMs in most places in Ifugao, it is advisable to have enough money on hand.