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Things to do in Philippines

Rice terraces and waterfalls: the Batad village trek

Batad village is special because it’s set in an amphitheatre of UNESCO-listed rice terraces that are over 2,000 years old…

By Hiroko "Nikki" Takano
Tour guide for Intas, Alfred&'s partners in the Philippines

Batad Rice Terrace

Batad village is special because it’s set in an amphitheatre of UNESCO-listed rice terraces that are over 2,000 years old. The Batad terraces are different from others in the north, like Banaue, because the people who live here are very traditional, they’ve been using the same ancient planting and harvesting methods their ancestors did. The views here are just wow – I’ve never had a guest that hasn’t been amazed by Batad.

The day starts from Banaue town, where we hop in a jeepney for the hour-long journey to the saddle, which has a viewpoint overlooking Batad. From there, a path leads down to the village where we stop for a drink and spend about an hour talking to the locals, learning about their lives and traditions. The people we meet are usually farmers and some are as old as 90, yet they still work in the fields. In the Philippines, the destinations and views are a bonus, the most interesting part of the country is the people and guests often tell me their highlight is interacting with the Batad residents.

As we roam around the village, you’ll see women weaving and kids playing in the terraces, it’s a real glimpse into authentic village life. If you’re lucky, locals might even be carrying out a bone-washing ritual. In Batad, people believe that if you dream of a family member who’s passed away or if one of your family gets sick, it’s a sign that you need to dig up your ancestor’s bones and cleanse them. The tradition can last three to four days and if you’re fortunate to see that, I think your Batad tour would be complete.

The trek continues from the village down 700 steps to Tappiya Waterfalls, which crashes 30 metres into an emerald pool. I tell guests to bring a swimsuit so they can freshen up from the trek and we have a picnic lunch here before heading back up to Batad. It’s a demanding climb, so we can tailor the route to suit your capabilities. If guests prefer not to go down to the waterfall, we can spend extra time in the village instead and have lunch at a shaded viewpoint at the top of the terraces.

I guarantee that Batad will be one of the most memorable stops on your trip to the Philippines. Compared to famous rice terraces in other countries like Vietnam or Indonesia, Batad is still very remote and people are surprised by how non-touristy the area is. It still feels like a traditional village. I love the way the views are always changing depending on the harvest cycle.  My favourite time is January and February when the rice terraces are filled with water, so you can see the sky reflected in them, like a mirror.


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Alfred & Hiroko "Nikki" Takano

Nikki Takano hails from Manila and has been working as a tour guide in the Philippines for almost 10 years. She loves showing guests how beautiful and diverse the country is, particularly the Cordillera area. Nikki specialises in guiding tours of this region, which she believes has everything: ancient culture, mountainous scenery and welcoming people.
Nikki Takano, Batad tour guide

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