Finding Solitude in the Mountains: Backpacking Batad, Ifugao Province
Have you ever been somewhere that felt so much like a different world it took your breath away? Here’s a montage of my recent trip to Batad, Ifugao. Enjoy!
Enjoyed the video? Read more about it below!
Finding a good escape to get some much needed me-time or solitude is quite difficult to achieve nowadays. Luckily, there are a lot of mountainous places in the Philippines that you can easily travel and hike to, so it was just a matter of time ’til I finally decided to take a break.
It was past 9PM in the evening as I entered the bus en route to Banaue. Feeling cold with my legs cramped in my chair, I embarked on a 10-hr journey away from the city with nothing but my trusty backpack.
Going up to Sagada was my original plan, but I kept my options open as I finally arrived Banaue, greeting me with its fresh airy scent and undeniable charm. The local tour guide gave me a couple of options, narrowing it down to 1) driving all the way up to Sagada for another 2.5hrs, 2) doing a 5-hr trek to Pula Village (most popular to foreign tourists), or 3) ride a motorbike for 1.5hrs to the beautiful remote village, Batad.
I chose the latter simply because I wanted to escape the stressful city life and find myself lost in solitude.
I finally made it!
After arriving the lower saddle from Banaue, there’s another 20-min hike down a dirt path on the hillside into Batad, where you’ll be off the grid entirely. The journey was definitely worth it when I was greatly rewarded with stunning rice terraces views shaped like a massive amphitheatre that surround the small village. Ah, this must be heaven, I thought!
Without doing any reservation prior to the trip, I only did a bit of research and decided to stay in Ramon’s native homestay for 2 nights. It was a good choice, as you had an option to stay in one of his traditional Ifugao huts and get to experience sleeping like a local (with lights off!). But since I was alone, I chose the standard room that cost me PHP350/night, which had comfortable cushions and a great view of the rice terraces.
Panoramic view of Batad rice terraces
My first full day in Batad was mostly walking around the narrow steps of the rice terraces (check out the video!) and of course, not missing the hike to the famous Tappiya falls. The hike itself was not for the faint-hearted, as you had to walk through steep steps and rocky cliffs to get there. But once you arrive safely, the view was just spectacular and the water was refreshingly cold.
The Majestic Tappiya Falls
Me posing as an inspired writer! *check out the couple behind me*
After a full day of exploring Batad, I decided to unwind and relax at the homestay where I chatted with the friendly foreign travellers who were also staying at Ramon’s. The owner Ramon was an excellent host as he made us feel welcome and took the time to get to know his guests. We gathered around a bonfire that night and happily exchanged travel adventure stories. At 8PM, we all called it a night, and I swear, I have never slept that early and so peaceful for as long as I can remember…
Ramon’s Native Ifugao Hut – will you sleep here for a night?
As I sipped my morning coffee the next day, I couldn’t help but smile and feel grateful of what’s right in front of me. Firstly, realizing how Philippines is so amazing for having this beauty, and secondly, just being there on my own gave me this certain calmness and inner peace that I’ve been searching for. With absolutely no mobile signal or internet access, it was the best opportunity to disconnect from the outside world so that I could reconnect with myself and enjoy the present moment.
Morning coffee, anyone?
I left Batad with a smile on my face. If there’s anything I learned from that trip, it’s the fact that it’s so important to take some time off from the daily grind and spend some time with yourself. I found that I ended up being more creative, more energized, and most importantly, discovering myself more on how to become a better person. The simple, slow-paced life of the people from the provinces can really teach us something good – and that is to enjoy the present, and be grateful of the simple things in life.
Want to find you inner peace too? Here are some helpful tips on how to travel to Batad:
Take the Ohayami Bus line that travels from Manila to Banaue. The bus usually departs at 10PM (sometimes 9PM) and you’ll arrive Banaue at 7AM. From there, you can either talk to the local guides to help you give a ride to Batad, or you can opt to go with a group that can rent a van or jeepney.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Ramon’s Native Hut and I would personally recommend this, but other options could be Hillside View or Simon’s Homestay (they have a good restaurant here as well!).
How much to bring
Prepare a budget of about PHP5,000 for a solo traveller like me, but if you’re joining a group, then maybe you’ll need less. Estimated expenses:
Bus (return) – PHP 900
Transportation to and from Batad – PHP 1,000
Local tour guide (1 day) – PHP 800- 1,000
Accommodation – PHP 250 – 350/night
Food – PHP 500 – 600/day (each meal will usually cost PHP 160-175)
Bring rain gear as the weather can be unpredictable here! The best months to visit would be during the summer where the rice terraces are in full harvest mode – February to April.
Hope this was useful and leave your comments below for any questions! 🙂