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The rice fields
The rice fields
Sorrel stops for a rest

Banaue Rice Terraces

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Ten times larger than the Great Wall of China and higher than the world's tallest building … we give you Banaue rice terraces.

The invitingly beautiful Banaue rice terraces are found on the island of Luzon, in the province of Ifugao. They are situated in the Central Cordillera mountain range. Banaue's terraces, as well as four others in the area, are included on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The Ifugao people are known for their marvellously clever engineering skills, as well as for creating artistic traditional crafts — wood carving, bark cloth, ikat weaving, basket weaving and rice wine production.

It seems there are many claims on being the eighth wonder of the world, and the Banaue people believe their rice terraces deserve the title. Built by hand by the native Ifugao people over 2000 years ago, they are called the Stairway to the Sky. When they weren't headhunting, they were busily working on the terraces with incredibly basic tools. The skills used to complete the terraces have been compared favourably to the skills used to build the Great Wall of China and Egypt's pyramids.

They average two to three metres in height and if placed end-to-end, would extend over 20,000km. The vertical measurement exceeds that of any building on the planet.

The imposing terraced landscape was built from the bottom of the valleys to 1000m and higher and are functioning paddies with perfect irrigation on the steep slopes. The watering system is highly sophisticated, using bamboo tubes and elaborate mud channels.

The off-season is from August to November. December to March is when everyone is busy planting. The dry season runs from April to June and in July the harvest takes place.

Thanksgiving rituals are performed at harvest time and priests call the spirits of ancestors to join the celebrations.

Rice is a crucial element of the Filipino diet and even though the Banaue terraces produce massive amounts, they still need to buy from neighbouring provinces.

A great way to get the real feel of the size of the rice terraces is on foot and one of the best walks is from Bangaan to Batad.

A general rule is that once you leave Bangaan, turn left any time you arrive at a fork in the path. The superb beauty of the amphitheatre created by the terraces will be stamped in your memory forever. It is worth spending a night or two in Batad village which is made up of traditional Ifugao wood and grass-thatched rice huts.

About a 40 minute hike will take you to the Tapplya waterfall. The falls are about 30m high and provide a cool and refreshing dip.


North Luzon in the Philippines.


Qantas flies four times a week to Manila.
Tribal Adventures has six night packages, including return economy airfares with Qantas, 4WD transfers, two nights' accommodation at Manila Midtown, including breakfast and a five-day/four-night 4WD highland adventure tour, including two nights in Banaue. Prices per person twin share are $2412 from the east coast and $3124 from Perth.Packages can be booked by Venture Holidays Australia. Conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Philippine Department of Tourism
Ph: (02) 9283 0711, Fax: (02) 9283 0755
Venture Holidays Australia: Ph: 1300 303 309

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