Known as the Stairway to the Sky and the Eighth Wonder of the World, the rice terraces in the Banaue mountain range are a Philippine cultural treasure. Over two thousand years ago, the ancestors of the Ifugao tribes built the rice terraces 5000 feet above sea level mostly by hand. They followed the contour of the mountains, made walls out of rocks and mud and used the water from the mountaintops for agricultural farming.
Banaue is your access to the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Then it was placed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger list in 2001. It was only reinstated in July 2012. It’s rather challenging to survive against the modern world. Fewer people are left to keep the terraces from eroding whilst the younger generation seeks greener pastures in the city.
Banaue is about 350 kilometers away from Manila northbound. That’s ten hours travel by land. It is in Banaue that you meet your guide who will take you to different clusters of the protected rice terraces and visit tribal villages. Hiking trails are available in all levels of fitness. If you ever make it to the Philippines, I hope you make it to the rice terraces. It’s one item that ought to be in your bucket list.