Banaue Rice Terraces

Asia is filled with rice fields, but nowhere are they as spectacular an art form as in Banaue Philippines. The Banaue Rice Terraces have often been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" due to the extent and height of these gigantic stairways. They soar for several thousand feet upwards and extend for miles. Standing at the terrace viewpoint, the green steps extend for as far as the eye can see.

This engineering marvel was created 2000 years ago, hand-carved out of the mountains by the Ifugao tribe before the Colosseum was erected in Rome or Hadrian's Wall in the UK. The terraces of Banaue are irrigated by mountain springs, and the same families that farmed them thousands of years ago maintain many of them.

The Banaue Rice Terraces have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and just in time, as the terraces of Banaue are increasingly in need of environmental protection. Climate change and earthquakes have severely affected the irrigation system and caused widespread erosion. Families that have stewarded the land of Banaue Philippines for generations have slowly given up farming rice, in favor of faster growing crops. Many of their younger family members are also moving away to the bigger cities. Initiatives have been set up to preserve the terraces, but environmental change continues to take its toll.

Banaue tours typically begin out of Manila, where travelers take a night bus around 11 pm, journeying north direct to Banaue Philippines. Alternatively, big groups can rent minivans, but sitting for about ten hours in a cramped space is not all that advisable. Travelers can also opt to plan Banaue tours as part of a more extensive trip around the Cordillera. A common route is Manila - Baguio (popular summer retreat and the most urbanized city in the area) - Banaue. Buses, which ply this route, include Autobus, Dangwa, and Victory.

To get the most magnificent view of the Banaue Rice Terraces, you should hike on the terraces themselves. It is best to hire a guide to help you access villages and find the easiest route around the sometimes tricky paths. The average height of the terraces of Banaue is around ten feet, so anyone unfortunate enough to slip and fall will likely find themselves unharmed, but very muddy.

Banaue tours should also include excursions to the nearby villages of Batad and Bangaan. Batad in particular is a beautiful hamlet situated in the midst of terraces, halfway down the face of a mountain. It offers breathtaking views and the opportunity to visit a waterfall and the local village, which retains traditional Ifugao stilt houses.

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