At the Florida Bus Station in Sampaloc
Off to Banaue!
Eight hours after: Banaue
Must have breakfast before the 1.5-hour jeepney ride + 1-hour hike to the village of Batad
Batad Saddle: Last stop for vehicles
Ack! Tourist trap on the way to Batad Village
Mustachio's home (far far) away from home: Rita's Mountain View Inn
Rita's wall: Leave a note. Business card. Photo. ID. Money. Credit card. Anything really.
View from the inn
Loading up before the hike
Walking thru the terraces of Batad
Mustachio is far from his home (far far) away from home. Guess where the inn is.
It's planting season
Follow that tiny path on the left to get to the falls
Pinikpikan for dinner
Malawach for breakfast. Best eaten with strawberry jam.
The hike back to the saddle
Mustachio burned his breakfast calories on the hike up to the saddle.
Must refill with a liter of water and a banana pancake.
Jeepneys at the saddle waiting to take Mustachio back to Banaue
Haven't heard of Batad? A little bit of geography then. The village of Batad is about 18km from Banaue in the province of Ifugao. Banaue is about 370km from the Philippine capital, Manila.
So how do you get yourself to Batad? A combination of these: bus + jeepney or tricycle + legs.
In detail please. Okay.
First, the bus. There are two bus lines that go to Banaue from Manila: Florida Bus [(02) 731 5358 / 743 3809 / 493 3667] and Autobus [(02) 493 4111]. Both bus stations are in Sampaloc. Florida Bus station is near the University of Sto Tomas. It has two daily trips to Banaue: 910PM (regular bus, Php 400) and 1045PM (deluxe bus, meaning it has an onboard toilet, Php 450). Autobus leaves at 9PM (Php 400). Travel time: 8 hours.
Next. In Banaue you have three choices: Take the public jeepney to Batad Saddle which leaves Banaue at around 2PM. Fare: Php 150. Or, if you want to be at Batad as soon as, hire a jeepney to take you to the Saddle. It would cost Php 2000 to Php 2500. Be on the lookout for other tourists going to Batad. Share the ride to cut costs. Third option is to hire a tricycle (Php 300 to Php 400) to take you to Batad junction. Yes, that is correct, junction not Saddle. Between the junction and the Saddle is a rough 3km road at a slight upward slope no tricycle can ever survive.
And the final leg: Walk. From Batad Saddle it is about 3km downhill to the village. Along the way there are a couple tourist traps. If you're the souvenir-buying kind, buy souvenirs, especially the carved pieces, in Batad where it's cheaper compared to Banaue and Sagada.
Now that you're at the village, find a place to sleep in. There are a number of inns to choose from: Rita's Mountain View Inn (0910 842 3076), Hillside Inn (0919 379 9599), Simon's Inn (0919 261 9566), Ramon's Homestay (0929 612 4423) to mention a few. A bedspace would cost Php 200 to Php 250. Water can be freezing so if hot showers are important to you, don't forget to ask if they have hot/cold baths or if they can provide a bucket of warm water for bathing for a fee.
Be ready to get disconnected from the world. Your Sun or Globe cellphone won't work even if you climbed up a tree or went to the terraces' highest point. Smart probably works at certain spots.
When in Batad walk the Batad Terraces. Hike to Tappiyah Falls and swim in its freezing waters. Ask around for Rambo, an enthusiastic, helpful guide who can show you around. Guides can cost from Php 400 to Php 800 depending on where you want to go. As always, haggle. The hike from the village up to the viewpoint on the eastern side of the terraces down to the falls and back took 4.5 hours! If you've longer legs and a greater pace factor, you can do it in 3.5 hours.
Four and a half hours of walking can drain you. Eat. Hydrate. Most inns have their own little restaurant. Try the Malawach with strawberry jam at Simon's Inn. If you want an Ifugao specialty, try Pinikpikan. A one-liter bottle of water costs Php 50 at the Saddle, Php 60 to Php 65 at the village, and can go up to Php 80 at the falls.
How do you get out of Batad? Same way you got there. Keep in mind that there is only one public jeepney from Batad Saddle to Banaue. It leaves at 9AM. If you have no more energy to carry your bag back to the Saddle, you can hire a porter. They charge a minimum of Php 100 per bag, depending on the weight of the bag.
Banaue and beyond. From Banaue you can either go back to Manila the same way you came in or via Bontoc-Sagada-Baguio, the route that Mustachio took.
How this leg breaking trip bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Florida Deluxe Bus to Banaue Php 450
Filipino breakfast at Halfway Lodge Banaue Php 85
Jeepney to Batad Saddle Php 300 (Mustachio shared a ride with a group of tourists who hired a jeepney to take them to the Saddle and back)
Walking stick rental Php 20 (Yes, there are walking sticks for rent at the Saddle. A third leg helps.)
A bed at Rita's Mountain View Inn Php 200
Lunch at Rita's Inn: Chapati with tomatoes and cheese Php 70 + fried luncheon meat Php 85 + noodles with veggies Php 85 + 4 servings of rice Php 80. Mustachio shared his big lunch with three other people Php 320 / 4 = Php 80
Guide Php 400
500mL bottle of water halfway between the village and the falls Php 40
Dinner at Simon's Inn: Pinikpikan Php 400 (shared with three other people) + rice Php 25 + pita with sardines Php 50 + 1L bottle of water Php 60 = Php 235
Breakfast at Simon's Inn: Malawach with strawberry jam Php 50
1L bottle of water at the Saddle Php 50
Banana pancake (made with banana flour and banana bits!) at the Saddle Php 5
Public jeepney from Batad Saddle to Banaue Php 150
Random things you might or might not want to know:
1. Prepare loose change. If you need to use the toilet at the bus station or at the Saddle, coins will come in handy. It costs Php 5 at Florida Bus station and Php 10 at the Saddle.
2. It is freezing in the bus. Bundle up.
3. There's a shortcut of steep stairs from the Saddle that can cut about 10 minutes off your walk to the village.
4. 3km uphill + 7kg bag on Mustachio's back + Mustachio's short legs = 1.5 hours to get to the Saddle from the village
5. Mustachio's best friends at Batad: Jacket, Warmers, Walking Stick
6. Mustachio visited Batad in February when most of the planting has only just started. For full greenery, visit in March.
7. Nighttime temperatures can get as low as 10 deg C in Batad.