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It's a rugged but spectacular trip from Bontoc to BANAUE in Ifugao province, along a winding road that leads up into the misty Cordillera and across a mountaintop pass. It may only be 300km north of Manila, but Banaue might as well be a world away, 1300m above sea level and far removed in spirit and topography from the beaches and palm trees of the south. This is the heart of rice terrace country: the terraces in Banaue itself are some of the most impressive and well known, although there are hundreds of others in valleys and gorges throughout the area, most of which can be reached on foot. Some of the best are at nearby BATAD, where there is also rustic accommodation so you can stay overnight and hike back the next morning, and there also wonderful terraces and scenery at BANGA-AN VILLAGE, another strenuous day trek from Banaue.
Banaue itself is a small, unimpressive town centred around a marketplace, where there are a few guesthouses and some souvenir shops. The small Banaue Museum (daily 8am–5pm; if it's closed ask at the neighbouring Banaue View Inn for the key) has old tribal tools, costumes and a collection of photographs of Banaue and its people at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Two kilometres north along the road from the marketplace is the main lookout point for the rice terraces. Ifugao elders in traditional costume will ask for a small fee if you want to take their photograph. A handful of souvenir stalls surrounding the lookout sell carved wooden bowls and woven blankets at bargain prices.