Ifugao

Etched along the contours of the hills and mountains around the province, you will find a 2,000-year-old man-made engineering feat—and it looks like a staircase built for the gods.  So brilliant is this terracing tradition – it even has its own irrigation system – that UNESCO deemed the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras as a World Heritage Site, calling it “an outstanding example of a living cultural landscape.”

Batad is the most famous of these terraces with its amphitheater shape. Be prepared for a nice steady hike, and an overnight stay in a native hut; it’s as far away from city life as you can get, but you’ll find nice surprises, like a pizza restaurant that serves fresh highland vegetables.

Terraces abound in this province – and they come in all shapes and sizes.

You can visit Bangaan, with the most picture-perfect village right smack at the foot of the terrace. Your backdrop: a multi-level mountain with every shade of green.

You can also take a jeep to Kiangan to view more of this “living cultural landscape.” The oldest town and the mythical dwelling of the first Ifugaos – Bugan and Wigan – Kiangan is also home to the Nagacadan cluster of terraces, the Ifugao Museum and the Philippine War Memorial Shrine.

If you want to learn about how the Ifugao used to live, check out the Museum of Cordillera Structure or the Banaue Museum. But if you want to experience the daily life of the Ifugaos now, visit Tam-an Village behind the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel. If you’re lucky, you might get a chance to listen to someone chanting the Hudhud, one of the many Philippine epics sung during the rice sowing and harvest season. The whole epic has 40 episodes and takes four days to chant!