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Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

Dallas, Texas
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Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

We have just returned from a trip to the Philippines, including an excursion to Banaue (late October, 2012). Thought that our experiences might help others. We are an older couple (late sixties) but fit, active and like to do our own travel planning. How to visit Banaue and Batad was much more of a challenge than expected. First thought was to go by bus, but the only option appeared to be overnight—and we simply don’t like the discomfort of that (and we can afford not to have to suffer it). Have since read about suspension of service by some companies on this route (for licensing issues), so we are really glad we didn’t opt for this. Having now been there, Banaue really is isolated and if you are on a timetable as we are (since we still work part time) the options for travel out of there are very limited.

We then thought of renting a car and driving ourselves. Again, having been there do NOT do it! We thought Manila would just be the problem and if we could get out of there we would be OK driving ourselves. (I’ve driven in many places—London, Paris, New York, Mexico, Romania, Brazil, etc.) Not true. Believe everything you read about road problems in the Philippines, especially in the mountains of northern Luzon—people, kids, dogs, houses, crops being dried, landslides, road repairs, pure mud, driving rain, constant hairpin bends, etc. We then checked out tours, but none had a timetable which fitted our needs, especially since we were going in the off-season (October). We also were concerned about cramped, van-type travel—we like a little more comfort in our old age!

Eventually decided on a personalized tour with driver, so the question became which company to use. Several show up on the Internet but I couldn’t find much in the way of recommendations or reviews, even on TripAdvisor. I Just gambled and chose one. We used manilastay.com. They were not especially cheap, but it proved a good choice. They showed up on time with a new vehicle with good ground clearance (which you need in the mountains!). The driver was knowledgeable about the trip, drove safely, all the arrangements for hotels, local guides, etc.. worked out without problems. Overall, we were very satisfied.

A few final comments and details on our trip. Travel is VERY slow in the mountains. It took us 9 hours to drive back to Manila from Banaue, and its only 350 kms, and that included an hour of expressway at the end and no hold-ups in Manila itself (which apparently is unusual). Our trip was 4 days and three nights—one day travel from Manila via Baguio to Sagada, morning and lunch in Sagada, afternoon to Banaue via Botoc rice terraces, the next day was a full day visiting Batad using a local guide and a jeepney (but you have to walk a couple of miles down to the village itself to see the most famous of all the terraces), then back to Manila on the fourth day. It was enough time, but I wouldn’t want to try to do more than this.

Hope this helps someone else. Will be glad to answer questions.

Oslo, Norway
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1. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

great read thanks...and thanks for the driver recommendation.

Singapore, Singapore
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2. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

I am glad that you did not attempt to dive yourself in the Philippines. It is just too much of a hassle and I am glad you enjoy Ifugao.

alkhobar
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3. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

hi thanks. what was your impression of hanselma highways?

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

Great trip report. Please formally review any hotels, restaurants and attractions that you patronised for TA by going to then 'write a review' search box on TA's home page.

On TA there are at least two members who are professional drivers: TA member touristdriver (who I have used and can highly recommend) and weekenddriver.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

Hello there - am going to Manila next week and am also interested in going to the rice terraces.

What is the tel# or the address of your guide? And how much did he charge? Did the price include hotels & the food, in other words everything?

Thank you very much!

Bacolod, Philippines
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6. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

Its actually safer to take the bus. There are a lot of tourists (both locals and foreigners) and even students going home from Manila to Banaue who take the bus. You just have to reserve tickets a day ahead because the seats are only limited to a number of people. There are 2-3 drivers who goes on shift in driving. They are natives of Banaue and have "mastered" the road going there. From Banaue you can hire a jeepney or tricycle going to the saddle point. From Saddle point you have to hike to go to the majestic rice terraces. Batad is a must-visit. Very beautiful.:)

Oslo, Norway
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7. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

manilastay.com she gave that website, try them.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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8. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

Hi! Where do you get the bus and how much is the round trip ticket and the tricycle...also how do you rate the walk to the terraces is it easy moderate or what... and how many days would you recommend... am rather short on time but I really want to see the rice terraces. thank you for the info!

Singapore, Singapore
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9. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

matutina,

If you have limited time, then just visit Banaue. Leave Batad out. Batad trek is a tough one.

Seattle, WA
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10. Re: Manila-Sagada-Banaue-Batad Trip--our experience

You mention hiking a few miles to Batad. How difficult is the hike? I will have someone with knee problems in the group.