Banaue, Ifugao, Luzon, Philippines
Hemmed in on all sides by dramatic rice terraces, Banaue is directly accessible from Manila and, as such, can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by visitors.
It’s hard to blame them: the local mud-walled rice terraces have a pleasing, organic quality that differentiates them from the stone-walled terraces in most of the Cordillera. World Heritage listed, they are impressive not only for their chiselled beauty but because they were introduced around 2000 years ago by the Chinese.
The Ifugao, once headhunters, built the terraces and were as skilled at carving wood as they were at carving terraces. Their carved bulol statues are a Philippine icon, albeit a misunderstood one: bulol are rice guardians, not rice gods, as many would have you believe.
While Banaue remains the centre of the rich Ifugao culture, tourism now shapes the town. Fortunately, it’s easy to leave much of the crowd behind by escaping to remote villages like Kambulo and Pula, which have their own incredible rice terraces.
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