This is one place I would love to visit again and again,definitely my favorite in the Philippines.. Batad. Cool weather, inexpensive yet delicious food, US$3 basic room, fireflies at night, zero pollution, magnificent view…what else can I ask for? Aside from relaxing and just enjoying the cool mountain air, one can hike along the rice terraces or to nearby Tappiya waterfalls without a guide.
Both times I went to Batad, I stayed at the Hillside Inn. Myrza Addug, the owner, is no doubt the best. She was the town captain and I could tell she was a worthy leader. Even though she has given up her post, it’s still very much obvious how the residents trust and respect her.
The rooms are very basic, just a double bed and nothing more. An electric fan is not necessary since the weather is cool any time of the day. Temperature may drop during the night so if you plan to visit Batad, bring at least a long-sleeved shirt, pullovers or thick socks to keep you warm. The guest house provides blankets but during the colder months which is from November to January, it’s not enough. Bathroom is shared. Unfortunately, there’s no hot shower. However, you may ask for a pail of hot water for less than P50 or US$1.
At night, although the amphitheater-like rice terraces cannot be seen, you’ll be treated with another attraction.. fireflies! Some trees would be full of twinkling fireflies that it looks like a Christmas tree. It is the only place where I see fireflies just come and go in the room, like a small light bulb moving around.
Getting to Batad is a bit tricky though. There is no direct transportation. It may be a 2 hour hike from Batad junction or a 1 hour hike from Batad Saddle, depends on which jeep you have caught in Banaue, but it’s all worth it.
To get to Batad from the city of Manila, take the 10pm overnight bus going to Banaue, Ifugao from Autobus station (+6327358096). It is about 10 hours to get there including toilet stops. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.. when I was there last 2008, there’s no atm in either Banaue or Batad. Not sure of money changers though. Some travelers prefer to head straight to Batad upon reaching Banaue and some prefer to stay in Banaue and go to Batad for a day trip. I would always choose the former. When you arrive Banaue around 7am, don’t believe local men waiting around the Autobus depot that there’s no jeep going to either Batad Junction or Batad saddle then offer chartered jeep for a high fee. In the Banaue town market, near the tourist information center, there are jeeps leaving for Batad Saddle around 9am for P100/ US$2 and jeeps leaving for Batad Junction between 10am – 3pm for P50/ US$1. If you choose to get a tricycle (Philippine version of a tuktuk) all the way to Batad Junction, it may cost you P150/US$3 for 2 people. Tricycles may initially ask for double that amount but can be negotiated. You may also choose to leave some of your unnecessary luggage in any Banaue guest house for P25/ US$.50 per day but if you stayed there overnight, these guest houses won’t charge you a cent.
There’s only 1 trail going to Batad so you won’t get lost. It’s not a steep inclined pathway and a leisurely pace would get you there in 2 hours. Keep an eye for natural spring water marked by a fresh leaf where the water drops. It means it’s safe to drink.
And this spectacular view and cute cozy guest house awaits the adventurous one..