My Guide to the Philippines (Part 1): How to get to Banaue?

Dear Readers,

This is my first post in English and there are several reasons why I switch to English in this one. Firstly this post is dedicated to my friend Massimo from the Netherlands who I’ve met on a resort in the Fijis during my small world travel. At the moment he’s still cruising around the globe, if I’m correct something like 12 months abroad. Soon he’ll be visiting my second home country the Philippines.

Of course like every Pinoy (how the Filipinos like to call themselves) we are proud of our cultural heritage and we like to present our Islands in the most attractive and exotic way as possible. Perhaps those of you who may have some pinoy friends may know that the Philippines are a group of 7107 Islands which are divided in three Island Groups: Luzon, The Visayas and Mindanao.


For some world travellers the philippines seem very unique especially as a south east asian country with the majority of Filipinos speaking and understanding english. Although Tagalog and English are the two offical tongues there are more than 60 different languages spread out in the entire nation. But don’t panic in the more urban and touristic hotspots you will encounter many Filipinos with fluent English skills. But just to inform you: The Filipino English will differ from all other kinds of english you’ve encountered. The pronounciation will be quite different! Certain additions after an english sentences would be for example „How are you po?“ or „It’s nice weather diba?“.

  • … + po = Show politeness to older People
  • … + diba = to emphasize a question like „isn’t it“?

The list of Special Filipino-English expressions (also known as Taglish) is endless.

After Arrival

The first thing you will encounter is the quite old, in my opinion outdated, international airport of Manila (NAIA). Getting through customs and filling out forms for a visitor visa is many hour wait. After you managed to make your way through I recommend to stay only 1-2 days in the CBD of Manila, namely Makati. It’s not the exotic philippines you expect but it’s worth a visit and a nice spot to recover from Jetlag.

Huge (when I say huge I mean gigantic) shopping malls, tall skyscrapers with condominiums, large billboards of local artistas (Filipino Celebs) and horrible traffic issues (believe me  it’s insane!). There are three malls just next to each other: Greenbelt, Ayala and Landmark. My favourite one is Greenbelt which combines many international and local brands, a great open space with lots of green recreation spots and in the evenings cool bars with live Music. On the upper deck you will find a big variety of culinary delights: For pinoy food try out MESA or BANANA LEAF.

Greenbelt Mall in Makati (Foto: Zenz)
Modern fiipino cuisine (Foto: Zenz).

North Luzon: 3 days at the Rice Terraces of Banaue

From all bucket lists Banaue is the place to visit in the philippines. It’s like a travel back in time to a place where time stood still. Situated in the very north of Luzon, the main Island the only direct bus connection from Manila to Banawe is operated by OHAYAMI Buses. I recommend to go to the bus station a few hours ahead and by your ticket in advance. Certainly you will meet many other back packers at the bus station from all around the world. I recommend to take always a cab to the bus station, it’s kinda shady, always be aware or like filipinos use to say: „Ingat ka!“ – „Take Care!“.

As soon as you’ve arrived the beauty of the landscape will be overwhelming! From there you can take guided tours to the Batad Rice Terraces, 2000 years old agricultural UNESCO World Hertigae, swim in a Waterfall or do the SAGADA Hike to see real mummies.


Be aware it’s a 9 hour bus trip in a strongly air-conditioned bus: Hitherto wear long pants, closed shoes, a thick sweater and definitely an extra blanket! The trip itself is a pain in the ass but definitely a never forgetting experience. Don’t forget to bring with cash. There are no ATM for foreign Cards nearby and credit cards won’t be accepted there. We didn’t know and we had stay on tight Budget. Accomodations vary from 9-30 Dollars a night.Due to the high humidity there, everything is moist and it rains often even if just for some minutes. Rain coat and good trekking shoes are highly recommended.


My travel companion Silvan with the view over Banaue. (Foto: Zenz)
Batad Rice Terraces (Foto: Zenz).
Relief after our 3 hours hike (Foto: Zenz).
40 metre Waterfall (Foto: Zenz).
The water fall was as expected – COLD (Foto: Zenz).