First things first: The cheapest, but lengthy, way to reach the Banaue rice terraces is to take a bus out of Manila or Angeles City.
The first thing you should try to do is stay in Baguio City for a couple of nights. If staying in Baguio on a budget, there are plenty of cheaper places on the outskirts of the city, including some camp-style places.
Once you reach the rice terraces, you’ll first be amazed as the stunning beauty of the place. This particular part of the Philippines has lain untouched for over 2,000 years and once you reach it, you’ll no doubt want to explore it from end to end.
Be sure to find a personal guide if you’ve never been to the Banaue rice terraces before. Be aware that the price for guides is set by the shoes you wear and the color of your skin. Sending a helper or simply asking several people the going price of a guide can give you a ‘round about’ cost.
The area has many hidden treasures that only a guide could find, and they also help keep beggars and hawkers at arms-length.
One of my top choices to stay in Banaue is at a campsite, some rent tents to you don’t have to carry one yourself.
For those that need something more, including a soft or semi-soft bed, here are some other budget options:
RAYMON’S HOMESTAY — This camp is also a local restaurant and features a museum and cultural centre. With nightly bonfires and brewed local coffee, this is a great place to stay for those travelling solo who want to make new friends. PS, look out for the fireflies!
GREENVIEW LODGE — The lodge overlooks the Banaue rice terraces and has a descent restaurant as well as an internet cafe and souvenir shop. Dorm rooms and singles are available.
LAS VEGAS LODGE — Here you get free Wi-fi, hot showers and the entire complex is protected from outsiders who wonder in many of the local places to sell you a tour. Located two kilometres outside Banaue, the bus will drop you at the road which leads to the lodge. With free wifi, hot showers and a quiet locations this is a great place to relax.
From Manila to Baguio City by bus costs 350 to 450 pesos. From Baguio to Banaue costs about 350 pesos as well.
In the end a smart “Poor Man Living in the Philippines” can easily visit the rice terraces for around $100 to $150 dollars for three to four days depending on your ‘koripot’ instincts (‘koripot’ = frugal, cheap).