New flights will connect stunning – but remote – Banaue rice terraces to Clark airport

It currently takes up to nine hours to reach the iconic terraces of Banaue from Manila

No longer will people visiting one of the Philippines’ most iconic tourist attractions have to spend hours bumping along winding roads.

The department of tourism has announced a new air route to the Banaue terraces from Clark Airport.

Currently, reaching the world-renowned site involves a long journey by car — from Manila, for example, it takes about nine hours.

Tourism secretary Wanda Teo revealed the new service at an international tourism trade fair in Berlin, Germany.

The she said that a four-day and three-night trip to the terraces would depart from Clark and land at the Bagabag Airport in Nueva Vizcaya. The flight would last about an hour, and then the drive to the rice terraces would take just an hour more.

“There’s no better occasion to launch a new air route than in the world’s grandest tourism trade fair. This will complement the activities we are promoting in the European market, particularly for travellers who seek cultural immersion in the Philippines,” she added.

The new flights are expected to bring economic boost for the local community

Marie Venus Tan, the department’s director for the Cordillera Administrative Region, said: “The Cordilleras is all about tradition and ethnic culture.

“This is our strongest selling point because our visitors can experience genuine and truly meaningful cultural immersions that benefit the host communities. This is also something we can be very proud of.”

The flights will be operated by Wakay Air Services and start in May. There will be four departures per week using a 38-seater Dornier plane.

Although there are terraces throughout Asia, those at Banaue — sometimes dubbed ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ — are some of the most spectacular.

The 2,000-year-old terraces were recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in 1995.

Initially, it was placed on a danger list due to neglect and degradation, but after restoration work was given the all-clear in 2012.