Hemmed in on all sides by dramatic rice terraces, Banaue is directly accessible from Manila and can sometimes get overwhelmed by visitors. It's hard to blame them: the local mud-walled rice terraces are pleasingly different from the stone-walled terraces in most of the Cordillera. World Heritage listed, they're impressive not only for their chiselled beauty but because they were introduced around 2000 years ago by the Chinese.
The Ifugao people, once headhunters, built the terraces and were as skilled at carving wood as they were at carving terraces. Their carved bulol (sacred wood figures) 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 cultural and tourism centre of Ifugao culture, it’s easy to leave the crowds behind by escaping to remote villages such as Cambulo and Pula, which have their own incredible rice terraces.