Banaue Rice Terraces © Magalhaes
The northern reaches of Luzon Island draw travellers who crave adventure and an authentic taste of traditional Filipino culture. Lush, mountainous terrain characterises the region, though much is lacking by way of infrastructure. Still, its intriguing tribes and unspoilt landscapes are worth the extra effort needed to reach them. Banaue is one of the most popular tourist stops in northern Luzon. Visitors will encounter a string of villages around the municipality, where people still live according to age-old tribal traditions. The area's main attraction is the Banaue Rice Terraces. Constructed about 3000 years ago, the UNESCO World Heritage site comprises terraces that start from the base of the Cordillero Mountains and extend upwards for thousands of feet. They're cleverly irrigated by channelled springs and streams. Nature lovers can also enjoy nearby waterfalls, natural pools, and scenic hiking trails. The region's little town of Sagada is something of a backpacker's haven. Caving and hiking are among the area's drawcards, though its main attraction is a series of ancient burial caves in the mountainside. Travellers will see the remarkable 'hanging coffins' perched on limestone outcrops. Visitors will reach the coffins via a hike through jungle.