Banaue Rice Terraces; Stairway to the Sky: A Photo Gallery

How would you like to climb a stairway that almost reaches the sky? You would? Then come and enjoy with me this visit to the Banaue Rice Terraces, your "Stairway to the Sky". This work of man on nature is truly awesome and inspiring.



Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces are rice fields carved into the mountains of the Ifugao region in the Philippines. These rice fields are believed to be 2000-3000 years old, and are lovingly called by Filipinos as the "8th wonder of the world".

Because of their high altitude, clouds usually cover the topmost parts of these terraces during early mornings and rainy months. Thus, they look like "stairway to the sky" during these times.

Stairway to the sky, a closer view
Stairway to the sky, a closer view
Clouds covering portions of the terraces
Clouds covering portions of the terraces

The Eight Wonder of the World

Why do we refer to these rice fields as the "8th wonder of the world?"

Well, it's because they were built by the indigenous people of the area using only their bare hands and some crude tools. These terraces are really an engineering wonder because they are found 1500 meters above sea level and extend to about 10,360 kilometers around the mountains in the region.

Sections of these rice fields can be seen from various points in the region. In some parts, they look like amphitheaters, while in others, they are like pyramids with steps.

It is said that if all the steps making up these rice terraces were put together, they can extend halfway around the globe.

rice terraces looking like pyramids with steps
rice terraces looking like pyramids with steps

How these terraces were built is not the only engineering wonder. The other wonder is its irrigation system. The mountaintops are covered with rainforests and run off from these rainforests deliver water down the various sections of the fields. The water is channeled through a system of canals that runs across and down the mountains.

Canals form the irrigation system of the rice terraces. Observe also the steps along side the canals. Please click on the photo for a bigger view
Canals form the irrigation system of the rice terraces. Observe also the steps alongside the canals. Please click on the photo for a bigger view
closer view of canal system
closer view of canal system

Culture and Tradition

Many tradition and cultural practices of the people living on or near these rice terraces revolve around the rhythm of the life cycle of rice. The people have rituals associated with every step of the rice life cycle from planting to cultivation, harvesting to consumption.

In between rice planting - harvesting seasons, people also plant other crops to sustain them during the months while they are waiting for the rice harvest season.

people preparing to harvest rice in one of the terraces
people preparing to harvest rice in one of the terraces

Older people who no longer work in the fields usually don their costumes to earn a few pesos as models of people taking photos of these "stairway to the sky."

an elderly native of the place willingly posed for us
an elderly native of the place willingly posed for us

Some Challenges About and Around the Rice Terraces

Maintaining the rice terraces is a big challenge to the government and the people in the area. The decreasing rainforest cover is a major problem. This brings about extremes of drought and erosion during dry and rainy seasons respectively.

For example, the series of typhoons that affected the area just this year eroded a big section of the terraces. In addition, the roads connecting the region to nearby areas have also been affected by landslides.

groups of houses along the base of the rice terraces Please click on the photo for a bigger view
groups of houses along the base of the rice terraces Please click on the photo for a bigger view

Another major concern is the younger generation's disinterest in farming. Many of the younger generation are not interested in becoming farmers and in maintaining the traditions of their tribe. The lure of new opportunities in the city is fast decreasing the number of younger people staying in the area.

These challenges are now being addressed seriously not only by the local government but also by the national government.

Private institutions like UNESCO are also helping because this 8th wonder of the world is really worth preserving.

a single house amidst the rice fields
a single house amidst the rice fields

Stairway to the Sky

I never realized how truly awesome this place is until I visited it myself. However, I hope that through this photo gallery, I somehow was able to show that this indeed is a monument to man's perseverance and ingenuity.

It truly is a stairway to the sky!

top view of the stairway to the sky. Notice the road and the steps as well as a small hut on the terraces
top view of the stairway to the sky. Notice the road and the steps as well as a small hut on the terraces
another view of the rice terraces showing a populated section on the right
another view of the rice terraces showing a populated section on the right

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Comments 39 comments

vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 5 years ago from Bangalore

Terrific pictures,lots of information nice hub. Good luck voted awesome and interesting.


raakachi profile image

raakachi 5 years ago from Madurai / Tamilnadu / India

I just can't believe it that growing and harvesting the paddy at the top of lovely mountains. Again it astonishes me that how the people had striven to bring water for the terraces and how they managed to transit them to the plains. Thanks to 'Hubpages' for the opportunity it has given me through various talented hubbers like you. you have worked hard to get this photos, i know, since i know it by my personal experience of taking good photos. Marvelous! Voted up! Awesome!


rambansal profile image

rambansal 5 years ago from India

wOw, nice views... pleasant experience..


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

You have done it again, Jill. My favorite is the top view of the stairway to the sky; it almost looks likes one of your trick close up photos, only from afar!

I'm familiar with these hills from my tv work, but your photos put most of the video shot to shame.


QuirkyPearl profile image

QuirkyPearl 5 years ago from England - UK

Jill, I really enjoyed that, Thank you!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

I loved Visually going up "The Stairway to the Sky"...and reading this Enlightening Hub. What a Magical Treat. Great Photos Jill...and so Interesting.


MoiraCrochets profile image

MoiraCrochets 5 years ago from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

Wow! You really did well for our Rice Terraces! Kudos! I'm from the Philippines and I've never seen the Rice Terraces in person, only on TV and photos. But I must say, you have very stunning pictures here. I love all your pictures! I wish I could go there NOW!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Vasantha,

Nice to see you again!

I'm happy that you enjoyed the photos and learned something from this hub.

Thanks very much for the awesome and interesting votes!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Raakachi,

It's nice to see you again!

I'm so happy that you appreciated the work that people do to put up and maintain these rice paddies. I am just awed when I saw how extensive the whole thing is!

Thank you so much for your heartwarming comment! Thanks especially for your up and awesome votes!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Rambansal,

Thank you very much for your visit and wonderful comment!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Green Lotus,

It's simply great to see you again!

Your beautiful words truly make my heart sing! Your words "...but your photos put most of the video shot to shame."... just made my day! And it's just early morning here!

Thank you so much my friend!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello QuirkyPearl,

Nice to see you again!

Thank you very much!

I'm happy that you enjoyed this!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello b.Malin,

I'm so happy to see you again!

It's great to know that you enjoyed going up the "stairway to the sky!"

Thank you very much!

God bless!


anonymous 5 years ago

Hello Moira,

I haven't seen the rice terraces in person either until we visited the place just this year. Seeing them first hand was really awesome! The photos in books and magazines do not compare with first hand experience at all! I felt like singing "the hills are alive..." when I was there! You should really visit the place!

Thanks very much for dropping by and leaving a wonderful comment!

Happy to meet another Filipino here!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hahaha, the computer just suddenly blinked and published my comment as "anonymous". How about that?


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

Your pictures of the rice terraces are just awesome! And I thank you for your explanation of how they are watered and cared for, the rainforest irrigation is marvelous. An interesting hub on a unique part of our world, thank you.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello frogyfish,

It's great to see you!

I'm happy that you found this interesting and learned something from it.

Thank you very much!

God bless!


iZeko profile image

iZeko 5 years ago

Rice terraces always amaze me and these photos are certainly one of the most dramatic I've seen. Beautiful and informative gallery!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Wow, Banaue Rice Terraces are amazing--they are truly a testament to man's ingenuity and perseverance. Again, your pictures are beautiful and now there's only one thing to do--rate it up and up.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello iZeko,

Thank you so much for your visit and wonderful comment! I really appreciate it!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Angeline,

So nice to see you again!

Yes, they are truly awesome! I just can't get over the experience of seeing them close!

Thanks so much for voting up!

God bless!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Whoa! Incredible. I would love to visit this place. It reminds me of Machu Picchu in Peru. It's absolutely stunning. If I ever get there, I will make a point of visiting the stairway to the sky.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi Lela,

Great to see you again!

Thanks so much for your visit and lovely comment!

Yes, if you ever have a chance to visit the Philippines, then you should really visit this. It's just awesome!

Thanks again!

God bless!


Quddus profile image

Quddus 5 years ago

These are truly amazing photos that relay so much of the beauty of the subject! The next best thing to being there! Great hub!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Wow absolutely amazing!!

I felt as if I was on holiday!!

I am bookmarking into 'My Armchair Travelling.'

Take care and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Quddus,

Thank you very much for your visit and lovely comment! Hope you will be able to enjoy them first hand someday! It took me this look to actually see them. I used to just see them in magazines.

Thanks again!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Eddy,

Thank you so much for your visit and wonderful comment! It just gave me a high!

I hope that you will one day get a chance to actually enjoy these away from your armchair! I never realized how awesome they are until I was there myself!

Take care too!

God bless!


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

Phenomenal! Such a magical place, and your photographs create such a rich sense of the landscape. Thanks for the background on the building of the terraces and the irrigation system. What an amazing example of people using their environment in an effective, harmonious way.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello HikeGuy,

It's nice to see you!

Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a beautiful comment! Yes, the people here are really able to use their environment harmoniously and effectively. Really awesome!

Thanks again!

God bless!


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 4 years ago

Jill of alltrades, Aboslutely breathtaking marvelous photo gallery! What lovely, interesting people and beautiful landscapes! As you so well stated: "A monument to man's perseverance and ingenuity. It truly is a stairway to the sky!" Yes, Indeed! Your have once again used your gift to capture the essence of these people and their land...

Thank You for sharing, Peace & Blessings! GOD BLESS YOU!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi DeBorrah,

It's so nice to see you again!

Thank you so much for your wonderful and inspiring comment!

You are most welcome! The pleasure is really mine!

God bless you too!


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 4 years ago from Somewhere in the West

I LOVE nature so i enjoyed all your photos.

Wow that's a hell of a job to do with bare hands but it has it benefits. Looks wonderful today.

Thanks for sharing


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello LadyFiddler,

That's great, now I have a kindred spirit!

Yes, the work that people did and are doing here is simply awesome!

Thank you very much for your visit and lovely comment!


skye2day profile image

skye2day 4 years ago from Rocky Mountains

jillofalltrades WOW Oh WOW Awesome Brilliant Beautiful. GODs Glorious world. This is another lovely hub. Your pictures are amazing. Thank you for sharing. The history is fascinatiing. Nice to visit you jill. Keep em coming sister. I felt like I stepped into a slice of Heaven in the pictures. Wait till Heaven this is just a tiny tiny slice. Hugs Galore.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Skye,

It's great to see you again! Your comment is absolutely inspiring! Thank you so much!

My photos are nothing compared to the real thing! It's really breathtaking there. I'm really so lucky to have been able to see this first hand. And I'm happy to share even just a bit of the beauty of this creation of God and man.

Thanks again!

God bless!


A.Villarasa profile image

A.Villarasa 3 years ago from Palm Springs

I continue to be one of your biggest fans. This hub is a delightful photographic essay on one of the truly astounding wonders of the world.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 3 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi Alex,

It's great to see you again! I have not been as active as before in HP, so it's always a treat to hear from some of my good friends. Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a wonderful comment. I'm happy that you enjoyed this.

God bless!


Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 2 years ago from Oklahoma

Jill, I so enjoyed reading this Hub and the photography is outstanding. I would love to see these in person. Maybe one day I will.....who knows :)


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 2 years ago from Philippines Author

Hey Becky,

It's great to see you! I'm happy that you enjoyed this! Yes, do come and visit! Who knows... It's really worth the trip.

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