BANAUE

Banaue is synonymous with Luzon’s most famous icon, the Unesco World Heritage–listed Ifugao rice terraces, etched out of the hillsides using primitive tools and an ingenious irrigation system over 2000 years ago. The Ifugao by no means had a monopoly on rice terraces in the Cordillera, but they were arguably the best sculptors, as the mesmerizing display overlooking Banaue suggests. Banaue itself – a ragged collection of tin-roofed edifices along a ridge – often spoils things for those looking for a perfect first ooh-and-ahh moment. But you can’t argue with Banaue’s setting, and accommodation remains of stellar value compared with most tourist hot spots in the Philippines.

SAGADA

Sagada is famous for its "hanging coffins". This is a traditional way of burying people that is still utilized. Not everyone qualified to be buried this way; among other things, one had to have been married and had grandchildren.

Popular activities include trekking, exploring caves and waterfalls, spelunking, bonfires, picnics, rappelling, visiting historical sites, nature hikes, and participating in tribal celebrations. Guides can be found upon registration at the tourist-office in Sagada Proper (the main town) for a small fee.

Nearby is Sagada in Mountain Province. Famous for its hanging coffins and limestone caves, this town is a must destination for backpackers. Photographer Masferre’s Sagada may be a thing of the past, and gone are the days of wearing the falaka (bachelor’s basket hat) and akosan (shell belt bag), but the town retains a highland culture with a dash of worldly charm.

TOP DESTINATION

In a coconut-filled tropical dream of a country, Benguet is known for strawberries — from strawberry jam and strawberry ice cream to silken tofu infused with strawberry sauce. It’s not surprising that the Strawberry Capital of the Philippines is here, which is La Trinidad .From Baguio; visitors can take a short ride to this capital and enjoy vegetable and fruit picking, apart from the munching.

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