Perhaps the most-visited ancient rice terraces in northern Luzon are those near the city of Banaue, but few would disagree that having this bucolic setting pretty much to oneself makes the experience more personal. The terraces of Malecong are 30 km north of Banaue, 7 km north of the city of Bontoc up a winding dirt road.
The stonewalled Malecong terraces are an estimated 2,000 years old, built by the native Ifugao people. It is recommended to see the terraces in April or May, when colors are at their most brilliant. The growing cycle begins in January when seedlings are first grown in small terraces. They are transplanted in February or March, and harvested in the Summer. Walking along the terrace walls is an unforgettable visual experience, and you’ll meet numerous rice farming families walking to and from, and repairing their terraces.
We chose Malecong not only because it’s less-traveled than the Banaue terraces to the south, but also because the rice was still a lovely green color this early May, while the Banaue terraces had already turned golden. You don’t have to drive to Malecong like we did, as the track is rough and best suited for a 4 wheel drive vehicle. You can take a jeepney from Bontoc, and walk 30 minutes to the terraces. Walking back downhill to Bontoc, which sits at 2,968 feet, is a leisurely two hours.