When the summer season arrives in the island of Luzon, most tourists would readily flock to famous places where they could refresh themselves and beat the summer heat, including famous beaches in Palawan, Baler, Boracay, and La Union. Some would want to experience cool climates from high above, gallivanting in Baguio, Sagada, and Tagaytay.
However, one underrated and historic town up north, situated around eight hours from Manila, is definitely worth checking out, especially if you love discovering Cordillera’s indigenous culture.
Unknown by most travelers, the municipality of Kiangan is the oldest in the province of Ifugao and is believed to be the birthplace of Ifugao culture.
Take a closer look at this hidden tourist spot with our list of 11 things to do in Kiangan!
1. Marvel at Bae Rice Terraces.
The Bae Rice Terraces is located in Barangay Ambabag and is among the most panoramic sites in Kiangan. It can be seen along a famous, long, and winding road near Mount Kapugan.
2. See a traditional Ifugao hut up close.
Steeped in Cordilleran history and cultural heritage, traditional Ifugao huts can still be seen in various parts of the town, especially near rice terraces.
3. Visit Christian Churches.
The municipality has two churches namely the United Church of Christ in the Philippines located along the Rafael Bulayungan Road, and Saint Joseph’s church, located in Barangay Pindongan. Both display the architectural style of the American and European missionaries who constructed them, respectively.
4. Commemorate the gallantry of World War II soldiers.
The Kiangan War Memorial Shrine is a huge memorial shrine that commemorates the end of the Second World War. Built in 1974, this steel-and-concrete pyramidal structure has a view deck where one could view the whole Poblacion and municipality of Lagawe. It was created in memory of the heroism of the soldiers who gave their lives in defense of peace.
A few steps from the shrine would take you to the Ifugao Museum, which serves as a repository of Ifugao traditional and cultural material.
5. See the historical Yamashita surrender site.
Kiangan Central School in Rafael Bulayungan Road was the site where General Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Army physically surrendered to the Allied Forces on September 2, 1945. The surrender, which took place at the Home Economics Building, formally ended Japanese rule in the Philippines during World War II.
6. Observe the traditional weaving process.
Inside the Gabaldon Building of the Kiangan Central School is the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) Center, a place where students interact and engage in learning Kiangan’s history and culture. Tourists can view the traditional weaving process here and purchase woven products too at reasonable prices.
7. Trek to the highest peak in Kiangan.
For those who are into mountaineering, you could scale the highest peak of Kiangan, which is Mount Kapugan, towering at 1305 meters above sea level, in two hours or less.
8. Refresh yourself in Uttu Falls.
At the foot of Mount Kapugan lies Uttu Falls. The jump-off point is located along the road in Sitio Bae, Ambabag near the Bae Rice Terraces. Trekking to the falls takes about 30 minutes.
9. Experience nature in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated in Barangay Nagacadan, Nagacadan Rice Terraces is one of the main tourist attractions in town. It is one of the five terraces in Ifugao declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and covers approximately around 10 hectares of land.
10. Eat using “togwak”.
Tourists can experience eating on a traditional Ifugao “plate” called a “Togwak”, which is made from the trunk of a banana tree. Togwak has been in use since the olden times, when kitchen implements like plates were non-existent.
11. Maki-hamul with the locals.
During special occasions where only all-meat viands are served, Ifugaos might invite you to “maki-hamul” with them. “Hamul” is an Ifugao term for “feast” or “free meal” during grand occasions such as weddings, thanksgivings, funerals, and the like. Even total strangers are invited.
Visiting a not-so-famous heritage town such as Kiangan enlightens travelers on the unique Ifugao culture beyond Baguio and Sagada. In this laid-back, culturally rich town, there’s nothing you can really ask for.
Where to stay: Habiatan Restobar Homestay
- Address: Poblacion near the Kiangan Municipal Hall
- Contact/ phone number: 0927-9604625
- Operating Hours: 24 hours
- FB page link: https://www.facebook.com/Habiatans-Homestay-Restobar-107280133957125/
Getting here via public transportation
(1) Ride a Banawe or Sagada-bound bus either via CODA Lines in Cubao or Ohayami Trans in Manila. Advanced ticket reservation purchase is highly recommended since Sagada is a very popular tourist destination. These buses pass through the province of Ifugao.
(2) Alight at the tricycle terminal in Lagawe, Ifugao.
(3) Ride a tricycle towards Kiangan, Ifugao.