The distance between Bontoc and Banaue is almost 200 kilometres via Talubin–Barlig–Paracelis Rd and Banaue–Mayoyao–Alfonso Lista–Isabela Boundary Rd. The only way to travel between the two towns is overland – by local bus, jeepney or public vans. The whole journey should take about 2 hours. Expect to pay between PHP150 and PHP250 for the ride depending on the means of transport.
The road trip between Bontoc and Banaue is an adventure in itself, especially if you do it like the locals do and get up on the jeepney's roof (though we cannot recommend it for the safety reasons – but the choice is always yours). Whatever means of transport you chose, one thing is for certain though – it will be a very scenic ride with winding roads and terraced hillsides shrouded in mist.
Bus from Bontoc to Banaue
There are currently several big bus companies that regularly ply the roads between Bontoc and Banaue.
The first one is Vonvon Bus which is stationed near Bontoc Municipal Hall and has a bus departing for Banaue at 7 in the morning. AV Trans Bus leaves at 8am from the same terminal and the last trip of the day is at 9am with Emmanuel Bus from their terminal right behind the Mountain Hotel. Coda Lines operate multiple trips, too, from 10.30am till 4pm and has the plushest buses of all.
The trip with any bus operator will take around 2 hours and tickets cost approximately PHP200.
Jeepney from Bontoc to Banaue
Also near the Municipal Hall there is the terminal for public jeepneys that go to Banaue at least 4 times a day – at 8.30am, 10am, 12 noon and 1pm. This is the way the locals prefer to travel, so jeepneys always fill up very quickly and up to the brim – well, actually, above the brim as passengers occupy the roof of the vehicle, too. The trip from Bontoc to Banaue should take roughly 2 hours and the fare is also about PHP150.
Van from Bontoc to Banaue
Lastly, you can head to Bontoc Tourism Office where public vans bound for Banaue are located. There are normally two morning departures at 8.30am and 10am and one more departure in the afternoon at 1pm. The fare is around PHP200 per person and travel time is more or less the same as the other modes of transportation offer.
Just a few things to remember. You may have to take the schedules above with a grain of salt as they can change without a prior notice.
Also, vans and jeepneys can leave earlier than scheduled if full and especially during peak season. If you are in transit to anywhere (e.g. Manila via Banaue) and pressed for time, make sure to catch the earliest trip possible and never rely on afternoon trips – they can be cancelled due to bad weather or fully booked.
Finally, always pack some warm clothes –a light fleece jacket or a shawl – to protect yourself from the cold mountain air.