Batanes is the ultimate dream place of Filipinos. Most, if not all, once dreamt of having to set foot on the beautiful islands of Batanes. Even for foreigners, Batanes have always been one of the popular destinations in the Philippines. So if you happen to be on this page, I guess Batanes is on your list too. Or if not, then you can read on because this might be the chance for you to change your mind, book a flight and experience Batanes with 36 destinations in 5 Days and 4 Nights for as low as Php 8,900+ all-in! Yes you’ve read that right – with AIRFARE!
Geographically located in the northernmost part of the country, Batanes Group of Islands is usually passed by typhoons. Not that I’m scaring you but that’s just a fact. Just recently, it was under the state of calamity because of Bagyong Ferdie, which greatly damaged most of the residences and facilities around the province that even the communication and power lines were off for about 2 weeks. So when I’ve heard this, I was worried that our trip will be postponed. It happened in the middle of September this year but luckily, in just about two months, Bataneswas able to cope up with the damages and our dream trip was made possible.
We had our trip for 5 days and 4 nights. Well, our last day was mainly spent in the airport because our flight back is scheduled early in the morning but more on that later.
Upon arrival in Basco Airport Terminal, we were asked to register twice. First was before exiting the arrival area. Then there’s a registration desk situated in the waiting area where we were asked to pay the Visitor’sSustainable Eco-Tourism Fee amounting to Php 350. This collection just started last year, March 2, 2015 under the Provincial Ordinance No. 146.
So after getting our checked-in baggage, we met up with the attendants of Marfel’s Lodge (where we stayed), rode a van (but actually our lodge was just near the airport!) and we were escorted to our lodges where we met Ate Fe, the famous owner of a budget-wise homestay in Batanes.
DAY 1: NORTH BATAN ISLAND TOUR
The first day of our Batanes trip was spent touring around North Batan Island. There are about 9 destinations we’ve seen in total and it only took us 4 hours to explore and take hundreds of photographs.
If you’re interested to know more about these places, you might want to check out my North Batan Island Tour blog post.
DAY 2: SABTANG ISLAND TOUR
On the next day, we had to wake up early to catch the ferry bound to Sabtang Island. It was a 30-minute ride while praying for our safety. Waves splashing our boat were damn high. No wonder it was known to be the longest 30 minutes of every tourist who dares to come to Sabtang Island. Thank God, we were safe and sound as we alight the boat in Port Sabtang.
Before the tour, we paid Php 200 in the Municipal Tourism Center and waited for our tricycle tour guide driver, Kuya Jimmy. Contact details and fee to be posted on the latter part of this post.
There are a total of 9 destinations for the Sabtang Island Tour we’ve had on our 2nd day.
If you’re interested to know more about these places, you might want to check out my Sabtang Island Tourblog post.
DAY 3: SOUTH BATAN ISLAND TOUR
The third day of our stay in the province was spent wandering around South Batan Island. There are a total of 18 destinations. Having seen the North Batan area and the Sabtang Island, I already know what to expect for the South Batan Island Tour.
Batanes is so beautiful with unending rolling hills and beautiful seascape from everywhere. So on our trip to the municipalities in the south, I was expecting to be surprised again with its grandeur. And of course, it never failed me!
If you’re interested to know more about these places, you might want to check out my South Batan Island Tour blog post.
DAY 4: Biking Around Basco
Our day 4 is the longest day we’ve had in Batanes. To be honest, we have no itinerary prepared. I just depended on my college friend, who is by the way with us, because it’s her second time in the province already and she mentioned about the tours. Only then did I know that they (Zarah with Sam) will leave for Manila on the fourth day. So my boyfriend and I were deciding whether to return to Marlboro Country, hike a little and swim in the nearby Spring of Youth or have an Itbayat Island Tour but we ended up biking around Basco.
Tip: You can pass by Tawsen in Argonza St. to buy pasalubong before you head home.
It was a good decision because we went to see the daily life of the locals not often featured in blogs. Life in Batanes is so simple. Wake up, do your thing, bike around, eat then sleep. It was the kind of life I wish I would’ve had if I don’t have a job in the corporate world. Just. Plain. Simple.
DAY 5: Basco Airport
We have to wake up early on our last day because our flight was at 8:00 AM. We were again escorted, by the private tricycle of Marfel’s, to the airport. It was only about 6 AM then but the people are already lined up for check-in. So while waiting for the flight, I just took some random photos to share with you. Here’s what Basco Airport looks like!
Our Batanes trip is yet the best vacation we’ve had in the Philippines. I will definitely come back to see its splendor for the second time. Hopefully, we’ll get lucky again and snatch up another low fare flight.
ESTIMATED BUDGET BREAKDOWN
WHERE TO EAT
- St. Dominic College of Batanes Canteen – meals are from Php 25 – Php 100+
- Jinno’s East Pizzaria – meals are from Php 125 – Php 400+
- Doque’s Congee House/Bulaluhan sa Diptan – It was closed when we saw this congee house so I have no idea how much their meals cost.
- Paulvana’s Canteen* – Php 300/3 ulam + unli rice
- Marlboro Country*
In Sabtang, tricycle tours can arrange you with a lunch for Php 300/head. Same as with the South Batan Island Tour where in by the way , you have the option either to eat in Paulvana’s Canteen * or in Marlboro Country* (which we were told requires at least one day reservation or else you will have to wait at least an hour before your food will be served) Honestly, it’s a bit pricey but just think of it as your little charity, okay? 🙂
WHERE TO STAY
In Batan: Marfel’s Lodge
Marfel’s Lodge is almost every budget traveller’s choice of homestay in Batanes. With its budget-wise rooms in the lodges plus the free use of the kitchen, living and dining room and has its own mini version of Honesty Store, I’d definitely refer you to book with Marfel’s Lodge.
In Sabtang: Faberes Homestay
We just happened to know about Faberes Homestaywhen we visited the Sabtang Lighthouse as part of the tour. We met the owner Mrs. Faberes and she showed us the rooms. They have two rooms but travellers have the option to be with other travellers and pay only a bedspace fee of as low as Php 500/night per head. Plus you get to swim for free in the nearby hidden cove! For inquiries, you may directly contact her.
FAST FACTS ABOUT BATANES
- 10 islands but only 3 islands are inhabited by people: Batan Island, Sabtang Island, Itbayat Island. The other islets are the ff: Dinem, Siayan, Ditarem, Misanga, Mavudis, Dequey and Vuhus.
- 6 Municipalities: Basco, Ivana, Mahatao, Uyugan, Sabtang and Itbayat
- Number of Barangays: 29
- Population: 17,246 (as of 2015)
- Land Area: 230 square kilometers
- Territorial Waters: 4,500 square kilometers
THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT BATANES
- Batanes is the only province in the Philippines declared in its entirety as a Protected Landscape and Seascape area by RA 8991, Proclamation no. 335 Series of 1994 and RA 7586 NIPAS Act of 1992
- The Ivatans are indigenous people governed and protected by the IPRA Law of 1997.
- Weather: Even during summer, weather in Batanes is relatively cooler than the rest of the Philippines. The coolest months are from December to March where temperatures fall below 10 degrees. Dry months are from late March to June.
- Religion: Approximately 97% of the Ivatans are Roman Catholics and they appreciate visitors observing conservative dress code whenever they enter their churches.
- In 2010, Batanes was declared by DA and DOH as a Rabies Free Zone and was awarded a National Nutrition Honor Award by the National Nutrition Council in 2012. A seal of Good Housekeeping was also awarded to the province by DILG in 2011.
- Landbank and PNB ATMs are available in Basco. You may opt not to bring your credit cards with you as you are expected to pay in cash all the time. You may convert your US dollars into peso in PNB Basco Branch.
- Batan jeepneys from Basco to the other municipalities are available from 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM. Private vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles are also available for rent to tour the islands of Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat.
Source: United Tourist Promotion EZ MAP (2015)
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
- Regular airfare to Batanes from Manila costs around Php 9,000 – Php 15,000 roundtrip or even more. So if you’re on a budget, it’s always wiser to wait and book promo flights that can be as low as less than Php 1,000 one-way (but this rarely happens). We got ours for only Php 1,617 roundtrip from PAL. Actually, we’re not sure if it was unannounced promo flight or just a system glitch. So if it was really a system glitch, then we’re so lucky because common promo flights plays around Php 2,000-3,000/one-way. If you’re patient enough, I suggest you check PAL and Skyjet everyday. You may not know, they’ll experience another system glitch!
- Batanes can be enjoyed in 3 days the least. If you opt to have another day or two, then you might want to add a tour in Itbayat Island. BUT make sure to research about the weather if you plan to visit Itbayat because travel time from Batan to Itbayat is around 2-3 hours and the waters you will cross to get yourself in the island are dangerous. As I’ve mentioned above, there had been a recent accident where a passenger vessel sank on the way to Itbayat.
- Bring a pocket money of about Php 10,000. Even though Batanes have ATMs within Basco, you might not want to have any money problems away from home. So it’s always wise to bring extra money. If you will follow our itinerary, then that is way more than what you need.
- Meals in Batanes usually cost around Php 300. The only cheap choice we’ve had was St. Dominic College of Batanes Canteen in Basco. So to be able to lessen your expenses, you can bring canned goods, instant noodles, bread and biscuits.
Thank you for reading and I hope to have inspired you to travel more.
P.S. Leave no trace but memories.
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