An experiential guide to a DIY Batanes trip: Itineraries, expenses, tips, and observations



Batanes - Check!


For the longest time, Batanes has been in my bucket list.  However, it's less accessible compared to the other provinces in the Philippines primarily because flights come in only three times a week and the airfare is thrice the usual cost of domestic flights.

But this year, the boyfriend and I decided it's time to finally tick that item off in our bucket list.  And contrary to the long-running belief, there's actually a way to visit Batanes without breaking the bank!  After much research--with the help of friends who have been there (a couple of whom are actually from there) and the ever-reliable Mr. Worldwide Web--we were able to organize a low-cost, DIY Batanes trip.


When to go

The best time to visit the province is anytime between February to April.  For one, Batanes is frequented by typhoons and since only small aircrafts can land on the island, flights get cancelled easily during weather disturbances.  Combining that and the fact that they only have flights three times a week, you run the risk of being stranded should you go there during the rainy season.  

Another more obvious reason is that the colors of the Batanes are more vibrant during summer.


How to get there
To date, there are two airlines that fly to Batanes:  Skyjet Airlines and Philippine Airlines (PAL) Express. 

The regular airfare to Batanes is around Php15,000 (USD319.60).  We were lucky, though, that during one of the Philippine Travel Fairs we attended at the Mall Of Asia, we were able to avail of the discounted rate which is Php10,000 (USD213)

AS OF POSTING DATE:
USD 1 = PHP46.93
Both airlines have flights in and out of the island during Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.


Where to stay
It was through a friend's personal recommendation that we ended up staying at Marfel's Lodge.  And I'm glad we did.

Marfel's has both fan and air-conditioned rooms, a living room and a kitchen which guests can use, and one common bathroom.  They have one air-conditioned room that has its own bathroom and fits four.  While there were only two of us, I chose to book that one for convenience. 


Living room.
Kitchen.
Air-conditioned room with bathroom.


ROOM RATES:
(As of posting date)

Air-conditioned room with bathroom
 Php1,800 (USD38) for two / night


Not only did we get value for our money but the staff at Marfel's were very helpful, even assisting us in arranging our transportation on the island. (Although, given how naturally helpful the Ivatans are, I figured even if we stayed somewhere else, we'd be receiving they same kind of service and hospitality.)

How to go around
You have several options on how to explore the island:  by bike (for the nearer locations), car, van, tricycle, or jeepney. 

On our first morning, we rented out bikes and went around the Basco town proper by ourselves.



TIP:
Most lodges in Batanes have their own bicycles for rent.
Bike rental is at Php50 (USD1.06) / day.

For the rest of the trip, we hired a tricycle to bring us to the farther areas.   Our driver, Kuya Toto, served as our "tour guide", sharing tidbits about the places we visited.




Kuya Toto Fainza, our tricycle driver slash tour guide.


TRICYCLE RENTAL:
Php800 (USD17) / DAY


What to wear
The key words to remember when choosing your clothes for Batanes are: comfortable, light, loose.  (For women:  cotton tops, shorts, loose cotton pants, etc.; For men:  cotton shirts, shorts, cargo pants, etc.)

For your footwear, choose something that you can trek in and is comfortable for long walks.  While you can wear flip-flops, you might slip when climbing the hills.  So recommended footwear are something similar to Sanuk slip-ons, trekking sandals, or light sneakers.



What to see
As with any trip, the ideal itinerary would depend on how long you are planning to stay.  In our case, we arrived Saturday morning and left Monday morning so we had three full days to explore Batanes.  With the recommendation of our contact from Marfel Lodge and Kuya Toto, we ended up with this itinerary:

DAY 1:  NORTH BATAN
(Morning tour by ourselves)
  •  Basco Town Proper
  • The Yaru Nu Artes Ivatan Cooperative and Gallery Art Center 
  • Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
  • Viewing Deck
(After lunch tour with guide)
  • Mt. Carmel Chapel or (more popularly known as) the Tukon Chapel
  • Valugan Boulder Beach
  • Vayang Rolling Hills
  • Basco Lighthouse

DAY 2:  SABTANG ISLAND
  • Brgy. Savidug stone houses
  • Sto. Thomas Chapel
  • Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint
  •  Brgy. Chavayan stone houses
  • Sabtang Weavers Association
  • Morong Beach
  • Conscience Cafe

DAY 3:  SOUTH BATAN
  • Paredes Point and Cliff Road
  • San Carlos Borromeo Church also known as the Mahatao Church
  • Blank Book Archives
  • Ivana Town Proper
  • Honesty Coffee Shop
  •  San Jose de Ivana Church and Ruins
  • Uyuguan Town Proper
  • San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in Imnajbu
  • Racu a Payaman  (a.k.a. Marlboro Hills)
  • Diura Fishing Village

Summary of expenses


Not so bad, right?  ;)


Observations

  • In Batanes, there are basketball courts EVERYWHERE. 
  • There is an abundance of coconuts in the province.  The one I had in Batanes is probably one of the sweetest buko juice I've ever had.
  • In almost every zigzag road, you will find a "BLOW YOUR HORN" sign.  Motorists are required to blow their horn each time they are about to turn a curve to avoid accidents.  And more amazing is that locals follow it without fault.
 


Tips
  • Pack some sunblock and mosquito repellent for the trip.
  • If you don't plan to or can't go back to your apartment in the middle of the day, bring extra clothes with you. You can work up a sweat going up and down those hills.
  • Think very hard before ordering their famous coconut crabs.  Yes, local delicacies are a must-try when traveling but if you're on a tight budget, the 600-peso (USD13) crab might burn a deep hole in your pocket.  Another consideration is that it is not considered a threatened species.
  • Always find yourself a good spot in time for sunset. 
  • Don't be afraid to greet the locals.  You'll find yourself receiving the warmest smiles and welcome in the world :)

Batanes' famous coconut crabs.





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Been to Batanes before?  Share some of your tips too!


Read more about my other blog posts on Batanes:


Comments

  1. Wow, you Batanes trip is awesome! Hope to visit that place soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,

    Nice posts! Tama po ba di na kayo nag Travel Tours instead na hire na lang kayo ng tricycle.

    Thank you,
    Ronna

    ReplyDelete

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