Batanes. The northernmost province of the Philippines has been slowly gaining ground now as one of the ultimate destinations in the country. One major hindrance, however, is not the distance but the price of airfare going to this coveted paradise.
Ever since my previous boss recounted of his trip, some 7 years ago, I have been hooked. A year ago, I have been waiting patiently for online seat sales to Basco but to no avail. So last February, I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns and toughed it out for a day at the PTTA Travel Tour Expo 2015 just to book those golden tickets. I went home before closing, triumphant, managing to score discounted tickets for 4 pax.
The only problem I didn’t foresee right away because I was too blinded by them golden tickets was the fact that I could get my heart broken by traveling during the rainy/off-peak season. It turned out, circumstances broke my heart three times before we were finally able to set foot in Batanes soil. What can I do, Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with.
I will be sharing more of our Batanes escapades in later posts but for now, let me share with you our itinerary, expenses, and some tips before you book your own golden ticket.
Batanes Three Day Itinerary
Day 1 North Batan
0600 H ETD NAIA 3
0745 H ETA Basco Airport
0800 H Arrival at Marfel Lodge Annex (pick-up c/o Marfel)
1030 H Start of North Tour (Vayang Rolling Hills | Naidi Lighthouse)
1230 H Lunch (6 to 8 Panciteria)
1315 H Sto. Domingo Church | Radar Tukon (PAGASA) | Idjang Viewing | Fundacion Pacita (NOTE: closed for renovation until October 30, 2015) | Dipnaysuhwan Japanese Tunnel | Valugan Boulder Beach
1500 H end of tour
1515 H Marfel lodge (start of free time)
bike around the Provincial Capitol, plaza, Immaculate Conception Church, port, Shanedel’s Inn
1830 H Dinner (Octagon)
Day 2 Sabtang Island
0600 H Call time
0620 H Ivana Port | visit San Jose de Ivana Church while waiting for the boat
0645 H ETD for Sabtang
0715 H ETA Sabtang San Vicente Port
0720 H start of Sabtang Tour
Nakabuang Arch, Morong Beach
Tourist Information Center (registration)
St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
1100 H Lunch
1300 H ETD for Ivana Port
1330 H ETA Ivana Port
Marfel Lodge (refresh/free time)
1800 H Tawsen Souvenir Shop
1900 H Dinner (D’Island)
Day 3 South Batan Tour
0800 H Call time (start of South Tour)
Chawa view deck
Mahatao Boat Shelter
Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Country)
Old Naval Base
Song song ruins
House of Dakay
Bridge of San Jose
1300 H Lunch (Paulvana’s)
1530 H Swimming
1800 H Dinner (SDC Canteen)
Day 4 Manila
0600 H Check in Basco Airport
0810 H ETD Basco to Manila (NAIA 3)
Computation per person (souvenirs not included)*
Accommodation (3 nights) Php 1500 ( Php 500/night)
3 Days Tour (all in) Php 4000
Day 1 lunch Php 100
Day 1 dinner Php 150
Day 2 lunch Php 300
Day 2 dinner Php 150
Day 3 lunch Php 300
Day 3 dinner Php 100
Total Php 6600
Airfare (RT) Php 6539
Batanes Travel Tips
As you may well know by now there are only two flight carriers servicing the Manila-Basco-Manila route: Philippine Airlines and Skyjet. Both only have morning flights available. Both also have their own pros and cons, but I can only speak about my experience with PAL. After being canceled for the first time last July, PAL automatically rebooked our flight the next day. I’ve heard that this is not the practice done for Skyjet, although their flight time is shorter and their jet can fly even if it’s windy.
Seat sales may be rare, but you just gotta look out for it. So better subscribe to PAL and Skyjet’s facebook pages to stay tuned. I know of people who managed to get less than Php 2,000 roundtrip tickets.
*Update (August 2016): You can now also book a flight to Batanes with the new Wakay Air. Book directly with Batanes Wakay Travel & Tours, Inc.
You can read more about our Batanes foodscapades here.
Usually, there are bikes for rent in the accommodations. Rates differ per hour or per day. Marfel’s Lodge offers bikes for rent for Php 25 per hour.
You can also rent motorbikes to go around the island of Batan. You may inquire at your accommodation.
Popular swimming options include Fountain of Youth, Blue Lagoon and the beach behind Octagon. All are accessible in Batan. There is a bit of hiking included though before you reach the Fountain of Youth.
You can now go on tours using ATV in Batanes. One whole day rent of ATV is around Php 2,000. You can also rent it per hour.
As much as possible bring cash because your credit cards won’t have use there. There is a Landbank and PNB branch in Basco.
There are a lot of tour operators now in Batanes and it’s up to you to choose. Aircon vans are usually used for groups.
You can opt to do DIY if you’re solo or there’s only two of you by hiring a tricycle. Tricycles in Batanes cannot be hired on the spot, but rather you have to call them beforehand.
There are hotels and homestays that provide Wi-Fi so if that’s a requirement for you, better check before you book. Mobile data is very hard to come by in Batanes so exercise a lot of patience if you ever get an H+ signal.
Because of the heat and humidity, light and easy-to-dry material for shirts are highly encouraged. Bring powerbanks because power interuption is normal in Batanes. Bring lots and lots of sunscreen and anything that can protect your skin from the evil UV rays. Best to waterproof your things for the faluwa ride.
Batanes can get very very hot and humid so prepare accordingly especially if you’ll be out touring the whole day. Even in the rainy season, it can still get hot and humid. Batanes is also very windy, especially near the ocean.
If you have more time, opt to stay overnight or more in Sabtang to experience how the Ivatans live in stone houses.
On the day of your South Batan tour, don’t forget to drop by the Fountain of Youth. Mountain climbers and enthusiasts may also opt to trek Mt. Iraya (1,009 masl).
To get the full Batanes experience, I highly suggest that you go to Itbayat and explore the island as well as more of Ivatan culture.
I will surely come back for Itbayat!
Watch the video below for a glimpse of our Batanes adventure: