Batanes is such a big deal for us Filipinos mainly because it’s located in the northernmost part of the Philippines which is not easily accessible, and airfare is not necessarily affordable to every Juan (not yet maybe?). The moment I checked-in on Foursquare in Basco Airport, friends started liking and commenting that Batanes is also part of their Travel Bucket List. It is dubbed “the New Zealand or Austria of the Philippines” because as you wander or lay in the green grass overlooking the enchanting rolling hills in Batanes, you can almost hear the line “The hills are alive…” automatically play in your head. It is, without a doubt, a photographer and a nature-lover’s paradise.
Ever since I uploaded our Batanes photos to my Facebook account, I’ve gotten several messages from random friends/acquaintances asking about the details of our trip so I thought of writing this post (and really, to update this blog). But I will not get into the details of the daily itinerary, there are lots of websites out there already tackling this subject. If you check each one, I’m sure you will see that most Batanes itineraries are just the same. Sights and things to do in Batanes are pretty simple and linear so experiences of one tourist can’t be that different from all the others. But of course, it’s up to you to make your own unique Batanes experience.
To give you an idea, below are the standard tourist destinations you will get to see on your first 3 days. I believe 3 or 4 days in Batanes are enough for one to get a feel of the place.
DAY 1 – BASCO PROPER TOUR
- Radar Tukon
- Japanese Hideout
- Boulders Beach Valugan
- Rolling Hills
- Naidi Hills
- Basco Light House
- Basco Cathedral Church
DAY 2 – SABTANG TOUR
- Sabtang Port
- Savidug Village
- St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and Old Beaterio
- Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint of the Pacific Ocean
- Chavayan Village
- Morong Beach and Mayahaw Arch
DAY 3 – BATAN ISLAND TOUR
- Chawa View Deck
- Mahatao Pier
- Mahatao Houses
- Mahatao Church
- Old Spanish Bridge
- Rakuh-a-Payaman (Marlboro Country)
- Tayid Lighthouse
- Mahatao Wind Turbines
- Honesty Store
- Ivana Church
You can do a thorough research of the places mentioned above, but you’ll soon see that planning for a Batanes trip is actually pretty easy, if not the easiest to organize. I only realized this after our trip last December 13-16, 2013.
4 SIMPLE STEPS TO PLANNING YOUR BATANES TRIP:
1) CHOOSE YOUR TRAVEL DATES
February-June is warm and sunny in Batanes; October-January is cool, rainy and windy; while July-September is usually the time when monsoon storms hit this province which can add a certain thrill to your trip if you’re the adventurous kind. =p Your travel dates of course depend on your availability so sit down with your travel buddies and agree on a particular month at least! In our case, we have a Facebook group where we usually discuss our travel plans.
2) BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS
The two airlines that fly regularly to Basco, Batanes are PAL Express and Skyjet Airlines. There may be other airlines I’m not aware of but these are the most popular. Just like Cebu Pacific, these two airlines also offer promo fares regularly so watch out for those to save on your airfare which can be very expensive. Even more than, say, flying to Hong Kong or Singapore.
Yes, that’s a propeller plane you see on the picture, but don’t fret! You’ll get to Batanes and back in one piece!
3) BOOK YOUR HOTEL
Basco, the capital of Batanes on Batan Island, is pretty small so wherever you stay can be considered “accessible” by your tour guide. It’s just a matter of considering the rates, amenities, view or experience. Some places are just like what we have in the city while some give you the local Ivatan feel. Below are options of places to stay in Batanes:
- Batanes Resort
- Pension Ivatan Hometel and Restaurant
- Amboy Hometel
- Shanedel’s Inn and Cafe
- Ivatan Lodge
- Batanes Seaside Lodge
- Fundacion Pacita
We stayed in Batanes Seaside Lodge due to availability issues, but a great choice overall. It’s affordable, it’s right smack in the center of Basco, and it gives you a great relaxing view of the ocean.
4) BOOK YOUR TOUR GUIDE
If you google hard enough, you will see lots of recommendations on tour guides to hire in Batanes. Yes, you need a tour guide and a van because you can’t exactly go around Batanes on your own. Well you can, but it will just be within Basco cruising on a bicycle.
Our group hired Mang Jun Gasinao, who’s an amazing tour guide. But then again, anyone you hire would be just as good because Ivatans in general are nice and warm that you just can’t go wrong. And as mentioned, tourist activities in Batanes are pretty standard so all you need to do is to communicate with your tour guide the number of nights/days you’ll be staying in Batanes and you’ll have an itinerary right off the bat.
Van rental (inclusive of tour guide fee) is about Php 2,000-3,000 per day so the more people there are in your group the better. If you can, request the van with a sunroof! You can also arrange airport transfers with your tour guide for a minimal fee.
So there you go! You can start planning your Batanes trip one simple step at a time.
How beautiful is it in Batanes, you ask? It is overwhelmingly stunning in every way that, while there, Deej couldn’t help getting on one knee. LOL. :)