Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Solo Traveler's Week-Long Cheap Travel Guide to Batanes

Date: OCT 07-14, 2015

Many people wanted to visit Batanes. However, expensive roundtrip plane ticket causes some of these dreams to stay as dreams. But there is still HOPE! Batanes Seat Sale is a reality and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to grab this once in a lifetime opportunity (via SkyJet). Here is a guide that would help solo travelers (who are FOREVER ALONE, just like me!) have an inexpensive but memorable and enjoyable Batanes Adventure!

Batanes, as pictured in mind by many

·         Luck, Patience, and Perseverance
·         Canned Goods and snacks good for one week
·         Camera

The first thing to do is to LIKE Philippine Airlines or SkyJet’s Facebook page. They usually post information on their pages if there would be an upcoming seat sale.

Then, if you were lucky enough to find out that there is an ongoing seat sale, go to their website and start booking! (TIP: if the date you wanted to travel is no longer available, wait for a couple of hours and do it again. That was how I got my P2362.80 roundtrip ticket to Batanes via SkyJet! Be patient and do not lose hope!)

Now that you have your ticket, here are the tips on how you can enjoy your Batanes vacation without shelling out too much money:


1. Downtown Basco (the town center) is tiny, only about 750 meters from end to end or 0.5625 sq. km. Spare those tricycles and walk towards your destination.

2. If you are going to Sabtang and have a lot of time on hand, you can take the Ivana Port bound jeepney (located beside the NFA Office near the port), and pay for only P27, one way. It leaves Basco at 9:00 AM and another one at 11:00 AM. If you missed the jeepney, you can hire a tricycle that would take you to Ivana Port and pay for P200-P240, one way.

NOTE: Jeepney is not the main means of transport in Batanes. A local told me that there were only two passenger jeepneys in Basco, so make sure to catch it before it leaves.

The NFA Building I was talking about
3. Upon leaving, you would need to pay for the terminal fee at the airport (P100).


1. When the plane landed in Basco, I wasn’t charged with any environmental fee. However, there is a P200 environmental fee in Sabtang.

2. Whole Sabtang Island Tricycle Tour costs P1300 (maximum of 3 persons) and could start early in the morning. If the tour goes past 5 PM, there will be an additional P100/hour charge. If you only want to see the natural arc in Morong Beach, Savidug Stone Houses, and Chavayan Village, the tour costs only P800 and can be done in 5-6 hours (but you’re already here, I recommend exploring the WHOLE ISLAND!)

Duvek Bay, aka Little Hongkong, in Sumnanga, Sabtang, Batanes
3. North Batan tour costs P1000/tricycle (maximum of 2-3 persons, depending on the driver), and includes the Vayang Rolling Hills, Basco Lighthouse, Valugan Boulder Beach, Japanese Tunnel, Fundacion Pacita, PAGASA Station and Tukon Church. But if you wanted to save a lot and have high endurance (just like me), rent a bike (a Japanese Bike will do) and explore these sites by yourself! I finished all the sites in just 5 hours and paid P120 for the bike rental. (the lady at Triple MP Lodge discounted P5 off the rent, it should have been P125).
CAUTION: Downhill routes are prevalent in North Batan. Be cautious when riding the bike, because some have weak brakes and it could mean ACCIDENT when traversing the mountainous roads.

4. South Batan tour costs P1500/tricycle (maximum of 2-3 persons, depending on the driver), and includes the Basco Welcome Arc, Chanarian View deck, Mahatao Boat Shelter, Mahatao Church and Town, Tayid Lighthouse and Rolling Hills, Marlboro Hills, Alapad Rock Formation, Songsong Ruins, Uyugan Green Park, Honesty Store, Ivana Church, House of Dakay and San Jose Bridge. Some of the tourists I spoke with told me that you have to shell out an additional P300 to visit Diura Fishing Village, Crystal Cave, and Racuh-a-Idi; however, that is not my case. My driver/tour guide, Sir Severo Meriel Jr, took me to Diura Fishing Village, Crystal Cave and Racuh-a-Idi without any additional charge! He did it voluntarily and I thanked him for that. What a nice guy. If you wanted him to be your guide too, just send him a text at this phone number: 0949-435-3300.
NOTE: You can also rent a bike to go around South Batan but it’s going to be 10x more difficult than biking North Batan.

5. Guides for Mount Iraya costs P1500 (as per Mrs. Luz Pajudpud). It takes 4 hours to reach the summit and 3 hours to go down. The best months to climb the mountain would be from December to May (when it doesn’t rain).


1. If you are in Sabtang, you can stay at Vonace’s Katdan for P200/night, owned by Mrs. Yvonne Candel. Rooms here do not have AC (it has 2 rooms, btw), but it has a bathroom, a living room, a dining area and a place to wash your dishes and clothes. PLUS, you would experience living in an Ivatan-inspired house, with some other guests. Talk about new friends!
Location: Brgy. Sinakan, Sabtang, Batanes (just across the municipal hall and the police station)
Contact: 0918-488-2424
NOTE: Electricity and water go off between 12 midnight and 6 (sometimes 7) in the morning. Drinkable water is not available, but nearby stores sell a 6-liter bottle for P130.

Vonace's Katdan in Sinakan, Sabtang, Batanes
2. If you are in Ivana, Batanes, you could stay at Heritage Homestay for P1000/night. It is an old, white Ivatan stone house located in Brgy. Salagao.

3. If you are in Basco, you could also stay at Marfel’s Lodge. I stayed at Marfel’s Lodge Extension (right next to the main building) for three nights and paid for only P500/night – with AC (that was only P1500 for 3 nights!). The bathroom, kitchen (FREE TO USE) and living room are shared among their guests, so there’s a chance that you’ll meet new friends. They also have WIFI, a mineral water dispenser (DRINK FOR FREE), and a very accommodating receptionist. (Hello Kuya Jimlan!)
Location: De Padua St. cor. Reyes St., Basco, Batanes (near the airport)
Contact: 0908-893-1475

My room (Room 5) at Marfel's Lodge. Comfortable!
4. Another choice in Basco is Triple MP Lodge, being managed by Marfel’s Lodge. The lowest room available is at P350/night, fan room. They have a living room, kitchen and dining area that is shared among their guests. They also have WIFI connectivity. You could also rent bikes for P25/hour (Japanese Bikes) or P70/hour (Mountain Bikes).
Location: Castillejos St. cor. Contra Costa Road, Basco, Batanes (near DDD Habitat and Time Travel Lodge)

5. Then there is Pajudpud Homestay, owned by Mrs. Luz Pajudpud. Guests would have to stay on the second floor, complete with 3 fan rooms, a living room, a bathroom, and a veranda. The dining area is located downstairs (where the host family also eats). The cost per night is P400, but it could be discounted down to P350/night if you’ll stay for more than 3 nights. There is also a mineral water dispenser on the second floor, and you can drink for FREE. Nanay Luz, as I call her, is very kind and hospitable (she even cooked bulalo one night and invited me to eat, for FREE!). I highly recommend this one if you wanted to have that “home away from home” feeling.
Location: Santa Maria cor. Reyes St., Brgy. Kayvaluganan, Basco, Batanes (near the airport and Pension Ivatan)
Contact: 0925-830-1842 OR 0907-232-3642

Posing with Pajudpud Homestay owner, Nanay Luz Pajudpud

1. Food in Batanes is very expensive. Some of the guests I spoke with told me that the cost per person per meal was P300 for package tours! Vegetables were also pricey (1 kilo of cabbage is around P180), so what I did was to bring my own food (canned goods and viand packets).

If you love rice (every Filipino does), you can buy an uncooked one at Marfel’s Lodge for only P35/half kilo, and cook it using their rice cooker (FREE OF CHARGE). If you’re at Vonace’s Katdan in Sabtang, just ask Mrs. Yvonne if she has available rice and you can buy it for P20 per cup. In Pajudpud Homestay, a bowl of rice also costs P20.

2. Let’s compare the cost of the food I brought vs. the cost per meal in Batanes:

-Sexychix Chicken Breast (P47.10), 2 cans: P94.20
-Ulalam, Beefsteak flavor (P15.90), 6 packets: P95.40
-San Marino Corned Tuna Spicy (P21.00), 3 cans: P63.00
-San Marino Tuna Paella (P32.50), 3 cans: P97.50
-San Marino Mackerel Steak, 1 can: P39.50
-Argentina Corned Beef, 1 can: P33.20
-Century Bangus with Tausi, 1 can: P49.40
-Lily’s Peanut Butter, 3 sachets: P18.43
-Cheezewhiz, 3 sachets: P17.98
-Koko Krunch, 3 packs: P30.00
-Gardenia Loaf: P61.50
-Nissin Chicken Noodle: P8.60
-Nissin Beef Noodle: P8.60
-Yakisoba, 2 pack: P16.50
-Hello Panda, 3 packs: P63.45
TOTAL: P697.26

The food that I brought fed me for 8 days and 7 nights! How about the package-inclusive meals or if I would eat outside? How would it cost me for a week? That’s going to be around P2100 (P100/meal or P300/day) to P6300 (P300/meal or P900/day)! Imagine saving around P1400-P5600!

NOTE: The food guide is only for extreme travelers who wanted to save a lot. You can also eat at their restaurants to help the local economy (I heard that Tatus tasted great too!)


How much did I spend for my 8 days 7 nights Batanes Adventure? Let’s check!

DAY 1:
-Roundtrip plane ticket from Manila to Basco (NAIA 4 terminal fee included): P2362.80
-Jeep from Basco to Ivana: P27
-Falowa from Ivana to Sabtang: P75
-Sabtang Environmental Fee
-6 Liter Water good for 2 days: P130
TOTAL (Day 1): P2794.80

DAY 2:
-Sabtang Tricycle Tour: P1300
-Chamantad-Tinyan View Point Ivatan Attire rental: P20
-2 nights accommodation at Vonace’s Katdan: P400
-2 bowls of rice: P40
TOTAL (Day 2): P1760

DAY 3:
-Falowa from Sabtang to Ivana: P75
-Tricycle from Ivana to Basco: P200
-Marfel’s Lodge, 3 nights stay: P1500
-Internet rental: P15
TOTAL (Day 3): P1790

DAY 4:
-South Batan Environmental Fee: P50
-South Batan Tricycle Tour: P1500
-1/2 kilo rice: P35
TOTAL (Day 4): P1585

DAY 5:
-North Batan Biking rental: P120
-Vitamilk: P28
TOTAL (Day 5): P148

DAY 6:
-Pajudpud Homestay 2 nights: P800
-Rice, 3 bowls: P60
-Racuh-a-Idi revisited, with 2 other companions: P340 (P1000/tricycle)
-Racuh-a-Idi Environmental Fee: P50
TOTAL (Day 6): P1250

DAY 7:
-Rice, 3 bowls: P60
TOTAL: (Day 7): P60

DAY 8:
-Terminal Fee: P100
TOTAL: (Day 8): P100

BATANES 8 DAY TOTAL: P9487.80 + P697.26 (PACKED FOOD FOR 8 DAYS) = P10,185.06

That’s cheap, putting into consideration that an average roundtrip ticket to Batanes ranges from P12,000 to P20,000!

I think you know the reason why I went back to Racuh-a-Idi on Day 6 (man, it's PARADISE!)
But can we still make the total amount LOWER? Of course, we can!
-If I only took a Half Sabtang Island Tour, I could have saved P500
-If I managed to catch the jeepney from Ivana back to Basco, I could have saved P173
-if I stayed in Pajudpud Homestay for 5 days (and not in Marfel’s Lodge), I could have saved P550
-If I biked South Batan using a Japanese Bike for P25/hour and finished the tour in 12 hours, I could have saved P1200
-If I never used the internet, I could have saved P15
-If I never bought Vitamilk, I could have saved P28
-If I never went back to Racuh-a-Idi, I could have saved P390
-If I bought a kilo of rice in Day 6 and 7, I could have saved P50

Hypothetical Total Amount (Extreme Saving): P7279.06
BUT! Let us not be that extreme :D LET US HELP THE LOCAL ECONOMY OF BATANES.

There you have it. Enjoy your (inexpensive) trip to Batanes!

Sabtang's Rolling Hills near Chavayan. Dios Mamajes, Batanes!


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