The budget traveller’s guide to Batanes : food, hotels and such…

Like most remote islands in the Philippines, it is hard to fly to Batanes on a budget. The Sweetheart paid $450 $425 for each of us on three-day, two night package tour arranged by a travel agency. Of course you know what happened after that – our three days became nine days which posed a challenge to our budget, considering that no credit cards were accepted and there were only government ATMs on the island.

I figure that what makes travelling to Batanes expensive is the airfare, which stands at something like $250 to $300 for a return trip. The route is not competitive at all (meaning no other airlines fly here) and I don’t know about Asian Spirit’s role in dictating the prices. Maybe it is not lucrative for them at all. It would have been cheaper if you can SAIL to Batanes, even if takes forever. There is a ship departing the island, but it only goes as far as Currimao, Ilocos Norte. We heard merchant vessels are going to ply the northernmost route from Manila soon. Don’t know how reliable this will be, given the island’s weather temperament. Let’s just wait and see.

My opinion is that Batanes shouldn’t be ‘unreachable’ at all to the ordinary traveler, especially Filipinos who dream of going there at least once in their lifetime. Paying $300 for airfare to see a beautiful, albeit, isolated part of the Philippines is an anachronism in this age of budget air travel when flying to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, Bangkok and Vietnam can cost you a little less than $200, taxes included. Surely, there is a way to travel by cheap to Batanes? Here are my notes and recommendations:

1. Ask a Batanes resident. if you can find one. They can tell you about the in’s and out’s of travelling to their remote island. In my case, I talked to a lady at the domestic airport who told me that she paid for her plane ticket at 50% less the published rates. Asian Spirit has a VIP pass which gives you a discount for an XX number of trips. Maybe you can apply this to your group trips? Consider going about this Filipinos-style (read: make diskarte).

2. Travelling in groups always come out cheaper (see above).

3. Lodging/accommodation in Batanes can cost as little as P100 per day for a homestay, P350 for a room in an inn to as much as P2,000 for the suites with hot water. We did not stay in a “suite” at Batanes Seaside, but we managed to have hot water by borrowing their water heater :P

Batanes has no full-fledged hotels but here’s a handy list of places you can stay:

Batanes Seaside Lodge & Restaurant - where we stayed! P1,000/night for a twin bed room, P2,000 for the suites. This is more like a family home with a warm family ambiance. The manager, Lydia Roberto, is jovial as well as reliable and surely knows her way around her island. Ask about her Batan & Sabtang island tours complete with tour guide, picnic by the beach and transportation.

National Road, Kaycharianan, Basco, Batanes
0921 229 0120, 0915 940 4823
email: lroberto_seaside@yahoo.com

Shenedel’s Inn – almost adjacent to Batanes Seaside. Another family-style inn divided into 16 rooms or so. Rooms as low as P350. Their coffee shop has a nice ocean view.

Batanes Resort – a government-run place with single-detached accommodations designed like stone houses. The ocean view is spectacular and the resort can also be reserved for special functions like parties and seminars. The fan rooms can go as low as P250/person for triple occupancy.

Call 0927 5839078 for inquiries.

Pension Ivatan – an 11-room lodge located in a sprawling complex that’s near the Basco Airport. Rates start at P1,000. We must say the best thing about this place is their bakery and their food – it was the best in Basco! More on that later.

Visit the Pension Ivatan website

4. Food in Batanes can be P50/meal per person at a roadside carinderia, P100 for a combo meal in Batanes Seaside which has yummy fried chicken. An excellently-prepared meal with three dishes or so at Pension Ivatan can cost P250 per person.

5. Bring cash, and extra cash. You’ve been warned already: no credit cards are accepted in Batanes! There’s a Western Union outlet though :P

6. Be able to forecast unforeseen circumstances, such as repeated flight cancellations!!! Bring extra cash again for emergencies and/or undesired extended stays.

7. Formal group tour or DIY tour? Official tour rates complete with tour guide can cost as much as P2,500. An option can be to explore Batanes on your own by walking on foot or renting a bike and pedalling through the great countryside. To go to scenic Sabtang, you have to ride a boat.

8. Load up your videocam and digicam. You’d be so captivated with the enchanting scenery everywhere you turn, you’ll run out of batteries. It happened to me! bring extra all the time.

9. Look for independent laundry shops in Basco, not in the lodges where it’s usually more expensive.

10. Travel to Batanes when it’s the best time to visit, namely the summer months of March and April. The downside: it might be crowded. The upside: you’ll avoid flight cancellations because of uh, bad weather, and spending for your unnecessary vacation ‘extension’ in the process.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A full moon. An empty parking space.A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us.

47 comments

  1. nina says:

    That’s the very thing that’s stopping me from going to Batanes. There’s this one group who’s offering a package for 17K. It may not be $450 , but it’s still pretty expensive. And that’s already a budget trip!

    [Reply]

  2. ajay says:

    Nina, an option would be to ditch the package tours and just pay for the airfare. Embark on a DIY tour of Batanes..see above post for a rough guide;)

    [Reply]

  3. Mr Z says:

    A few notes, to add to Ajay’s write-up of all things Batanes and Basco –
    1.) BSLR also offers a disco(!), might be interesting, out of the off-season. Very accomodating, and staff will cook what you bring, within reason. For us, that meant corned beef for our last breakfast before our return. Yum.

    2.) Bring those things you can’t live without, definitely. For us, that would have meant coffee, because San Mig 3-in-1 don’t cut it. For our fellow travelers, chocolate was in short supply on the island. For sweets, we made do with the selection at Pension Ivatan. Mmmm, Peanut Butter Rolls.

    3.) Shenedel’s Inn has a nice location, and a great view. What it doesn’t have, is food service every night. Plan ahead, and tell them in advance, if you intend to dine there. I think their view alone makes this worth the planning.

    4.) Batanes Resort is a bit of a “work in progress”, as their renovation continues. Personally, I’m confident they haven’t completed it, yet. Still, I enjoyed our lunch there, despite the limited menu. View will be outstanding, once they put a little more work in on their landscaping. Expect a trike ride into town, every time, or an invigorating ten-minute walk, just to find signs of life. Fortunately, one enterprising “triker” makes it his beat, daily.

    5.) Ask trike drivers to take you to Smartlink, the internet cafe we frequented most. Laundry service is available at sari-sari shop in same intersection. Used by BSLR, and others, you’ll find their rate to be half what BSLR will charge. You can also work out special instructions, or “rush jobs”, by visiting. We picked up our laundry on the way to the air terminal ;)

    [Reply]

  4. G says:

    Hi! Can you post photos of Batanes Seaside Lodge and Resort? My friends and I plan to go to Batanes this April. Do you also have the contact number of Shenedel’s Inn? Which would you recommend — BSLR, Shendel’s, or Ivatan Lodge? We’re only staying for 3 days and 2 nights and want to make the most of this trip. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  5. ajay says:

    Mr. Z, thanks for the inputs I have forgotten:

    1) Disco? Perhaps seeing the people wear sando to the dance floor would be interesting. And of course, I’d like to hear first the muzak.

    2) Bring things you can’t live without: coffee…and a coffee-maker. I was truly dying for brewed coffee!

    Of course it goes without saying that Basco, the city proper, can be toured easily on foot. If only it wasn’t windy and raining!

    Hi G… will try to post the photos or send you. I can only speak in behalf of Batanes Seaside since we stayed there. Depends on your budget really. Shenedel’s would be cheaper. Ivatan Lodge is different from Pension Ivatan. I heard the former is run-down. Take a look at the Pension then. Good luck.

    [Reply]

  6. meranne says:

    hi ajay, can you please send me nman the complete tips and instructions on having local flight?

    our group will have flight kase next month. and this is our first time to travel and take a flight. OMG!

    please give us some instructions or how-to during the flight, like what-to-do, what to give (papers/documents), what-to-ask, etc. Promise, we don’t know.

    we just saw this site so we decided to ask u even if we don’t know you yet! haha.. please email me nman..

    it would be a great help!

    thank you! so much!

    :)

    [Reply]

  7. toni says:

    Hi!

    Is a 3D and 2N enough to visit the beautiful places in Batanes. Di ba magagahol sa oras. Flight namin is April 16-18 eh.

    Pag mag iisland hoping naman no need na rin ba sa tour guide o dapat meron na?

    Where is the best place to stay na may okay na view, okay facilities at accessible sa trasnpo? Thanks a lot.

    [Reply]

  8. ma. melin y. doria says:

    hello,

    this is mel of TABLESCAPES of abscbn studio 23 travel cooking show .. would you mind if chat on phone my number is 09062537550…

    i dlike to know more about your personal views on batanes and its food…

    thank you

    [Reply]

  9. maria says:

    Very useful tips! Thank you! I’m planning to go early next year maybe. Would you know the CHEAPEST way to get to Batanes? Thanks!

    [Reply]

  10. christine says:

    hi, i am planning to go to batanes. i really want to experienced the beatuful creation there..i just like to asked you what is the best thing to do. to go there w/out any plans or advisable to should i go to the travel agency that offer a package for batanes..thank you so much for reading this message..God bless

    [Reply]

  11. Alex Machica says:

    is anybody here planning to go to batanes within the next six months?i’m planning to go there maybe we could form a group to avail of discounts to airfare

    [Reply]

  12. christine joy says:

    Thank you for that useful tips.We will be going to Batanes this March 2009,we were able to buy all-in tickets which I think the cheapest,Manila to Basco for 2,189 and Basco to Manila for just 499.All we need to do is to find a tour package.I hope the weather would be good.Thanks again for posting:)

    [Reply]

  13. liv says:

    hi christine joy, you managed to get the 2189 one-way fare?! when did you book that? i just called batanes travel and tours company and they quoted me almost 10k for roundtrip airtickets only! that’s for jan09 travel, and when i asked for apr09, the price is almost the same. there’s GOT to be a cheap way to fly there…any suggestions???? pls email me @ oo_devera@yahoo.com.sg, we’re not really keen on joining a tour group,we’d rather go around the island on our own…but airtickets are just so freaking expensive!!!!!

    [Reply]

  14. nyen yu says:

    hi christine! im planning to go to batanes this march 2009 as well, we might bump with each other :)

    btw, what im having prob is this expensive airfare. would you mind if you share us where is that all-in expense?
    im from manila too. pls email me at karenjoyyu@yahoo.com

    thanks much!

    [Reply]

  15. stephwong says:

    seair flies to batanes. it can go as low as php35 plus taxes so that can go to almost 5-6k roundtrip from manila to batanes.
    you can check their site at http://www.flyseair.com and nope, i dont work for them. i’d love to go batanes as well and i’ve been looking for the cheapest way to go there. :)

    [Reply]

  16. Rebecca says:

    Hi Christine, can you really just rent a bike and explore Batanes yourself without the need for a tour? Do you know how much a bike rental would cost for the whole day? And also the cost of a boat ride to Sabtang?

    Or is it possible to just hire a tricycle to tour us around? We’re only 2 people wanting to go to Batanes.

    I’d very much appreciate an email from you. Thanks a lot!

    [Reply]

  17. Jess says:

    Hi, thank you for posting this…I just had a spontaneous thought of visiting batanes with friends..the thing is we’re pressed for time because we’re medical school graduates and april is the only free time we have before we start post-graduate internship in May…is it realistic of me to think that my friends and I can still travel there by next week or the week after? Is it difficult to plan our own itenerary?

    [Reply]

  18. Mr Z says:

    Jess,

    In our case, Anna and I used a friend’s travel agency, but we didn’t make too involved an itinerary, honestly. I’d recommend rooms at Pension Ivatan, personally. Some of the best food we found during our trip, once we found them, not a day went by without at least one meal, if not two, at the Pension.

    Do be careful – if your trike driver takes you to an older building, with no gazebo-covered tables, or bakery display case in the front, you’ve found the Ivatan Pension House.

    And if you feel adventurous, and give them a try THERE, please fill us in :D

    [Reply]

  19. Vic says:

    hi.. im vic and thank u soo much for the tips.. btw.. i would want to go there.. is there anyone here who’s planning to go there to.. let’s form a group and go there.

    you can reach me at this no. 09159620335..

    btw, what is the most advisable month to go to batanes?

    [Reply]

  20. jeff says:

    Surely SeAir can reduce the fare to basco. Let’s petition them to do it. I work with an airline and yes, we have cheaper fares to BKK, SIN and sometimes even Seoul than going to Batanes!

    I wonder how batanes local folk people manage to go to Manila with such horrible fares (if ever they go to Manila)

    [Reply]

  21. Grace says:

    ULTIMATE CULTURAL PACKAGE (All-In)

    3Days 2Nights: PHP20,900.00 per head
    4Days 3Nights: PHP23,400.00 per head
    5Days 4Nights: PHP26,300.00 per head

    Inclusions:

    Roundtrip Ticket via SEAIR
    Hotel Accommodations (any of these: Batanes Seaside / Brandon’s Lodge / Shanedel’s Inn & Cafe)
    Land Transportation
    Tour Guide Fee
    Tours (Batan & Sabtang Islands)
    For 3Days 2Nights (Batan Island Only)
    Permits
    Registration Fees
    Boat Rides
    Environmental Fees
    Cultural Immersion (for 5Days 4Nights)
    Breakfasts
    Lunches
    Dinners

    BUDGET FLIGHT PACKAGE (Airfare + Accommodations)

    3Days 2Nights: PHP14,750.00 per head
    4Days 3Nights: PHP15,850.00 per head
    5Days 4Nights: PHP16,950.00 per head

    Inclusions:

    Roundtrip Ticket via SEAIR
    Hotel Accommodations (any of these: Batanes Seaside / Brandon’s Lodge / Shanedel’s Inn & Cafe)
    Roundtrip Airport Transfers

    ADVENTURE PACKAGE (Land Arrangement + Tours + Accommodations)

    3Days 2Nights: PHP8,250.00 per head
    4Days 3Nights: PHP10,900.00 per head
    5Days 4Nights: PHP13,750.00 per head

    Inclusions:

    Hotel Accommodations (any of these: Batanes Seaside / Brandon’s Lodge / Shanedel’s Inn & Cafe)
    Land Transportation
    Tour Guide Fee
    Tours (Batan & Sabtang Islands)
    For 3Days 2Nights (Batan Island Only)
    Permits
    Registration Fees
    Boat Rides
    Environmental Fees
    Cultural Immersion (for 5Days 4Nights)
    Breakfasts
    Lunches
    Dinners

    TOUR LITE PACKAGE (Tours + Lunches)

    3Days 2Nights: PHP4,650.00 per head
    4Days 3Nights: PHP7,450.00 per head
    5Days 4Nights: PHP9,850.00 per head

    Inclusions:

    Land Transportation
    Tour Guide Fee
    Tours (Batan & Sabtang Islands)
    For 3Days 2Nights (Batan Island Only)
    Permits
    Registration Fees
    Boat Rides
    Environmental Fees
    Cultural Immersion (for 5Days 4Nights)
    Lunches

    FUNDACION PACITA PACKAGE

    3Days 2Nights: PHP20,260.00 per head
    4Days 3Nights: PHP23,560.00 per head
    5Days 4Nights: PHP26,870.00 per head

    Inclusions:

    Roundtrip Ticket via SEAIR
    Hotel Accommodations (Based on Terrace Suit)
    Roundtrip Airport Transfers
    Half Day Tour (Batan Island)
    Set breakfast

    For your inquiries, you may call or text to these numbers: 9108801 / 4706604 / 6354810 / 09178112282 / 09228213717 / 09394280359. Please send us your travel details for us to make necessary arrangements. Thanks and have a nice day!

    [Reply]

  22. Hiro says:

    Hi Everyone!

    Just wanted to let you know that Lydia Roberto started her own Batanes Travel Agency – she can now give you great rates and service not only for Batanes Seaside, but for a lot of the other hotels in Batanes.

    Reserve your room now at amazingbatanes.com, we look forward to serving you!

    [Reply]

  23. Lakwatserong Kusinero says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Im flying to Batanes Sept 5-11, 2011. What is the best affordable/cheapest acommodation I can get? send thru my email chefjie@yahoo.com or add me up @ fb.

    Who wants to join me for this trip? Still looking for companions..

    Thanks..

    [Reply]

  24. callmejacque says:

    i really wanted to go there :( but im alone i think that would more expensive if u are alone and im on a tight budget. do i really need to hire a tour guide?? i dont need info’s naman about the place i just wanna see the place.

    [Reply]

  25. cathy says:

    hello am luking 4 promo fares mla to batanes march or april 2012. just checked with seair and still the fare is about 12k roundtrip.am with 5-6 persons, wer could i go to avail of cheaper fares?pls help

    [Reply]

  26. Batanes Seaside Lodge & Restaurant says:

    Hi everyone,

    Just wanted to share with you that Batanes Seaside has had recent renovations and upgrades.

    You can see our photos on this link http://www.batanesseasidelodge.com/index.php?inpage=3.

    We are also under new management and you can reach us on the following details

    (E) batanesseasidelodge@yahoo.com
    (M) 0921-2290120 / 0999-9942313
    (W) http://www.batanesseasidelodge.com

    For our tour packages, rates start from as low as;

    3 Days / 2 Nights = PhP 5,750 (per person)
    4 Days / 3 Nights = PhP 6,750 (per person)
    5 Days / 4 Nights = PhP 8,500 (per person)

    Includes:
    Airport Transfer
    Room Accomodations (Air Conditioned)
    Batan Island & Sabtang Tour
    Visitor’s Fee
    Full Board Meals
    Tour Guide

    Excludes:
    Air Fare

    We hope to have you on board on your next visit to Batanes!

    [Reply]

  27. xyza says:

    hi there,
    im actually having a little dilemma..i got this incentive trip from the company im working for and i’m planning to visit batanes since i’ve been to the other tourist destinations here in the phils. However, i should avail the said trip only until august of this year. as i’ve read the blogs july-october is not the best time to go. i really would want to take this chance to go to Batanes since its an all expense paid knowing that accommodations/airfare going tehre are pricey. is there anyone here who have tried travelling to Batanes around august? :-/

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply