The 1st of February brings us closer to our Batanes trip and we’re so excited! =)
Batanes is one of the most idyllic and picturesque places in the entire nation, imagine rolling hills and gentle slopes, cows and animal grazing in open land, waves crashing to shore, quaint shelters and abodes, a chance to see the meeting of West Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean all at the same time…. who will say ‘no’ to this? Definitely not I!
I’ve dream of Batanes since I learn in Grade 4 that the Philippines farthest island on the north “Y’ami Island” belongs to this province. Also because the pictures in the travel guides look so darn enticing! The pics hook you up, invade your dreams, wrap you to your core and won’t let go until well you get there yourself and see for real, with your own eyes, the beauty of the islands of the Ivatans.
I am embarking on this journey *soon* together with Titus and Kenneth. Usually there are four of us traveling and experiencing a new place together but we have no choice but to leave behind our brother, Nicko, because he is currently loaded with school work and wrapping up projects so he’ll graduate on time this March. We assured him that we’ll get tons of pictures so he can at least see the place and the islands and we will of course regale him with stories, nayahaha. =)
Y’ami I’ll let you go!
As much as (I think) I want to visit Y’ami (it’s more of a bragging thing if you can say that you’ve been to the northernmost island of the Philippines), I know it is impractical. First it’s uninhabited, second it’s so far (Taiwan might be nearer to it than the closest PH island), third.. err going there would be
dangerous challenging + the trip will surely cost you arms and legs. So I will gladly, cheerfully settle for Batan Island and Sabtang Island for this trip.
There is a subtle dig here that this won’t be my first haha. I pray and hope, it won’t be. =)
Batanes has also figured in many bucket lists of Filipino travel bloggers, a lot of us wants to visit this place, as in a lot! I also know lots of friends who don’t blog who say that this island province is their Top 1 Must See Philippine Island. But that is totally understandable, expected even; I’d be more surprise if YOU do not want to go to Basco, to Sabtang, to Itbayat!
Batanes is the smallest PH province in terms of land area and population.
This post is supposed to be on Batanes expenses, plans and sample itinerary but as usual, I’ve been swept away by the blogging tide so back to original blog purpose.
Travel Bloggers Unite!
Last October 6 2013, PAL express announced a promo fare for the route Manila – Basco – Manila resulting to an online commotion among tight-knit travel bloggers. The Philippine travel blogging scene is so interconnected that mayhap it’s only one degree of separation between one travel blogger to the next and there seems to be this general consensus among travel bloggers that one of the ultimate must see and must visit destinations in the Philippines is the Batanes group of islands up north in Luzon.
So those of us who were online that day in October shared to our Facebook wall the promo fare news, and this spread like wildfire.
If we were all in a physical place, I’d imagined us either boxing-out each other to grab our preferred flight dates or encouraging someone to travel together to save on Batanes tour fees. We rejoiced every time someone posts that their booking has been confirmed, shared the disappointment for those who can’t make the trip for whatever reason. By the end of the morning, there were no more promo fares to be had, thankfully I was one of the lucky ones who were able to booked and secured these cheap tickets for our me and my travel buddies.
Why the scramble for ticket? It’s because promo fare to Basco are rare, and because among PH budget airlines, only PAL Express flies to Basco (SkyJet also flies there too). PAL airplane is small, which means limited seat. Also, there is approximately only 5 “ideal” months to travel to Basco which is from December to April, the summer months to avoid the typhoon season.
I recommend that you there during Batanes cold months which are December-January-February. Summer months there may be too humid for you.
Cost of a regular ticket of PAL Mnl-Basco-Mnl
A regular non-promo Batanes ticket is normally at P6,000 to P9,000 ONE WAY, per person via PAL Express (this route used to be serviced by Airphil).
Our PAL Express ticket cost us only P1,890.33 ROUND TRIP per pax! That’s HUGE savings! That is why it’s worth to wait for those promo fares even if the flight date is 4 months in the future like in our case. =)
This is a sample trial booking done today in PAL Express website for travel Manila to Basco back to Manila for flight that will leave on February 19,2014. Look at the price of ticket! Ang mahal for regular folks like us!
Sample Batanes non-promo ticket: Round Trip for 1 person cost P13,517!!!
**If you want to see a bigger picture, click this: http://screencast.com/t/lzYUrtw0mgpa
Now, our ticket Manila – Basco – Manila booked 4 months ago, during the October 2013 seat sale with fly date this coming February 16, 2014, cost only P5,671. It’s good for 3 person so amount divided by 3 = P1,890.33 per person round trip!!!
Actual ticket Manila to Basco to Manila for only P1,890.33 per person via PAL Express!!!
*The sample ticket shows P1,757 only. I computed it as P1,890.33 for each of us because we paid for 10 kilos checked-in baggage which was charged under my name/under my ticket, then the baggage check-in cost was divided by 3. I am showing you Kenneth’s ticket payment portion so you’ll see how much was paid if there is no checked-in baggage.
Since we are Cebu based, we also need to secure tickets for Cebu – Manila – Cebu. After I booked our Basco tickets, I searched for promo fares in Cebu Pacific and Air Asia Zest, I found the best deal via Air Asia for the first leg of our trip.
Round trip ticket cost per person for Ceb-Mnl-Ceb via Air Asia Zest was only P1,238.80.
Total air fare ticket cost for each of us for this Batanes adventure is only P3,129.13 and we are coming from Cebu pa! Beat that! 🙂
If you are planning to go to Batanes, watch out on the second half of this year as maybe PAL Express will again have a special sale for travel next year 2015.
I’ll also help look-out for these Batanes 2015 promo fare and will post right away on Penfires Facebook page to alert everyone if I find one. If you have not ‘Like’ yet Penfires’ FB page, click on ‘Like’ now so you will also get the alert.
Batanes Itinerary Tours and Fees
To be very honest about this I have not made any itinerary, I prefer to just wing-it and see what’s up when we get there. But my Batanes adventure companions prefer that we have a plan so at least we’ll save on tour costs. On my part, I have read blog posts of those who have been there before, scanned through their itinerary but if you ask me for detailed activities for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, my head is still mush-up.
Good thing Doi of The Travelling Feet shared the day to day – activity to activity Batanes IT that she crafted along with her travel companions like Nikka and Owen of Two2Travel. Doi is one heck of an itinerary planner so I suggest you check out her blog for very detailed ITs. =)
Right now, these are all I know:
We are spending a week in Batanes. Yey!!!
Titus booked our room at DDD Hotel in Basco which is P1,600 per day, good for us 4 pax. A posh hotel in the island is Fundacion Pacita but it’s wayyyy out of our league budget wise haha. Travel bloggers are mostly budget travelers but its okay. =)
There are Homestays facility in Basco which you might want to check too. There are also P350 per night per person accommodation like Marfel’s Lodge.
We might also stay overnight in Sabtang, Sabtang pension house or inn could be as cheap as P150 per head for no-frills accommodation in a real-honest-to-goodness traditional Ivatan stonehouse!
NOTE: Book your Batanes hotel early, as in early. A must.
A full cafeteria / carenderia meal will cost around P80 to P150. A full meal in a good restaurant like Pananayam Canteen, Bunker’s House in Naidi Hills will cost P300 per person. There are accommodations in Basco with a kitchenette, so if you were able to book these places like Marfel’s Lodge,Novita House, you can bring some canned goods/noodles and cook your meals to save. It’s prudent if you will bring extra money for food because there is only one ATM, that of Landbank.
ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: Bring extra memory cards and batteries for your cameras!!!!
With Doi’s permission, this is a sample itinerary based on their group’s IT.
Basco Tour could take couple of trips.
Batanes is a place we can’t easily and readily go to so it is best if you will go there and choose a more leisurely tour schedule, that way you will enjoy the place better and you are not in a hurry as you take-in the scenery, atmosphere, culture and all.
You can of course plan your day with as many activities and place visits as you can pack-in, but might not be worth it in the end. Choose ‘breathing in and experiencing the place’ as opposed to checking-off as many tourist sites on your list.
That is why I recommend you plan your Batanes trip well, and if possible spend at least 4 to 6 days in the islands, a full week, 2 weeks, longer would even be better. Those who have been there for 3D/2N regrets the too-short time, so learn from their experience, plan to spend more days.
So anyhow, you are looking at multiple tricycle rides, one tricycle can carry at most 3 pax.
Basco Tour example with fees:
Tour leg 1 – Radar Tukon, Fundacion Pacita, Mount Carmel Chapel = P320 per trike
Tour leg 2 – Naidi Lighthouse = P240 per trike
Tour leg 3 – Vayang Rolling Hills for sunset photoshot = P400 per trike
Tour leg 4 – Valugan Boulder Beach = P240 per trike
Tour leg 5 – Diura Fishing Village, Marlboro Country, Mahatao Lighthouse, Mahatao Church = P960
There are travel agencies based in Basco that specializes in conducting tours so you can also contact them especially if you don’t like touring via tricycles.
The Faluwa ride fee from Basco port to Sabtang cost P75 per pax, same boat fee on the return trip.
A Sabtang Tour will set you back more or less P2000; can be lower or higher depending on your negotiation skills. Plus there is a P200/pax Sabtang Entrace fee/Heritage fee.
If you are a big group then you can save as you have more people sharing the Tour fee. Usual tourist destinations that are included for this tour are: Sabtang Church, Sabtang Lighthouse, Morong Beach, Nakabuang Arc, Savidug, Chavayan, Little Hongkong but some tour operators might change itinerary so consult them first on the places that you’ll visit.
The itinerary above is still not personally tested so you can just use it as one of your guides. If you are going to Batanes soon, I would suggest you check out more blogs so you are arm with more info. After our visit to Batanes, I will make sure to update with our actual tour itinerary and add-in the expenses incurred.
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We followed a different itinerary after-all, here is our
Check out the Photoblog of our Batanes journey at: RAW BEAUTY