You might be curious with the title of this post, what’s up with Byahe ni Drew, Kuya Kim’s Matanglawin and our own do it yourself tour of Batanes, particularly Batan and Sabtang islands?
There is a connection. =)
A couple of days before we flew to Batanes, the newlyweds Iya and Drew Arellano were in Batanes, who got me this news? Titus! Hahaha I swear he is more into showbiz and pop culture than I am. Drew was with his Byahe ni Drew crew for an anniversary special and they took their travel show all the way to the northernmost island of the Philippines. Watch the tv special featuring Batanes this Friday, March 7 on GMA News TV. If you miss it, you can probably find a clip on Youtube.
So while we were touring we were also on the look-out of possible Drew sighting ( I am a fan of his travel show) but lo and behold! It wasn’t Drew’s crew we ‘met’ but that of Kuya Kim’s Matanglawin team in Batanes. GMA versus ABS-CBN heheh.
The funny thing is that Titus and I were interviewed by the latter hahahha. Their team was looking for visitors / tourists to interview to offer insight or experience review about the islands and they must have thought why not these newbie tourists who have been grinning like idiots and taking pictures after pictures anywhere they go?
We saw Matanglawin’s team in Valugan Boulder Beach on Monday, on Tuesday while we are having the South Batan tour we saw them in Marlboro Country, and then again on Wednesday we saw them on Sabtang Island. Almost the same itinerary you see. Fate? LOL hehehe.
Whether or not the interview will actually be shown on Matanglawin or be cut altogether, we don’t know. Right after, we reflected on the ‘talk to tourists’ interview, I am not 100% sure if I still want to see my face on tv or if I want to hear myself. I want to throw a stone at Titus every time he kids me saying that I was overly ecstatic describing our Batanes experience with matching kumpas-kumpas ng kamay pa hahahha. I would probably hide in embarrassment now LOL.
But yahh that was an experience, another colorful event of our Batanes vacation hehe.
Matanglawin Batanes Special hehehhe
My sister did not want to participate in the question and answer portion because according to her FB shoutout “syet! Paistoryahon ko nila and magTagalog ko!” so hollering for backUp i called my sister and her bf to let them do the thing while i hastily left the scene. 😆 😎
But major highlight is being in this very wonderful place with exemplary locals; check this post to see the – – PHOTOBLOG – –
Batanes Itinerary for Do-It-Yourselfers
We have limited budget for our Batanes trip so it did not cross our mind to contact any travel agency to organize our tour to this island province in North Luzon. We are also 3 in the group and most group tour requires 6 or more persons, the choice left to us is to have a do-it-yourself tour. We spent 6D/5N adventure in Sabtang and Batan islands. We missed Itbayat for this round, maybe next year the roads will lead us back to the land of the Ivatans. =)
Prior to going we have this list of tourist spots “must see” in this island province, but we really don’t have any idea what comes first, then next. We trust that the universe will align the stars so our Batanes adventure will be something that we’ll remember for like ever. =)
Arriving in Basco airport we chose to walk to our hotel which happens to be at P1,600 per day, our room in DDD Habitat Inn is good for 4 persons. I highly recommend you check out this place if you are looking for accommodation in Basco.
We consulted with the friendly Jaime of DDD and asked how we can hire a tricycle for our tour. We can’t afford a tourist van with our shoestring budget hehe. He showed us this fare matrix of BASCO TODA with mobile numbers and advised us ‘just call or txt them ma’am to pick you up here in the hotel, they can bring you anywhere you want to go’
The Basco TODA is very professional as in! If there is an award for Best TODA in the Philippines, I’d not only vote for them but also campaign for them vigorously hehe.
BASCO TODA Fare Matrix for Tours and Special Ride
**Rates are applicable beginning January 1,2014.
Basco Tricycle Association OFFICIAL NUMBER: 09297038404
As you can see on the matrix, fare from point 1 to point 2 is indicated, these rates are good for 3 persons unless specifically indicated that it is only good for two.
Those good for 2 pax is because their tricycles will not be able to navigate the steep road if loaded with 3 pax, the load would be too heavy. A prime example of this would be the Radar Tukon road if you are going to Fundacion Pacita and the Japanese Tunnel from Basco town center.
We were three pax so we have to get off the tricycle at some point in the steep roads as agreed with our driver, but we don’t mind. =)
Now, if you are a first timer in Batanes, you might want to ‘pakyaw’ your tricycle for the entire tour. That’s what we actually did. Luckily, circumstances has landed us with Eugene, a driver I can really recommend highly.
We woke up early on our first morning in Basco to catch the sunrise in Valugan Boulder Beach. By 5AM we were already at the hotel lobby, we called the TODA, and in less than 5 minutes a tricycle came to pick us up from DDD Habitat Inn. Fare for 3 people from town center to the boulder beach is P60. Manong driver ask us if he want us to wait, told him that we can’t since it will take us awhile to get our fill of the boulders and the waves.
It turns out we spent close to 3 hours at the beach and consumed GBs of memory cards for our photoshoot LOL. We got there before the Matanglawin team arrived and we were still there when they left heheh.
Sunrise that day was approximately at 6:30 AM; we arrived there around 5:30 in the morning, excited lang haha. Valugan boulder beach is about 2 kilometers from Basco town center and the wind again was on full blast, so the thought of walking back became less and less appealing.
So my crew, ahem, requested me to call for a tricycle. I was a bit hesitant if the TODA will send tricycle to Valugan and if they do, how much will we pay? 60 + 60? Because the tricycle will be coming from town proper – pick us up – and then go back to town center. We were ready to pay the P120 for the convenience of riding a trike back to the hotel. The driver who came to picked us up was Eugene.
At DDD, we asked how much we owed him for the trip, he said just P60 ma’am.
Yep, P60. This is because the TODA does not charge when they pick up the passenger. They charge when the passengers are actually on-board on the way to their destination. Cool, right? =)
After that, Eugene and our tour trio agreed that he will be our official Batanes tour driver. =) You can contact him to become your driver / tour guide at 09359655317.
Penfires’ Highly Recommended Driver and Tour Guide for your Batanes trip
The rates based on Basco TODA fare matrix was again tested after our Sabtang Day tour. Eugene brought us to Radiwan Port in Ivana early morning of Wednesday for P220. He can’t pick us up because he has committed his time and tricycle to tour another guests that day, but he made sure that one of his ka-TODA will pick us up. When our boat arrived from Sabtang, our tricycle driver was already there. The driver only charged P220 following the fare matrix for bringing us from Ivana back to our hotel in Basco town proper. We gave him a little extra so he can get snacks after dropping us at DDD.
Eugene was back as our guide for the Basco Tour on Thursday. Our last 2D/1N were spent on our own exploring town proper on our own.
So officially how much did we spend for the entire tour?
Day 3 in Batanes – Batan South Tour – P2000
**Rate for two person is P1,500 but since we were three we negotiated it at P2,000.
Tourist sites included: Chawa View Deck | Mahatao Church | Mahatao Boat Shelter | Ivana Town | Spanish Bridge | House of Dakay | Ivana Church | Honesty Coffee Shop | Itbud town | Alapad Pass | Song Song Ruins | Rakuh a Payaman (Marloboro Country) | Diura Fishing Village | Mahatao Lighthouse | stop wherever, whenever we feel like it.
Day 5 in Batanes – Basco Tour (Batan North Tour) – P1,500
**On the fare matrix this is only P1,000 good for 2 pax but again since we were 3 people, our pakyaw contract is P1,500.
Tourist sites included: Naidi Hills, Lighthouse and the white sand beach | Vayang Rolling Hills | Radar Tukon Church | PAGASA Weather Station | Fundacion Pacita | Japanese Tunnel | Valugan Boulder Beach |
Tricycle – Basco to Ivana Port to Basco hotel – P220 + 220 = P440
**We gave P250 on the return trip, actual expense: P470
Ivana – Sabtang – Ivana Boat fee = P450
**Boat fee per way per pax is P75. Expense computation is P75 + 75 = P150 x 3 pax
Day 4 in Batanes – Sabtang Tour– P1000
Sabtang Heritage Fee (entrance/tourism rate) – P200 per person x 3 = P600
**We took up Eugene’s referral of his cousin-in-law Jun as our official driver in Sabtang.
Tour includes Savidug Village, Sabtang Viewdeck, Chavayan Village, Morong Beach and Ahao Arc, Sabtang Lighthouse, Town Proper
TOTAL Tour Expense for 3 people (Meals computed separately):
P5,990 for the whole tour, divided by 3 becomes P1,997 each.
Your driver can be your photographer too! =)
Van tours are non-aircon from what we’ve seen of those we’ve met on the road. This is probably because you really don’t need to turn on the van’ A/C system as it’s already cold in Batanes. But mayhap during the summer months, they turn-on the van aircon?
If your budget can afford it, please give a tip to the driver/tour guide in the event of good service. Your tour fee + tip is indirectly helping the local economy too.
If possible, include your driver/tour guide during meals/snacks. It is not only a sign of goodwill on your part but also so you ensure that your driver/guide is not hungry. Remember that a hungry driver might result to accidents on the road. Most if not all tour drivers are ready with their own packed meals but kung kaya mo, it would be great if you can invite him to share a meal in the middle of the tour.
OPTIONAL TOUR EXPENSE:
Sabtang Lunch in Pananayam Canteen – P400 per person x 4 = P1,600
**I am adding this as tour expense since having your lunch in Pananayam canteen is also a unique experience in the island which you can incorporate in your tour. The canteen is located near Morong Beach. If you plan to follow-suit, make sure to request your driver to reserve seats in Pananayam BEFORE you start with your island tour. Lunch there is by reservation only at P300 per pax. Additional of P100 per pax if you will request for coconut crab which we did. We can’t leave Batanes without sampling their famous crustacean and it’s cheapest in Sabtang.
*Update this 2020, coconut crab is now considered an endangered specie so no more harvesting in Batanes for this crustacean.
My personal travel philosophy is that one can be strict with money and set limited budget for accommodation, tour expense, pasalubong but never on food. Splurge on food while you are on vacation, sample the local offering. Food is another layer of the local culture that you can immerse in.
Hope this itinerary and expense list for our Batanes tour is useful when you craft your own plans for your adventure up north!