Friday, February 21, 2014

DIY Batanes : A Poor Man's Guide to Visiting Batanes on a Budget

Batanes TRAVEL GUIDE: Everything you need to know about Batanes on a budget: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, Things to Do, How to Get There and Basic Phrases to get you Started (Read: Batanes Itinerary and Expenses)



Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines. It is composed of three major islands, namely Batan (divided into North and South), Sabtang and Itbayat. The other seven uninhabited islets are Dinem, Siayan, Ditarem, Misanga, Mavudis, Dequey and Vuhus. The province of Batanes has 6 municipalities : Basco in North Batan; Mahatao,Ivana and Uyugan in South Batan and the island municipalities of Sabtang and Itbayat.

Due to its proximity to the main island of Luzon, the place is very laid back and life is kinda slow. The Ivatans are generally friendly and hospitable.

It has always been my dream to visit and explore Batanes so when there was a seat sale I did not have any second thoughts and immediately booked a ticket. I actually dropped my Maldives flight for Batanes.

Visitors have two options in exploring Batanes, you may either join a tour group or do it your own. We are a group of four people so we opted the latter option. This travel guide will show you how to explore Batanes on a budget. For detailed report, read DIY Batanes: Itineray and Expenses.

Getting to Batanes
Booking a ticket to Batanes may be hard especially for budget conscious travelers. But, gone are the days that you will have to pay more than 10k to go to Batanes by plane. Nowadays, PAL Express, Skyjet and other small carriers have promos for their Batanes flights. I got mine for only P1700++ return. All you need to do is to watch out for seat sale. You may subscribe to airline promos or follow EscapeManila's FB page for regular updates on seat sale / airline promos.

Where to Stay in Batanes?
There are a lot of accommodation around Basco that will suit your budget. You may opt to stay in a homestay or a hotel. Below are the recommended places to stay when in Batanes. I have included the mid to high range hotels just to give you an idea how much does it costs.

Nanay Cita's Homestay - if you want to have a homey place to stay, I recommend you stay at Nanay Cita's homestay. Nanay Cita is very accommodating. You may cook your food while staying in her place with no extra charge. You may call her at 09399193616. P350/person. Because I was too busy and comfortable, I forgot to take a photo of the place, hahaha.

Marfel's Lodge
Marfel's lodge is located near Basco Airport. You may call Ate Fe at 0908-893-14750908-893-1475 for inquiries and reservations. Room rates starts at P350.


Time Travel Lodge 
Time Travel Lodge is located near Basco Airport.
Contact #: 0939-623-8978 or 0907-443-56100907-443-5610
Rates per Person starts at P400


Shanedel's Inn & Cafe
Address: National Road, Kaychanarianan, Basco, Batanes
Contact #: 0920 447-07370920 447-0737
Rates per person for a fan room starts at P450

Batanes Resort
Address: National Rd, Basco, Philippines
Contact #: +63 78 533 3444+63 78 533 3444 or 0927-582-90780927-582-9078
Room rates starts at P500 for a fan room


Batanes Seaside Lodge
Address: National Road, Kaychanarianan, Basco, Batanes
Contact #: 0921-229-01200921-229-0120 or 0999-994-2313
Room rates starts at P1400 during off peak season

Fundacion Pacita
Address: Brgy. Chanarian-Tukon Basco, Batanes
Contact Number.: 09382520942 or 09399016353
Room Rates starts at P8000/night

Martin's Inn
Address: Baranggay Kaychanarianan, 3900 Basco, Batanes
Contact #: +63919 222 8898+63919 222 8898  or 09162323590
Room rates starts at P2000/night

Brandon's Lodging & Restaurant
Address: National Rd. Brgy. Kayvaluganan, 3900 Basco, Batanes
Contact #: 0998 910 8691
Room rates starts at P1000/night


Crisan Lodge
Address: Dita St., Brgy. Kayhuvokan, Basco, Batanes Philippines
Contact Person: Mon Imperial 
Contact Nos: +63 999 990 7548 or +63 915 849 0178+63 915 849 0178
Room Rates per Person: Starts at Php250 

Where to Eat in Basco
There are a number of places where you can eat while in Basco, Batanes. Here are a list of restaurants and carinderia where you can satisfy your gastronomic cravings after a day of roaming around. Of course, another option is to cook for your own food to save cost. Most homestay provide facilities for cooking for free or with a minimal charge.

Pension Ivatan Hometel & Restaurant
This restaurant provides a wide range of authentic Ivatan Cuisine. I had a chance to dine in this restaurant and I must say their food are a-must-try especially the Ivatan Platter.


Casa Napoli Pizza
The cozy restaurant offers tasty home-made pizzas. Their regular pizza starts at P220.

Octagon Restaurant
A nice restaurant along national highway which offer affordable food selection.

D.Y. Food House
A Carinderia in Basco that serves affordable food. Their viand is set at P50 per order for vegetable dishes and P60 for meat. Rice is at P15 per cup They also serve siomai :) It is located in the corner of Castillejos and Santanas Streets.


Things to Do / Tourist Attractions


North Batan (Basco) Attractions

Getting around Basco is very easy. Most of the tourist attractions are just within reach. You may either walk or rent a tricycle to get around. If you need to hire a tricycle, you may contact BATODA at 09297038404. They are pretty much organized and they have a fixed price for every destination. Maximum capacity is only 3 people.

Welcome to Basco Arch
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church
Basco Lighthouse
Casa Real now the Provincial Capitol

Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
Mt. Iraya
Naidi Hills
Valugan Boulder Beach
Vayang Rolling Hills
South Batan (Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan)
The attraction in South Batan are quite far from each other so from Basco you may take a jeepney going to the South. You may start your tour in Mahatao, then Uyugan and Ivana.

Mahatao 
In order to save cost, take a jeep from Basco to Mahatao (P13) and rent your trike from there if you need to. The tricycle station in Mahata is located across the Mahatao church. Again, they have fixed prices but then again use your negotiation skills when you hire a trike for the rest of the day and make sure you make it clear to them which are the places you will visit.

Welcome to Mahatao!
Chawa View Deck
Diura Fishing Village
San Carlos Borromeo Church
Mahatao Boat Shelter Port
Liveng / Hedgerow
Racuh A Payaman a.k.a Marlboro Country
Racuh a-idi Spring of Youth
The Green House in Mahatao
Tayid Lighthouse / Mahatao Lighthouse
Where to Eat in Mahatao?
Paulvanas Canteen - they offer very affordable meals. You may contact them to cook your order in advance at 09399186683 or 09276891643.You should try their sisig for P100 per order.



Ivana
The attractions in Ivana are very close to each other. You may either walk or take a tricycle. From Basco, take a jeep to Ivana (P27).
Welcome to Ivana!
House of Dakay
San Jose de Obrero Church
Spanish Bridge
Maydangeb Beach
Where to Eat in Ivana?
Honesty Coffee Shop - the coffee shop is a tourist attraction in itself. The Ivatans are generally honest so they expect guests to be honest too while vising the island province.


Honesty Coffee Shop
Uyugan
Uyugan is a municipality in South Batan. It is home to Imnajbu and Itbud Village and the famed Alapad Hill and Rock Formation. From Basco, take a jeep Itbud (P43) or Imnajbu (P46). There are no tricycle in the area so you will have to walk which is very tolerable especially when you have a great view all over.
Welcome to Uyugan!

Alapad Hill
Alapad Rock Formation
The coastal Village of Imnajbu (pronounced as im-nah-bu)
Itbud Village
San Lorenzo Church in Imnajbu
Song-song Ruins
Loran Station
Sabtang
Sabtang is the smallest among the three inhabited islands of Batanes. It is where you'll find a number of stone houses. As the attractions are quite far from each other, you will have to rent a tricycle to get around. I suggest you contact Kuya Jun at 09084366357. He'll show you around at a very affordable rate. 

Anatacio Dapilan House in Sumnanga
Chavayan Barrio
1887 Deep Well
Duvek Bay
Ahaw (Stone Arch) / Morong Beach
Nakanmuan Barrio
Old Spanish Lighthouse
San Vicente Ferrer Church / Sabtang Church
Savidug Idjang
Sumnanga Barrio
Chamantad-Tinyan View Deck
Vujus Island
Sabtang Lighthouse
Where to Stay in Sabtang?
There are not much options of accommodation in Sabtang. We stayed in a homestay in Chavayan for only P150/night for a very basic room. You may contact the owner at 0999-489-6295. There are no carinderia/eateries around and your only option if you do not bring food is to pay for P400/person for dinner and P200/person for breakfast.



Where to Eat in Sabtang
There are not much places to eat in Sabtang. We were lucky we were told by our blogger friend Heiz that there is a place in Sabtang where we can buy fresh seafood and cook it for lunch. It is near Sabtang Port's Arch (lef side of the arch below). You can inform Kuya Jun (contact details above) so he can bring you there and have your orders cooked for lunch. We had fish soup and escabeche for lunch for P500 which is good for 5-6 persons.


Itbayat
Itbayat is the northernmost inhabited island of the Philippines. In fact, when you're in Itbayat, you'll be closer to Taiwan than mainland Luzon. Getting to Itbayat is quite a challenge especially when the weather is not too good. Flight and boat trips are cancelled from time to time due to bad weather. You may either take a plane or a bot. For plane, contact Northsky Air (for flights between Basco and Itbayat) at 09491550100 (Basco Office); 09209651495 (Itbayat Office). If you take the boat, I suggest you contact M/V Ocean Spirit at 09399222172 as they have a bigger boat compared to M/V Itransa.

Going around Itbayat is quite difficult as there is a very limited number of tricycles and the attractions are quite far from each other. So, we hired a guide for P1,000/day. You may contact Kuya Jojo at 0920-660-38010920-660-3801 as your guide and he'll also arrange for your trike.

Chinapoliran Port
Sta. Maria Immaculada Church
Itbayat Lake
Nahili du Votox
Torongan Cave
View from Torongan Hill
Other attractions that we have not explored due to limited time are Mt. Koroboban, Mt. Riposed, Rapang Cliff and Manoyok.
 
Where to Stay in Itbayat?
There are a number of places to stay in Itbayat. We stayed at Cano's Lodge for P200/night. You may contact Mrs. Faustina Cano at 0919-567-34090919-567-3409. She also serves meals for P200/head. Other places to stay are the municipal mayor guest house, Brgy. Secretary guest house, SM Island Lodge, Levinda Lodge and Maria Gordo Homestay.



Basic Phrases Translated in Ivatan
Good Morning : Kapian ka pa nu dios sichamavukhas
Good Afternoon : Kapian ka pa nu dios sichamakuyab
Good Evening : Kapian ka  pa nu dios sichamahep
Can you help me? : Maparin mu yaken a sidungen?
How much? : Maniepira?
Thank you : Dios mamajes
What is this / that? : Angu ya / angu ri?
How do i get to? : Maypaypangu ku mangay daw?
How far is? : Manngunngu su kararayi?
This is delicious : Taytu ya masdep
I love you : Chadao kuymu
Bye, see you soon : Avek dana, mirwa ta mayvuya du makalu aya
I don't understand : Ara kuava mayintindi
Excuse me : Pasensia' or 'Pasensian mu yaken'

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