— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint_03

A trip to Batanes, the breathtakingly beautiful island chain in the northern tip of the Philippines, can easily break the bank — but it doesn’t have to. Here’s a quick guide to budgeting for your Batanes trip.

Look out for seat sales.

A regular topic of conversation among tourists in Batanes is “How much was your ticket?”

Philippine Airlines flies Manila-Basco v.v. daily
Philippine Airlines flies Manila-Basco v.v. daily

Regular Manila-Basco round-trip tickets cost anywhere from PHP 7,000 to PHP 16,000, which might be okay if you have more cash than you know what to do with, but is otherwise heavy on the pocket. If your travel dates are flexible, you might as well wait for a seat sale from Philippine Airlines, which flies daily from Manila to Basco. SkyJet also flies thrice weekly to Basco.

Follow PAL on Facebook and check “Get Notifications” to get the latest word on PAL promos. Lean season tickets tend to be cheaper; the ticket for my July trip, which I booked in March, only cost PHP 1,533 (return, all-in, with travel insurance).

Go for cheap homestays that let you cook your own food.

First of all, at the high end of the accommodations spectrum is Fundacion Pacita, where a single night can cost over PHP 6,000 net. It’s a gorgeous place, with to-die-for views, and for some is probably worth the splurge. That said, Batanes itself is gorgeous, with to-die-for views, and if you have money to burn, I would recommend burning it to the benefit of the non-1% locals.

Nearly everyone I met on tour stayed at Marfel’s Lodge, and they had nothing but praise for the place. Rooms were cheap — a single fan room cost only PHP 400, a room good for 3 persons went for only PHP 350/person, and even airconditioned rooms were reasonably priced. Moreover, there were cooking facilities, a well-stocked pantry, and reliable WiFi.

Book all-in tours with a reputable, freelance tour guide.

I am a DIY tourist at heart, but Batanes doesn’t really have regular public transportation, just tricycles that you can call if needed. For this reason, I chose to book a tour package with Ryan Cardona, a popular Batanes tour guide, for PHP 5,200. Although Ryan mostly coordinates and supervises tours nowadays, I got to meet him personally during my first attempt at a Sabtang Island tour — “attempt” because the waves were huge that day and the Coast Guard flatly refused to let us sail as scheduled — and he was really friendly, helpful and informative. My tour package covered North Batan, South Batan, and Sabtang Island and included transportation, fees, and midday meals.

Romy Daroca, our tour guide in Batanes
Romy Daroca, our tour guide in Batanes

Kuya Romy Daroca was the tour guide with whom I spent the most time, and he really added cultural depth and dimension to my Batanes experience. A municipally licensed guide trained by the Department of Tourism, Kuya Romy was knowledgeable, funny, kind and obliging. (And he volunteered to take a lot of photos, which is, like, The Most Important Thing if you’re a solo traveler. Hehe.) In addition to being the tour guide during my visit to Sabtang Island, I also asked him to take me around some of my favorite places in Batan Island on my extra day. Kuya Romy also farms during the day and hunts for coconut crabs, lobsters, and fish at night — an industriousness and resourcefulness that is typical of many Batanes locals — and knows a lot about the local way of life. (You can get in touch with him at +63 908 927 2358. Standard tours cost PHP 5,200. You can also work with him — like I did — to create a customized guided tour.)

If you really want to tour Batanes independently, you can engage a tricycle driver to take you around the islands. Although they have not been trained as tour guides, they are used to driving tourists and can competently answer questions about local culture. My go-to tricycle driver in Batanes was Kuya Toto (+639198933146). You can also ask your hotel/lodge/inn to call a tricycle for you.

Consider take-out bags and cooking your own meals.

Food in Batanes tends to be expensive, with meals at PHP 200 to PHP 400 per person in restaurants such as the Vatang Grill in Ivana (try their salt and pepper pork or the Ivatan dish lenes) and the Octagon Bed and Dine in Basco.

A few cost-cutting tips:

  • The SDC canteen near the municipal hall serves [relatively] inexpensive food at PHP 70 per meat dish and PHP 20 for a cup of rice.
  • Restaurant servings tend to be large, so if you have food left over after a meal, ask the server to wrap it up for you to eat on your next meal. (I did this a lot!)
  • If you’re staying at a place with cooking facilities, try preparing your own meals! And if you reallyΒ want to save, you can go an extreme step further: pay for additional baggage allowance and bring your own rice and canned goods.
  • Lugaw! A generous bowl of porridge only costs PHP 15 at Kusina ni Loring (ask the locals for directions) and PHP 25 at the small eatery across the airport.

For a 4D/3N trip to Batanes, prepare around
PHP 10,000.

Sample budget:

4D3N Batanes Budget

The estimates above — while frugal — are by no means rock-bottom figures. You can bring down the cost of the trip even further by waiting for a cheaper flight, booking cheaper accommodations, eating lugaw for breakfast, preparing your own lunch and dinner, and doing a DIY tour.

And, yes, Batanes is absolutely worth it.

Get more essential information here:
batanes faqs

Β© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.Β 

49 Responses

  1. My husband and i are looking forward to visit Batanes soon..:) your tips are very helpful… Atleast we have an idea as to how much we need to spend. πŸ™‚ thanks for the tip..:)

    1. Hi Arkibabes! Glad to be of help. I hope the two of you get to visit soon! Batanes can be a really romantic place. πŸ™‚ Also, I noticed in your blog that you’ve climbed Mt. Pico de Loro. A lot of people who go to Batanes also go up Mt. Iraya, so you might want to look into that too. πŸ™‚

      1. Hi smalltowngirlsmidnighttrains!

        Yup, lahat ng adventure ko, in and out the Phil ay solo, yung mga nakasama ko sa mga pics kung meron man, nameet ko na lang sa lugar kung saan ako mapunta. Advantage being a solo traveler, you can do what you want, kung tinatamad kang gumala, at least, walang magagalit sayo, ang disadvantage naman, MAGASTOS. huhuhu

  2. Thank you for this! Even though I live so near Philippines (Singaporean here), I’ve never been to your country. I’ve been wanting to visit Cebu for the longest time. Now I’m adding Batanes to my list — it looks beautiful!

  3. Definitely worth it, this is a great guide to use as a budget and work from. I’ve never spent that much on a trip, it’d take me a loooong time to save that but it does seem worth it…that’s how I feel about Australia. I haven’t gone yet and it’s going to be expeeeensive but its worth it.

    1. Oh, definitely worth it! For us in the Philippines, it’s a pretty good deal because the landscape in Batanes is so different from what we have in the rest of the country, and we would otherwise have to go to, say, New Zealand to see something like it. PHP10,000 is around $220, which is only just a one-way ticket to NZ or Europe from here. Let me know if you ever decide to come here!

      1. Oh duh I’m such a dum dum, like a typical American I didn’t notice or think you’d listed the cost in PHP, I was thinking $10,000 US. Thank you for clearing that up, yikes! But it didn’t seem insane to me for some reason just not in my reach at this moment. I’m going to look further into it. One of my lame hobbies is making up fake trips and seeing the flight prices on kayak and stuff so I’ll mix the Batanes in there=)

      2. Oh, I thought you’d factored in the US-Philippines flight, which does cost a lot, but hopefully the total cost for the holiday won’t reach $10,000! And making up a fake trip is one of my hobbies too! I just call it wish-planning. πŸ˜€ And anyway it pays to be prepared — an opportunity could come up so, really, it’s best to have a plan on hand. πŸ˜€

      3. No I’m a dum dum I didn’t do the math right!
        It looks like the typical flight is around $1300 but that’s not insane considering the distance! If I had that in mind and made a plan & budget it’s certainly something I could save for over a couple years…maybe something to combine with my (hopefully) future Australia trip someday. I appreciate bringing attention to the Batanes, I guess I wouldn’t have known about it and it’s just too beautiful to ignore.

  4. Thank you for this! Judging from the prices you posted, a trip to Batanes is a little bit too expensive for us for the moment. Pero sige lang. Nothing is impossible. But we’ll have to save for a while. Thanks for this! This is very useful.

    1. Glad you found this useful! Pwede pa man hinuon jud paubsan ang price, like ang tour man ang pinakamahal na item, but if mag-DIY tour lang ka, like if you rent a motorbike to go around, mas mu-barato. And maglugaw all the time hehe! But if makaya ra sa budget, though, it’s better to take it easy and eat good food, para maka-earn sad jud ang locals from tourism. They need to earn enough from their current system of tourism kay otherwise they might be tempted to let outside players (the Angs and the Sys and everyone else) come in, and that will probably spell the end of Batanes as we know it. Lisod na gud i-regulate if the rich and powerful come in, so I’d rather let the locals earn a lot.

  5. Hi! When in July did you go? Was it sunny? Been reading about the weather in Batanes, some say summer daw while others say it’s rainy. Planning on going on the last week of July.

    I also inquired with Kuya Romy and he gave my bf and I a quotation of 7,200 for a 3-day tour per pax. You toured alone and paid only 5,200, did I get that right?

    1. Hi Ann!

      The July weather confused me before I went too — see #7 of this article for the answer:

      For my tour, I booked with Ryan Cardona through TRavel Young for P5,200. (This was back in 2014.) Since I was alone, they just had me join other groups with other tour guides, and that’s how I came to join Kuya Romy’s tour group for Sabtang. (Bale parang private arrangement na lang nila with the other tour guides — I had 3 different tour guides, with different groups, for the 3 main tours.) At that time, Kuya Romy had the same price as Ryan/TravelYoung, but I’m afraid I don’t know what their prices now are.

      I hope that helps. Enjoy Batanes!

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