I’ve travelled to several places all over the world, and I can honestly say that some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen have been right here in the Philippines.
There are definite pros to traveling local. For one, it gives us the chance to support local businesses and boost livelihood in the region we visit. Also, when we immerse ourselves in a local culture, we gain the opportunity to learn about its customs and heritage. And, all over the Philippines, there is so much to be learned.
Among all the tourist destinations that our country has to offer, Batanes has steadily made its way to the top of many a bucket list. The reason behind this is easy to see. From beautiful scenery, a rich history, and unique local cuisine, to the nicest locals you will ever meet, this province seems to have it all. When I finally got to experience it all for myself, I was completely convinced.
Here are 3 things I fell in love with about Batanes.
1. The breathtaking view
Hills, mountains, caves, cliffs, and beaches – Whatever your idea of a picturesque landscape may be, Batanes has it. The place is simply picture prefect, which is why a lot of photographers dream of coming here. Any traveler is sure to find that the stunning panoramas evoke feelings of peace, serenity, and contentment. Looking out into the natural beauty of Batanes is a sure way to beat stress.
2. The friendly Ivatans
People from Batanes are friendly, hospitable, and honest. Their code of honesty is so strong, and can be seen in the Honesty Stores that they have in the area. These are shops without shopkeepers. You just list what you took and leave the payment in a money box. How refreshing!
I also learned during our stay that being in the police force is the most-loved job there. They proudly have a zero crime rate, and I was somehow able to prove that. I left my bag unattended for nearly half an hour while we were touring, and nothing was lost. It’s such a lovely contrast to Manila, where you have to keep an eye out for yourself and your belongings all the time.
3. The simple way of life there
People like us who lead busy lives stand to learn something from the simple way the locals of Batanes live theirs. There are no fast food chains, no coffee shops, no malls, and no movie theaters. Life here involves no late night parties, and no crowds. There aren’t that many people living on these islands. Cellular signal is limited, and there is no 3G. WiFi is slow, and you’d be lucky if your hotel has WiFi at all.
There are only two banks, one ATM machine, and no credit card facilities in Batanes. There are no taxis, as most roads are only narrow enough to fit a tricycle. Time seems to pass by slowly when you’re there. While all this could be a turnoff to those used to living fast-paced city lives, I recommend that you give it a shot. The tranquility that comes from living a slow, simple life, even just for a while, could prove to be eye-opening.
Are you ready to plan your trip yet? Let me help by telling you about mine.
How to Get There
There are only two commercial carriers that fly to Batanes from Manila – PAL Express and Skyjet. Ticket prices can be quite steep, so if budget is a concern, your best option is to keep an eye out for seat sales. More adventurous types can opt to travel by sea, which is a lot cheaper. But one has to weigh in on whether or not the 18-hour travel time is worth the savings.
Basco Airport is the lone domestic airport that serves the province of Batanes. There is another airport in Itbayat, but this one is only a community airport that services small chartered planes flying to and from Basco.
Where To Stay
While it may cost a lot to get to Batanes, you can make up for it with affordable lodging options, of which there are many.
One of the most popular places to stay in Batanes is Marfel’s Lodge. This is due, in part, to its being affordable yet comfortable, but mostly because of the hospitality of its owner, Ate Fe (0908-8931475). We got to meet her during our visit, but unfortunately we were unable to stay at Marfel’s Lodge because it was already fully booked.
We ended up booking at Timetravel Lodge, a recommendation from Ate Fe. This place is owned by one of her relatives, and run by Ate Linda (0939-6238978). Just like Ate Fe, Ate Linda was hospitable, friendly, and treated us like family. These types of accommodations, which are managed, run, and cared for by their owners are common in Batanes, and play a huge part in its charm. They really take care of you there, from assisting in bringing in your bags to personally serving meals at the dinner table.
Rooms at Timetravel Lodge are priced at PHP 1200 – PHP 2000 a night, and are good for 3-4 persons. The place is clean and comfortable. Water and coffee are available for free, and guests may cook food in their kitchen. You can also request for breakfast for an extra, minimal fee. Hot and cold running water, cable TV and WiFi are all provided as well.
Other places to stay in Batanes are:
• DDD Habitat Lodging House
• Shanedel’s Inn and Café (Contact Dely Millan – 0920-4470737)
• Amboy Hometel
• Batanes Seaside Lodge and Restaurant
• Villa Hontomin
• Super splurge option: Fundacion Pacita
In my next post, I’ll tell you about our 3-day Batanes tour itinerary, and share tips about travelling to this marvelous place based on my experiences. ‘Til then!
Check out more from my Batanes series:
Always remember, travel enriches life. It teaches us to enjoy moments, to say goodbye to stress and embrace joy instead. Experience has taught me this, and I’m happy that I get to share my journeys with you now, too. Anytime you need help and tips finding worry-free, budget-friendly places to see, I’m here to help!