A little more than two years ago, I visited Batanes for the first time. It was a life-changing experience, something that I often recall when I’m sad (or in unspeakable pain, as when I got my second tattoo on my chest). Needless to say, I loved everything about my trip to the islands of Batan and Sabtang.
Batanes has always been a part of my bucket list. I know that many Filipinos want to visit Batanes, too, but they are intimidated by the steep price of the airfare and the tour packages. And that’s perfectly understandable — a trip to Basco can never be easy on the pocketbook. Nevertheless, with proper planning and preparation, we can actually experience the beauty of Batan and Sabtang on a shoestring budget. Here’s how:
1. Find a way to score cheap airline tickets.
Located at the northernmost tip of the country, Batanes is not as accessible as other provinces. For this reason, there are limited flights to Basco, and only two airlines (SkyJet and Philippine Airlines via PAL Express) fly there.
As of writing, a roundtrip ticket to Basco in November will cost you anywhere from P9,800 to P11,600. In one of the seat sales held by PAL in 2013, we were able to hook a roundtrip flight for P7,407. In some travel expos, you can get tickets for a lot less than that. You just have to be on the lookout for such promos.
2. Look for a homestay.
We stayed at Marfel’s Lodge (+63908-893-1475), which was a stone’s throw away from Basco airport. Not only was it cheaper to stay here, we were also able to feel very much at home in Ate Fe’s cozy rooms.
3. Prepare your own meals.
Another benefit of choosing a homestay over a hotel is that you could cook your own meals (for a small fee). In our case, though, I’m not sure if preparing our own meals has significantly helped us in stretching our limited budget. It was fun, though.
4. Go DIY!
Rather than book a tour with a travel agency, why not go DIY? For a customized itinerary, you can get in touch with Kuya Lito (+63918-216-7440), our tricycle driver who toured us around the island.
We were lucky to have met him on our first day in Basco. If not for him, we may have never seen these hidden spots in Batan:
5. Skip the pasalubong.
This may be hard for a lot of us who are used to buying pasalubong for family and friends. We’re just programmed to do that. In any case, Batanes doesn’t have much to offer in terms of tokens and trinkets that one can keep as a souvenir anyway.
If you really want to take home a piece of Batanes for your friends, you may want to visit Yaru nu Artes, where contemporary Ivatan artworks are on display. Most, if not all, of the paintings there are for sale.
Overall, I spent about P12,500, including airfare, food, and accommodation. I even bought a painting the size of a postcard.
Do you have other suggestions on how to save while in Batanes? Share your ideas with us in the comments section!
📷 by Anne Gonda