As a lot of people have already asked me left and right how much it would cost to pull off a 4-day, 3-night Batanes getaway (and that I had to explain the same things repeatedly), I’ve decided to finally make a detailed summary of all our expenses once and for all. Our itinerary only included Batan and Sabtang Islands; I have no idea about Itbayat for now (but I’m definitely going back for Itbayat really soon). Please do note that the following prices may not be the best deals out there since we did not actually plan while keeping an optimum budget in mind. Heck, we never really had a plan to begin with! It was only an overnight decision to go some place and more like we dared ourselves to head for as far as Batanes. And we did it! With wide satisfied grin on our faces! Not bad for first timers, huh?
I booked our MNL-BSO round-trip tickets using the Philippine Airlines app (myPAL) on Android (I don’t think it’s available on iOS, though). Again, the rates I got aren’t probably the best deals. Also, our schedules were not that flexible so we could not really go for the lowest fares available on certain dates. Anyway, I think we still pretty much got a fairly good price for our plane tickets. When I browse through the upcoming flights now, a single round-trip can cost you as much as Php 12,000!
We were totally clueless about the place so I simply relied on a booking app (Agoda) to recommend the best places to stay in Batanes. The Shanedel’s Inn and Café boasts of its front-seat location to a spectacular view of sunset over the Port of Basco at Baluarte Bay — definitely, I’m sold! Just look at these unfiltered photos I took from the veranda using a not-so-high-end smartphone on different exposures. Our air-conditioned room, big enough for three, had 1 queen-sized bed, 1 single bed, TV, and a private bathroom with hot shower.
Be prepared for some charges, especially if you’re on DIY. We had to shell out some cash for the following mandatory fees and tour needs (not wants):
- Eco-tourism fee – collected at Basco Airport upon arrival – Php 350
- Environmental fee – collected upon entry and registration at Sabtang Island – Php 200
- Catering – even if you’re not part of a group who availed a tour package, you will be counted as a visitor in Sabtang Island and they will make a reservation for you and will be eating lunch together with other tourists before you leave Sabtang and return to Ivana in Batan. Our lunch (2 pax) comprised of sweet and sour fish (3 pcs), grilled pork cuts, sautéed vegetables, camote fries for dessert, a bowl of soup for each, a platter of rice, and a pitcher of iced water. All of that for Php 300 per pax.
- Ferry – all tourists join the regular Ivana-Sabtang ferry trip along with local commuters. You will have to pay Php 200 per pax for a two-way trip.
- Terminal fee – for PAL, we had to pay the terminal fee of Php 100 at Basco Airport before boarding our return flight.
Since we were on a semi-DIY, we met our tour guide, Kuya Lito, through referral. He decided on our itinerary, took care of all the island-transfer coordination, and charged us as follows:
- Day 1: North Batan Tour – Php 1,000
- Day 2: Sabtang Island Tour – Php 1,000 (This tour fee goes to Kuya Jimmy, Kuya Lito’s most trusted buddy and counterpart in Sabtang Island. Kuya Lito had already arranged our visit in Sabtang with Kuya Jimmy the night before, including our lunch reservations. All we had to do the next morning was to hop on the boat and look for Kuya Jimmy’s cab# 32 upon arrival in Port of Sabtang.)
- Day 3: South Batan Tour – Php 1,500 (The increase in price is understandable when you get there. All of the places are just so darn beautiful you will forget about the price difference.)
- Day 4: Kuya Lito was so kind that he offered to take us to the airport early in the morning for free. 🙂
Other items we spent on (of course, these boil down to personal preferences):
- Tricycle – we hired one of those lined up at the airport (like taxis) to take us from the airport to our inn.
- Jeepney ride from Ivana back to our inn in Basco after the Sabtang Island tour. The 30-minute ride was so airy it made me doze off.
- Breakfast at the inn – no free breakfast but we wanted to try it. Food was great but we decided we could very well do without it.
- Lunch – after completing our itinerary in Day 3, we decided to treat ourselves to a sumptuous meal at the Harbour Café restaurant just a block away from our inn.
- Meals/snacks/refreshments – we also had breakfast and dinner at a nearby canteen; snacks and refreshments in Sabtang and Basco town.
- Souvenirs! Who wouldn’t want to bring home a “Gone to Batanes” shirt? Regular size shirts cost Php 180 while kids size shirts start at Php 120. Wallets, keychains, ref magnets, and other small items, prices start at Php 50.
- Internet – at the moment, there is no internet service provider in entire Batanes. Facilities were ruined after super typhoon Ferdie (Meranti) hit the province exactly a year ago. So even if you’re on data plan, you cannot use it since there is no able ISP in the area. Three households in Basco have private satellites and they offer wi-fi access starting at Php 100 per 70MB data valid for 1 day.
Here’s our expense table. So all in all, each individual spent almost Php 20,000 (USD 400) for this whole trip.
I really don’t know how it compares to tour packages or other DIYs and I don’t think I would still want to know. All I know is that Batanes is absolutely worth every peso you are willing to shell out for your dream vacation. So don’t buy that latest smartphone just yet; pack your bags and head on to Batanes instead!