Batanes: North Batan Tour (Part 1 of 4)

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This is Part 1 of a 4-Part post about our visit to the Northmost province of the Philippines: Batanes. Part 2 is all about Sabtang Island Tour, Part 3 is all about South Batan Tour, and Part 4 are random shots around Batanes. Total expenses in Batanes: Php 21,387, including PAL round trip fare from Manila, accommodation, tour package, food, and souvenirs. 

No, we did not get our plane tickets, cheap. It is so hard to chase promo tickets, so, we saved for it. We maximized our 5-day trip as for myself, I am not sure if I could go back to that place again. Unless I could get a cheap plane ticket.

Generally, accommodation and food in Basco are cheap. And the tours, you can hire a tricycle or rent a motorcycle and DIY. The tip we got from our housemate there who rent a motorcycle, they just follow the tour vans so that they would know the way to the tourist spots.

In our accommodation, when we arrived, our breakfast was already prepared and on our last day, we were still served breakfast, before checking out.

Ivatans (people in Batanes) are mostly respectful and happy and they welcome tourists. Greetings are common, tricycle drivers even wave at you!

And they are honest! My cousin left her GoPro at the Fountain of Youth, 10 minutes, we came back, it was still there with a kid asking around about the owner. Amazing!

Dios Mamajes, Batanes!!! Apologies but the word “AMAZE” and its other forms will be repeated again and again in this post. 

Day 1: North Batan Tour

Upon arrival in Batanes, you can already sense that it is unconventional. First, before entering the airport terminal, people are allowed to take photos with the Basco Airport and Welcome to Batanes signage, this is not allowed in airports in other places. 

The Airport Terminal in Basco

After which, do not forget to include in your budget the Php 350 Sustainable Ecotourism Developmental Fee, with the exceptions shown in the photo below. By the way, outbound Basco, the terminal fee is Php 100.

Do not forget to include this in your budget.

After paying, you can now proceed outside where you will look for your name in several placards held by representatives from tour agencies or your accommodation. We booked a tour package via BISUMI and we immediately saw their representatives. We were ushered into a van, with 3 other groups and were brought to our respective accommodations for a short rest, and we were told to be ready by 11 AM for our lunch and start of the North Batan Tour.

Upon arrival in our accommodation, we were welcomed by Kuya and invited over for our breakfast. We had our plated breakfast of egg, rice, and a one-day old flying fish (Tip: bring back some when going home, so delicious). 

The best breakfast in Batanes!

We slept a good 2 hours and were picked up around 11:30 AM. It was a joined tour so we were 7 people in the van. We passed along the provincial capitol which was surrounded by Arius trees, the provincial tree of Batanes.

Arius Trees – the Provincial Tree of Batanes

We also took a quick look at the St, Dominic de Guzman Cathedral which is located at the center of Basco.

St. Dominic de Guzman Cathedral

Then, to our most awaited portion, we were brought to a local dinette called Vunong for our lunch!

Vunong Dinette

Lunch at Vunong 

Vunong is the term for the food that is wrapped in a certain leaf (Kamansi leaf, I was told). Inside our individual vunong were yellow rice (with turmeric), Uved, a grated banana corm with fish or meat, pork adobo, fish, and beef. Served at the center of our table are fern salad, chicken turmeric soup, and a simple dessert. Apparently, turmeric is abundant in the province. Though the vunong appeared small, we were so full when we finished our lunch. We then continued our tour with seeing the following sites.

Vunong, food wrapped in a Kamansi leaf

Vayang Rolling Hills

After lunch, we went to the Vayang Rolling Hills. It was amazing! Green hills all over, plus the view of the ocean and the fresh air, or wind blowing. In this vantage point, we can view the three main islands of Batanes: Batan, Sabtang, and Ibtayat. Normally, this is the last stop of the tour but our tour guide decided to “reverse” the usual route so that we can avoid the numerous tourist and we can have photos with minimal photo bombers lol.

Vayang Rolling Hills

Naidi Hills and Basco Lighthouse

Our next stop is the Basco Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built in the province, which is on top of Naidi Hills. Batanes is also known for its numerous lighthouses. It is as high as a 6-story building, with the view deck located at the 5th story. At the view deck, you can see the Basco town with the Mount Iraya, the highest point in Batanes, as the background.

Basco Lighthouse

Basco town and Mount Iraya

Mount Carmel or Tukon Chapel

The design of this chapel is based in the traditional Ivatan house (stone house), you can see from the photo below. It is a small chapel located atop a hill. 

Mount Carmel Chapel

PAG-ASA Weather Station

This is the northernmost doppler radar station of the Philippines, often referred to in the news during weather reports. The satellite dish was ruined by the typhoon Ferdie which hit Batanes last 2016.

PAG-ASA Weather Station

Also near this place is the most expensive and exclusive hotel in Batanes, the Fundacion Pacita. It houses the paintings of Pacita Abad. How I wish we were able to visit it but apparently, only guests were allowed inside.

Valugan Boulder Beach

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Valugan Boulder Beach

From the name itself, there are many boulders in this beach hahaha. They say, if you stack some stones and it will fall down with one hit of another stone, your wish will come true.

Stack stones and make a wish

Dipnaysuhwan Japanese Tunnel

This is located in Tukon Hills in Basco. It is said that this tunnel is a shelter for the Japanese soldiers during World War II. It is so dark inside so you could use some flashlight. Only certain parts of the tunnel are open to the public due to safety reasons. Note: the receipt of the 350 pesos you paid at the airport for the Sustainable Ecotourism Developmental Fee will be checked here.

It is so dark inside this is the only clear photo

We were brought back to our accommodations around 5:00 PM. Our second day will be early with a 6:30 AM pick up for our Sabtang Tour. Our first day alone with the “introduction” North Batan Tour is already so amazing, we can’t wait for the following days ahead.

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