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Traveling Solo in the breathtaking Batanes + Stories and Tips

This is part 1 of 3 in the Batanes series. 


Traveling Solo in the breathtaking Batanes + Stories and Tips

We all have dreams on traveling to amazing places. When I was a kid I was fond of watching travel show programs -- programs where they feature wonderful destinations and activities. Some of the shows that I used to watch were Trip na Trip of ABS-CBN, Byahe ni Drew and Pinoy Meets World of GMA7. Apparently, these shows fueled my desire to start solo-travelling the Philippines.

WARNING: This is a long post. I'm just very excited to share a lot of things, since this is my first time to blog.

Fitz Gerald Balba of Wander Kid Travels

A new blogger for Wander Kid Travels
Since this is my first post in this blog, let me introduce myself first. My friends call me Fitz, a 25-year old CPA working as a senior risk associate at a top auditing firm here in the Philippines. I am lucky enough to have a sister working as a cabin crew in an airline company, and because of that I have the perks of travelling just by paying a small fee or most of the time free. You can think of it as if I’m always on a promo fare. Anyway, I started my solo travel adventures last 2014 in Ilocos, and then it became a yearly tradition to ask my sister for tickets to delightful destinations here in the Philippines.

Passion and tradition for traveling solo
Being a solo traveler, I experienced a lot of wonderful things and seen astonishing places here in the Philippines. I believe that people, regardless of the race, are generally nice. They will always find a way to help you. I think you just need to be confident enough to start a conversation and you will always have a new friend. This blog will feature different adventures here in the Philippines and sometimes abroad. I want to share to you my experiences, recommendations and ideas while doing solo travels.

Since this is my first time doing a travel blog please have patience. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!  Of course, suggestions are always welcome at the comment box.

Fitz Balba in Batanes, Travel Blog

My friends and family always ask me “Are you not afraid to travel alone?”,  “How does it feel traveling alone?”, “How did you have friends in that trip?” As I said earlier, I believe that people are generally nice. When I think of solo traveling, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I travel alone. For me, it’s an adventure where I go to amazing places not just to see the view but also to meet new friends and discover myself more. So for me, solo traveling is not about being alone during the duration of your trip. It is traveling with your newfound friends.  

Most-sought travel destination
For my first blog I decided to write about Batanes, since it is the destination most of my friends would love to go to. Technically, it’s just a one and half hour flight from Manila, but tickets are quite expensive. So for those who are planning to go to Batanes in the future and for those who just want to see the beauty of Batanes, this blog is for you!

Note: I went to Batanes last 2016, so prices may be different. Also, this is the first of three (3) blogs for Batanes. This particular post will feature the North Batan.  We will share the Sabtang Island and the South Batan very soon, so stay tuned!

Panoramic Shot of Batanes

Batanes is the northern most province in the Philippines, and also the smallest, both in population and land area (thanks Wikipedia!). Despite its small population and land area, Batanes remains as one of the most-sought travel destination here in the Philippines because of its landscapes, weather (although lagi nadadaan ng bagyo), and most importantly its kind and honest people! 

Flight to Batanes- Aerial View

How to Get to Batanes?
Basically, you have two options going to Batanes:
  • Philippine Airlines – they only have one flight per day. Before the terminal was in Manila, but I heard recently that they transferred the Batanes flight to Clark. (So alam niyo na kung anong airlines ko! Charot!). Traveling with PAL will cost you around 13-14k round trip na yun bes! A little bit expensive pero sulit na pag andun ka na mura na.
  • Skyjet Airlines – I heard they offered competitive and cheap fare. (YUN LANG HAHAHA)  


Travel time from Manila – Basco (Capital of Batanes) is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. (O di ba exact talaga!) Yep, it’s near lang. I haven’t tried Clark - Basco pa but as per PAL’s website the estimated travel time is around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Philippine Airlines flight to Batanes

Accommodations:
I always tell my friends that yes, the ticket in Batanes might be expensive, but once you get there the prices are very cheap. If you are in a budget, there’s several homestay to choose in Batanes.

[1] Nanay Cita’s Homestay – This is the place where I stayed as suggested by my good friend Inna Crisostomo (SHOUT OUT INA!! HAHA). It is just 5-10 mins away from the airport. I paid P150 or P250 per night? I can't remember, but it’s really cheap! During my stay I was the only guest, so I had the whole place in 3 days! (I know! Feeling ko talaga bahay ko yun).

Nanay Cita have internet, TV, kitchen and aircon (di ko gets kung bakit may aircon pero baka sa mag foreigner na naiinitan pa. HAHA). The place is also located near the mini grocery stores, so you can buy and cook your meals (4-minute walk lang at dalawang tumbling so mas tipid).

She also arranged my tour (Bisumi Tour) I’ll discuss later why I took the tour instead of Do-it-Yourself (DIY). Nanay Cita is really nice! I remember one incident where she didn’t ask for payment because I will sleep in Sabtang Island. And then there’s another incident where I left my wallet at the computer shop and she helped me retrieve it. I guess this shows that the Ivatans are really honest and kind people.

You can find her at Facebook: Nanay Cita’s Homestay or you can contact her directly 0939 9193616. Contact na bes! 5 out of 5!


[2] Marfel’s Lodge – Located besides Nanay Cita’s Homestay, Marfel's Lodge has a garden in front which is very nice for photography. My friends from the tour said that it is also a good place to stay. You can contact them at 0908 8931475. (Medyo bias ba? Sorry haha dami ko lang talaga kwento. LOL!)

You can search for other homestay accommodations in the internet but for now, these are the two places that I will suggest (proven and tested). If you have a budget for accommodations or you like splurging in your accommodation, you can try to visit the website of Fundacion Pacita.

Solo traveler tip: If you’re just going to tour Batanes, it’s better to stay in a cheap homestay accommodation, since the tour finishes around 6:00 PM (except Sabtang Island Tour). Also, most of my friends whom I still have contact with until now -- well, I met them at homestays or hostels.

The Bisumi Tour
This is it! Now I’m going to share with you my tour experience and photos under the Bisumi Tour. As explained earlier, Nanay Cita arranged my tour. I decided not to do a DIY here because the transportation in Batanes is quite difficult, so for my own comfort, I took the Bisumi Tour. During that time, the 3-day tour costs around P5,000 (including lunch). The fee however does not include the additional tour we requested for Sabtang Island which I will discuss in the next blog post. 

Solo traveler tip: If you have allergies in seafood, please bring medicines because as far as I can remember, I ate seafood during the entire duration of my stay in Batanes. Hence, if you are not a fan of seafood bring canned goods along your travel. But come on! You are in Batanes. I personally don’t like seafood, but for the sake of experience, I ate seafood the whole time. And to be honest, I enjoyed some fish that I ate. 

North Batan Tour in Batanes

North Batan Tour
I arrived at Batanes around 8:00 am, so I still had the time to make chika chika to Nanay Cita and rest. The tour started around 11:00 am, so we were picked up by the Bisumi Van from our different locations. Our tour guide was Ate Juliet

Solo traveler tip: I am just using iPhone 5s when I took these photos but swear, Ate Juliet is a great photographer. Also, you can tell her the shot that you want, and she will be able to deliver it. I directed most of the photos, but without ate Juliet, I will not be able to have these picturesque photo in Batanes.

North Batan Itinerary:
  • Lunch (During our time it was in Vunong Dinette)
  • Basco Town Tour (Mt. Carmen Chapel, PAGASA “Tukon” Radar Station, Basco Idjang Viewing, WWII Japansese Hide Out Tunnel)
  • Boulder Beach in Chanpan Valugan
  • Vayang Rolling Hills
  • Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

Vunong Dinette Restaurant in Batanes

We had our lunch at Vunong Dinette. At first, I thought it was a house and that the tour guide would just get something from the house owner. It was also the first time that I was able to socialize with my tour mates. I don’t have pictures of them because my computer was reformatted and sadly, all the pictures were erased. All memories that I have right now is from my Facebook.



Garden in Batanes - Vunong Dinette

So, we were all talking when suddenly the food started being served. I was excited because I was hungry during that time, but that was until I saw this leaf in front of me.


I can feel fish from the smell! I was really nervous during that time. I DON’T EAT FISH! (Except century tuna hehe!) I don’t know why. I just don’t eat fish. So I slowly opened the leaf and this is what inside the leaf.

Dishes in Vunong Dinette

Yes my friends, it’s fish with beef and meatballs. I voiced out my concern to Ate Juliet that I don’t eat fish. She told me that most of the restaurants in Batanes serve fish because it is abundant in their place. I’M SHOOKTHAHA! I never read this in other blogs before. Still, I decided to accept my fate for three days. In other words, I will be eating fish for my entire stay. I know it may sound exaggerated for you, but for someone who doesn’t eat fish, it is a real test. It's only a good thing that I brought some medicines for my allergies. Problem solved!

Solo traveler tip: Learn to adjust to your surroundings. Learn to respect their culture. Don’t be too demanding. It’s also nice to try new things <3.

After having lunch we started our Basco Town Tour. First stop was the Mt. Carmen Chapel.

Mt. Carmen Chapel in Batanes
Mt. Carmen Chapel in Batanes

I don’t know much history about the place but as per Ate Juliet, it was constructed by the Abad family at the top of the hill, so that the people in the community can have a chapel near them. This is because the nearest church is not that near (Haha!).


According to my research, the nearest church is approximately 3 KM away from the Chapel.

Feels like heaven in Mt. Carmen Chapel of Batanes

Anyway, being there gives the effect of being in heaven (Haha!). I think everyone is familiar with the paniniwala na you can make a wish if it’s your first time in a church or chapel.  So, I did make a wish! I wished that I will be able to enjoy Batanes and that no storm will come for the next three days.

The place is so picturesque that you can pose anywhere! Pardon me HAHAHA!

Inside the Mt. Carmen Chapel, BatanesFitz Balba in Mt. Carmen Chapel, Batanes

It was like the chapel is telling me to wait till I see more of Batanes. It was also nice to start a trip in a chapel, so I can ask for guidance for the duration of my tour. I suggest that you do the same.


Solo traveler tip: If you happen to be traveling alone and want a picture of you in that place, look for people who are taking photos, and ask them if they want you to take photos of them. In return I’m 100% sure that they will also ask to take your photo.

PAGASA Tukon Radio Station

Fitz Balba in PAGASA Tukon Radio Station, BatanesPAGASA Tukon Radio Station, Batanes

Nothing much happened here. You can come close to the equipment located outside, but apparently, no one knows the use of that equipment. 

Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge
 Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge, Batanes

This place is really nice. It gives you the stone houses and great views.

Fundacion Pacita, Batanes

As what I heard, the rooms here are really great, since apparently, it was once the home studio of internationally acclaimed artist Pacita Abad.

Cafe de Tukon Interior, Batanes

The place also has a restaurant which serves different type of food. I went back that evening to have dinner at this place. 

Garden view of Fundacion Pacita, Batanes
Fitz Balba in Fundacion Pacita, Batanes

Japanese Hide Out Tunnel
Japanese Hide Out Tunnel, Batanes

The tunnel was said to be dug by the Ivatans during World War 2. What’s interesting about this place is that you can enter the tunnel, which will eventually lead you to this view:


LOL! Now I want to go back to Batanes again! Anyway, at this time, I thought I was experiencing the best of Batanes, but I was wrong.

Boulder Beach in Chanpan Valugan
 Boulder Beach in Chanpan Valugan

I was really amazed when I saw this place. It was unbelievably a result of the eruption of Mt. Iraya together with the waves that created these smooth stones. It was magical! However, you need to be careful because the rocks are very slippery. 

Fitz Balba in Boulder Beach in Chanpan Valugan

It was windy during that time. I was really afraid to go near the waves for the reason that I might fall and drown. I’m not really sure how deep it is when you fall but just to be safe! 

Boulder Beach in Chanpan ValuganFitz Balba in Boulder Beach in Chanpan Valugan

P.S.: The waves were really strong during that time. 

Vaiyang Rolling Hills
Vaiyang Rolling Hills in Batanes

This place almost made me cry. To be honest, I had never felt that happiness in my life before until that moment. I remember our reactions when we saw this place. Everyone was almost in tears. I would love to video call my family during that time to show them how beautiful this place is. I swear, it’s very different from the pictures.

Fitz Balba in Vaiyang Rolling Hills, Batanes

I remember one line that my tour mate mentioned when we were there, “DAPAT MAKITA ITO NG LAHAT NG PILIPINO” and I agree! However, if you have fear of heights, this place might be challenging for you because it is very steep and the wind was strong during that time.

Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

Our tour wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit the Basco Lighthouse located in Naidi Hills. It was my first time to see a lighthouse in person. It is one of the three lighthouse in Batanes. The good thing about this is you can enter the lighthouse. Unfortunately, it’s very challenging for me because I’m quite chubby hihi. However, once you reach the top, you will have this view:

Panoramic view from Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

The wind was really strong during that day. I don’t know why. I remember holding my phone so tight! I’m afraid to take photos at the top of the lighthouse because the wind can take away your phone -- not snatchers but wind! HAHA. JK.

Lighthouse in Naidi Hills, BatanesFitz Balba in Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

There is also a beautiful house or storage room beside the lighthouse. I remember it was used by the Kung Sakaling Di Makarating Movie. So I as a photo addict, I didn’t let the opportunity pass! HAHAHA!

The North Batan tour ended here, so I asked our driver to drop me off at the Santo Domingo Church. It was Sunday that day so I’m planning to attend the mass.

Santo Domingo Church in BatanesInterior of Santo Domingo Church in Batanes

Unfortunately, the dialect used by the priest during that time is Ivatan, but I believe they have a schedule for an English mass. Anyway, I decided to just say a prayer and to thank God for the amazing day and opportunity to tour Batanes.

After that, I decided to have my dinner at Pacita Fundacion Lodge. HEHEHE! I really wanted to taste the brownies. Nanay Cita helped me to get a tricycle. I paid around P100-P150 from Nanay Cita's place to Fundacion Pacita. I swear the Ivatan people are honest! They will even show you the tariff so you won’t feel that they are taking advantage of you.

Fitz Balba in Pacita Fundacion Lodge

The food was okay and so was the cost. I remember paying P700 for all my orders. LOL. But it was a nice experience dining here. Then the receptionist helped me call a tricycle and paid the same amount again.

On to the next chapter! Sabtang Island. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series!

Vaiyang Rolling Hills in Batanes

As shared earlier, this is my first time writing a blog. So feel free to provide feedback and suggestions. And if you do enjoy it! Please don’t forget to share!! Thank you so much! I enjoyed making my first blog! Follow our page as well for updates.



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