Great News! Batanes has finally re-opened to fully vaccinated tourists. In this blog, I will cover all the critical Batanes travel requirements and details on how to travel to Batanes so you can experience this amazing part of the Philippines too.
If you are considering becoming a Batanes tourist, you may also be interested in these related articles about Batanes that will be coming soon to my blog. So bookmark this page or follow me on Facebook or Instagram to get a heads up on when they are up and other articles about amazing Philippine islands.
How Much Does it Cost for a Holiday to Batanes?
DOT accredited accommodation on Batanes
DOT accredited Tour Operators in Batanes
Let's start with a bit of basic information about Batanes. Batanes is the northernmost and smallest province of the Philippines. It is made up of 10 volcanic islands that are only 218 km south of Taiwan. In fact, Batanes is closer to Taiwan than it is to the mainland Philippines. See our map of Batanes here. Batanes has a population of around 19,000 Ivatans; the name of Batanes locals.
Of the ten islands, only 3 are inhabited - Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. The main city of Batanes is Basco which is located on the island of Batan. This is where the airport is located and where all tourists arrive.
I have often heard people remark that Batanes has the natural beauty of places like New Zealand or the Scottish highlands. Lush green rolling hills, secluded beaches, spectacular views and air as clean and crisp as you will find in the Philippines. I was super excited to book flights to Batanes and see if all this was true for myself.
INTERESTING FACT: Batanes is the only place in the Philippines where you can experience 4 seasons in a year! The temperature drops to around 8 degrees celsius in the winter months. I travelled in September 2022 and was lucky enough to experience 4 days of sun and about 28 degrees celsius!
Philippine Airlines flies to Basco in Batanes daily. The schedule is currently fixed, with a 6 am flight departing Manila from NAIA Terminal 2 that arrives in Basco, Batanes at 7.45 am. The return flights to Manila are at 8.15 am every day, arriving back in Manila at 10 am.
My airfare to Basco, Batanes cost 15,000 pesos return with Philippine Airlines. This is quite expensive for Philippine domestic travel, but hopefully, as more airlines start flying to Batanes, the prices will decrease.
Whilst Batanes is now open to tourists, there are still several essential travel requirements you must comply with if you want to visit this remote gem of the Philippines, including a Certificate of Acceptance.
Let's look at all the Batanes travel requirements you must comply with to get your Certificate of Acceptance to make your Batanes holiday a reality!
Batanes Travel Requirements (current as of September 25, 2022)
1) DOT Accredited Accommodation in Batanes
You must have DOT-accredited accommodation booked in Batanes in order to secure your certificate of acceptance to travel there.
Batanes is a small and remote island, so accommodation options are limited. I suggest you book your accommodation on booking.com as many hotels will have free cancellation or rebooking flexibility. This is a useful backup if you fail to get your Certificate of Acceptance.
I stayed at Villa de Babat, which cost around 6500 pesos ($115 USD) for 3 nights with breakfast included. It is located about 50 metres from the airport and is an easy walk into town. The perfect location!
Villa de Babat is fantastic value. The hosts, Evelyn and Eddie, are very accommodating. They even got up to cook a delicious breakfast at 5 am one day as I was leaving at 5.30 am for a tour to Sabtang Island. Did I mention they do a tremendous fresh pot of brewed coffee as well? Masarap!
Villa de Babat rooms are comfortable, air-conditioned and have cable TV with many channels. There is good quality Wi-Fi in the lounge and pool areas, so you can stream your favourite shows at night if you aren’t too busy reviewing all your photos and videos from your day's adventures like me! The Villa de Babat pool is clean, and they even have a golf putting green - great fun for the kids or sports enthusiasts.
2) Pre-booked DOT Accredited Tour
There are strictly no self-tours allowed in Batanes, so you must book a tour package with a DOT-accredited tour operator as well.
I used Batanes IBS Travel and Tours. I couldn’t have been more happy or impressed with the level of service and value they provided.
Funny story - I thought IBS stood for Islands, Beaches/Boats and Sands or even Islands, Beers and Shots! But no, the IBS stands for the 3 Batanes islands of Itbayat, Batan, and Sabtang!
Below are some of the different package options on offer by IBS Travel & Tours when I enquired. You can choose to do the tours using an air-conditioned van or via a Tourist tricycle (good for 2).
I opted for the airconditioned van with the tour condensed into 2 days instead of 3. This made day 3 a rest day to do other activities and explore the town of Basco some more. On day 3, I rented their Tourist tricycle for a couple of hours and headed out to dinner at Cafe du Tukon so I could experience a drive around the Batanes landscape and enjoy the open air too.
Prices will vary depending on how many people are on your trip; the more people, the lower the cost per person.
Your DOT accredited Batanes Tour Operator can also include accommodation in your package, though I booked my accommodation and island tours separately.
C) Certificate of Acceptance
You can secure the Certificate of Acceptance directly from Batanes authorities, or you can have your tour guide assist you in securing your Certificate of Acceptance as it is generally part of the package you purchase.
For Filipino visitors, this is signed off by the Batanes Tourism Office, and for foreigners, this is signed off by the Batanes Governor directly.
To secure your Certificate of Acceptance, you will need to provide the following documents:
Batanes Return Flight Tickets
Vaccination Certificates confirming you are fully vaccinated
Confirmed DOT Accredited Hotel Booking
Confirmed DOT Accredited Tour Booking
Government Issued ID (Passport for foreigners)
You can do it yourself by emailing these documents to email@example.com, but it is better to have your DOT-accredited tour operator take care of it. Much easier!
I got my acceptance certificate within 1 week of submitting all the documents. Due to the certificate of acceptance process, I suggest you give yourself at least 2 weeks to prepare all the documents and secure the certificate of acceptance. The last thing you want is for your flight to come around before you get all the requirements finalised!
You will need to show your certificate of acceptance, government-issued ID and vaccination cards at check-in to get your boarding pass.
On arrival at Basco airport, there is a temperature check and health declaration card to be completed. They will also check your ID and vaccination cards. For foreigners, there is also a basic register of contact details to complete. This includes passport number and expiry date, so even if you don’t bring your passport, have these details handy.
All in all, travelling to Batanes is well worth the effort. The requirements are not onerous and just take some basic planning and organisation.
These requirements are current as of September 25, 2022, but always double-check with your airline or tour operator as guidelines can change.
Batanes Travel Tips
Once you have your Batanes certificate of acceptance, it's time to start preparing for your trip. Below are some of the tips given to me by my tour operator and some comments about how important they are based on my own Batanes experience.
What is the Batanes Weather Like?
The Batanes weather can change throughout the day, so bring clothing to suit dry and wet conditions. The rain tends to pass by quickly when it does come was my experience.
An umbrella is a great asset to protect you from the Batanes sun and rain. Our tour operator supplied umbrellas, so it may not be necessary to bring your own.
What Clothing Should I Bring to Batanes?
When taking great photos to capture your holiday in Batanes, it is best to wear light or bright coloured clothes to get a fantastic contrast with the natural Batanes landscape. Avoid greens and blues.
Some parts of Batanes are quite conservative, so avoid wearing clothes that are too revealing or expose too much skin, especially for women. Best to bring something you can use to cover up if needed. I didn't find that this was too big an issue, but out of respect, it's best to be prepared and have something you can use to cover up like a shawl.
A hat and sun cream is a must! The heat can be pretty penetrating, especially on Sabtang Island. I highly recommend wearing sneakers or shoes that would be good for walking on hilly terrain.
Medicines & Medical Facilities in Batanes
Batanes has a small local hospital and a pharmacy so that most basic medical needs can be catered. If you have specific medical needs or prescriptions, having a sufficient supply with you is advisable.
Cell Phone Coverage in Batanes
Both SMART and Globe have signal in Batanes. I found that SMART had the stronger coverage of the two, as I was able to watch videos when using my SMART sim. The Globe signal had full bars but was not strong enough to stream videos. it was only suitable for basic web browsing or basic usage on social media apps.
Not many places offered Wi-Fi and it is probably limited to the major hotels in Batanes.
Important Batanes Phone Numbers
Below are some of the local contact numbers we were provided at our Hotel. It would be worth taking a screenshot of these just to be safe. You never know when it may be needed!
Basco Police 0939-198-7887
Sabtang Police 0939-387-5037 Itbayat Police 0928-755-8206
Batanes General Hospital 0920-524-8226
Batanes Provincial Tourism Office 0929-230-5934