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Where to Stay in Batanes—Marfel’s Lodge

14 June 2013 18,045 views 46 Comments

I have heard of the beauty of Batanes over ten years ago, when I began seeing pictures of its rolling hills and clear blue sky in newspapers and magazines. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the place was, but there was a reason why I couldn’t go at that time: the huge cost of traveling there, and the weather which had been known to keep the islands isolated for weeks on end.


The beauty of the Vayang Rolling Hills in Basco, Batanes.

Indeed, Batanes can be pricey. Flights alone can set you back up to P19,000 (~$450) for a return ticket, and accommodation packages can range from P2,000 to P6,000 or more per day ($40-$140), including the meals which are usually pegged at P300 ($7) per head.

When I managed to buy a round trip ticket to Basco, the mainland, for only P2,700 ($64), I told myself that I would stick to a budget and prove to people that there’s no need to break the bank just to travel to Batanes.

I needed, then, to find a way to cut accommodation and food costs, because I was still rebuilding my travel fund after India. I did that–and more–when I stayed at Marfel’s Lodge in Basco, Batanes.

Marfel’s Lodge, operated by local resident Felomena Fitero, is located just a few meters from the airport (you can walk it in less than 5 minutes!). It’s a two-storey house comprising two bedrooms for rent, each of which can accommodate up to three persons. I was lucky that when I sent a text message to Ate Fe, one bedroom was still available. The other one was already reserved for a couple, Donna and Lloyd, who still had to arrive from Manila.

batanes homestay

You can rent bikes here for P25/hr.

If you’re budget conscious, a homestay like Ate Fe’s is the way to go.  If you don’t want to use the air conditioner, the rate is only P350 per head. Even if you want to use the AC (P1,000 per room for two persons), it would still be worth it. Why? Let me enumerate:

batanes homestay

The bedroom where the other guests, Donna and Lloyd, stayed.

There are only two bedrooms in the whole house. That means that there won’t be a lot of strangers that you have to get along with. If you’re lucky and the other guests leave ahead of you, you get the whole house to yourself, like I did for three days. Where else can you pay only P350 per day and get a whole house?

batanes homestay

This was my bedroom. I kept the windows open to help with the heat.

Each bedroom has two beds, one single and one double. The rate includes free use of towel and linen, and a complimentary roll of tissue and bar of soap. Talk about value-laden!

batanes homestay

The living room at the second floor opens up to the terrace.

At the second floor where the bedrooms are, there’s a small living area and a terrace for smokers, or for those who just want to chill out.

batanes homestay

The kitchen, honesty store, and dining area.

When you’re lodged at Marfel’s, you get to use the kitchen (left of the photo)  for a small fee. That’s right. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay P300 or more for a meal in restaurants, buy the raw ingredients and cook your own. You can find complete cooking and dining utensils here. I have cooked most of my meals, from just frying eggs, to making a pasta dinner. I just bought the ingredients I needed and put them in the fridge.

Ate Fe has a mini-Honesty Store inside the house, too. There are snack items and other food stuff there that you can use, with the corresponding prices indicated. You can pay immediately, or just list them down and pay your bill when you check out. This  was a major disadvantage for me, as I couldn’t resist having junk food, given the ease of access!

The living area is big, comfortable, and there’s a TV and stereo that you can use. Former guests of Ate Fe included a group of 11 friends (four people each in the room, two in folding beds in the living room in the second floor, and one person using the sofa in the first floor as a bed) who cooked their own meals and had videoke sessions when they weren’t out on tours.

batanes homestay

The cozy living area at Marfel’s Lodge.

Even if you’re not into karaoke or videoke, the living room is still the perfect place to relax after a long day’s tour. The sofa is very comfortable and I have found myself (and Donna, too) falling asleep while watching TV.

As if all these are not enough, there’s more!

The best thing about Marfel’s Lodge, aside from the price, is the strong Wifi connection! Not all lodging houses and resorts in Batanes have that; even the highly-priced Pacita Fundacion isn’t connected. For freelancers and budget travelers like me, Marfel’s Lodge is definitely heaven sent.

There were a few disadvantages, but nothing major.

If you get the fan accommodation, and if you were there during the summer months, it can get pretty hot in the bedroom. I addressed that by staying mostly downstairs, working on my netbook in the dining area, or chilling by the sala. That’s why if you’re not traveling solo, better spend a few hundreds more and get the AC accommodation.

Since the homestay is situated within a community–not on a bluff overlooking the ocean, for example–don’t expect nice views or total serenity. Expect seeing the locals go through their daily lives, hearing children crying, or seeing them play. In the mornings, there’s a taho (soya) vendor who passes by; why not do what the locals do and buy a small cup (P10)? It’s warm and sweet and filling.


The lighthouse at Naidi Hills in Basco, during sunset.

I can never fully articulate how beautiful Batanes is, but there’s another thing that will make me go back there again and again; Marfel’s Lodge, Ate Fe, and the kindness of the people in this wonderful bit of heaven called Batanes.

If you wish to stay at Marfel’s Lodge, book in advance to secure a room. Call or text Ate Fe at +63 908. 893.1475. Fan room is P500 (1 person), P700 (2 persons), P1,000 (3 persons). Aircon room is P1,000 (1 person), P1,200 (2 persons), P1,500 (3 persons). Updated as of 07 November 2013.



This is my entry to the October 2013 PTB Blog Carnival with the theme My Favorite Room hosted by Eileen Campos of The Super Tourists.

 Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!

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  • Donna said:

    So love our Batanes trip.

    It was made fun and more convenient by Marfel Lodge.

    Love reading your post and hope we bump into each other again somewhere! :))

  • Salika Jay said:

    Vayang Rolling Hills look absolutely amazing and serene! Hope you’ll do a post with more scenes of Batanes.
    Salika Jay recently posted..Welcome To Middle-Earth

  • Aleah said:

    @ Donna: Your company also made my stay there more comfortable! See you on the road again sometime!
    @ Salika Jay: I will! You will see then how beautiful Batanes really is :)
    Aleah recently posted..Where to Stay in Batanes—Marfel’s Lodge

  • Mervz | pinoyadventurista.com said:

    Nakatulog din ako dyan sa sofa na yan one afternoon… Hahaha!

    Super enjoy talaga ang mag-stay sa Marfel’s :)
    Mervz | pinoyadventurista.com recently posted..Pinoy Festivals: Penafrancia Festival 2013 Schedule of Activities, How To Get There, Things To Do and Where To Stay

  • santafetraveler said:

    Interesting to learn a bit about a new place. It all (except the usual air fare – great deal BTW) sounds like a bargain to me.
    santafetraveler recently posted..Photo of the Week: Waves at Point Lobos

  • Aleah said:

    @ Mervz: It’s really comfortable isn’t it? Would love to go back there!
    @ Santa Fe Travelers: It *was* a bargain. It’s insanely difficult to go there weather-wise and because of the airfare so I felt really lucky!
    Aleah recently posted..Where to Stay in Batanes—Marfel’s Lodge

  • Photo Cache said:

    incredible scenery isn’t it? resembles the rolling hills in ireland that we see on calendars, which btw is why ireland has been in my bucket list since i can remember.

    i’d rather go for homestay than hostels. i’m too old to bunk with teenagers, methinks, although my hubby would disagree with me. plus in homestays i’d think you’d feel more connected to the place because you’re staying with a family as their guest. bedsurfing!
    Photo Cache recently posted..New Orleans: Mardi Gras World

  • jho vd [mountains&beyond] said:

    wow Batanes.. thanks for the tips :)
    jho vd [mountains&beyond] recently posted..GEN SAN – KORONADAL – LAKE SEBU – MIDSAYAP – ALAMADA – COTABATO CITY TRIP

  • Dennis said:

    Would love to see an airfare deal to Batanes! It’s been like forever on my Philippine bucket list :)
    Dennis recently posted..Easter Island: From Fallen Moais To Birdman Cult

  • Aleah said:

    @ Photo Cache: Yeah, Batanes is known for its wonderful scenery. I hope to see Ireland too, someday!
    @ Jho Vd: Thanks. Feel free to share!
    @ Dennis: I’m not crossing out Batanes from my bucket list. Will go back there again and again :)
    Aleah recently posted..Where to Stay in Batanes—Marfel’s Lodge

  • Marisol@TravelingSolemates said:

    Hi Aleah, I always want to go to Batanes. I hope to get there next time I visit the Philippines. How many days would you recommend to get enough of the island? You photo of the lighthouse is stunning.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Wadi Rum: In the Footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia

  • Abe D. Santos said:

    I like the information you shared I may just try this next time I am in the PH. This is a hidden treasure.

  • James said:

    Too bad the website was very slow when I tried to book for Batanes promo fare. I hope to go there next year :)

  • How to Travel Cheaply in Batanes | Solitary Wanderer said:

    [...] Read my review of the lodging house as well as see pictures of it here: Where to Stay in Batanes–Marfel’s Lodge. [...]

  • Aleah said:

    @ Marisol: 5 days would be good. I, myself, would want to stay for two weeks next time, as long as I can stay where there’s internet like Marfel’s Lodge. :)
    @ Abe: Yes, please do. It’s a lovely place
    @ James: I doubt if I can find such cheap fares again. It was an introductory price. But I would still want to go back even if the flight’s more expensive.
    Aleah recently posted..Things to Do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

  • Batanes—The Beautiful North Batan | Solitary Wanderer said:

    [...] was early morning when I arrived in Basco and met up with Ate Fe of Marfel’s Guesthouse, having contacted her only 30 minutes before my flight’s departure. She connected me with [...]

  • Cyrel said:

    Hi Ms. Aleah! Thank you for this very informative blog. Actually we were planning to go in Batanes on October, I just want to ask if you avail any tour package? If so, how many days po yung tour package nyo? Is 3 days tour enough to see the North/South Batan and Sabtang Island? Any restaurants that are near Marfels Lodge?

    Thank You!

  • Aleah said:

    @ Cyrel: I took the 3-day tour, and yes, it’s enough to see North/South Batan and Sabtang Island. I still have to finish my posts, but I already have one on North Batan. Check it out: http://www.solitarywanderer.com/2013/07/batanes-north-batan/

    I highly recommend the restaurant just across the airport in Basco. It’s walking distance from Marfel’s and they serve really good meals. Average price is around P150-200 per dish, good for 2 pax.
    Aleah recently posted..Springtime in the Old Town Square in Prague

  • Cha Sy said:

    This is perfect. I was browsing the net for some diy Batanes and I saw your article. We were praying and hoping to get a go signal from my doctors. A Batanes vacation is a perfect birthday gift to myself. I miss traveling so much!

  • Aleah said:

    @ Cha: If you’d get the chance to go there, you’d love it!
    Aleah recently posted..An Encounter in Berlin

  • Patrick Corrales said:

    Hi, Patrick here from the Zomato-sponsored dinner! Love your blog. Batanes is definitely on my bucket list. BTW, I love it when I meet someone who has also been to India. Many people are repelled by the thought of traveling there. I enjoyed it. :)
    Patrick Corrales recently posted..8 Things to Look at When Choosing a Bar/Nightclub

  • Jacqui V said:

    Thank you Aleah for sharing Marfe’l info. :-) I stayed there during my solo escapade last Sept 11-16. Actually it was your name i first checked in the guest register… :-) when i arrived. I had a housemate (gay) there on the third day. Funny, but we used to sleep sa sala (during the last two nights) instead na sa mga rooms namin… Ate Fe thought na natatakot kami sa rooms namin. Actually, nakakatulog kami sa sala sa kakapanood ng TV. Haha! Walang katulad ang Marfel experience namin kahit two lang kami (with Jay-Ann sometimes) Would surely go back there next year (God willing).. Thanks again!

  • Aleah said:

    @ Patrick: It was nice meeting you too! Hope you find your way to Batanes soon!
    @ Jacqui: Am glad to hear you’ve been to Marfel’s. Staying there will definitely make your Batanes stay more memorable!
    Aleah recently posted..How My Favorite Country Betrayed Me

  • apol | WanderfulTogether.com said:

    Marfel’s Lodge noted. :D 350 per head is pretty cheap for that kind of room… and you get to cook, big savings there! With wifi too!
    apol | WanderfulTogether.com recently posted..Chapel of the Cartwheels | Manapla, Negros Occidental

  • Aleah said:

    @ Apol: It really is the best place to stay in Batanes. Even if you take the AC room, it’s still a steal at only P1,000 a day!
    Aleah recently posted..Favorite Solo Travel Destinations in the Philippines

  • athena said:

    Thanks for this post. the pictures are wonderful especially that of marfel’s lodge. booking them now… :)

  • Ellie said:


    Which month did you visit Batanes? How come the airfare was so cheap? =)

  • Aleah said:

    @ Athena: Tell them you knew about them from this post. And do say hi to Ate Fe for me! :)
    @ Ellie: I went last June 2013. I booked the ticket a few months early, it was a promo fare.
    Aleah recently posted..Saying Goodbye to Kunsthaus Tacheles in Berlin

  • Cora Batuigas said:

    Hi, there’s a promo now at PAL Php 1,500 back and forth travel period june 2014 – aug 15 2015.May i ask how much is the tour package for 2 days. Thanks for the info.

  • My Favorite Room: Best Hotels, Resorts, Dorms and other Rooms said:

    […] all take a moment to inhale the fresh air that is so abundant in our next blogger favorite room. Aleah of the Solitary Wanderer takes us all to Batanes, which is on EVERYONE’s Philippine destination bucket list. Simple as it […]

  • Mhe-anne Ojeda said:

    this is a timely post and recommendation Aleah dear since we are thinking of going to Batanes as a couple. If my former boss won’t host us, this is the place!!but as always, this is well written and informative!

  • Aleah said:

    @ Cora Batuigas: Depends on what is included in the tour. I hope you bought the ticket and just follow my tips on How to Travel Cheaply in Batanes http://www.solitarywanderer.com/2013/06/travel-cheaply-in-batanes/
    @ Mhe-Anne: Thanks! You and your hubby will definitely love Batanes!
    Aleah recently posted..Best Day Trips from Shanghai, China

  • BLOW YOUR HORN, BATANES | donnafuentes said:

    […] For more details about Marfel’s Lodge, you may check our housemate’s blog at Solitarywanderer.com. […]

  • William M. Griffin said:

    I first saw Batanes Is. in May of 1968. I have been back a lot! Now I live there! Itbud is quieter and cleaner than Basco. Better for your health. Come visit me, you mite find it better and cheaper!


  • The Best of My Travels in 2013 | Solitary Wanderer said:

    […] to Travel Cheaply in Batanes–tried and tested budget tips Where to Stay in Batanes–the best budget accommodation you can find in Basco The Beautiful North Batan–Be awed […]

  • Maan said:

    Hi Aleah! May I know when did you go to Batanes? Im also planning to go there in May but Im hesitant because it might be rainy already (?!) Thanks!

  • Aleah said:

    @ William: Do you have a guesthouse there as well? I’ll definitely check it out when I come back.

    @ Maan: I went first week of June 2012. Do read my other entries on Batanes. You’ll see the weather then was super perfect!
    Aleah recently posted..The Best of My Travels in 2013

  • michael yao said:

    Hi mam im also a soul traveler like u suppose and these article u wrote really is good makes me want to just go there now, just one thing ok lang po ba na mag isa like u said and just join a group i use to that alot the last time in Hanoi ,Vietnam.

  • travelguru said:

    Hi mam im also a soul traveler like u i suppose and these article u wrote really is good makes me want to just go there now, just one thing ok lang po ba na mag isa like u said and just join a group i use to that alot in europe and the last time in Hanoi ,Vietnam. Im doin antartic expedition now but when i go back home i back pack and travel alone i hope u blog more of your travels… its amazing too see someone like u traveling keep it up all the best and safe travels ingat po lagi ;)

  • Cecile said:

    Aleah, Thanks for your informative blogs on Batanes! i hope Marfel will be available this March. I couldnt find your reply about which tour you took and how much it cost. have youheard any other tour package since then which may be worth trying? It seems the usual 3D2N weekend is not enough for Batanes especially if one intends to tour both north and south batan? Thanks too for puting the DATE when yiu updated the price from 300-500.

  • Aleah said:

    @ Michael Yao: I was alone when I went there, so yeah, it’s really okay to travel by yourself. You’ll meet a lot of people along the way.

    @ Travelguru: Antarctic expedition? Wow I’m so envious! It’s in my bucket list, but I can’t afford it. :(

    @ Cecile: Read my other post, how to travel cheaply in batanes http://www.solitarywanderer.com/2013/06/travel-cheaply-in-batanes/ You will find my expenses there. Three days is not enough. Make sure to go for 5 days, to allot of travel time and to make sure you see both North and South Batan and Sabtang. If you want to go to Itbayat, allot 3 more days!
    Aleah recently posted..High Up in the Acropolis, the Sacred Rock of Athens

  • Pam said:

    Hi Aleah,

    Thank you so much sa blog mo! It’s my dream na makapunta sa Batanes and I didn’t thought pede palang maging cheap ang travel mo to Batanes. Thanks to you!

    I just want to ask kung when ka pumunta ditto? I mean anong month?


  • alynn said:

    hello aleah,

    kung yung return ticket cost 2,700 how much po yung ticket papunta? Pal din po?

  • Mangyan said:

    We’re very lucky kasi very cheap ang nakuha namin last november nagpromo ang PAL, 1800 lang ang round trip. June 20 ang sched namin and excited to see Batanes.

  • 7 Things I Love About Sabtang Island, Batanes | Solitary Wanderer said:

    […] was perfect. The sky was amazingly clear, I found an inexpensive (and highly-recommended) accommodation in Basco, and the tour guide, Ryan Cardona, was very accommodating. We went to North Batan on day 1, to […]

  • Aleah said:

    @ Pam: I went there June 2013.

    @ Alynn: Sorry I don’t remember na eh. Yes, PAL yun round trip.

    @ Mangyan: How was your trip there?
    Aleah recently posted..Caving in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur

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